Before visiting the Seychelles, I had heard a great deal about these alluring tropical islands. A remote island archipelago located in the Indian Ocean north east of Madagascar, the Seychelles has attracted visitors from all over the world for over 40 years – mainly due to the islands many beautiful beaches, spectacular mountain scenery, lush vegetation, and unique flora and fauna. After sending many travellers to the islands for honeymoons, family holidays and beach breaks, it was high time that I visited the Seychelles myself. And who better to visit with than my husband and my 18 month old daughter. It may come as a surprise that the Seychelles not only offers luxury resort accommodation (out of the budget range for most travellers), but also plenty of mid-range guesthouses and self-catering apartments & chalets. Since we were travelling with an infant, we opted for self-catering allowing us to be flexible and to fit with her schedule.
Our arrival on Mahe Island was in the evening so we missed the chance to see the stunning scenery en-route to our accommodations on the south east coast, Chalets D’Anse Forbans. But upon waking the next morning, we quickly discovered that we were indeed in paradise. Palm trees line the pristine beach of Anse Forbans and, heading down to the beach for our first swim of the holiday, we did not see another footprint in site! Anse Forbans is quite possibly one of the most beautiful beaches and bays that I have ever seen….and hardly a soul around! The bay is perfect for swimming when the weather is calm and there is great snorkelling just off the beach. If that’s not enough, during the months of October to January Hawksbill turtles come to the beach to lay their eggs, and a couple of months later they eggs hatch with hundreds of tiny turtles scuttling to the sea.
The owners of Chalets D’Anse Forbans are hospitable and friendly and they went out of their way to help us plan our few days on the island. They suggested renting a car for a day so that we could explore what the rest of Mahe Island has to offer. Setting out in the morning we ventured up the west coast stopping along the way at the many incredible beaches and bays to take photographs and have a quick swim. The island changes so much from the South to the North that it’s well worth exploring by car – we found lots of hidden coves with nobody in site; we drove up through the spectacular mountain passes; and we enjoyed a sundowner drink on one of the islands most scenic beaches, Anse Intendance.
Our journey in the Seychelles took us to the island of Praslin next. Off we headed by local ferry, an efficient and easy way to travel between the islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. An hours trip on choppy seas (don’t forget the sea sick tablets!) and we arrived at the port. It seemed that we were in a totally different country. Praslin revolves almost completely around tourism and all the people of the island are very laid-back, the population a fraction of what it is on Mahe. Less mountainous than Mahe, but just as gorgeous, Praslin is easy to get around on the local bus network so travellers can explore the many stunning beaches and hidden coves by local transport and on foot. Travelling with a toddler, we decided to rent a car explore the island by car. As on Mahe we were struck by the beauty of the island and also the lack of people on so many of the beaches. It was easy to get away from the ‘crowds’ and find our own private beach were we spent the day playing in the waves, snorkelling, catching crabs and building sandcastles. Many of the beaches are wild and remote, while others are line with resorts….but even on these ‘resort lined’ beaches, it’s easy to find a private spot. Locals stay pretty much to themselves and, unlike in other African island destinations, tourists don’t get hassled by hawkers trying to sell over-priced but cheaply produced souvenirs.
Praslin has its share of resorts and luxury hotels catering to the rich, but just as on Mahe Praslin has plenty of locally run guesthouses and well-equipped self-catering apartments. We spent five wonderful days at L’Hirondelle directly opposite the well-known white sand beach of Cote D’Or. This area is the tourist hub of Praslin lined with shops, restaurants, and dive centres. Day trips to the nearby islands of Curieuse, St Pierre, Cousin, and Aride can also be arranged. We decided to visit Cousin Island, a nature sanctuary and one of the most important nesting sites for hawksbill turtles in the western Indian Ocean. The island is also home to Aldabra giant tortoises, skinks, an indigenous green gecko, Fairy terns, lesser noddies, Frigate birds and plenty of other birds. A one hour boat trip from Praslin and we arrived on Cousin – we enjoyed a fascinating two hour guided tour. Definitely one of the highlights of our trip being able to experience an island that is completely devoted to nature and inhabited by humans, apart from a handful of researchers.
The Seychelles is without a doubt a destination that suits any type of traveller – it lends itself to exploratory travel as much as the more conventional resort stay. And it attracts nature lovers, golfers, hikers, divers, honeymooners, romantics, and those looking to relax and get away from it all. The laid-back people, the all year round warm weather, the white sandy beaches and turquoise blue waters, the ease of getting around, and the huge range of accommodations available make it the perfect island getaway!
For more information about Janine’s holiday and the Seychelles islands please contact Janine on firstname.lastname@example.org