6 March 2019 by Emma Sanger-Horwell
Wexas Indian Ocean specialist Emma Sanger takes a look past the white-sand luxury of the Seychelles to find an island chain of mesmerising beauty and unmissable adventure.
Literally “a thousand miles from anywhere”, the Seychelles was only settled 250 years ago. So, while you’ll know this paradise archipelago for its white sands and luxurious getaways, many don’t realise the sheer variety of its untouched natural world. What’s more, it’s all more accessible than ever, served by twice-weekly British Airways flights from London Heathrow.
An archipelago of idyllic islands, some framed by granite outcrops, others by magnificent coral gardens, the Seychelles is one of the world’s true paradises. Made up of 115 islands, it offers the very best in palm-fringed luxury, where white-sand beaches are framed by topaz-blue seas and kaleidoscopic reefs play host to a staggering array of marine life, from colourful clownfish to magnificent whale sharks. And the wildlife doesn’t end there, as on land you might spot turtles nesting on remote shores and birdlife ranging from sooty terns to magpie robins. What’s more, it’s easy to take in multiple islands on a single trip, combining the likes of Mahé’s rugged beauty with seductive Praslin – all gin-clear waters and lush jungle foliage – or nearby La Digue with its pink sands and laid-back vibes.
Sea turtle, Seychelles
It’s also impossible not to get swept up in the smiles and slow pace of island life, best tasted in the welcoming restaurants. Expect unique blends of European, Indian and Chinese influence, along with the very best in just-caught seafood with the likes of lobster, octopus and fragrant fish curries topping the bill. Then, burn off any indulgences with everything from world-class diving and sailing to kayaking, golf and horse rides.
Hiking, is another great way to get off the beaten track, with a network of well-marked trails bringing you between rugged mountains and verdant forests. Perhaps the best known of these is the Anse Major Trail on Mahé, which takes in spectacular viewpoints across Morne Seychellois National Park before arriving at one of the island's most idyllic and secluded beaches. And, that's not all. The islands are host to two UNESCO World Heritage sites – the spectacular coral islands of the Aldabra Atoll, home to some 152,000 giant tortoises, and Praslin's Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, with its preserved forest of coco de mer palms, whose seeds are the largest in the plant kingdom.
Sea kayaking at Denis Private Island
It’s all knitted together by ultra-scenic island hopping, whether by catamaran ferry, short flights or even helicopter rides. Whatever you choose, you’ll soon find a remote, lost-island paradise of your very own.