Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck
If you’re looking for an island paradise which allows you to jump between a remote desert island experience and luxury beachside resort, the Seychelles should be at the top of your list. The country covers a total of 115 small islands; some are bustling with islanders and tourists, while others are completely uninhabited, save for the local wildlife. The Seychelles gives you the best of both worlds, and you can chop and change from one day to the next.
Prior to the 12th century, it is thought, all of the Seychelles was uninhabited. Then Maldivian seafarers arrived, and Europeans joined them from the 15th century. It was a valuable transit point for traders going between Africa and Asia, and then succumbed to first French, then British rule, before independence was gained in 1976. The result is a rich melting pot of culture on the tiny islands.
If you want to enjoy this fascinating holiday destination, here’s a quick rundown on things you should look out for:
As mentioned above, the Seychelles offers all kinds of beautiful beachside accommodation. For example, you could stay at the luxurious hotel Kempinski at Baie Lazare on Mahe where you can be pampered and taken care of, or opt for somewhere such as Bird Island, where there are no phones, no television, just one small hotel and 24 kilometres of beaches.
Diving and snorkeling are two of the primary draws to the Seychelles, with the rich marine life and clear – not to mention warm – waters providing the perfect setting for underwater exploration. The vast coral reefs are teaming with Moray eels, scorpion fish, eagle rays, lion fish, fusiliers, jacks, and barracudas, with a number of shark species also patrolling the waters. The area’s maritime history means there are also a number shipwrecks resting beneath the waves – many of which have been colonised by sea creatures.
Consequently, dive schools are to be found across the islands, catering for every skill level, and novices will find it easy to get hold of the right equipment and the right instruction for a wonderful diving experience.
Mahe is the most populated island in the Seychelles, and is therefore the base for many of the places of interest, such as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, the Victoria Botanical Gardens and a host of museums depicting the history of the Seychelles as a French and then British colony.
Mahe is also where you will find the best nightlife, so for bar-crawlers and clubbers it is a must-see. Lovenut, the largest club in the Seychelles, is well-known for its party atmosphere, while Katiolo is all about the open-air experience and enjoying the sea breeze while you dance the night away.
You can explore much of the Seychelles by foot, and it’s a great way to get up close to the variety of flora and fauna. Over 40 per cent of the Seychelles has National Park status, and guided trails on many of the islands take you deep into the forests and hillsides – so stick to the path!
Ferries take tourists between the various smaller uninhabited islands, allowing you to explore remote beaches and see wildlife in its natural habitat. You may never want to leave!
This post was brought to you by Kempinski.
Writer Zack Morris has been writing about his travels for over four years, after catching the travel bug and ditching the Rat Race.