“Paradise on Earth” is probably the most clichéd phrase on the internet to describe tropical islands; however, “Paradise on Earth” is the only phrase to describe the tiny, green, pearl-like Seychelles islands.
The beauty of this country is apparent even before you touch its ground. From the window of the plane, you can see the ribbons of white-sand beaches washed by the sea with multiple shades of blue. The islands are covered with lush green hills with hardly any human intrusion in sight.
We’re talking about the Seychelles islands, an archipelago comprising of 115 small islands located near the Equator on the Indian Ocean. Not many tourists have Seychelles on their bucketlist. But those who do know all about its deserted beaches, varied wildlife, historic sites, and a fascinating underwater world.
The Seychelles islands owe their natural wealth to two elements: their geographical location, far from everything else, and their geological composition. Unlike most oceanic islands, Seychelles is not of volcanic origin but constitutes a remote granitic remnant of the ancient Gondwana supercontinent.
The archipelago is divided into two large groups of islands, one interior and one exterior. The interior islands have a hilly terrain outlined by large granite moles while the coral origin of the southern exterior islands gives them a characteristic flat and sandy appearance.
Over 40% of Seychelles comprises of natural reserves, which makes it one of the most protected countries in the world. By belatedly joining tourism development, they have created a model committed to the conservation of the environment. Want a remote and pristine vacation? Here are a few things to do when visiting these one-of-a-kind Seychelles islands:
Relax on the beach
The sun-soaked beaches are probably the biggest draw for tourists to Seychelles. The options are endless, from intimate coves to white sand croissants stretching over a mile. Spending your days rocking in a hammock, splashing in the sea, posing for your Insta, and gulping down a cocktail (or three).
Anse Major, Intendance, Lazio, Georgette, Source D’Argent, and Severe are some of the most popular island beaches . You can also go off the beaten path and discover some of the hidden corners where you can have the whole beach to yourself!
Explore Victoria on foot
Mahé is the largest island in Seychelles and the starting point for most visitors. The vegetation extends everywhere and only opens to make room for scattered houses until you reach the capital city of Victoria.
Old wooden mansions, oblivious of time with their faded colonial tones, mark the streets of Victoria. At the entrance, a modern monument represents the three continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe). Victoria is a melting pot of African, European, Indian, Sinhalese and Malay cultures.
Saturday is a market day in Victoria, where you can experience the blend of old and new Seychelles. Walk through the rows of stalls selling fruits, vegetables, fresh fish, and spices. You can also find souvenir and craft shops, as well as shops selling clothes and accessories.
Hike through the dense tropical jungles
When you think of the Seychelles islands, sun and beach might be the first thing that comes to your mind. However, these islands hide a wealth of flora and fauna beyond its palm crowned shores.
One of the favorite places for hikers is the Morne Seychellois National Park, the highest point of the archipelago that covers a fifth of Mahé. From the top, you can see Victoria Bay, the nearby islands as well as the dense mangroves of the park.
Located in the heart of Praslin Island, Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve protects an impressive palm forest declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The reserve has three routes of different lengths, which takes you through a landscape characterized by waterfalls, streams, and huge sea coconut trees that only grows in this part of the world.
Watch birds on Bird Island
The name of the Bird Island is self-explanatory. Located 60 miles from Mahé, it is the northernmost island of the archipelago. This island has 13 species of endemic birds and many others that find refuge during the long migratory routes from Europe, Asia, and Africa. They chose this island to establish their colony as it is the first island they find in the Indian Ocean coming from the north. Bird Island is home to more than three million birds (terns, swallows, kingfishers, etc.) and humans are just intruders who go unnoticed.
Birds are not the only impressive beings you see on this island. Here you can find more than 20 Giant Aldabra Tortoises which are the largest in the world along with the Galápagos tortoise.
Snorkel or dive near the Cerf Island
Although there are plenty of spots to discover the vibrant marine life in the Seychelles islands, Cerf Island is special due to its proximity to the National Marine Park of Sainte Anne. The island is close to the capital and you can reach there easily by a few-minute boat ride. Swim with the white tipped and lemon sharks and get close and personal with moray eels, sea turtles, and tropical fish of every color you can imagine.
In addition, there are two spectacular shipwrecks to the north of Mahe which appeals to advanced divers. You can swim through their ghostly chambers and see how the underwater world has engulfed the ship as if it’s one of their own.