Published by www.nationalgeographic.com
I came to Seychelles 40 years ago on vacation, and when I returned two years later, it was for good. This allure says rather a lot about the enchantment of these islands, which are scattered across the vast Indian Ocean.
I was attracted to the Seychelles islands because of its surreal, natural beauty, the laid-back, island living, the family-oriented social scene, and above all, the warm welcome I received. It’s amazing that after all this time these ingredients can still be found, and form the basis of one of the most extraordinary vacations on Earth.
The Seychellois are a fusion of peoples who once arrived here from Europe, India, and Asia. After many decades of intermarriage, the younger generations tend to exhibit a blend of these physical traits as well as the distinct Creole accent.
The Seychelles are a great destination during any season, blessed with a warm, tropical climate all year long and located outside the cyclone belt. A quality that has earned them the nickname, “the land of perpetual summer.”
If you like cooler weather, the period from late May to September during the southeasterly trade winds makes it the ideal season for sailing around the archipelago. These months of brisker winds are also the best time to indulge in a spot of trekking along the many trails that will introduce you to the natural beauty and diversity of its native flora and fauna. On the other hand, if you’re interested in swimming, snorkeling, and diving, the water temperature tends to be colder and the visibility poorer.
April to early May and October to November are prime times for water sports like diving, snorkeling, and swimming. The calm, flat seas make for beautiful views and warm and welcoming temperatures.
There are several ways to digest the beauty of the Seychelles Islands, which have remained relatively untouched through the ages. Traveling by boat arguably gives you the finest perspective of the islands and their spectacular coastlines, hidden coves, and secret beaches. Guided hikes through the mountains are a close second. For example, on the trail to Copolia you will enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the islands—from towering, granite peaks to sweeping ocean vistas.
The Seychelles islands are regularly ranked among the most beautiful beaches on the planet, and each has its own signature strip of sand and surf. On the main island of Mahé—the heart of the island’s tourist belt—Beau Vallon Bay is one of the most popular beaches. Equally stunning, but offering a greater degree of tranquility, are the Intendance and Takamaka beaches in the south, solitary Grand Anse in the west, and gorgeous Anse Royale in the east. On Praslin, the standout beach is Anse Lazio. On the island of La Digue—one of the world’s most photographed—Anse Source Dárgent is perhaps the most magnificent. For a truly sublime experience of sun, sea, and sand, my personal choice is Bird Island, which lies some 68 miles north of Mahé.
This island paradise is not just about laying on the beach, however. Visitors can indulge in other activities, such as world-class diving, snorkeling, fishing, hiking, island-hopping, golf, spa retreats, zip lining, and horseback riding. Local destination management companies, such as Mason’s Travel, also guide excursions that showcase the very best cultural, land, and marine experiences.
No stay in Seychelles is complete without tasting the delicious Seychellois Creole cuisine—a blend of old French cuisine and piquant Indian and Chinese flavors. While this fusion is best enjoyed in local homes, many restaurants can also introduce you to its amazing flavors and textures. Some of my favorite restaurants on Mahé are the fine dining La Scala and La Perle Noire. For the more budget-conscious, Auberge Dánse Boileauand Anchor Café are great options. On Praslin, my choice eatery is Losean, and on La Digue, Fish Trap Restaurant & Bar.
If you’re looking to relax and unwind to the sounds of live music, try the Boardwalk Bar & Grill, a magnet for weekend revelers. Hardcore partygoers should check out local clubs Katiolo and Tequila Boom. For a one-day getaway of pure relaxation, it’s hard to beat Cerf Island Resort in the marine park. If you’re doing a tour of Mahé, check out the wonderful rustic scene at Baie Lazare’s Sound Garden, where great food and a unique ambiance awaits.
Seychelles is the ideal place to recalibrate mind, body, and soul. The short but steep climb to Morne Blanc overlooking the west coast of Mahé is the ideal place to refresh. Perched on the verdant heights overlooking the ocean, you can’t help but feel like the king of all creation.
For cultural mavens, the islands also host many events throughout the year. For a real taste of this Creole world, October’s Festival Kreol should not be missed. It encapsulates all aspects of Creole culture from across the world in a colorful weeklong celebration.
More information about the Seychelles can be found on Facebook and their official tourism website. Another great way to learn about the islands is by downloading the free app, Seychelles Travel Guide, from Google Playor the Apple App Store. It can even be used offline to discover a comprehensive range of tourism products and services. Visitors can also tap into the latest happenings via Seychelles This Week–a free online guide to local events, entertainment, and special offers.
EXPERIENCE GLYNN’S FAVORITES IN SEYCHELLES:
When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is Sans Souci because the views of the island are absolutely amazing. Afterwards, we descend the winding road to Del Place Restaurant on the west coast.
You can see my main town, Victoria, best from the romantic overlooks on the La Misère road.
Locals know to skip the denser tourist zones in the north of Mahé, the main island, and check out the rustic south and west areas of the island.
The area around Victoria market is one of the best places to buy authentic, local souvenirs.
In the past, notable people like Noel Coward and Ian Fleming have called my island home.
My town’s best museum is the Natural History Museum because of its collection of artifacts dating back to the earliest days of settlement.
If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my town, it’s that Victoria is walkable in half a day. You can explore its many hidden nooks and crannies, restaurants, and beautiful churches.
The best place to spend time outdoors in my town is the botanical gardens on the outskirts of Victoria.
You can tell if someone is from my island because of their sun-kissed glow and the way they speak English with a singsong accent typical of Creole people.
For a fancy night out, head to the Boardwalk Restaurant on Eden Island, which also doubles as one of the island’s top night spots. La Scala Restaurant in Bel Ombre offers a great fine dining experience.
Just outside Victoria, you can take a trip into the St. Anne Marine Park, which is comprised of many islands with great swimming and snorkeling opportunities.
News Café near the cathedral is my favorite place to grab breakfast. Although Victoria is seriously lacking in late-night restaurants, Boardwalk Café on Eden is the spot for nighttime eats.
To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, check out the informative Seychelles This Week Facebook page.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I splurge on simple pleasures like a good, reasonably priced Creole meal from the FISH-OH takeaway in Espace Building.
Bazaar Labrin at Beau Vallon is the best place to see live music on Wednesday evenings, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out clubs like Tequila Boom and Katiolo.
The best book about my city is probably The Fortunate Islands by Bernard Georges because of its charming, anecdotal style and colorful introduction to island living.
Glynn Burridge grew up in Iran, where he worked as an interpreter and translator prior to the fall of the Shah. He moved to Seychelles in 1978. In 2000, he became principal copywriter for Seychelles Tourism, and is also senior tourism consultant to the Seychelles Tourism Board.