The ideal tropical honeymoon destination if there ever was one, the Republic of Seychelles archipelago is one incredible beach island retreat. The ‘Jewel of the Indian Ocean’ is uniquely beautiful and bathed in year-round sunshine, presenting visitors with myriad options for water- and land-based activities and legendary scuba diving and bird watching.
Located off the east coast of Africa just below the equator, there are more than 100 islands in this large group from the well-known Inner Islands down to the otherworldly Aldabra Atoll in the Outer Islands. Take no notice if you hear Seychelles is overrated because the beaches are numerous and stunning. They really have to be seen to be believed as the epitome of tropical beauty, with the cleanest and warmest of waters lapping at the most idyllic of sands, usually flanked by angular palms and backed by lush vegetation.
Most tourists come for the three main islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. Each has a strong selling point, though all have great beaches and high-end hotels with all the facilities. Unlike the Maldives, these islands also have hilly interiors, often given over to national reserves that can stretch to the ocean. Water sports, scuba diving, boating trips and bird watching ventures are eternally popular.
The hospitality of the Seychelles is also worth commending. You’ll find some of the most impressive resorts in the world, and some of the quieter, more remote islands often have just the one, exclusive resort. The larger islands naturally have the bulk of the accommodations, Mahé and Praslin in particular having the pick of the restaurants, but when there is nothing else on an island, hotels typically have shops, eateries and bars. Various cuisines can be enjoyed, including French, British, American and local Creole.
Excursions to other islands are part and parcel of a trip here for many and there are endless options. If time is short and you want to see the birds, Cousin Island is easy to reach from Praslin, while Bird Island is farther afield. Trips into Mahé proper reveal its lush, hilly interior, while Praslin Island is home to the quirky coco-de-mer nut in its UNESCO-listed Vallée de Mai. One of the most incredible trips is to the vast Aldabra Atoll in the Outer Seychelles, accessible via far-off Assumption Island.
Seychelles is close to the equator so warm weather is prominent year-round, though often overly humid. Despite the heat, these islands are usually breezy, which tempers conditions on the beaches. The best time to visit is generally May/June through September/October, but being tropical—warm, cool and dry—the Seychelles can be visited at any time to enjoy the sun. Just avoid the November-March northwest monsoon to be sure to miss the worst of the rain.
An international airport brings in visitors directly from Johannesburg, as well as from Europe and the Middle East, and quick connections can be made domestically with the other main islands. Ferries serve all islands, too, and there is a good combination of public and private transport. Boats can be rented and visitors can also pre-book rental cars to explore the larger Mahé Island, where the capital city of Victoria is. The smaller islands can be covered on foot and bicycle.
The Seychelles is not a bargain destination, but you can expect high quality hospitality and premium accommodations. Mahé Island has better value hotels, the most facilities, best shopping and easiest transport, so consider a stay here if you prefer convenience and need to watch the pocketbook.
- The world class beaches of Beau Vallon (Mahé Island), Anse Lazio (Praslin Island), and Anse Source D’Argent (La Digue Island)
- Unbeatable, year-round scuba diving (with the best being in May and October)
- World-renowned bird watching at Cousin and Bird islands
- Victoria, the capital, for local craft shops and colonial buildings
- Fantastic marlin fishing October-December
- The suggestively shaped coco-de-mer coconut in Vallée de Mai
- Spa pampering at the Sainte Anne Resort & Spa (Sainte Anne)
- Consistently great weather