The largest island in the Seychelles is Mahé and this is where the capital, Victoria, is found. Mahé’s many attractive beaches range from tiny coves to long sweeping bays, with Beau Vallon one of the most popular. The centre of the island is mountainous with lush jungle-clad slopes, and a visit to the Morne Seychellois National Park is a must. The delicious Creole cuisine blends flavours from Africa, Arabia and India, and is testimony to the diverse heritage of the archipelago.
Twenty-five miles to the northeast of Mahé, laid-back Praslin, the second largest island, is many visitors’ idea of paradise with its white sandy beaches, huge granite boulders and swaying palm trees. Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve is famous for its huge Coco de Mer palms and Anse Lazio beach is world-renowned.
Nearby, mountainous La Digue is the fourth largest of the inhabited granite island. Here the beaches are wild and secluded, and traditional ox carts are still used.
Many of the outer lying islands are coralline and uninhabited, although some, like Bird Island and Denis Island to the north of Mahé, have lodges that offer visitors a truly exclusive castaway experience, with prices to match. The eco-lodge on granitic North Island is probably the most upmarket of them all. Frequented by royalty and celebs, it is also a conservation success story following the collapse of the coconut industry.
In the far west, the uninhabited Aldabra Atoll is home to approximately 150,000 giant tortoises and is now a World Heritage Site. This species - found in both the Seychelles and the Galapagos - is known to live for over 200 years and is therefore the longest living creature on our planet. Other equally enchanting members of the same family are the Leatherback and endangered Hawksbill turtles that can be seen swimming through the islands’ turquoise waters. Sperm whale often visit the islands around July and August and dolphin, manta ray and the plankton-eating whale shark are also regularly spotted throughout the Archipelago.
The birdlife in the Seychelles is very special. The archipelago has been nominated as an Endemic Bird Area by BirdLife International, due to the many endangered species that make their home here. Some, like the Paradise flycatcher, Seychelles white eye and the Seychelles sunbird, are unique to these islands.