Located in the Indian Ocean, about a thousand miles off the east coast of Africa, the Seychelles’ remarkable location and natural abundance cannot be compared to any place else on the planet. And as the home of the Vallée de Mai, said to be the original site of the Garden of Eden, the stunning Seychelles might just be the most heavenly place on earth.
Say the name ‘Seychelles’ to most Americans and they will look slightly puzzled. Is it in the South Pacific? Indonesia? Located in the Indian Ocean, about a thousand miles off the east coast of Africa, the Seychelles’ remarkable location and natural abundance cannot be compared to any place else on the planet. And as the home of the Vallée de Mai, said to be the original site of the Garden of Eden, the stunning Seychelles might just be the most heavenly place on earth.
Formerly a closely-held secret of celebrities and the mega-rich, this pristine island nation is slowly being discovered by travelers with a taste for luxury and exotic natural beauty. Uninhabited until the late 18th century, then settled by the French, the islands are a successful fusion of East and West in a colorful and harmonious Creole nation where English and French are spoken along with Kreol. With nearly 50 percent of the archipelago set aside as a national park, these are islands where simplicity, authenticity and innocence thrive, where luxury gently rubs shoulders with primeval forests and powder-soft white sands.
The archipelago is made up of two island types: the granitic Inner Islands and the coralline Outer Islands. Each island is unique, sheltering rare flora and fauna. The Inner Islands, clustered around Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, are breathtakingly picturesque landscapes of turquoise waters and glittering silver beaches, verdant peaks and virgin forests. Accommodations range from the exclusive five-star resorts and private nature reserves to the simple charms of romantic beachside bungalows.
Mahé, with over 65 beaches, is the location of the nation’s tiny capital, Victoria, a charming township with traditional architecture, a busy market and lively shops. The island’s wildlife is abundant. Protected and hidden coves, bays and marine reserves are underwater jewel boxes on view to snorkelers and divers.
Praslin’s Anse Lazio is often named the most beautiful beach on earth and the island is also home to the Vallée de Mai, the primeval forest said to be the original Garden of Eden. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is the home of the famous Coco-de-Mer, enormous ancient palms with the largest leaf and seed in the plant kingdom. Praslin’s natural wonders are complemented by gracious hotels, a luxurious casino and the only i8-hole championship golf course in the Seychelles.
La Digue harkens back to an earlier era. Bicycles and oxcarts are still favored for transportation and cottage industry thrives untouched by time. Granite boulders seem to have been sculpted as adornments for exquisite beaches and extremely rare birds and turtles are protected at La Digue Veuve Reserve.
The secluded Outer Islands, accessible by scheduled flight or chartered yacht, are home to great colonies of seabirds and nesting turtles, their shores visited by dolphins and migrating whales. Aldabra, the world’s largest raised coral atoll and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has the world’s largest giant land tortoise colony and vital nesting sites for Hawksbill and Green turtles and pink flamingos. Amirantes & Cosmoledo groups of islands are the world’s top fly-fishing destination for bonefish and giant trevally.
A world apart, the Seychelles is a destination in itself or the perfect extension of a trip to Africa with the ultimate balance between relaxation and exhilaration. A well-kept secret, it is surely one of the most memorable places on earth.