A guide to exploring Mahé, Seychelles
Episode 1: “My discoveries in Mahé” – Anaïs, Islandian expert
The Seychelles... What a sweet name it is! We certainly all heard it at least once, "Seychelles; such a timeless destination! ». Close your eyes and imagine; a succession of clear and warm sandy beaches, shades of blue as far as the eye can see, one-of-a-kind sunsets and fiercely protected nature reserves. Here, beaches and nature form the perfect combo and reign in splendour!
Greetings from paradise …
Between the 4th and the 10th degrees south latitude right beneath the equator, with Patrice and Thierry we discovered numerous islands spreading over 455 km2 of land surface over a given geographic water region of 1.4 million km2. Nested in the Indian Ocean between Africa and India, we were were left speechless, when a hundred of coral and granite islands, of which only 33 are inhabited, started to unravel. We were told that out of 97 000 inhabitants, 25 000 live in Victoria, 4000 at Anse Boileau and 4000 others at Beau Vallon and Bel Ombre. We came to meet familiar faces as approximately 20 000 immigrants came mainly from Mauritius, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Philippines and India and 24% of them are active in tourism and the field of construction. We were intrigued by how such a touristic archipelago could appear as virgin islands.
This is because the motto of Seychelles could have most probably been the protection of environment. Seychelles represents nature in its pure splendour while being a sanctuary for a great variety of rare species of animals, insects and plants. We travelled to the rhythm of our eductour to national parks extending over almost half of the land territory, enabling tourism to have as less negative impact as possible on the fauna and the flora, carefully protected. Do join us, as we recall our thoughts and souvenirs of this dream trip to Seychelles in a series of 3 articles. For this first travel story, let me share with you the best of this amazing trip and exotic wanderlust to Mahé Island. Thierry and Patrice will gladly tell you about their Seychelles Island experience later in the up-coming articles.
A sea, sun and nature rendez-vous!
When I look back on that timeless destination, I think to myself that it would be the perfect getaway for nature lovers. The beaches, ranked among the most beautiful in the world, seem to have retained their authenticity throughout the decades with a low rate of urban development. Imagine those heavenly islands for couples, ready to say that lifetime « yes » on such a fine sandy beach, overlooking those crystal clear waters and exchanging wedding vows by a wonderful sunset. Seychelles is undoubtedly the most idyllic destination for intimate weddings and honeymoon getaways. Generally speaking, one can easily get along with the local population as their warmth and sense of hospitality promise some lovely encounters. It is easy to exchange with them as they speak English, French and Seychellois Creole... Although the Seychelles and Mauritian accents remain quite distinct.
During our trip, not a day went by where we didn't tease each other, between Seychellois and Mauritians, about our respective accents. But all the locals we met, were delighted to introduce us to Seychelles Creole and that, was a beautiful proof of unity between our two cultures.
Choosing the best time of the year to go on holidays remains a significant challenge. When one has never visited a particular country, we torment ourselves about whether it will be warm or cold or if we will face the blazing sun or storms. Going to Seychelles by the end of July is by far a decent compromise. The climate was mild with a light breeze from the southeast at times. The light summer outfits were perfectly suitable for the weather longed for on exotic islands. It was a real opportunity to enjoy the best of outdoors and the heavenly landscapes, which we never get tired of.
When I recall the thousands nature-related activities possible in Seychelles, I realise that one can hardly get bored. One of my favourites was to visit Anse Georgette, one of the most stunning beaches of the archipelago located in the north of Praslin. Get yourself a towel, some tanning cream, a good book and you will feel like the whole world is all yours. An expanse of turquoise water, a shoal of fine sand and giant palm trees, accessible by sea or upon the authorisation of Constance Lemuria Resort, welcomed us with background speckles of the be-all and end-all of Mother Nature. Small aside: Constance Lemuria offers a gastronomic delight, not to be missed. An exquisite six course meal menu … that's what we were treated to! For an abundance of Mediterranean flavours to savour, this is the address to keep safe.
In a completely different atmosphere, the discovery of the vibrant local life at La Digue was an unforgettable event. At the end of Anse Source d’Argent, the Seychellois had been setting up barbecues with their family and friends and we could smell the flavour of fresh marinated fish on the grill. Others were selling fresh local fruits to passers-by … A folkloric ambiance it was, memorable moment; checked!
Apart from local inputs complementing my holidays, Seychelles luxuriant nature was the icing on the cake. The archipelago is home to unique endemic species such as the famous coco de mer, the biggest seed ever identified in the world, the meduste tree and two birds species that cannot be found anywhere else; the Magpie Robin and the Seychelles Warbler. During our stay, we were eager to learn more about two hidden gems listed as the UNESCO World Heritage sites ; Aldabra, one of the world’s largest raised coral atoll discovered by Arab sailors during the IXth century and home also to some giant tortoises, and the mystical Vallée de Mai, found on Praslin island where grows the coco de mer.
In my opinion, the spirit of Mahé lies in that peaceful sensation of getaway half a world away, far from the hustle and bustle. That tailor-made trip to Seychelles sometimes by bus or by car inspires one to unearth the unique beauty of this picturesque island. My admiration for the sober and minimalistic capital city Victoria grows each day that passes in Mahé. And for some goodies to bring back in your suitcases; the local shops and Victoria market will be your places to be!
I’ll wrap up by mentioning my favourites, established at the rhythm of the various hotel visits in Mahé. The choice was not the easiest, but there were some which definitely stood out from the pack :
●The Carana Beach, as its name implies looms along the beach in an idyllic and intimist setting. A little piece of heaven in perfect harmony with nature while providing the absolute comfort of a hotel worthy of the name. The furniture in fresh and refined tones invites relaxation and escapism. And the stay would not be the same without the special attention paid by the Director of the hotel to his guests.
●The Bliss Hotel also attracted my attention through its implication in the protection of the environment. The decorations are mostly made up of recycled materials providing the hotel with a unique look. The views from the bedrooms overlooking the sea are so delightful that one would spend the whole day contemplating the azure lagoon. But that lagoon also hosts one of the best spots of the island for snorkelling, a chance not to be missed. Once again, the warm welcome of the manager incites anyone to absolutely recommend this piece of heaven.
●The Four Seasons Resort stands out of the line among the most luxurious hotels of Mahé. The personalised service worthy of a renowned high-end resort builds up the reputation of the hotel. One can wander on an unspoiled beach with fine sand sharing the shoreline with the turquoises waters of Petite Anse bay. The sea view villas offer a complete panorama of the most beautiful things Seychelles has to offer from the comfort of your bed.
●My last favourite and not the least of the wonderful hotels of Mahé, is Constance Ephelia. A tremendous site where the most dazzling shades of green of the luxuriant nature, merge with the most sulphurous blue tones of the sea. Gorgeous villas nestled in the hill down, craft the charm of that resort, perfect for couples and families. I particularly appreciated the club car service to move around due to the considerable size of the hotel and the spacious spa, which not only offers treatment and massages but also serenity and peace. It should be noted that the latter is nothing more than the largest in the Indian Ocean... So soon, this exceptional place can be yours to unwind!
Till we meet again!
What a memorable dream trip it was … Heavenly beaches, luxurious hotels, the warmth of Seychelles inhabitants. Please take me back! Did my trip grab your fancy? Oh, wait till you get Thierry’s tale! This absolute fan of Seychelles will share with you his fun weekin the following article of our Islandian experts’ trip to this timeless destination. Make sure not to miss the juicy details of his itinerary in the most beautiful hotels in Praslin.