The beauty of Seychelles is captured in more than just its beaches. There is something to experience for anyone–from foodies, those who love marine life and other animals, and those who love trekking through beautiful landscapes. The Seychelles islands are truly “another world.”
Whether you want to spend the day observing Aldabra giant tortoises, hiking the trails of Morne Seychellois, grabbing a bite of amazing Creole food at Marie Antoinette or checking out the reefs in Saint-Anne Marine National Park, the Seychelles is a cultural hub tucked away in the Indian Ocean.
The 115 Seychelles islands are categorized by two distinct groups: the Inner Islands and the Outer Islands. The Inner Islands comprise 43 islands and 72 coralline islands make up the Outer Islands.
Since the Seychelles has so much to offer in terms of its gastronomy, culture, wildlife, and biodiversity, we are going to highlight some of the islands in both groups so you can get a glimpse of the multi-island nation.
1. Hike the Morne Blanc Trail in Mahé
Mahé is one of the three main islands. It is the largest island in the Seychelles and is home to Victoria, the country’s capital.
Operating as the commercial center of the Seychelles, nearly 90% of the country’s population lives on this island. In 1742, the French settled in Mahé and enslaved persons from Mauritius, Madagascar, Mozambique and, to a lesser extent, from India also inhabited the islands.
To learn more about Seychelles history, be sure to visit the Seychelles National Museum while in Mahé. The museum highlights the history of the islands and Creole culture using digital displays and an exclusive collection of artifacts and national emblems.
Mahé’s nature scene is an even more enjoyable experience. Some of the best beaches including Anse Intendance, Anse Major, Petite Anse, Anse Royale and Anse Louis are located in Mahé.
You can hike the trails of Morne Blanc, one of the most iconic mountains in Mahé. You will hike through an old tea plantation, fruit trees and mist forests to the top of Morne Blanc in Morne Seychellois National Park. The stunning panoramic views of western Mahé and the pleasant company of a wide range of tropical birds make the forty-minute ascent worthwhile. Another option is to visit the Seychelles National Botanical Gardens to see a wide array of plants, spice trees and fruit trees.
Places to Stay in Mahé
2. Visit the “Garden of Eden” in Praslin
Praslin is the second largest island and it is also considered a main island. It is less populated than Mahé and is characterized by its beautiful landscape, wildlife and biodiversity. Beautiful beaches to experience include Anse Lazio, Anse Georgette, Anse Volbert and Corte d’Or Beach. Praslin is home to giant clams and you can get an up close view at Black Pearl Seychelles.
Called the real life “Garden of Eden” by some, Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve is a famous nature park and is one of the island’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. The coco de mer palm, also called the double coconut, can be found in the nature reserve. Coco de mer palm is a rare plant species only grown naturally on the islands of Praslin and Curieuse and can grow up to 110 feet tall with fronds as long as 30 feet. It produces the coco de mer, the largest and heaviest nut in the world.
3. Visit One of the World’s Best Beaches in La Digue
La Digue is the third most populated island and the last of the main islands of the Seychelles. To mitigate the impact of unregulated tourism, much of La Digue is now a nature reserve and hub for environmental preservation. The Rene Payet Veuve Reserve is a special reserve tasked with the protection of wildlife habitat in La Digue.
Giant tortoises can be found on the coast of La Digue at places like Anse Severe and Anse Patate. Some of Seychelles’ top beaches can be found on La Digue. Anse Source d’Argent is one of the most photographed beaches in the world and is known for its turquoise waters, white sands, and large granite boulders.
A historical gem to explore in La Digue is L’Union Estate . It is recognized as a heritage site and is home to Anse Source d’Argent.
Visitors can walk through a coconut and vanilla plantation at the site. The 300 hectare estate also has a tortoise pen and an old boat yard with traditional boats built from takamaka wood.
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Additional Inner Islands
Outside of the main islands, there are additional Inner Islands that offer distinct landscape features. It is easy to hop on a boat ride and take day tours within the Inner islands.
Bird Island is a popular island for bird watching and viewing turtles. Many visit the private islands of Cousine as it is home to giant tortoises and coral reefs. Take a trip to Moyenne Island to hear the tales of pirates and old ruins and for snorkeling adventures. Fregate Island has one of the world’s best beaches–Anse Victorin–and it is popular for water sports.
The Outer Islands are atolls (coral reefs in the shape of a ring), sand cays, rock formations, and other small uninhabited habitats. Since the bulk of the Outer Island is undisturbed, there is a major push by the government to protect the waters in this area.
The Outer Islands are recognized for its preservation of over 1,000 fish species, 180 bird species, 300 coral species, breeding and nesting grounds for wildlife, and for their pristine waters.
Desroches Island is a private outer island and home of the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island. Described as having 15 dive sites with some of the best scuba diving, rare fauna and flora, and some of the best fishing sites in the country, this coral island is also home to a small local population that work to protect the delicate and well-preserved environment.
4. Explore a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Aldabra Atoll
One of the most remarkable locations in the Outer Island is Aldabra Atoll. It is one of the largest raised coral atolls in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Due to the biodiversity in the ocean, the atoll is colorful and is home to the world’s largest population of the Aldabra tortoise. Under its protected status, Aldabra Atoll remains an important site for studying the natural processes of the ocean, marine life and biodiversity.
5. Go Bird Watching on Alphonse Island
Another well visited location in the Outer Islands is Alphonse Island. Within its history, Alphonse Island and its population sustained their livelihood through trade and production due to its fertile land. Crops like maize, pumpkin, banana, sweet potato and pineapple were in abundance.
It is one of the few Outer Islands that offers accommodations. The island relies solely on solar power and native vegetation. Due to its isolation, Alphonse island is important for many species of birds like the Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and several turtle species.
You may not be able to explore the Outer Islands by hopping on a quick boat ride so selecting to stay at one of the well-appointed lodges, rustic modern accommodations or eco-camp experiences offered by Blue Safari Seychelles can allow you to really experience the remote Outer Islands.
Your Seychelles adventure can begin with a flight to Seychelles International Airport. As of September 14, 2020, its list of visitors from permitted countries was comprised of 28 countries. To stay up to date on this growing list and learn about the government’s Health Certified Tourism Businesses, visit the Seychelles Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marines website.