The islands of the Seychelles are little slices of heaven on earth. Scattered throughout the remote reaches of the Indian Ocean, they’re the place to live out all of your desert island daydreams. The beaches really do take the tropical biscuit, but there’s so much more to the Seychelles than their silky white shores. Scratch beneath their perfect sandy surface and you’ll find fascinating culture, untamed jungle, endangered wildlife and the world’s sexiest nut!
There are hundreds of reasons to hop on the next plane to the Seychelles, but, to keep it simple, we’ve whittled it down to seven. So, here you have it, whether your are looking to go island hopping or include these magical islands as part of a safari and beach holiday, here are seven reasons why you’ll be in seventh heaven in the Seychelles:
1. MIND-BOGGLINGLY BEAUTIFUL BEACHES
You won’t be sorry to be stranded in the Seychelles. The beaches are more perfect than you can possibly imagine, with powdered ivory sands sliding into crystal clear waters and coconut palms rustling in the warm breeze. Dotted across the coastline of every tiny island, you’ll find sun-kissed coves giving way to blue lagoons and pastel pink boulders hugging the edges of the beach. A handful of these pure shores are rated amongst the most beautiful beaches in the entire world. Step off the plane and you’ll soon see why.
2. JAW-DROPPING JUNGLE TRAILS
The castaway beaches and impossibly clear waters may get all the press, but these spellbinding islands have far more in store. If you peek behind the curtain of swaying coconut palms, you’ll find sprawling jungles bursting with strange, scented blooms. In the Vallée de Mai National Park on peaceful Praslin Island, you’ll find mist forests filled with coco de mer, the world’s heaviest (and sexiest) nut, shaped like a lady’s pelvis. You’ll also stumble across Jellyfish trees, tumbling vanilla vines, rare orchids, carnivorous pitcher plants and more. It really is paradise untamed.
3. WEIRD AND WONDERFUL WILDLIFE
In addition to the bizarre flora, the jungle-rich interiors of the Seychelles are home to some fantastical fauna. The Aldebra giant tortoise, one of the largest in the world, plods across these islands, with a whoppingly long neck that measures up to a metre. Incredibly, these tortoises can live for over a century and each one weighs up to 500 pounds. At the other end of the scale, the Seychelles are also home to the Soogloassid frog, which may well be the smallest in the world.
Not only this, but the birdlife is bountiful, with 250 species twittering in the jungle canopy. Some of the rarest birds in the world nest here, amongst them the Seychelles paradise flycatcher, the Seychelles black parrot, the Seychelles bulbul and the fruit pigeon. You’ll also find the sunbird, the Aldabra drongo and the Seychelles fody on these shores. If you’re a twitcher, you’re in for a treat.
4. A MATCHLESS MARINE WORLD
The land-dwelling wildlife of the Seychelles is certainly eye-popping, but the underwater world is equally as astounding. You can swim with wild dolphins, snorkel through coral reefs amongst hawksbill sea turtles and dive into sea caves filled with gorgonian fans and sleeping nurse sharks.
There are over 2,000 different species of fish swanning about in the translucent waters of the Seychelles, including parrotfish, angelfish, pufferfish and moray eels. And, when you need a break from exploring the world beneath the waves, you can wash up on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches for a cocktail or two. Bliss.
5. MAGICAL MULTICULTURE
The Seychelles is a magical melting pot when it comes to culture. With a mottled history of slavery, piracy and spice traders, the Seychellois people have ancestry drawn from all four corners of the earth. It’s fascinating stuff. First French, then British and now Creole, the islands are a colourful collage of international influences. Troublemakers from the British were sent here in exile, pirates hid their bounty in these jungles, spice traders stopped here between India and Africa and Europeans settled here to restart their lives in a peaceful paradise. The diversity, and especially the harmony, is inspiring.
6. FANTASTIC FUSION CUISINE
With such a rich cultural patchwork, it’s no surprise that the Seychellois cuisine is deliciously diverse. A mix of spicy, fruity, tangy and fresh flavours, it is sure to take your tastebuds on a wild ride. There are coconut curries, vibrant green papaya salads, giant crab soups and an overwhelming choice of fruit chutneys. Fresh fish is served in a thousand different ways – grilled with garlic, curried, poached in Creole sauce or spiced and baked in a banana leaf. There are also some startling delicacies on the menu, such as Rousettes (fruit bats), shark chutney and Seychelles beef (sea turtle).
7. THE SUN-KISSED SIMPLE LIFE
The Seychelles really is the place to let time slow down and get back to some serious basics. It’s all about nature and nurture, so just succumb to the magic. soak up the sunshine and snooze in the shade of a coconut palm. Many of the islands, La Digue, for example, have few roads or none at all. Luggage is ferried about my horse and cart while the locals get around on bicycles. The Seychelles is the perfect place to switch off the iPad, get lost offline and take a much-needed break from modern life. It’s rare, barefoot bliss that is harder and harder to find in our hectic world. So enjoy it.