The Seychelles is all about island life – 115 islands, to be exact. They are spread across six island groups lying 500-1600 km off the East coast of Africa in line with the border between Kenya and Tanzania. This Indian Ocean paradise is famous for its enticing pearly-white beaches and inviting turquoise waters. The archipelago consists of 43 inner islands that are mainly composed of granite and 72 outer islands formed from coral. The main (and largest) island of Mahé is where you’ll start your beach bliss experience; it’s also the gateway for travel to all the other islands. Mahé is home to Victoria, the Seychelles’ capital, known for its Creole architecture and a colourful covered market selling fish, fruit and clothing.
From the bustle of Mahé, you’ll head to the island of Praslin, widely considered to be one of the most beautiful destinations on the planet and one of the most travelled islands in the archipelago. After Praslin, you’ll make your way to your choice of other islands – some just for a day trip and some to overnight, depending on what type of experience you’re after. We’ll plan your exact route according to your most whimsical island daydream. We highly recommend a stay on car-free La Digue, home to one of the most photographed beaches in the Seychelles, and a stop at northernmost Bird Island, a private sanctuary with just one beach lodge. Denis Island is the archetypal tropical island escape while the exclusive Ile du Nord (North Island) has just 11 villas in total and epitomises sheer freedom that complete privacy allows. Throughout the archipelago, some island resorts can be booked for private use, giving life to a Blue Lagoon-style desert island fantasy.
On arrival at Johannesburg International Airport, you'll collect your baggage and catch a connecting flight to Mahé in the Seychelles. At 28km long and 8km wide, Mahé is the largest island in the Seychelles. It lies to the northeast of the archipelago and is home to the capital city of Victoria as well as 90% of the local population with 70 000 residents. Despite the relative population density, Mahé retains an idyllic beauty with towering mountain peaks and a seemingly endless choice of gorgeous beaches.
This island is the busiest that the Seychelles gets, meaning it also has the largest selection of resorts and activities available in the archipelago. Hike across the rugged interior of Morne Seychellois National Park where forest covered mountains peak from the island's heart, or go diving and snorkelling in the warm bays that ring the island. Stretching along the west coast from one side to the other you'll find a long string of beautiful beaches, many with top class accommodation right on their shores. Mahé is a place to discover superb snorkelling spots, secret sunbathing retreats and tiny villages bursting with fascinating Creole culture. The Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market (often called Victoria Market) has a dizzying variety of fish, fruit, spices and vegetables, as well as tourist crowd-pleasers like sarongs and coconut oil. Stallholders love to chat and will happily share their local travel tips, recipes and history. Also in Victoria - incidentally one of the smallest capitals in the world - are the National Botanical Gardens, five acres of landscapes gardens featuring plants endemic to Mahé as well as giant Aldabra tortoises, some of whom are over 150 years old. It's exceedingly tough to choose the best beach on Mahé, but our top picks are beautiful Anse Intendance for its wild, untouched beauty and turtle hatchlings between October and February, and Anse Major which is only accessible by boat or by hiking through hike through Morne Seychellois National Park, so you're likely to find yourselves alone at this picturesque and secluded spot.
From Mahé you'll take a short flight or 60 minute ferry trip to Praslin, the second largest island. Despite its size, Praslin is sparsely populated with just 6500 residents. Praslin is best known for its palm-fringed beaches bordered by large granite boulders, two of which regularly make the top 10 lists of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Anse Lazio in the northwest is a tourist favourite, but it somehow never feels overcrowded. The beach is 500m long with safe swimming and huge Takamaka trees that provide shade all along the shoreline. Anse Georgette is part of the Constance Lemuria Hotel, so you must either be a hotel guest or call ahead to be counted as one of the limited number of outside visitors allowed daily. This beach is unique in that it has no coral or rocks in the bay, giving the water an unusually bright turquoise colour. As difficult as it is to tear yourself away from Praslin's beaches, there are other activities on offer here. Enjoy a round of golf on an 18 hole championship course, explore the lush tropical forests covering the hills and visit world heritage site, Valle de Mai, where you can see the nation's national bird, the rare black parrot, and find the coco de mer palm tree that produces the world's largest nut.
From Praslin you can fly or take a ferry to some of the more remote islands. We'll guide your journey depending on the experience you're after - here are some of our top picks for the bets of the rest.
La Digue is the most relaxed island with no cars, so you'll walk or cycle to get around. It's a hippie paradise that draws bohemian crowds from all over the world and, despite its sleepy pace, can get quite busy in peak season. It's also home to Anse Source D’Argent, frequent winner of best beach in the world and the place to get your classic Seychelles beach photo.
Silhouette Island is a mountainous landscape that is almost entirely protected by the Nature Protection Trust of Seychelles. Hidden within its primitive beauty is just one small village and one guest resort. Activities here include hiking, diving, snorkelling and wildlife spotting.
Denis Island is a private island that is almost totally encircled with dazzling white beaches and lined with palms and casuarina trees. To access this exclusive spot, you must be a guest of the one beach resort on the island, Denis Private Island. This is as close to living on your own desert island as most people will get. Even though it feels like it's in the middle of nowhere, it's a quick 30 minute flight from Mahé,
North Island is a privately owned luxury island resort with just 11 villas among its tropical palms and granite peaks. The only disturbance on the untouched beaches will be your footprints. With attentive but discreet service and classic island activities (many of which can be arranged in complete seclusion), this is the finest of barefoot-luxury escapes.
Bird Island is perfect for nature lovers as it's the gateway to the most unique private nature reserve and bird sanctuary in the Seychelles. It's the northernmost island in the archipelago with a keen focus on conservation, including the protection of the critically endangered Hawksbill and Green turtles and a single, ecologically sound hotel.
It's time to say farewell to the dreamy paradise of the Seychelles, as you breakfast one last time in impossibly beautiful surroundings before making your way back to Mahé and flying on to Johannesburg to catch your international return flight.