If you are thinking of an island holiday, your mind probably runs to the Maldives, Hawaii or Greece. Seychelles, for some reason, seem to be overlooked as an island escape, but they shouldn’t be. There are many memorable things to do in Seychelles.
The islands of Seychelles sit in the middle of the Indian Ocean, around 1000 miles from the coast of East Africa. The archipelago is made up of some 155 islands many of which are uninhabited. They are home to an incredible range of beautiful environments, from tall granite mountains, jungles, coral reefs, and pristine beaches to crystal blue seas, and waterfalls. These diverse environments are teeming with life and many of the species are endemic to the island nation.
The nation also has a rich and interesting history. The islands remained undiscovered for a long time and were only first seen by Vasco De Gama when his fleet sailed through the Indian Ocean in 1503. They remained uninhabited until 1756 when the French took over, even though the British first landed there in 1609. The French didn’t have control for long though, and the Brits came back and took over in 1794.
It is easy to get to Seychelles. You can get a direct flight from Mumbai (four hour flight time), Paris or London or catch one of the daily flights from a number of the major middle eastern hubs. All international flights go to Mahe Island, the main island of the nation, home to the capital Victoria. From Mahe, you can catch boats or internal flights to other islands.
Memorable Things to do in Seychelles
There are some incredible experiences to be had in this destination and here are our top choices that you will never forget.
Step Into The History In Mahe
The historical sites of the nation are focussed around the city of Victoria, the nation’s capital. You can visit old colonial homes, ancient planter houses, museums, catholic churches, Hindu temples and more.
There are three of the top sites that should not be missed in Mahé. The first is a fountain that was made for Queen Victoria in the year 1900 called ‘Jubilee De Diamond’ which is now a national monument. The second is the Seychelles Natural History Museum that is found inside an old colonial house. The museum takes you through the history of the settlement of Seychelles and its unique flora and fauna. And the last is the Jardin Du Roi Spice Garden. It is actually a museum and not a garden and is set in a reconstructed planters house from the 18th century. Here you can soak in a little history and culture and learn about the lives of slaves and colonists in the 18th and 18th centuries.
Get involved in the local culture
The people of the island nation are Creole, the origin of which is a mixture of African and Malagasy (from Madagascar). Today, however, it has been mixed up with Chinese, French, English and Indian culture.
The Creole people are happy, kind and super laid back, island style. They love music, color, rum and the ocean of course. If you are lucky enough to visit in October, you may come across the Creole Festival in Mahe. The streets fill with music, color, and dancing as the carnival brings the island of Mahe to life. It’s an awesome party and is a great way to immerse yourself in Creole culture and have a good time doing it.
Taste some of the local cuisines
While you’re in the island nation you will not be able to escape without trying the local Creole food. The flavors have influences from around the globe and are made of Indian, French, Chines, and English cooking styles. It’s delicious and you will never forget your first Creole dish. The meals are mainly made up of local fruits, fresh seafood, spicy curries, and the odd fruit bat. I’m not joking, fruit bat curry is a delicacy in the island nation but is hard to find these days.
Creole cuisine is found everywhere on most islands, you will not have to look far to find it. In fact, your hotel will probably serve it too. Some of the yummiest dishes to try are a smoked fish and green papaya salad, grilled bread-fruit, octopus and coconut curry and freshly grilled fish wrapped in banana leaves.
Stroll down the beaches – Best of things to do in Seychelles
Did you know that Seychelles is home to the two most photogenic beaches in the world? That is a serious claim to fame for an island nation. Anse Source D’Argent beach on La Digue Island and Cote D’Or beach on Praslin Island were voted the winners, but do not worry if you can’t make it to them, all the beaches here are magical.
The beaches by law are public property in the island nation. So no matter where the beach is, you are allowed to be on it. One of the best things about the beaches is that there is no one on them, well not nobody, but they are not busy by anyone’s standards. There are so many to choose from and, if you get off the normal routes for a little adventure, you could find yourself on your own little slice of paradise with a beach to yourself.
When you walk through the jungle and out on to the fine white sand, you realize why they are said to be so stunning. The water is warm, crystal clear and every shade of blue. The beach is fringed by palm trees, jungle and granite boulders and it gives you a notion that you have stepped back in time.
Take a peek under the sea
Snorkeling or diving at Sainte-Anne Marine National Park is out of this world. The marine park is a short boat ride from Mahe and is only accessible by sea. It is made up of 6 different islands and was the first southwest Indian Oceans marine protected area when it was first established in 1973.
The marine park holds a unique concentration of ecosystems inside it. The coral gardens are lush and protected, it also has the largest area of seagrass meadows in the island nation. While swimming around in the gin-clear warm waters you can see a huge number of fish species, green turtles, hawksbill turtles, stunning coral, and manta rays.
The best time to see manta rays is between April and December. They’re attracted to the area due to the large amounts of plankton the reef produces. Swimming with a manta ray is quite unforgettable, they are such gracious and curious creatures.
Robinson Crusoe Adventure Cruise
The Opelzir catamaran offers a day of island hopping around the islands close to Mahe. Step aboard the stunning vessel with a small group that will take from one desert island to the next. The first port of call is St Pierre Island. It is a small granite island fringed by palm trees, white beaches, and azure blue waters. It is great for swimming, snorkeling and beach walk.
From here you sail to Curieuse Island to wander amongst mountains, lush forests, and to the idyllic beach of Anse Saint Jose. On your way, you may be lucky enough to spot a Giant tortoise, which is only found in Seychelles and the Galapagos Islands. They move really slowly so there is no doubt you’ll find one.
Then hop aboard again for a delicious barbeque while you sail to the secluded cove of Anse Georgette for a quick swim followed by cruising the northeast coast of Praslin island and back to Mahe.
This day trip is a great way to see the sights and spend some time on the sea while you’re there.
See the birds
The island nation is quite unique when it comes to birdlife. They have 12 endemic species of their own and are also a stopover and breeding ground for many sea and migratory birds. The most famous of the endemic birds are the black paradise flycatcher, blue pigeon and the national bird, the Seychelles black parrot.
The sea birds include red-footed boobies, frigate birds and a lot of turns while the most sought after migratory birds are whimbrels, large flocks of crab plovers, sand plovers.
Bird Island, aptly named, is an excellent place to see birdlife. It was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1986 and since has become a refuge for a huge amount of species. It is home to a huge colony of sooty turns as well as land, sea, and shorebirds that call it home. Bird Island is a short flight from Mahe and there is a beautiful lodge to stay in whilst you are there. The island isn’t just home to birds, there are beautiful beaches to discover, turtles hatching and some great snorkeling to explore.
Aride Island is the northern-most island of the nation and is famous for seabirds. It holds one of the most important populations of sea birds in the Indian Ocean with more breeding species than any other island. It is completely uninhabited outside of the staff that works there in conservation. You can visit Aride on a day trip from Praslin and is only open to the public from Monday to Friday in October-April.
Do read: Top things to do in Hong Kong
Catch A Marlin
The offshore fishing in the island nation is one of the best in the world. They have good runs of blue, black and striped marlin, huge yellow-fin and dogtooth tuna, and giant trevally. A day charter can be easily booked on Mahe and the surrounding islands. It is an experience that shouldn’t be missed. There is nothing quite like cruising around the open ocean in complete tranquility. Then having the sudden adrenalin rush of catching a huge fish.
Things to do in Seychelles Outer Islands
The outer islands are about an hour’s flight from Mahe. They showcase how the ocean used to be. Thanks to their remoteness, the islands have been reasonably unaffected. The coral reefs and fish life are simply mind-blowing.
Some of the best diving in the world
There is only one certified dive center in the outer islands and its found on Alphonse Island. Alphonse Island is home to just one beautiful boutique hotel that offers both divings, offshore and fly fishing.
Learn to dive, improve or simply enjoy some time underwater with this incredible team. The diving around the atoll is simply out of this world. You can come face to face with a huge number of species while in the capable hands of your dive guides. Diving here has been described as what the Maldives used to be and a lot of it is still to be explored. That is not all that’s on offer on Alphonse though. You can see amazing birdlife, giant tortoises, visit the neighboring islands, snorkel and more.
World Class Fly Fishing
Alphonse Island was originally set up as a fishing lodge and for good reason. The flats fishing around the island of St Francois and Alphonse are incredible. The island nation is known as the best saltwater flyfishing destination in the world.
The expansive reef and sand flats are a fly fisherman’s dream. You can target anything from bonefish, permit, and triggerfish, to milkfish and giant trevally. The operation at Alphonse uses state of the art skiffs. An excellent guide team that runs them. Your guide can teach you how to fish or if you are a seasoned fly fisherman, get you in the zone to catch a species you have been dreaming about your whole life.
Summing up Things to do in Seychelles
The island nation is unique and we have only just scratched the surface here. They remain semi-undiscovered as far as island destinations go. They are full of culture, history and natural beauty.
In terms of where to stay, the choice is yours. You can hire your own private island. Sail around the islands on a private yacht. Live on stilts in your own beachside bungalow. Chill in a guest house in Mahe or rent your own holiday home. The options for accommodation suit anyone’s taste. It is time to book. Do share your favorite things to do in the island nation.
This is a guest post by Mike Jensen.
Mike is addicted to both adventure and travel, so he decided to combine the two to form TheAdventourist. There he shares his journey from one adrenaline rush to another, always exploring new places as he goes. You can find him sharing his travels on Facebook.