The Seychelles are overshadowed by more popular island escapes, but it is time for a change. Check out 8 outstanding reasons to visit the Seychelles.
The Seychelles are not really on the map in terms of global tourism and while more popular and well-known island escapes like the Maldives and Hawaii get the attention of travelers, it is time for a change and for good reason. Our guest author, Mike Jensen, from The Adventourist, gives us 8 outstanding reasons to visit the Seychelles.
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The Seychelles are found in the middle of the Indian Ocean about 1000 miles from the coast of East Africa. There are 155 islands in the archipelago, many of them uninhabited islands, and they are home to an untouched wonderland of endemic species, jungles, coral reefs, waterfalls, and pristine ocean and beaches.
The islands are easy to get to. There are direct flights from Europe and daily flights from the major middle eastern hubs of Dubai and Qatar. All international flights go to Mahe, the main island of Seychelles which is home to the capital Victoria, and it is from here you that can fly or sail to the neighboring islands.
So why should you visit the Seychelles? Here is what we think.
History of The Seychelles
The Seychelles has an interesting and diverse history, the remnants of which can still be discovered in Mahe today.
The islands were uninhabited for most of their lives and were first sighted by European vessels in 1503 when Portugal’s Vasco De Gama sailed through the Indian Ocean. The first recorded landing was by the British in 1609 but no claim was made and the islands were then used by pirates until the French took control in 1756. Their reign did not last long, however, and the British eventually took over in 1794.
Most of the historical sites are around Victoria on Mahe Island and there are quite a few to visit. There are old Catholic churches, Hindu temples, a replica of Big Ben and the famous fountain ‘Jubilee De Diamand’ which was made for Queen Victoria in 1900 and more. The old homes exhibiting colonial architecture are something to behold and the vintage planter houses and museums are also interesting sites to visit.
A trip to the Seychelles Natural History Museum is recommended. Set in an old colonial house, the museum holds exhibits about the local fauna and flora and the history of the islands’ settlement. A visit to Le Jardin Du Roi Spice Garden should also not be missed. It is a museum inside a reconstructed planter’s farmstead from the 18th Century and exhibits the mode of life of colonists and slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Food in The Seychelles
Creole cuisine combines a wide variety of cooking styles. English, French, Chinese and Indian flavors are found amongst it. The food is something no visitor to the Seychelles ever forgets. The local island dishes are absolutely delicious and are focussed around spicy curries, fresh seafood, local fruit, and the occasional fruit bat curry as a delicacy.
Their most famous dishes are a sumptuous octopus and coconut curry, freshly grilled fish wrapped in banana leaves, grilled bread-fruit, and a yummy smoked fish salad.
Creole dishes are found everywhere on the islands, from street vendors and restaurants to local guest houses and hotels. Check out the Victoria market for ingredients and local dishes.
The Creole Culture of The Seychelles
The majority of the people living in the Seychelles are Creole which has a Malagasy and African origin although nowadays it is mixed up with English, French, Indian and Chinese cultures too, a little like the food.
Like a lot of island nations, the Creole people are laid back and love color, music and the ocean. The best time to see the culture in full force is in October when Mahe hosts the Creole festival and carnival. It is a great party and an excellent way to learn and interact with the melting pot that is Creole culture today.
The Beaches, Obviously
The Seychelles has some of the most stunning beaches in the world, in fact, the beaches are so beautiful that the top two most photogenic beaches in the world are in the Seychelles: Anse Source D’Argent on La Digue and Cote D’Or on Praslin.
The beaches are surrounded by lush forests, palms trees and huge granite boulders that give it a very undiscovered feel. The sand is white, clean and fine and the sea is warm and comes in every shade of blue you can imagine. One of the best things is that they are not busy by anyone’s standards. There are so many options to chose from, you could end up on your own private beach for the day if you get off the beaten track.
The Special Species
Thanks to the Seychelles being in the middle of nowhere, they have a huge array of unique flora and fauna, some of which can not be found anywhere else in the world.
The Aldabra giant tortoise is native to Seychelles and is one of the largest tortoises in the world. It is closely related to the giant tortoise found in the Galapagos Islands and you can go and see these in the wild on the islands of Alphonse, Cousin, and Curieuse as well as in captivity on Mahe and Praslin.
The Coco de Mer palm also calls the Seychelles it’s home. This tree produces the heaviest seed in the world and you can see these incredible trees in the Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve on Praslin.
The Seychelles government is very protective of its environment and has strict rules and management plans that ensure its longevity. Seeing some of this amazing wildlife is something everyone should do when in the Seychelles.
The Best Fishing In The World
The outer islands of the Seychelles have long been known to have the best saltwater fly fishing on the planet. Huge uninhabited reefs and sand flats make this a fly fisherman’s paradise where they can target a dizzying array of species. The place to start your fly fishing journey is Alphonse Island, an hour’s flight from Mahe. This private island is made for fishing, with excellent boats and guides as well as five-star accommodation.
The offshore fishing is also some of the best with blue, black and striped marlin calling the waters home, as well as huge yellow-fin and dogtooth tuna and giant trevally. A day charter can be easily booked on Mahe and the surrounding islands.
The Coral Reefs
The Seychelles is under-rated as a diving and snorkeling destination and the outer islands have been described as how the Maldives used to be. The corals have suffered from bleaching like the rest of the world but there are still large areas that are bursting with life and color.
The oceans here are some of the richest in the world and dipping your head under to take a peek is well worth it. The waters are warm and crystal clear, and you will see anything from giant shoals of colorful fish, bright coral, turtles, to the occasional curious shark.
There is some good diving and snorkeling to be found around Mahe. Le Meridien Hotel at Fishermans Cove has created their own snorkeling trail. You can follow the path around the coral and eventually end up at an underwater letterbox where you mail your postcards back home.
At the Four Seasons in Mahe, you can join in the reef restoration project where they invite you to plant your own piece of coral to help counteract the bleaching.
The best areas for diving and snorkeling are found on the outer islands of Alphonse, Astove, and Cosmoledo. These areas have only recently opened up to snorkeling and diving, and parts of them still remain undiscovered.
The islands of the Seychelles are known for their birdlife. There over 12 endemic species of birds to be found on the islands and the Seychelles is placed as a perfect stopover for migratory birds.
Some of the endemic birds to look out for are the Seychelles black parrot, the national bird of the Seychelles, Seychelles blue pigeon and the Seychelles black paradise flycatcher.
The most famous of migratory birds that come via the Seychelles are whimbrels, sand plovers, and unusually large flocks of crab plovers.
Bird Island is certainly the hot spot when it comes to seeing birdlife. The island was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1986 and is now home to a large colony of sooty turns. There are also great opportunities to see land, sea and shore birds on the island thanks to its tremendous numbers.
Should You Go?
As you can see, the Seychelles is truly a unique part of the world that still remains a little bit undiscovered, especially when compared to other island destinations. Its medley of history and culture mixed with a dazzlingly beautiful natural environment full of life and diversity make it a truly incredible destination.
Their tourism infrastructure is well set up. It is easy to get to where you want to be and be in the comfort you are used to. Luxury does not come at too much of a price and the options for accommodation suite anyone’s taste.
Author Bio: Mike is addicted to both adventure and travel, so decided to combine the two to form The Adventourist. 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.