The Seychelles - Fodor's The Complete Guide to African Safaris: with South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Rwanda & the Seychelles (Full-color Travel Guide) (2015)

Fodor's The Complete Guide to African Safaris: with South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Rwanda & the Seychelles (Full-color Travel Guide) (2015)

The Seychelles

Main Table of Contents

Welcome to the Seychelles



La Digue

Private Island Resorts

Welcome to the Seychelles

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Top Reasons to Go | Getting Oriented | Planning

By Lee Middleton

Unique. A word overused in tourism, but one that truly describes the Seychelles. One hundred and fifteen coral and granite islands rising from the Indian Ocean, this pristine hideaway of white-sand beaches, majestic granite cliffs, palm-fringed jungles, and astonishing azure waters is a mostly uninhabited paradise. Trading in exclusivity, luxury, and undeveloped natural environments, the Seychelles is an ideal beach escape for those who can afford all that gorgeous privacy.

With its countless perfect beaches and secluded coves fringed by sea-sculpted granite boulders, the Seychelles is a favored backdrop for fashion shoots and once-in-a-lifetime dream vacations. It has earned its reputation as an exclusive and costly destination, but in recent years, numerous locally owned guesthouses and two- and three-star hotels have opened their doors, making these islands more accessible. However, if ultraluxurious pampering, breathtaking style, and total privacy on some of the world’s most stunning beaches are what you seek, Seychelles has them in spades, but not on a budget.

Beyond the luxury resorts—and really the basis for their existence—the Seychelles claim some of the world’s best-preserved tropical habitats. Originally a huge granite shard attached to India’s west coast, some event—probably a volcanic eruption or meteor impact—caused what would become the Seychelles to break free and begin its northward drift. Over time, that single mass became a shimmering line of islands, transformed by their isolation, 1,600 km (994 miles) from mainland Africa in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Known as the Galápagos of the Indian Ocean, most of the islands were never settled by people (though many served as notorious pirate hideouts), and thus still harbor important populations of rare plants, birds, and animals, including the heartbreakingly beautiful ferry tern, the gentle giant tortoise, and the Coco de Mer—once thought to be the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. On the islands where human-introduced predators like cats and rats have been removed, astonishing populations of seabirds thrive, allowing visitors a glimpse of what the first explorers might have seen.

Those first explorers were probably seafarers hailing from Austronesia, followed in turn by Arab traders. The first European to pass through was Portuguese Admiral Vasco da Gama in 1502, followed by the English in 1609. A transit point for trade between Africa and Asia, the islands were used by pirates until 1756, when the French took control, laying down their “Stone of Possession” (visible today at the museum in Mahé) and naming the islands after Jean Moreau de Séchelles. Britain and France fought over the islands through the late 18th to early 19th centuries, with Britain finally gaining control in 1814. Achieving independence from Britain in 1976, the Seychelles today is a true success story of people who claim origins from all over the world and live together with an unusual and inspiring degree of harmony in diversity.


Splashing in Solitude: Home to the world’s most beautiful (and empty) beaches, Seychelles’ tropical waters are one big playground for snorkeling, diving, fishing, and kayaking.

Unspoiled Nature: Jungle-clad granite islands, where you can look a giant tortoise in the eye, have also become seabird sanctuaries, where the abundance of winged creatures will blow your mind.

Island Hopping: From “busy” Mahé to the empty beaches of coralline Denis to the über-luxury of private-island resorts to the entirely undeveloped nature sanctuary of Aldabra—every island offers something different and unforgettable.

Creole Culture: Old French Victorian mansions, colorful gardens, a cuisine that blends Indian, French, and Southeast Asian influences—the friendly Seychellois culture is a lovely and unique melting pot.


The three most popular islands in the Seychelles archipelago are Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue. Home to 98% of the Seychelles’ population, these three are clustered in the archipelago’s northeast area known as the Inner Island group. Mahé and Praslin are Seychelles’ largest islands (nearby Silhouette Island is larger than La Digue, but less populated), and all three are granitic (versus coral). The Inner Islands also include other popular islands to visit, such as Denis, Bird, Silhouette, and North. Southwest of the Inner Islands lie the other island groups: Amirantes, Alphonse, Farquhar, and Aldabra. Barring a handful of private-island resorts, these islands are mostly uninhabited and accessible only by boat.

Mahé. Home to the International Airport, the capital of Victoria, and by far the largest (in population and size) and most developed island, “busy” Mahé is still slow paced and charming by almost any definition. Mahé’s size means dramatic views of forest-cloaked granite cliffs, and numerous empty bays and beaches. Many fine restaurants have emerged, mostly along popular Beau Vallon, which is the only place in Seychelles where motorized water sports are allowed.

Praslin. Seychelles’ second largest island, Praslin is much quieter than Mahé, with accommodation tending toward smaller and often homier resorts and guesthouses. Home to the Vallée de Mai, the World Heritage site protecting the famous Coco de Mer palm, Praslin also is a stepping-off point for numerous day-trips to other smaller islands.

La Digue. This tiny charmer takes one back in time. With almost no motor traffic, everyone on La Digue gets around on foot or bicycle, which is the perfect way to take in the lovely old Creole-French homes and gorgeous wild beaches, including the famous Anse Source d’Argent. For those seeking an unpretentious, laid-back beach lifestyle, this is your island.



Seychelles has two seasons: the cool southeast monsoon (May-September), and the hot northwest monsoon (October-April). During the cool season, breezes prevail, skies can be partly cloudy, temperatures are lower, and the sea less than perfect for diving and snorkeling. The hot northwest monsoon brings crystalline waters, incredible heat, and occasional but serious rainstorms, interspersed with perfect blue skies. The cusp months of November and April are optimal, with the best of both on offer. The super busy (and far more expensive) high seasons fall from July to August, and Christmas to New Year’s.


Air Travel

The International Airport is located on Mahé, 8 km (5 miles) south of Victoria. If you’re coming from safari, you can catch flights departing from both Nairobi and Johannesburg twice a week (Kenya Airways, Air Seychelles, and Emirates operated). If you’re coming directly to the Seychelles from the U.S., it’s often cheapest (and necessary) to route through Europe; look for cheaper airfares direct from Rome, London, and Paris. Airlines with international routes include Air Seychelles, Emirates, Qatar, Condor, Etihad, Air Austral, and Ethiopian Airlines. Many cheaper fares route through Dubai or Abu Dabi.

The domestic terminal at Mahé will handle departures for all flights within Seychelles—i.e., the almost hourly 15-minute flight (US$65-225 one-way) to Praslin—and any of the other private islands (there’s no airport on La Digue). Domestic flights are handled by Air Seychelles and the Island Development Company (the latter handles the outer islands and Desroches Island). Luggage limits are 20kg (44 pounds).

Air Austral.
| 27-11/452-0752 in South Africa, 248/432-1044 |
Air Seychelles. | 439-1000, 877/359-7392 in the U.S. |
Condor. | 49-6171/698-8920 in Germany, 866/960-791 in USA |
Emirates. | 429-2700, 800/777-3999 in the U.S. |
Ethiopian Airlines. | 248/428-8909 |
Etihad. | 27-11/343-9140 in South Africa, 888/838-4423 in USA |
Island Development Company. | 438-4640 |
Kenya Airways. | 248/432-2989, 866/536-9224 in the U.S. |
Qatar. | 422-4518, 877/777-2827 in the U.S. |

Boat and Ferry Travel

Travel by boat between Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue is easy and relatively cheap. The Cat Coco ferry connects Mahé and Praslin, and takes about the same time as the flight (factoring in the need to arrive 45 minutes before a flight). About 50 minutes one-way, the ferry runs three times a day (only twice on Sundays), for US$55 one-way ($70 in the upper air-conditioned lounge). Children under 12 pay half. Book through the ferry or a travel agent at least a day in advance during high season. Free shuttles to and from the airport are sometimes available.

To get to La Digue, Cat Coco runs one ferry a day from Mahé (via Praslin) and twice on Sundays (about 90 minutes, US$70 one-way). You can also take the Inter-Island Ferry (30 minutes) to La Digue from Praslin, which runs about seven departures daily in each direction from about 7 am to 5 pm (US$16 one-way). The ride can be a bit bumpy during the southeast monsoon. Book ahead through your hotel or tour operator.

Cat Cocos Catamaran. | 432-4843, 432-4844 |
Inter-Island Ferry Co. | 423-2394 |

Bus Travel

The bus system in Mahé and Praslin is surprisingly good and cheap, saving you from needing to rent a car if you don’t mind the usual vagaries of public transport. Destinations and routes are usually marked on the front of the bus (always double check with the driver). There’s a flat fee of 5 Seychelle rupees (Rs5) for any ride, or Rs10 on air-conditioned buses. Bus stops are painted on the road in places with no shoulder, or indicated by signs and small shelters. You can call the Seychelles Public Transport Corporation (SPTC) to get the Mahé route and schedule information Monday to Friday from 8 to 4, and the Seychelles Tourism Board’s head office also provides copies of the maps and schedule for Mahé. The schedule can be purchased at the terminal for Rs5.

On La Digue, most people get around by bicycle. See La Digue section for contacts.

Seychelles Public Transport Corporation. | 428-0227, 428-0228 |
Seychelles Taxi Operators. | Mahé | 251-9355 |

Car Travel

Having your own car is the only way to fully explore all of Mahé’s charms. Even if most of your holiday will be spent lazing on beaches and enjoying your resort’s offerings, at least a day exploring this beautiful island—particularly the far southern reaches—is highly worthwhile. Though the paved roads are good, the combination of left-hand driving, numerous tourists in rental cars, and Mahé’s frequently steep roads with hairpin bends and no shoulders (the roads literally drop off into ditches) can be nerve-wracking. The main rule of the road: drive slowly. On Praslin a car could also be handy, though the frequent shuttle services offered by many resorts to the islands’ other “main” beaches and a decent public bus service (also present on Mahé) render the need for your own wheels less keen. None of the other islands offer car rentals. Numerous car rental agencies are located both at the international terminal of the airport, as well as at points around the island. Most agencies can arrange delivery/drop-off at your hotel or the jetties for a small fee. Prices are fairly standard: the cheapest you’re likely to find is about US$65 a day for a hatchback. If you take a car for more than three days, the price can reduce to about $50 You can book at the airport, through a tour operator, or from your hotel. Most companies will accept your national license.

Aventure. | Amitié, | Praslin, Praslin | 423-3805, 251-1568 |
Avis. | Seychelles International Airport, | Victoria, Mahé | 422-4511, 251-4512 |
Capricorn Car Rental. | Bay St. Anne, | Praslin, Praslin | 258-1110 |
Hertz. | Seychelles International Airport, | Victoria | 432-2447 |
Omega Cars. | Seychelles International Airport, | Victoria | 437-6932, 251-1562 |
Palm Cars. | Seychelles International Airport, | Victoria, Mahé | 437-1321, 271-2106 |

Taxi Travel

Independently owned taxis operate on Mahé and Praslin (as do a handful on La Digue) and can (sometimes) be hailed from the street, at designated taxi stands, or by phoning (most reliable). They’re expensive, however, and it’s advised to request a metered ride. The first kilometer is Rs25, after that Rs23. There’s no night or weekend charge, and each piece of luggage is an additional Rs10. Following are sample approximate fares from the airport to: Victoria, Rs300; Beau Vallon, Rs500; Anse Soleil, Rs550. If there’s no meter, agree on a price before getting in. You can also organize a half-day fixed rate “tour” with a taxi driver. A normal rate would be about US$190 for a full day. All hotels have numbers of reliable drivers.


Health and Safety

Free of malaria, venomous snakes and spiders, and other nasties, the worst you’re likely to deal with in Seychelles is a sunburn or sprained ankle. The public health system in Seychelles is good by African standards, and small clinics with nurses available are dotted around Mahé. Tourists are advised to go to the hospital in Victoria for anything serious. The hospital’s pharmacy can also dispense prescriptions, though it’s best to bring any needed prescription medications with you. Praslin also has a small hospital at Bay St. Anne, and a clinic at Grand Anse. There’s a small hospital on La Digue. There are only two decompression chambers in Seychelles, one at the Mahé hospital, and the other on Silhouette Island. Other than Silhouette, the outlying islands have little in the way of medical resources. Tap water on the main islands is safe to drink, but most people stick to bottled water or water treated by the resort. Food is well prepared and clean, though sometimes the Creole spices can affect sensitive stomachs. Most important for those traveling from a yellow-fever country—i.e., much of Africa—you absolutely must have proof of vaccination before entering Seychelles. Health insurance with an evacuation policy is advised, as should anything serious happen, you’d want to be evacuated to South Africa or beyond.

Generally speaking, Seychelles is a safe place. However, most hotels provide a safe in your room or at reception, and it’s wise to use it. When out and about, use common sense: don’t leave valuables visible in a car in remote or quiet places, and if you go hiking alone or in just a pair, be alert to strangers. That said, violent crime is practically unheard of.

Emergency Contacts
Emergency Fire, Police, Ambulance. | 999.

Money Matters

The currency in use is the Seychelles rupee (Rs). The exchange rate was US$1 to Rs12.97 at the time of writing. The days when tourists were strictly obliged to use foreign exchange are blessedly over. Although tourist prices are often quoted in euros, you can always pay in rupees at the current exchange rate, and increasingly in U.S. dollars. ATMs (which accept foreign cards) are available at the airports, in Victoria, and scattered around the larger towns on all three main islands. The most reliable bank for foreign cards is MCB (Barclays also has ATMs, but some don’t accept foreign cards). Foreign exchange offices are fairly plentiful on Mahé, and exist on Praslin and La Digue in the touristy areas. Almost all hotels, restaurants, shops, and even small curio stalls take major credit cards, with a preference for Visa and MasterCard. Banks are open Monday to Friday 8:30-2 and Saturday 9-11; they don’t close for lunch.


The international dining scene in Seychelles has undergone a massive transformation in the last few years, and complaints of paying top dollar for sub-par food should be a thing of the past. That said, prices are on the high side, but bear in mind that everything but seafood and some produce is imported. Most hotels have their own restaurant (to which nonguests are usually welcome), often serving buffet meals of both international and Creole cuisine; a few of the finest à la carte restaurants are in hotels. Mixing Indian, Southeast Asian, and French influences and using the copious fresh seafood, fruits, and spices of Seychelles, Creole food is a real treat for those who enjoy spices. Octopus is used abundantly and is extremely good in all forms (salads and coconut curries); red snapper is a favorite grilled fish; and the adventurous could try a fruit bat curry. A number of good restaurants—mostly Italian, French, and seafood or Creole—have emerged in the tourist areas around Mahé and Praslin, and serve as a welcome alternative to the hotel buffets. Most breakfast buffets start at 7 (until 10:30), but early departures can usually be accommodated. Lunch is typically served between noon and 3, and dinner from 7 to 10. The private islands and some upscale resorts will sometimes offer a more flexible dining schedule.


The variety of hotels has exploded in the past few years, and no longer is it the case that Seychelles offers only super exclusive (and super expensive) accommodation. From ultraluxurious private island resorts to five-star global hotel brands to an increasing market of three-star hotels and guest houses, and even some B&Bs and self-catering units, there are plenty of choices. Almost all hotel rates include breakfast; many are on a half-board system, and a few (mostly the private islands) operate on a full-board system (i.e. all-inclusive). Most half- and full-board plans include a buffet dinner (versus the à la carte menu, if there’s one at your hotel). If staying near a tourist destination where there are plenty of restaurant choices (such as Beau Vallon in Mahé, or Côte d’Or in Praslin), it may be better value (and more interesting) to take only the B&B option. All hotels accept credit cards. The star rating system that you’ll find on the island is determined by the Seychelles’ Tourism board.

Restaurant and Hotel Prices

Prices in the restaurant reviews are the average cost of a main course at dinner or, if dinner isn’t served, at lunch; taxes and service charges are generally included. Prices in the hotel reviews are the lowest cost of a standard double room in high season, including taxes, service charges, and meal plans (except on private islands, where it’s all-inclusive).


The only tourist information body in the Seychelles is the generally very good Seychelles Tourism Board (STB). The head office is in Bel Ombre, with smaller offices at the airports in Mahé and Praslin, and the jetties in Praslin and La Digue. The website is also tremendously helpful when planning a trip, and includes csopious and regularly updated information from logistics to accommodation to activities. Maps of the main islands and consumer brochures are available for free. The largest tour operator in Seychelles is Mason’s Travel. You can book any kind of tour imaginable with their helpful staff; note that their hotel rates can be more competitive than booking directly with the hotel. Walking trail maps can be purchased at the Botanical Garden and Antigone Bookshop for Rs25.

Mason’s Travel. | Michel Building, Revolution Ave., Victoria, | Mahé | 428-8888 |
Seychelles Tourism Board. | Bel Ombre, Mahé | 461-0800 Mahé, 423-3346 Praslin, 423-4393 La Digue |

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Exploring | Beaches | Where to Eat | Where to Stay | Shopping | Sports and Activities

Mahé is the archipelago’s largest island at 27 km by 8 km (17 miles by 5 miles). Home to 90% of the country’s population of 87,000, it displays an amazing ethnic diversity, with descendants of European colonists and African slaves living harmoniously with later settlers from Arabia, India, and China.

Mahé also displays the magnificent geology and verdant landscapes of the whole country with its own 3,200-foot granite peaks, virgin mist forests, and more than 65 exceptional beaches, making it the perfect one-stop island for a short visit. Mahé is the main transport hub for transfers to other islands in the archipelago, many of which can be visited on a long day-trip. Tours of the capital Victoria or the whole island are enjoyable and educational, but many visitors may prefer to spend their time simply soaking in the tropical ambience on the sugar-white beaches. North Mahé, home to famous Beau Vallon Beach, is more populous than other parts of the island, though its wide range of hotels and restaurants remains discreet and tasteful. In contrast, the farther south you go, the quieter it gets, with some of the most beautiful beaches and Creole villages found around Anse Intendance and Anse Forbans.

Mahé: North

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The domestic terminal at Mahé handles all flights anywhere else in Seychelles, and the helipad is also at the airport. The Cat Coco ferry goes to Praslin three times a day (twice on Sunday). The 55-minute trip costs US$55 for adults. The Cat Coco also runs one trip a day to LaDigue, via Praslin (twice on Sundays). Having your own car is the best way to explore all of Mahé’s nooks and crannies. But if the narrow roads and left-hand driving put you off, have your hotel call you a taxi. Or take the public bus—a flat fee of Rs5 will get you anywhere on the island. Timetables and maps are available at the terminus in Victoria, or call the SPTC line. Buses ply each route once an hour from 6 am until 7 pm.

Mahé: South

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Generally speaking, Mahé is a very safe destination, and violent crime is practically unheard of. Still, it’s best to avoid tempting petty theft: resist leaving cameras in open view in cars, or purses and cell phones unattended on beaches while swimming. If hiking in Morne Seychellois Park, don’t leave valuables in sight in your car; better yet, leave them at the hotel.


Many visitors base themselves on Mahé for the duration of their visit to the Seychelles, merely taking day-trips to the other islands. If you plan to spend much time on other islands, bear in mind that Mahé is one of the most interesting islands, and excluding time to laze on the beach or go diving and snorkeling, three days could easily be filled with exploring Victoria, hiking one of the numerous inland or coastal trails, visiting the cluster of art galleries and Creole villages around Anse Soleil, and discovering your own empty beach.


Banks and Currency Exchange
Barclays Bank.
Independence Ave., Victoria | 438-3838 |
Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB).
Manglier St., | Victoria | 428-4555 |
Victoria House, State Ave., Victoria | 429-3000 |

Emergency Contacts
Mahé Police. | Revolution Ave., Victoria | 428-8000.

Victoria Hospital. | Mont Fleuri, | Mahé | 438-8000.



Seychelles’ tiny capital, Victoria, is a bustling town and the nerve center of the Seychelles. Sheltered under the granite massifs on Mahé’s northeast side, this town whose streets are lined with endemic palms is a hodgepodge of Creole-style houses, Indian shops, and British relics. The streets are clean and new buildings are going up all the time, though the variety of items for sale can be somewhat limited. This is the commercial center of Seychelles, all the banks have branches here, and if you need to buy anything (souvenirs or otherwise), this is your best bet. The nearby harbor is where boats of all types dock for travel to many other islands at the inter-island quay (aka wharf), and at the deep-water quay you’ll find large cruise ships and cargo vessels. The funny smell in the air may be from the tuna processing plant, also quayside.


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Top Attractions

Seychelles National Botanical Gardens.
Victoria’s botanical gardens at Mont Fleuri on the outskirts of town were planted more than a century ago, and the comprehensive collection of native Mascarene plants and exotic imports stretches over five acres. The abundant palms—including the rare Coco de Mer—are the most important local species, and there is a fine assortment of orchids in and outside of an orchid house (open 8-2). Watch out for the native Aldabra tortoises (some over 150 years old) and the flying foxes (large fruit-eating bats), which roost in the palm fronds. | Mont Fleuri | 467-0500 | Rs100 | Daily 8-5.

Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market.
Built in the 1840s in glorious early-Victorian style (and renovated in 1999), this national landmark, which is also Victoria’s main market, is the place to buy the freshest fruit and fish and the most pungent spices. The market is a colorful place to browse for souvenirs and is particularly lively on Saturday mornings (closed Sundays). | Market St. | Victoria | Mon.-Fri. early morning-4:30 pm; Sat. early morning-1 pm; closed Sun.

Worth Noting

Bicentennial Monument.
Erected in 1978, the monument commemorated the 200th anniversary of the founding of Victoria. This simple white structure depicting three pairs of extended wings was designed by artist Lorenzo Appiani, an Italian who made his home in Seychelles. | Independence Ave.

National Museum of History.
Established in 1964, the national museum houses artifacts relating to traditional lifestyles of the pre-colonial peoples, plus items such as the oldest known map of the islands, drawn in 1517. On the frumpy side, the museum is nonetheless worth visiting for its informative displays, such as an extremely interesting section on the slave trade and its influences on Seychelles. | Francis Rachel St. | Victoria | 432-1333 | Rs15 | Mon., Tues., Thurs., and Fri. 8:30-4:30; Wed. 8:30-noon; Sat. 9-1; closed Sun. and public holidays.

Seychelles Natural History Museum.
Though somewhat musty, this two-story museum has some interesting exhibits on the flora, fauna, geology, and marine life of the Seychelles, as well as information about conservation issues on the islands. A small collection of the botanist and painter Marianne North’s work is upstairs. | Independence Ave. | 432-1333 | Rs15 | Mon.-Thur. 8:30-4:30; Fri. 8:30-noon; Sat 9-1.

Victoria Clock.
The clock tower, known to the locals as Lorloz, is the symbolic heart of the city. Now surrounded by the high-rise signs of modern Mahé, this diminutive Big Ben replica was erected in 1903 to memorialize Queen Victoria; locals have been using it to set their own watches ever since. | Corner of Albert St. and Independence Ave. | Victoria, Mahé, Seychelles.


Domaine de Val des Près (The Craft Village).
This traditional colonial homestead, one of very few left in the Seychelles, is now the center of a crafts village showcasing aspects of traditional Creole culture in the Seychelles. Explore a collection of buildings, including Grann Kaz, the family plantation home built in 1870, with its period furniture and large shaded veranda. The surrounding servant cottages now host artisans producing a range of souvenirs. | Anse au Cap | Victoria | 437-6279, 437-6100 | Mon.-Fri. 9-5.

Le Jardin Du Roi Spice Garden.
From its elevated position above Anse Royale, the spice garden is a renovated plantation where vanilla, citronella, cinnamon, nutmeg, and other endemic plants are grown. Its Spice Shop trades in (surprise!) spices and crafts, and other buildings such as a very small museum can be visited. It’s wise to book ahead at the popular open-air restaurant, which offers great food and views. | Domaine de L’Enfoncement, Anse Royale | Mahé | 437-1313 | Rs110 (free on Sun.) | Daily 10-5.


Luxuriating on a magnificent beach under the shade of a swaying palm isn’t self-indulgence—it’s what you come to the Seychelles for. With more than 65 beaches to choose from, there’s something for everyone. Even the busiest beaches won’t be packed, and if you have a car, pack a picnic and find your own perfect spot. Beaches with rough currents will be signposted, so watch for and heed the warnings.

Anse à la Mouche.
If you want a calmer experience, head for Anse à la Mouche, a crystal clear bay on the southwest coast of the island, where shallow, calm water reigns year-round. Good for kids. Amenities: food. Best for: swimming. | From Les Canelles Rd., continue over hill, left at junction and beachfront is in front of you.

Anse Forbans.
To get away from it all, head to this beach in the southeast. The sea, as you approach Anse Marie Louise (just past the Anse Forbans Chalets), can be rough (it’s a favorite spot for surfers), but you may have the whole thing to yourself. The nearby Surfer’s Café is a great place for a snack or a drink. Amenities: none. Best for: solitude, surfing, swimming. | Past the petrol station at Anse Royale.

Anse Intendance.
A half mile of powder white sand, this is one of Mahé’s most picturesque beaches. It’s also one of the wildest, with the lack of a reef creating a large swell that makes it a favorite for surfers; swimming can be rough. It’s also a favorite spot for sunbathing. The Banyan Tree Seychelles dominates the northern side of this beach, but it is open to nonguests. If you are organized, you could make a reservation at one of their excellent restaurants for lunch or dinner. Anse Intendance is one of the few places on Mahé where turtles still nest. Amenities: parking, toilets (only for hotel guests). Best for: surfing. | Pass the Banyan Tree Resort (on your right), beach is at end of road.

Anse Soleil.
A calm, jade-blue bay fringed with granite boulders borders this great swimming beach. Its golden sands are a popular and photogenic spot, made more so by the Anse Soleil Café—the only public property on the beach—where you can enjoy a fantastic seafood meal. Just offshore, massive underwater boulders make for good snorkeling, and onshore, large trees create good shade for committed beach lovers. Getting here is something of an off-the-beaten-track journey, but well worth the extra effort. Amenities: food, parking, toilets (at the restaurant). Best for: snorkeling, swimming. | From Anse Soleil Rd., look for signpost for Anse Soleil Café, turn right on this track, and continue downhill to café. Beach is past the café.

Beau Vallon.
Mahé’s most popular beach, this 3-km (2-mile) crescent on the northwest coast enjoys surf from September to April, safe swimming year-round, and many hotel and dining facilities. The only beach where motorized water sports (Jet Skis, waterskiing) are allowed, there are also numerous recreation and water-sport operators to choose from. With a lifeguard on duty, and no strong currents, rocks, or corals, it’s safe for children. It’s also a popular beach for an evening run. Amenities: food and drink, lifeguards, parking. Best for: swimming, walking, partiers. | Beau Vallon Beach Rd., Beau Vallon.

Sunset Beach.
For great swimming and snorkeling, head to this small beach in the northwest, where turtle sightings are common and sunsets are breathtaking. Enjoy a sundowner at the Sunset Beach Hotel bar, where drinks come with mouth-watering baked coconut and plantain chips, as well as a perfect sea view. A good fringe of palms and trees makes this a lovely place to spend a day. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: swimming, snorkeling, sunsets. | Pass Hilton Northolme Resort, Sunset Beach on the left.


In Mahé you can indulge in the luxury of an ever-growing stable of true restaurants (not associated with a hotel), many of which are clustered in the Beau Vallon area. A few hotel restaurants are included here because of their exceptional food and willingness to accommodate outside guests; however, always call ahead to dine at hotel restaurants.

Fodor’s Choice | Anse Soleil Café.
$$$ | CREOLE | A favorite toes-in-the-sand, small, family-run, open-air restaurant on one of Mahé’s most beautiful beaches, the café serves delicious Creole dishes with an emphasis on seafood, and some meat-and-fries options. The café does a hopping lunch business and can remain busy through dinner. Meals are served family style (big platters of whatever you’ve ordered to suit your numbers), and casual is king. Try the ginger crab curry—it’s legendary. Efficiency isn’t always a strong point, so order ahead of your hunger if you’ve built up an appetite swimming and sunning all day long. | Average main: $30 | Anse Soleil, Anse Soleil | 436-1700, 436-1085 | Reservations not accepted | Closed June.

Jardin du Roi.
$$ | CREOLE | With soaring views through steep forested hills down to a turquoise slice of Anse Royale, this quaint, open-air restaurant serves fabulous Creole fare. Delicious salads of papaya, golden apple, and mango accompany perfectly grilled fish, subtly spiced curries, and fragrant basmati rice. Crepes, sandwiches, a few vegetarian options, and the homemade ice creams are also great. Come on Sunday from noon to 3 for the Lunch Planteur, a Creole feast that includes all the salads, chutneys, and extras you might expect at a huge family potluck with the home-style cooking to match for Rs289. TIP Reservations essential in season. | Average main: $19 | Domaine de l’Enforcement, Anse Royale, Anse Royale | 437-1313 | Closed Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter.

Kannel Restaurant.
$$$$ | CREOLE | Gleaming warm wooden tones and screens of metal cutout flowers adorn this elegant yet casual pool-side restaurant that serves lunch and dinner daily. Lunch menus focus on international fare, with excellent salads, pastas, seafood dishes, and wood-oven baked pizzas to choose from. Dinners flaunt the chef’s Creole cooking, with exquisite renditions of island favorites, such as a tuna carpaccio with deep-fried okra, grilled job fish (a delicious firm whitefish similar to snapper) over fennel, orange, and watercress salad, and heavenly curries served with local chutneys, such as the Creole fish curry. Nonhotel guests should be sure to book ahead. The Indian set menu (once a week) is very popular. | Average main: $42 | Four Seasons Resort, Petite Anse | Baie Lazare | 439-3000 | | Reservations essential.

La Perle Noire.
$$$$ | ITALIAN | Housed in a slightly shabby nautically themed setting just off the beach at Beau Vallon, the black pearl serves a delicious dinner menu with a focus on seafood, international flavors, and a tendency toward Italian influences. Dishes are fresh and perfectly seasoned, service is friendly and efficient, and there’s a kids’ menu. The octopus salad in a reduced balsamic sauce and the Fish Fillet Perle Noire are recommended. The ice cream with coconut caramel is a wonderful (super-sweet) local dessert. TIP If you want to dine at one of the outside tables, call ahead. | Average main: $34 | Beau Vallon, Beau Vallon | 462-0220 | Closed Sun.

Maria’s Rock.
$$ | BARBECUE | Not only is Maria’s Rock built in, among, and from the huge granite boulders that define Mahé, but this themed restaurant also lets you cook your meal on that very same granite. With only one culinary option—seafood or meat grilled on a hot rock at your table, and served with rice and salad—this place isn’t for everyone. But if you like some DIY in your food experience (reminiscent of Korean BBQ) and don’t mind the sweat that it may inspire, the place is charming, and the grill items, from fish fillets to prawns to beef, delicious and fresh. Kids will love the Fred Flinstone meets Pirate of the Caribbean Disney-ride atmosphere, heightened by the pirate ship and other structures they can play on. | Average main: $19 | Anse Gouvernement | Baie Lazare | 436-1812 | | Closed Tues. and July.

Marie Antoinette.
$$$ | CREOLE | Housed in a charming old Creole-style wooden abode on a hill overlooking Victoria, Marie Antoinette has been serving the same “traditional” Creole set menu for over 30 years. You’ll find fish prepared in four different styles, chicken curry, aubergine (eggplant) fritters, rice, and delicious assorted Creole “salads” (also referred to as chutneys) on the menu. A few simple local desserts sweeten the end. A pen of giant tortoises, a wall of business cards from patrons hailing worldwide, and rustic, homey decor add to the restaurant’s charm. TIP Reservations are essential during high season and on weekends. | Average main: $21 | Serret Rd., St. Louis | Victoria | 426-6222 | Reservations essential | Closed Sun.

Fodor’s Choice | Saffron Restaurant.
$$$ | THAI | If you’re craving something different, this Thai restaurant at the Banyan Tree Hotel is a real treat. In a simply elegant dining room of rose and saffron hues graced with Thai silks and sea views to gorgeous Anse Intendance, Saffron serves up delicious and authentic Thai food, including a seafood glass noodle salad, a fabulous red curry duck with lychees, and delicately steamed red snapper in a chili lime sauce. The Thai chef and availability of locally grown Thai produce are no doubt behind the authentic flavors. The Peter Sellers room for private dining is a tribute to the actor who once owned this piece of land. TIP The Thursday night buffet is extremely popular, so call ahead if you’re interested. | Average main: $28 | Banyan Tree Hotel, Anse Intendance, Anse Intendance | 438-3500 | | Reservations essential.

Surfers Beach Restaurant.
$$ | PIZZA | This casual and friendly joint is located in a wild and secluded spot just before the southeastern road ends at Anse Forbans. It’s a great place to enjoy a very affordable and tasty lunch, dinner, or snack while watching local surfers catch waves. The octopus salad is deliciously tart, and the pizzas and fish dishes are popular. There’s plenty for the meat eaters too with tasty burgers, fillet, and lamb. Located on the road right next to the beach under coconut trees and with nothing but the waves and white sand, it’s a peaceful place, not to mention the only restaurant in the immediate vicinity; they do a rollicking take-away business. This local favorite is a great spot for surfers and au naturel hipsters to enjoy a drink or three. With the owners planning to open self-catering bungalows by mid-2013, you just may decide to stay. | Average main: $19 | Anse Parnel | 278-3703, 437-1100 |


In recent years, accommodation in the Seychelles has expanded tremendously, with the majority of development on Mahé. Everything from super-luxurious five-star resorts to self-catering bungalows can now be found. The Seychelles Tourism Board website is a great resource for reviewing the multitude of options.

Fodor’s Choice | Anse Soleil Beachcomber.
$ | B&B/INN | Set on a charming little bay on the island’s southwest coast, all the rooms at this gem of a guest house are perched right on the beach among granite boulders with great sea views. The rooms are serviceable and pleasant, and come with the necessary amenities, plus you’ll have the sound of waves crashing 5 meters away. Request rooms at either end of the property for a little added privacy (Room 5 in standard, and Room 8 or 10 in superior). The guest-only restaurant overlooks the golden sand and turquoise water, and serves up tasty Creole food, as well as sandwiches and snacks. Pros: great value for money; local place with a friendly philosophy; smack dab on one of Mahé’s nicest beaches; free kayaks, snorkeling gear, and Internet. Cons: rooms share walls; terraces are visible from the beach and some from the restaurant; Wi-Fi doesn’t reach most of the rooms. | Rooms from: $132 | Anse Soleil | 436-1461 | | 14 rooms | Closed June | Breakfast.

Augerine Guesthouse.
$ | B&B/INN | A family-run place on Beau Vallon beach, Augerine’s 2009 renovation included a/c and standing fans in all of its pleasant, clean, and comfortable rooms. The junior suites upstairs are huge and have TVs. Though lacking any particular style, the location can’t be beat, and the staff is incredibly friendly and helpful. Meals in the Takamaka Restaurant (a diseased 400-year-old Takamaka tree was ingeniously repurposed to support the restaurant’s thatched roof) are toes-in-the-sand affairs, with a small but sweet sea view. Pros: good value for great beachfront location where all rooms have sea view; friendly service; close to all the Beau Vallon restaurants. Cons: rooms are a bit stark; next door to a dive operator that can be noisy. | Rooms from: $170 | Beau Vallon | 424-7257 | | 15 rooms | Breakfast.

Fodor’s Choice | Banyan Tree Seychelles.
$$$$ | RESORT | The only property on Anse Intendance—one of Seychelles most beautiful beaches—the Banyan Tree Seychelles is arguably the most romantic resort on Mahé. The large, quasi-French Colonial villas ooze luxury and privacy. All have their own pools, outdoor dining salas, and decks—all of which are enclosed so that those inclined can treat their outdoor space with the same abandon as they do the indoors. Two restaurants, including the amazing Saffron, are yours to choose from, but the in-villa dining and beachfront dining (think hurricane lanterns and tikki torches surrounding a table laid with beautiful china and silver, all on the beach with only the moon and stars above) are the height of romance. The infinity pool frequently gets top honors, and the spa, part of the famous Banyan Tree line, is world class. A colonial-elegance-meets-NYC-hipster bar overlooking the sea is the perfect place for a drink, day or night. In keeping with the hotel line’s Southeast Asian roots, service is exemplary. Pros: absolutely idyllic for honeymooners and those looking for a little romance; great Thai restaurant; amazing beach. Cons: not great for children; the free equipment at the activities center could use an upgrade. | Rooms from: $1305 | Anse Intendance, Anse Intendance | 438-3500 | | 60 rooms | Multiple meal plans.

Fodor’s Choice | Four Seasons.
$$$$ | RESORT | The 67 villas at this resort, which opened in 2009, dot the forested hillsides of a natural amphitheater overlooking the perfect bay of Petite Anse. The vegetation and trees were all left in place or replanted so that this gorgeous and very upmarket resort feels like it’s been here for years, blending in remarkably well with its surrounds. The villas themselves are breathtaking: spacious, modern, and yet imbued with Creole style and original artworks by Seychellois artists. The water in Petite Anse’s protected bay is clear year-round, and offers some of the best snorkeling in the area. An incredibly well-stocked activity center (good-quality kayaks, snorkeling gear, etc.) and kids’ programs, along with cooking classes (highly recommended if you’re fond of Creole cuisine) and a library, mean you’ll never want for things to do. The stunning spa at the top of the hill is probably one of the best places on Mahé for sundowners, not to mention to enjoy fabulous treatments and complimentary yoga classes with a view. Both restaurants are excellent, and the hotel’s breakfast buffet is unusually tasty (and offers a truly global selection of breakfast options). Pros: spectacular villas with private plunge pools; fantastic beach with excellent snorkeling year-round; great activities center, and kids’ program; fresh sushi at restaurant daily. Cons: because of hillside arrangement, some villas above yours can see into your outside private areas; garden villas closest to beach lack a sea view; buggy service (electric golf carts to get you up and down those hills) can be a bit slow during busy pre-dinner hours, and steep hillsides may discourage walking. | Rooms from: $1310 | Petite Anse | Baie Lazare | 439-3000 | | 67 rooms | Multiple meal plans.

Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa.
$$$$ | RESORT | One of Seychelles oldest resorts, the Northolme overlooks a perfect piece of bay straight out of a James Bond movie (no surprise that Ian Fleming, for which a villa is named, used to stay here). Renovated by Hilton, each of the 40 all-wooden villas is exquisitely appointed and situated to maximize privacy and views. The gleaming wooden interiors are beautiful if a bit on the dark side for some tastes, and decorated in deep and vibrant colors, achieving an elegant while lush and tropical effect. Private balconies with oversize daybeds make yet another great place to relax. The grounds are lovely and relatively compact (no need to summon a golf cart to fetch you every time you want to go somewhere), and include some unique botanical features like one of the world’s few cannonball trees. Snorkeling from the beach is some of the best in the area, and the bolder-strewn beaches are wonderfully private. Pros: elegant, stylish rooms; walking distance from the popular Beau Vallon; snorkeling off gorgeous private beach and numerous activities like a sunset cruise and movie nights on the pavilion. Cons: Wifi not cheap and only free in public areas; the all-wood villas may seem dark to some; beach is a bit small and pebbly. | Rooms from: $712 | Glacis | 429-9000 | | 14 deluxe oceanfront villas; 26 oceanview hillside villas | Multiple meal plans.


Shops in Seychelles’ resorts tend to stock imported crafts and clothing, plus high-value items like designer watches and diamond jewelry; however, there’s a small and interesting selection of locally produced souvenirs for every budget. Black pearls are a specialty and make exquisite rings or necklaces. Look also for the fiery local rum. There are many tourist shops in Mahé’s downtown, including a row of kiosks selling sarongs, hats, bags, and certified Coco de Mer seeds on Francis Rachel Street. The larger hotels usually have a small souvenir shop.

Antigone Books.
Probably the best bookstore for reads on the Seychelles, this small shop stocks everything from field guides to cook books, travel guides to coffee table books. They also sell novels in English and a small stock of imported newspapers and magazines. The main branch is located in a small shopping arcade in Victoria, but there is also a branch at the International Airport. | Victoria House, Francis Rachel St. | Victoria | 422-5443 | Mon.-Fri. 9-4:30; Sat. 9-12:30.

Camion Hall.
This complex includes shops like Yves Souvenir Cachée, which only sells goods made in Seychelles, such as natural essential oils, crafts from coconut, carvings, and banana-leaf pictures. There is also a branch of Kreolor, a jewelry chain that sells fine gold and pearl jewelry with designs inspired by the islands. | Camion Hall, Albert St. | Victoria | 432-4099 Yves Souvenir, 434-5908 Kreolor | | Mon.-Fri. 9-4; Sat. 9-noon.

Kenwyn House.
One of Seychelles’ best examples of a 19th-century French colonial home, Kenwyn House is a historic monument as well as a duty-free shop and gallery. Built entirely from wood in 1855, this elegant home now houses a jewelry shop featuring South African diamonds and tanzanite, an art gallery, high-end souvenirs from the Indian Ocean region, and a charming—if only sometimes-functioning—coffee shop. | Francis Rachel St. | Victoria | 422-4440 | | free | Mon.-Fri. 9-5; Sat. 9-1.

La Marine.
At this unique store the owner produces beautifully crafted maquettes, exquisitely detailed model ships. Prices start at about €100 and go up to around €3,500. | Domaine de Val de Près, Au Cap | 437-5152 | | Mon.-Fri. 8-6; Sat. 8-5; Sun. 9-12:30 and 2-5.

Fodor’s Choice | Michael Adams Studio.
Seychelles’ best-known artist, Malaysian-born Michael Adams has studied the Seychelles’ otherworldly jungle- and seascapes through dreamlike watercolors and silk screens for more than 30 years now. Visit his studio in Anse Soleil to view (and purchase) his unique work, as well as that of his extremely talented children, both of whom are also painters. | Anse Aux Poules Bleues | 361-006 | | Mon.-Fri. 10-4, Sat. 10-12.



Qualified divers can book tanks and a guide to explore rich underwater worlds of coral reefs and abundant sea life. But you don’t need to be a certified diver to enjoy the marine life of Seychelles, where shallow reefs and lagoons offer perfect conditions for snorkeling. Ask your hotel for a recommended operator. The best time of year for diving is the hot season (November to April), when the waters achieve that legendary crystal-clear visibility. Unfortunately, the coral bleaching that affected the entire Indian Ocean in 2002 damaged the majority of the Seychelles’ reefs, so don’t expect acres of colorful corals. The real thrill of diving in the Seychelles is the abundance of game fish and the rich, large marine life—turtles, rays, and huge shoals of fish—centered around Seychelles’ unique underwater granite formations.

Best Dive Sites

Port Launay Marine National Park.
Located on the northwest coast, the Port Launay marine park is famous for its beautiful beaches and whale-shark sightings; the reefs on both sides of the bay provide stellar snorkeling, and in season, the gentle whale sharks can be seen feeding on plankton. Swimming is also excellent here. The beach itself is large and wide with white sand and plenty of shady trees, making it popular with picnickers on the weekends. Tickets for the marine park must be purchased at the ranger base in Port Launay. Organized tours normally include the price of the ticket in the total fee. | Rs200 | Daily 9-5.

Shark Bank.
Also on the northwest coast, about 9 km (5 mi) off of Beau Vallon, this dive around a 30-meter granite pillar is famous for—surprise!—shark sightings. Usually divers will encounter reef sharks, though in season whale sharks also abound. Huge brissant rays, barracuda, batfish, and yellow snapper are common. This site is for experienced divers only, as a strong current runs here.

Best Snorkel Sites

Bay Ternay Marine National Park.
On the northwest coast around the point from Port Launay, the reefs here are excellent for snorkeling. There is no vehicle road to Bay Ternay, so you must go by boat, usually with an organized tour.

Ste. Anne Marine National Park.
The first protected marine park in the Indian Ocean, Ste. Anne Marine National Park was established in 1973. Just offshore (a 20-minute boat ride) from Mahé, its boundaries incorporate six islands, one of Seychelles’ most important Hawksbill turtle nesting sites, and large sea-grass meadows. The warm, clear, shallow lagoons are perfect for snorkeling and exploring the profusion of marine life, from tiny, iridescent tropical fish to colorful corals and swaying anemones. The best way to get here is on one of the many half- or full-day boat trips offered by tour operators on Mahé, or to stay on one of the islands with accommodation.

Sunset Beach, Northolme Beach.
Both of these excellent snorkeling spots that you can swim to from shore are in the northwest. The snorkeling off Petite Anse (by the Four Seasons Resort) is some of the best in the southwest.

Recommended Operators

Big Blue Divers.
Located in Beau Vallon, these friendly folks have 15 years of experience and more than 75 dive sights to show you. They offer PADI certification and focus on smaller groups. | Next to Divers Lodge, Beau Vallon,Beau Vallon | 426-1106, 251-1103 |

Dive Resort Seychelles.
Another five-star PADI dive resort, this one is based in the south. Also with more than 15 years of experience in Seychelles, they are well versed in dive sights both in the inner and outer islands. | Anse a la Mouche,Anse a la Mouche | 436-1361, 271-7272 |


Morne Seychellois National Park.
If you want to get off the beach and explore some of the enticing lush jungle clinging to the steep cliffs around Mahé, this is the place to come. Seychelles’ largest park was created in 1979 and covers an area of about 30 square km (12 square mi), or more than 20% of Mahé, and encompasses its eponymous peak, the highest point in Seychelles at 910 meters (2,985 feet). About 10 km (6 mi) in length and 3 km (1.8 mi) in width, the park is equipped with 12 different trails that can be explored on half- or full-day excursions. Rare orchids, endemic palms, and carnivorous pitcher plants are among the botanical treats. Twelve different trails cover more than 14 km (9 mi) in the park, and maps detailing the trails are available at the head office of the tourism board or at the botanical gardens. Many of the trails are easy and well marked. For the more difficult routes (e.g., Mont Serbert, Congo Rouge, and Les Trois Frères), hikers should definitely enlist the help of a guide. | Free.

Recommended Guides

Basil Beaudouin.
Mahé’s most famous hiking guide, Beaudouin is the Seychelles’ answer to Crocodile Dundee. His knowledge is extensive, and he takes good care of his clients, regardless of skill level. | 424-1790.


What better way to enjoy an island nation than to hop from one island to the next on a sailboat? Offering visitors the ultimate way to experience the diversity and beauty of the archipelago, a trip on a chartered boat can last a day or a week. Most trips leaving from Mahé will sail around the island itself, anchoring at snorkel spots, and including a bit of actual sailing at some point in the journey (wind providing). Diving, kayaking, and waterskiing may also be offered on your cruise. A week-long live-aboard is a truly special experience—itineraries vary depending on the time of year and sea conditions.

Silhouette Cruises.
Offers day- or week-long excursions on a fleet of beautiful live-aboard vessels, including a special whale-shark trip from October to November. | Victoria | 432-4026, 251-4051 |

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Exploring | Beaches | Where to Eat | Where to Stay | Shopping | Sports and Activities

Forty kilometers (25 miles) northeast of Mahé, Praslin is just a 15-minute flight or 45-minute ferry ride away. Praslin, at 11 km (7 miles) long and 4 km (2.5 miles) wide, is the second-largest island in the Seychelles. First settled as a hideaway by pirates and Arab merchants, the island’s original name, Isle de Palmes, bears testament to its reputation as home of the Vallée de Mai UNESCO World Heritage Site: the only place in the world where the famous Coco de Mer, the world’s heaviest nut, grows abundantly in the wild.

Praslin’s endemic palm forests shelter many rare species, and the island is a major bird-watching destination. Surrounded by a coral reef, majestic bays, and gorgeous beaches, Praslin is much quieter and less developed than Mahé. With few real “sights,” the pleasures of Praslin largely involve relaxing in or exploring its stunning beaches and fantastical forests.


The main areas where accommodations are found are Grande Anse on the west side, and Côte d’Or (or Anse Volbert) on the east side. Due to the nature of Seychelles’ wind and weather patterns, the west coast beaches tend to gather seaweed and sea grass from May to September, during which time the Côte d’Or beaches are clear and clean. When the season (and wind) changes from October to April, the west coast clears up while the east coast waters can be a bit rougher. It’s wise to note these differences when deciding where you want to stay.


The Cat Coco ferry from Mahé Inter Island Quay (US$55 one-way, 55 minutes) docks at Praslin’s main jetty at Bay St. Anne, which is also the departure point for most day-trip boat excursions (though several other small jetties exist around the island). The Inter Island ferry to and from La Digue, which takes about 20 minutes each way (US$16 one way), also docks here. The Praslin airport (with flights to Mahé only) is in the west at Amitié, and also houses a landing pad for helicopter flights.

Rental-car agencies have kiosks at the airport. The local agencies have offices in Bay St. Anne, Grand Anse, and Côte d’Or, but you can usually arrange to have them meet you at a jetty or your hotel. The local bus runs two routes, departing about once an hour, one plying the east coast, the other the west. Double-check with the driver which route you’re on, as they sometimes fail to change the destination sign. The fare is Rs5. Taxis are available at the airport and Bay St. Anne, as well as around Grand Anse and Côte d’Or. The first kilometer is Rs28, each additional kilometer Rs24.50 in a metered taxi. Luggage is charged at Rs10 per piece. Sample fares from the airport are Côte d’Or, Rs350; Anse Lazio, Rs470; Bay St. Anne jetty, Rs370.


Tour operators in Mahé often run day-trips to Praslin to visit the famous Vallée de Mai, but this beautiful island deserves at least a few days of its own. At least half a day is needed to properly appreciate the aforementioned World Heritage Site. And then Praslin is a great spot from which to explore the numerous tiny islands that surround it, including the bird sanctuaries of Cousin and Aride, and gorgeous La Digue (if you’re not planning to overnight there). With all of these attractions, Praslin merits a minimum of two nights, and if you want to take it easy and explore Praslin’s beaches, at least four nights would be needed.


Banks and Currency Exchange

Grand Anse | 428-4555 | | Cote d’Or | 423-2605 | Praslin Airport.

Barclays | Grand Anse | 423-2218, 423-3344 |

Emergency Contacts
Praslin Police. | Grande Anse | 423-3251 | Bay St. Anne | 423-2332.

Ferry Service
Inter Island Ferry (to La Digue). | Bay St. Anne | 423-2329, 423-2394.

Medical Assistance
Bay St. Anne Hospital. | Bay St. Anne | 423-2333, 423-3414.

Rental Cars
Amitié Car Hire. | Amitié | 423-3358, 258-0787 |
Aventure. | Amitié | 423-3805 |
Capricorn Car Rental. | Bay St. Anne | 258-1110 |
Prestige Car Hire. | Grand Anse | 423-3226, 251-5226 |

Visitor and Tour Info
Mason’s Travel. | Bay St., Praslin Airport | 428-8888 |
Seychelles Tourism Board. | Bay St., Praslin Airport | 423-3346 |


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A 30- to 45-minute boat trip from Praslin, Aride is one of the most pristine of the Seychelles islands and is known as the “seabird citadel” of the Indian Ocean, with more than a million seabirds breeding here each year. Protected as a reserve since 1967, Aride hosts 18 species of native birds, including the world’s only hilltop colony of sooty terns and the only granitic breeding sites for the world’s largest colony of lesser noddies. The Seychelles warbler was introduced from Cousin in 1988, as were the Seychelles fody and magpie robin in 2002. Aride also boasts one of the densest populations of lizards on earth, as well as unique endemic plants. A beautiful reef surrounds the island, and in season it is common to see whale sharks and flying fish in the waters just offshore. Visitors to the island must land between 9:30 and 10, but then may spend the whole day on the island if desired. Numerous operators can take you to Aride, and usually include lunch in the trip; inquire at your hotel. Due to weather conditions, Aride sometimes closes to visitors from May to September, when strong winds can prevent boats from landing. | Aride | 437-5354 | | | Rs650 | Sun., Mon., Wed. 10-3:30 (boat-landing hours) | Closed June-Aug.

Fodor’s Choice | Cousin Island.
Cousin lies just off the southwest coast of Praslin, about 30 to 45 minutes away by boat. A nature reserve since 1968, Cousin is home to some of Seychelles’ rarest birds, including the Seychelles bush warbler and the Seychelles magpie robin, and also serves as the breeding ground for thousands of lesser noddies, ferry terns, and tropic birds. Arriving on this small island, you’ll see a sky darkened with the diving silhouettes of thousands of birds, and a visit gives a glimmer of an idea of what the first explorers to Seychelles might have experienced when alighting on these islands. In addition to its magnificent bird populations, the island is home to giant Aldabra tortoises, as well as being a favorite nesting site for hawksbill turtles. Your hotel can organize a trip to the island with one of the many boat excursion operators; the stop at Cousin will usually be one of three that the boat will make. Be sure to bring your camera (fantastic photo ops of ground-nesting birds), mosquito spray (the mozzies can be thick in the interior), and a hat (they say it’s good luck to be pooped on by a bird, but let your hat take the hit). | Cousin | 460-1100, 271-8816 | | Rs500 | Mon.-Fri. 10-noon.

Once known as Île Rouge on account of its red earth, this rugged island was previously home to a leper colony situated at Anse St. Joseph. The resident doctor’s house, which dates back to the 1870s, was converted into an eco-museum and visitor center, and Aldabra tortoises roam freely. Aside from Praslin, Curieuse is the only other island where the Coco de Mer grows naturally (Coco de Mers have been planted and cultivated elsewhere in the Seychelles). Curieuse also boasts eight different species of mangrove. It is reachable by boat from Praslin, and often serves as a lunch spot on the various boat excursions from Praslin and La Digue. | Curieuse | 422-5115, 256-0388 ranger on island | Rs200 | Daily 9-5.

Fodor’s Choice | Vallée de Mai National Park.
Located on Praslin’s southeastern end, the Vallée de Mai National Park protects some of the last ancient virgin Mascarene forest in the world. This World Heritage Site is also the only place on earth where the unique double coconut or Coco de Mer palms grow wild and abundantly. Some 6,000 specimens bearing the largest nut in the plant kingdom flourish here. This idyllic paradise is also home to the other five species of Seychelles endemic palms, the rare black parrot, fresh-water crabs, giant crayfish, and vanilla orchids. Visitors can take the tarmac road from Bay St. Anne toward Grand Anse for a drive through the park that will introduce them to its charms, but the only real way to experience it is to walk along the very well-maintained nature trails (sandals will suffice) that run through the valley. Allow at least three hours to really explore the park. A nice gift shop where you can buy certified Coco de Mer seeds, and a café with drinks and light meals are on the premises. | Vallée de Mai, Vallée de Mai | 432-1735 | | Rs350 cash only | Daily 8-5:30.


Fodor’s Choice | Anse Georgette.
This stretch of white sand could certainly contend for Praslin’s prettiest beach—a complete lack of development and difficult access keep it so. Unfortunately, road access passes through the Lemuria Hotel, and nonguests must get permission to enter, which is not always an easy task. Amenities: none. Best for: snorkeling, swimming, solitude.

Anse Lazio.
Praslin’s most famous beach is located on the island’s northeastern tip. A long strip of golden sand with stunning granite boulders on either end and takamaka trees providing much coveted shade, this calm beach is known for excellent swimming and snorkeling opportunities. Unfortunately, this postcard perfect spot can get extremely crowded, diminishing the magic for some. TIP When you arrive, head left and look for a nook at the very end between the boulders. The bus doesn’t reach here, so you’ll have to drive or walk about 20 minutes from the closest bus stop. Two restaurants operate on either end of the beach, about a 10-minute walk away from one another. Amenities: food and drink, parking, toilets (at hotels). Best for: snorkeling, swimming. | Praslin.

Cote d’Or Beach.
Cote d’Or Beach (also known as Anse Volbert) is a stunning white-sand beach that frequently appears on best-beach lists. There is a good number of hotels and restaurants nearby. The only downside to this gorgeous strip of sand, probably Praslin’s most popular, is that you won’t be alone, and you may get hassled by beach boys selling boat trips and the like. Amenities: food and drink, toilets (at hotels). Best for: swimming, partiers, walking. | Praslin.

Grand Anse.
Grand Anse, on the southwest coast, is another large stretch of sand with several hotels, and is lovely from October to March, but it can be the recipient of a lot of mucky sea grass the rest of the year. Good for swimming and water sports the rest of the year, with plenty of places to rent equipment for the latter. Amenities: food and drink, toilets (at hotels). Best for: swimming, walking. | Praslin.


Almost all of Praslin’s hotels have a restaurant. The best area for dining is Côte d’Or, which boasts some very good hotel restaurants and most of the island’s true stand-alone dining establishments.

Beach Bar & Grill.
$$$$ | CREOLE | Serving fabulous Creole-inspired food in a gorgeous setting atop a small rocky outcrop between Grande and Petite Anse Kerlan, Constance Lemuria’s elegant beach restaurant is well worth a visit for lunch or dinner. The whitefish ceviche marinated with lemongrass oil and served on a bed of dried coconut and the whole grilled reef fish in a piquant Creole sauce (you can request it extra spicy) are highly recommended. Enjoy the sea breezes that cross from bay to bay and bird’s-eye views of the small reef sharks that sometimes ply the granite boulders below. Nonguests should call ahead to make a reservation. | Average main: $40 | Anse Kerlan, Anse Kerlan | 428-1091 |

Bonbon Plume.
$$$ | CREOLE | Located on lovely Anse Lazio beach, this outdoor establishment is open for lunch only, but serves fabulous grilled seafood and Creole specialties right on the water’s edge. There is a three-course set menu (Rs400), or you can order grilled lobster, fish, scallops, or mussels Seychellois from the à la carte menu (all served with rice, salad, and lentils). A large open-air structure of thatch and wood, the restaurant’s best tables are in the sand under umbrellas. Outside of lunch hours, fresh fruit juices, milkshakes, and ice cream are available. | Average main: $23 | Anse Lazio, Anse Lazio | 423-2136 | Closed June.

Fodor’s Choice | Café des Arts.
$$$$ | INTERNATIONAL | Probably Praslin’s best restaurant, Café des Arts is a funky, brightly colored haven of divine cuisine, located right on Cote d’Or, one of Seychelles’ most beautiful beaches. Though the decor is a fine and festive combination of high-low—mixing elements like coconut-shell lamps with a ceiling swathed in cinnamon-color silks—the food here is all high, meeting the fussiest fine diner’s expectations. The octopus gratin with lobster and the tuna carpaccio with a caper, garlic, and olive oil dip are highly recommended. Save room for the desserts, which are fabulously decadent. The cheesy music is forgiven by the excellent and incredibly friendly service. Lunch consists of a lighter menu, served on the wooden deck set right on the beach. | Average main: $38 | Cote d’Or, Cote d’Or | 423-2252 | | Reservations essential | Closed Mondays.

Coco de Mer Bar and Restaurant.
$$ | CREOLE | Set smack dab on Cote d’Or beach, the Village du Pecheur Hotel’s restaurant’s magical ambience of fairy lights and hurricane lanterns will attract passersby, but the food is what will keep them coming back. An excellent menu of seafood and international dishes, and unpretentious setting makes this one of Praslin’s popular eateries. The sea bass and the curried seafood pasta are recommended. TIP No children under seven. | Average main: $20 | Cote d’Or | Praslin | 429-0300 |

Coco Rouge.
$$$ | CREOLE | A small family-run restaurant serving authentic Creole cuisine, this casual eatery is popular with locals and offers takeout for both lunch and dinner, as well as coffee and light breakfasts. Perfectly cooked fish accompanied by delicious Creole salads made from smoked fish, mango, papaya, and breadfruit are the specialties at this extremely friendly and unpretentious establishment. The set dinner menu is very popular and a great value. | Average main: $23 | Bay St. Anne | Praslin | 423-2228 | No credit cards | Closed Sun.


Compared to Mahé, Praslin’s hotels are generally much smaller and less swish: there are only a handful of resorts and large hotels, and many of the latter are locally owned and enjoy a casual, friendly atmosphere. Most of Praslin’s accommodations are clustered either on Côte d’Or (also known as Anse Volbert) on the island’s east side, or Grand Anse on the west coast.

Britannia Hotel.
$ | B&B/INN | Set back about 100 meters (328 feet) from the beach in a residential neighborhood of pretty gardens and a backdrop of forested mountain, Britannia offers prices that reflect its lack of killer views. Big, comfortable, modern rooms with all the amenities and small terraces are mostly situated around a large swimming pool and pleasant garden filled with frangipani trees and hibiscus. The restaurant serves delicious and reasonably priced Creole food with a bit of an Asian bent (nonguests are welcome but should book by 6 pm), and the local staff are very friendly. Pros: great value for money; five minutes’ walk from Grand Anse; free shuttle three times a week to other popular beaches and dive sites. Cons: not on the beach; no real views. | Rooms from: US$145 | Grand Anse, Grande Anse | 423-3215 | | | 12 rooms | Multiple meal plans.

Chalet Côte Mer.
$ | B&B/INN | This small, homey, owner-managed hotel has fantastic value sea-facing rooms. The decor is tropical and not particularly elegant and the standard rooms a bit small, but with these prices and sea views from your balcony, who cares? A great breakfast with homemade jams, fresh bread, and perfect omelets gives you a taste of things to come: the chef, who is also an owner, is French, and his dinner menus are considered excellent value and quality. A new pool overlooks the rocky shore that’s great for snorkeling, and the surrounding gardens are beautifully cared for. This conveniently located hotel is just a few minutes’ walk from the Bay St. Anne jetty (and a bus stop). Pros: gorgeous views and convenient location; great value for money; lovely restaurant where everything is homemade. Cons: no actual beach nearby (but you can swim and snorkel); standard rooms are a bit small. | Rooms from: $136 | Bay St. Anne | Praslin | 429-4200 | | 7 rooms, 6 apartments | Multiple meal plans.

Coco de Mer and Black Parrot Suites.
$$ | RESORT | Located on more than 200 acres of forest and 1 kilometer of beachfront, this lovely jungle-theme hotel is the only property on Anse Bois de Rose, and every room has beachfront views. Numerous extras like hammocks, mini golf, gym, library, spa, free shuttle to Anse Lazio, and a nature trail make it a great choice for families. The “Fisherman’s Wharf”—a gorgeous pavilion over the water—is the perfect place for a sundowner or a wedding ceremony. Perched on a granite outcrop and separated from the main hotel by a walkway, the Black Parrot junior suites provide a honeymoon section (no kids under 14 on this side). In addition to access to the main hotel’s numerous facilities, guests will have a secluded atmosphere and perks like iPod docks and espresso machines, and magnificent views of the sea. All rooms throughout the property are spacious and modern, with satellite TV and other conveniences. Pros: sea views from all rooms; Black Parrot suites wonderfully romantic; free Wi-Fi. Cons: located on the western side of Praslin, where beach is subject to seaweed May-October. | Rooms from: $360 | Anse Bois de Rose | Praslin | 429-0555 | | 40 rooms, 12 suites | Multiple meal plans.

Constance Lemuria Resort.
$$$$ | RESORT | This Relais & Châteaux hotel set on 370 acres of scenic palm groves was one of Seychelles’ first five-star resorts and remains a favorite luxury destination. A large hotel with 105 rooms strung along on both Grand Anse Kerlan and Petite Anse Kerlan, the resort developers did a good job of ensuring that the rooms are invisible from the beach, and thus maintained a sense of pristine privacy. Unfortunately, some of the rooms are stacked a bit close together, and though the interiors are beautifully decorated, the exteriors look somewhat utilitarian for a five-star resort. All three restaurants are considered excellent, and with a full service Shiseido spa, great sports facilities, including the only 18-hole golf course in Seychelles, a kids’ club, and a very well-stocked activities center, you will never want for things to do here. Enjoy access to Anse Georgette, a famously gorgeous crescent of totally undeveloped white sand; the hotel provides a buggy shuttle service to this private beach throughout the day, or you can walk through the golf course to get there. Pros: access to three of Praslin’s nicest beaches, including the famous Anse Georgette; the only 18-hole golf course in Seychelles; resort was designed to be mostly invisible from the sea, leaving the beach pristine. Cons: one of Seychelles’ older hotels, the buildings don’t all live up to five-star expectations; service can be a bit spotty. | Rooms from: $1036 | Anse Kerlan | Praslin | 428-1281 | | 105 rooms | Multiple meal plans.

Indian Ocean Lodge.
$ | HOTEL | Set in a lovely palm- and takamaka-tree-filled garden right on Grand Anse beach, this hotel excels in friendly service and creating a homey atmosphere. The 32 rooms are set in eight units of four rooms each (two upstairs and two downstairs), decorated in a tropical theme, with king-size beds and all the amenities. All rooms have balconies with sea views and can interconnect (great for families). The large open-air restaurant resides under a huge thatch roof, and serves a surprisingly good buffet of both local and international cuisine. Pros: good-value hotel with all the amenities on the popular Grand Anse beach; free daily shuttle to Cote d’Or beach; super-friendly staff and management. Cons: located on the western side of Praslin, Grand Anse is subject to seaweed accumulation from May-Oct.; Wi-Fi is not free. | Rooms from: $248 | Grand Anse | Praslin | 428-3838 | | 32 rooms | Multiple meal plans.

Fodor’s Choice | Raffles Praslin Seychelles.
$$$ | RESORT | Nearly 1,700 feet of sugar sands front this tropical enclave of 86 sea- or mountain-view villas with massive bathrooms, large outdoor living spaces, private plunge pools, and butler service. For those who choose to emerge from their exclusive hideaways, complimentary water sports, a lovely spa, a gym offering classes and yoga, and three restaurants (including a breezy celebration of local cuisine) expertly cater to every request. There are also two giant pools (one is an infinity) and the beach, which has been celebrated throughout the world for its incomparable beauty. The rooftop lounge is the perfect perch from which to savor a cocktail and the sunset. Pros: butler service is standard; remote, yet accessible. Cons: some of the villas lack privacy; the beach service is spotty. | Rooms from: $589 | Anse Takamaka | Praslin | 429-6000 | | 86 villas | No meals.


Praslin’s shops mostly offer artisanal crafts and curios and are fairly limited. The unique double-nut Coco de Mer seeds are on sale in the Vallée de Mai Park, but they’re part of a strictly controlled quota—if you buy one, make sure that it has a label that authenticates its origins. Most shops cluster around the Bay St. Anne jetty and the popular Côte d’Or beach.

Black Pearl Praslin Ocean Farm.
Located just outside the airport, you’ll find black pearls from the Seychelles’ black-lip oyster, a specialty of the islands, at the source. | Amitié | Praslin | 423-3150 | Rs50 | Mon.-Fri. 9-4, Sat. 9-noon.

Café des Arts Gallery.
This small gallery, which features the paintings of several different Seychellois artists, is located next door to the restaurant of the same name. | Cote d’Or | Praslin | 423-2170 | Daily 8-5.

La Vallée de Mai Boutique.
The souvenir shop at the Vallée de Mai Park sells a certified Coco de Mer nut (about Rs2,900), books about Seychelles natural history, and other souvenirs. | Vallée de Mai | Praslin | 432-1735 | Daily 8-4:30.



Half- or full-day snorkeling, sailing, and deep-sea fishing excursions are all possibilities. Most tours leave from Bay St. Anne, Côte d’Or, or Grand Anse.

Recommended Tour Operators

Creole Charters.
Offering fishing and private boat excursions on a 28-foot catamaran, this company’s trips typically include visits to Cousin, Aride, and Curieuse islands, complete with snorkeling and a beach BBQ. Deep-sea fishing on a half- or full-day basis is also offered. | Anse Lafaraine | Praslin | 471-2977 |


Qualified divers can book tanks and a guide to explore the rich underwater environment of coral reefs and abundant sea life at Côte d’Or (Anse Volbert). But you don’t need to be a certified diver to enjoy the marine life of Seychelles. The shallow reefs and languid lagoons, particularly at Anse Lazio and Anse Possession, offer perfect conditions for snorkeling. You can while hours away watching the antics of schools of elegant angelfish or bold sergeant majors with their distinctive stripes. Even better, the snorkeling around the small islands of Curieuse, Ile Cocos, St. Pierre, Sisters, and Marianne, is excellent. Numerous boat excursions offer snorkeling day trips, usually visiting two to three islands.

Recommended Dive Operators
Whitetip Divers.
Based at the Paradise Sun Hotel on Cote d’Or, the professionals at Whitetip take guests on dives of up to 20 meters (65 feet) only. Many of the sites are around underwater granite formations. They also organize snorkeling trips by boat. | Paradise Sun Hotel, Cote d’Or | Praslin | 423-2282, 251-4282 |


Lemuria Resort Golf Course.
Praslin is home to the only 18-hole golf course in the Seychelles. Surrounded by lush forested hills, this is probably one of the world’s most beautiful greens. Tee times must be prebooked through the resort, which also rents all necessary equipment and golf carts. | Anse Kerlan | Praslin | 428-1230 |


With countless secluded bays and forested nooks and crannies, Praslin is ideal for exploration on foot. The island is covered in a network of paths, and due to its small size, any path will lead to the coast within an hour, so there’s very little chance of getting lost.

Vallée de Mai.
The hauntingly beautiful primeval forest of the Vallée de Mai is home to some 6,000 Coco de Mer palm trees and was once believed to be the original Garden of Eden. The well-maintained trails here allow hikers the flexibility of doubling back before completing an entire circuit, but for thorough exploration of the park, it’s best to allow three to four hours. The Vallée boasts all six of Seychelles’ endemic palm species and many other indigenous trees, and it is the last habitat of the endangered black parrot. A path branching off from the main circular track leads up to a sheltered viewpoint that looks out across the valley, and another small trail leads to a beautiful waterfall. The trails are very well maintained, and sandals will suffice. | Vallée de Mai | Praslin.

Glacis Noire Trail.
The Glacis Noire Trail leads to a fire tower built on a hilltop overlooking Praslin’s east coast, allowing a fine view of La Digue and the surrounding smaller islands. This is a moderately difficult trail due to its ascent, so even though it measures just 0.8 miles, two hours’ time should be allotted.

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La Digue

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Exploring | Beaches | Where to Eat | Where to Stay | Shopping | Sports and Activities

La Digue is the fourth largest inhabited island of the Seychelles (though only 5 km [3 miles] long and 3 km [2 miles] wide), and the real deal when it comes to a laid-back tropical paradise. Only 6.4 km (4 miles) from Praslin (about a 15- to 30-minute ferry ride) and 43 km (27 miles) from Mahé, little la Digue nonetheless feels a world away.

With no natural harbor, La Digue is protected by a coral reef, which, together with masses of colossal pink granite boulders, encircle and protect the island. Streets here hum the quiet rhythm of local life: a melody of ox-carts and bicycles, paths shaded by flowers and lush vegetation, and old colonial-style houses that speak of times past. Named in 1768 after a ship in the fleet of French explorer Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne, La Digue’s economic mainstays used to be vanilla and coconut oil. The island’s fabulous beaches, lush interior, and colonial charm have made tourism its number-one industry today. The island’s population of about 2,000 mostly reside in the west coast villages of La Réunion and La Passe.


The island’s jetty and the majority of hotels are located in La Passe. Large boats (like cruise ships) usually anchor in Praslin’s Bay St. Anne, then use smaller craft to tender passengers to the jetty in La Passe. The trip between the islands takes 15 minutes (on the speed boat) or 30 minutes (schooner ferry). There’s no airport on La Digue; the only air travel is by helicopter. The best way to get around La Digue is on foot or bicycles, as any part of the island can be reached in less than an hour. Bicycle rentals are about Rs100 per day, with discounts sometimes available for longer rentals. A handful of taxis and even some ox-carts are available in La Passe. The La Digue Public Transport shuttle is a van that covers a set route between the La Passe jetty and Belle Vue, to correspond with the arrival and departure of the ferry (Rs8, one way).


La Digue’s east coast is wild, with remote and beautiful pink-granite sand beaches, but dangerous currents prevail, and care must be taken anytime you go into the water.


Many tour operators offer day trips to La Digue from Praslin. But on an island ruled by a pace that encourages one to watch the orchids grow, you really shouldn’t rush your visit, and a minimum of two nights is recommended.


Banks and Currency Exchange

Anse Réunion | 423-4148.

La Passe | 423-4560.

Bike Rentals
Kwikwi. | Anse Réunion, Anse Réunion | 257-6930.
Michelin Bicycle Rental. | Pension Residence, La Passe | 423-4304.
Tati’s Bicycle Rental. | La Passe | 251-2111, 423-4346.

Emergency Contacts
La Digue Police. | La Passe | 423-4251.

La Digue Logan Hospital. | La Passe, | La Digue | 423-4255.

Elias Radegonde Taxi. | La Passe | 251-3338.
Jamie Ernesta Taxi. | La Passe | 251-1015.
La Digue Public Transport Shuttle. | La Passe | 251-4317.

Visitor and Tour Info
Mason’s Travel. | La Passe | 428-8888.
STB. | La Passe | 423-4393.

La Digue

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L’Union Estate.
Visit a traditional copra mill (once used to produce coconut oil from the dried flesh of the nut) at this grand plantation house. Stroll around the outside of the majestic old buildings framed by giant granite boulders, or go horseback riding. The grounds also house a small shipyard where displays (intermittently) show how craftsmen used to build pirogues and fishing boats. The estate is also home to the cemetery of the original settlers of La Digue and provides access to one of the most pristine beaches in Seychelles—the legendary Source d’Argent—among the most photographed beaches on earth. | 423-4240 | Rs100 (cash only) | Daily 7-5.

Plantation House.
This architectural gem among the plantation houses remaining in Seychelles. Said to be one of the oldest, it is the focal point of L’Union Estate. Unfortunately at the time of writing, admission into the house was prohibited. | L’Union | 423-4240 | Rs100 | Daily 7:30-5.

Veuve Nature Reserve.
La Digue is the last refuge of the rare black paradise flycatcher, of which there are only about 100 still in existence. Once on the brink of extinction, these rare birds, which the locals call the veuve, or widow, are now protected in this reserve, which is also home to two extremely rare species of terrapin. The Veuve Information Centre is also La Digue’s only environment office, managing the Reserve, and providing the majority of information on the island’s unique flora and fauna. Staff there can take visitors on short guided tours upon request, but arangements must be made in advance. | Anse Réunion, Anse Réunion | 278-3114 | Free | Mon.-Fri. 8-4.


Anse Source d’Argent, La Digue’s most famous beach, isn’t necessarily its best. All of the island’s beaches are picturesque. Some will even be empty, but those will require a hike to get too. However, if it’s privacy you’re after, then you’ll be in heaven.

Anse Bonnet Carré.
If you’re near Anse Source d’Argent but want more privacy, the neighboring beach of Anse Bonnet Carré has the same white sand and shallow warm waters, but fewer rocks and people. It requires a short walk, and thus is often deserted, but it’s great if you want a dip rather than a proper swim. Amenities: none. Best for: swimming, walking, solitude.

Anse Gaulettes.
A bit longer than Anse Patates, which makes it perfect for walking, this beach on the island’s northern end has soft white sand and calm seas. However, dangerous currents make it not good for swimming or snorkeling. Amenities: none. Best for: walking. | Anse Gaulettes, Anse Gaulettes.

Anse Patates.
Next to the longer Anse Gaulettes, this smaller beach on the island’s northernmost end has soft white sand and calm seas, making it well suited for swimming and snorkeling. Amenities: none. Best for: swimming, snorkeling. | Anse Patates.

Anse Pierrot.
If you’re near Anse Source d’Argent but want more privacy, the neighboring beach of Anse Pierrot has the same white sand and shallow warm waters but fewer rocks and people. It requires a short walk, and thus is often deserted. It’s great if you want some privacy and a dip rather than a proper swim. Amenities: none. Best for: swimming, walking, solitude. | Anse Pierrot.

Anse Réunion.
Closer to La Passe, this long, beautiful beach has fine views of neighboring Praslin Island. It’s great for snorkeling and swimming. Amenities: food and drink, toilet. Best for: snorkeling, swimming, walking.

Anse Songe.
If you’re feeling adventurous, hire a guide (you can ask at the Loutier Coco restaurant, or organize one in advance) to take you to the beautiful, wild beaches at the island’s southern tip. About a 20- to 40-minute walk from Grand Anse, Anse Songe is lovely and surrounded by trees so you can enjoy some shade. Another 20-40 minutes along from Anse Songe, Grand Marron’s empty beach is a stunning and worthy reward for the adventurous. TIP The hike from Anse Songe to Grand Marron involves climbing over some seriously rocky outcrops and is only for the fit and well prepared (good water shoes are advised). | Anse Songe.

Anse Source d’Argent.
La Digue is home to some of the world’s best beaches, including one of the most photographed, Anse Source d’Argent (the film Cast Away was filmed here). With its soft white sand, clear turquoise water, and huge granite boulders, it’s easy to see why this would be the case. However, the crowds it attracts could outweigh the beach’s stunning natural attributes. In either case, it’s worth visiting and deciding for yourself. The beach is accessible only through L’Union Estate, for which you must pay the normal entry fee of Rs100. Amenities: food and drink, toilet. Best for: snorkeling, swimming, walking.

Grand Anse.
On La Digue’s eastern side, this picturesque beach is known for its huge waves. The sea may look inviting, but there is an extremely strong undertow, so beware. Strong surfers may find a ride, but picnics and sunbathing are the recommended activities here. Grand Anse is home to the Loutier Coco restaurant. Petite Anse, just across the rocks from Grand Anse, is more private and great for picnics, but shares the same rough conditions as its big sister. Amenities: food and drink; toilet (at restaurant). Best for: solitude, surfing, walking, sunrise.


In the spirit of this super-chilled-out island, most of La Digue’s restaurants are pretty casual. There are a few great beachside joints, as well as a couple notable hotel restaurants.

La Digue Island Lodge Restaurant.
$$$ | CREOLE | This lovely hotel restaurant enjoys a location on the edge of beautiful Anse Réunion. Tables are set up by the white sand beach and are surrounded by views of a lush garden filled with massive pandanus palms, frangipani, and Indian almond trees. Dinners are buffet style with a focus on the international, which means that on any given night there will be some degree of influence from Asian, Middle Eastern, European, and of course, Creole cuisine. Great grilled fish, fresh salads, and reasonable Asian fare can be expected (pastas are not a highlight), though check in advance if there is a theme on the night you intend to go (Saturdays are typically all Creole). Not a fan of buffets? Choose from the à la carte seafood specialties, which are heavy on lobster and prawns (neither usually sourced from the Seychelles). Non-hotel guests are welcome, but large groups must reserve in advance. When the weather is fine, the beachfront tables, lit by gleaming oil lamps, are extremely romantic and peaceful. | Average main: $23 | Anse Réunion, Anse Réunion | 429-2525 | | Reservations essential.

Loutier Coco.
$$$ | CREOLE | The only restaurant on the east side of the island, casual and friendly Loutier Coco serves an extremely tasty lunch buffet of the usual Creole favorites. Expect items like a beautifully spiced octopus curry in coconut milk, delicious grilled fish, roast pork, veggie curries, several piquant salads of mango or papaya, and dessert. Located just off Grande Anse beach, the sand floors, coconut-frond and hibiscus-flower decor, and brightly painted rustic murals invite dining in one’s swimsuit. TIP Try to arrive early, as items like the grilled fish tend to dry out a bit towards the end. Open for lunch only from 12:30-3, and serving drinks from 8-5. If you call a day ahead, you can organize a lobster feast. | Average main: $27 | Grand Anse, Grande Anse | 251-4762, 256-5436 | No credit cards.


La Digue’s accommodations are largely comprised of smaller hotels, guesthouses, and an increasing number of self-catering options. Check out the STB’s website for updated listings.

La Digue Island Lodge.
$$$ | HOTEL | The 44 A-frame villas of La Digue’s oldest hotel that dot Anse Réunion beach are fully equipped with the expected amenities of a large hotel. The simple chalets of white painted takamaka wood and thatched latanier leaves are pleasant and comfortable, but don’t come here expecting elegance or pizzazz. However, with the beach just outside your front door, a large pool overlooking the sea, and great sunset views, chances are you won’t spend too much time inside. A spa with a variety of massage treatments, the island’s only dive center, numerous nearby hikes, and excursions to the nearby smaller islands mean that you never need to search far to keep yourself occupied. The lodge also offers the nine-room Beach House, which can be rented in its entirety or room by room; the Petit Village, comprised of eight attached rooms in a secluded corner of the gardens; and the nine-room Yellow House, a colonial home dating from 1900, which is a National Monument of Seychelles and offers very good value (if somewhat small) rooms. Pros: convenient and well-equipped rooms; pleasant swimming beach with great sunset views; house options are great for bigger groups or families. Cons: rooms are on the small side; Internet isn’t free and located only in reception lounge; the rate is automatically a halfboard (vs. B&B), so guests are locked into dining at the hotel. | Rooms from: $488 | Anse Réunion, Anse Réunion | 429-2525 | | 44 chalets, 26 rooms | Some meals.

Le Domaine de L’Orangeraie.
$$ | HOTEL | The place to stay for those who swoon over elegant Zen style, the hotel’s 55 villas are set in an old orange-tree grove (hence the name) and along its granite hills among enormous granite boulders. Overflowing with details like intricate stonework, dangling walls of shells, finely wrought mobiles of driftwood, water features, stone Buddhas graced with flowers and the like, the ambience fuses a Seychelles and Southeast Asian-spa style. A lush jungle landscape complete with birds chirping and the scents of flowers adds to the exotic appeal. The hotel’s beachfront annex offers a swank beach bar as well as an excellent French-influenced restaurant. Pros: stunning style and elegance; free bicycles; gorgeous restaurants. Cons: no kids club; no gym; a few of the rooms are a bit dark. | Rooms from: $446 | Anse Severe, Anse Severe | 423-4444 | | 55 villas | Multiple meal plans.

Patatran Village Hotel.
$ | HOTEL | Located on the cliff over Anse Patate, all of the 28 rooms of this unpretentious hotel have great views of the azure water below. Standard villas, which stand alone looking down on Anse Patate, are on the small side, but good value for money and fully equipped with the most amenities. The family villas and the honeymoon suites are roomy and enjoy fantastic views, if requiring a steep walk uphill. The usual white tile floors, heavy wooden furniture, and Hawaiian-shirt prints prevail. A lovely pool overlooking the sea (crossed by a cute bridge that the kids will love), buffet meals (often with entertainment that members of the 21st century may find either painful or hilarious), and a tiny granite-boulder fringed beach complete the picture. Pros: lovely location with fabulous views, good value for money, family villas good for large groups. Cons: forgettable decor; live entertainment in the restaurant can be painful; the restaurant is very average. | Rooms from: $230 | Anse Patate, Anse Patate | 429-4300 | | 28 rooms | Multiple meal plans.


Shops and stalls selling the usual curios and artisanal crafts can be found at Anse Réunion and L’Union Estate. A small kiosk across from Anse Severe sells the expected knickknacks, plus cold drinks and snacks. In the center of La Passe is a new shopping complex with several souvenir shops, including a Kreolor.

Barbara Jenson Studio.
This shop features the work of this British painter who made La Digue her home. From her beach studio, Jenson produces a wide variety of work in many different media, all of which reflect the Seychelles’ unique landscape and ethnically diverse population. Lately experimenting with paintings of varnish on aluminum, Jenson’s more traditional island scenes in acrylics and watercolors are also available here, and she can arrange packaging for transport home, or shipping if necessary. | Anse Réunion, Anse Réunion | 423-4406 | | Mon.-Sat 10-6.

Kreol Art Collection Shop.
This small curio shop near the old cemetery at L’Union sells shells, sarongs, vanilla tea, vanilla pods, and the famous La Digue vanilla essence. Out front an even smaller stall also sells vanilla, sometimes at a cheaper price if you bargain. | L’Union Estate, L’Union Estate | Daily 9-5.



Boat trips around La Digue offer opportunities for bird-watching and snorkeling, as well as island-hopping and Creole barbecues. Deep-sea fishing can also be arranged. Half- and full-day boat trips can be booked in Anse Réunion and La Passe.

Recommended Tour Operators

Belle Petra.
This catamaran operates from La Digue with half- and full-days trips to the neighboring islands of St. Pierre, Cousin, and Aride, among others. Activities include snorkeling and bird-watching. | La Passe, La Passe | 423-4302, 271-6220 |

Zico 1 Boat Charter.
This 9-meter (30-foot) catamaran can take up to eight people on half- or full-day big game or bottom-fishing excursions. | Anse Réunion, Anse Réunion | 251-5557, 434-4615 |


La Digue and its neighboring islands are excellent dive destinations. Certified PADI instructors at Anse Réunion are available to introduce divers to the wonderful marine environment that La Digue has to offer: enjoy breathtaking granitic slopes; experience the thrill of diving among a school of reef sharks; and discover the Seychelles’ extraordinary underwater life. Not so keen on bottled air? Snorkeling at Anse Réunion, Anse Patates, and Anse Source d’Argent is a simpler way to experience the marvels of the island’s underwater world.

Recommended Dive Operators

Azzura Pro-Dive Center.
The only dive center on La Digue, Azurra is associated with the La Digue Island Lodge, and can organize dive trips and open water to divemaster certification, as well as other excursions like snorkeling and island visits. Popular trips include Marianne for sharks, Anse Marron for tuna and sting rays, and the huge underwater mountain at the north Sister island. | Anse Réunion, Anse Réunion | 429-2535, 429-2525 | | Daily 8:30-5.


The best way to explore tiny La Digue when not on a bicycle is on foot. Numerous trails wend their way through this island paradise, allowing visitors to absorb the atmosphere like locals. From La Passe, take the main track in a southerly direction past the hotels and church to L’Union Estate. Though you must pay the entrance fee, if you stay on the track you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful walk through massive granite boulders, winding in and out of the forest and along white sand coves until the trail ends at Anse Source à Jean, a beautiful place to spend the day. If you’re feeling adventurous, hire a guide (ask at your hotel or the STB office) to take you around the island’s southern end to Anse Marron and then up to Grand Anse—a gorgeous though at times tricky walk. Amphibious shoes with good soles are recommended, as are a hat and plenty of sunscreen.

Eagle’s Nest Mountain (Nid d’Aigle) is La Digue’s tallest peak at more than 305 meters (1,000 feet) above sea level. It’s a steep but rewarding climb of about an hour to the top. On the way up Belle Vue, look out for the rare endemic paradise flycatchers and an enormous fruit-bat colony. From Anse Réunion take the first left toward the island’s interior. Pass an old house surrounded by high walls (“the chateau”), then turn left down a small pathway past a small group of houses. This track will head up the mountain toward the peak.

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Private Island Resorts

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Although largely uninhabited, there’s a handful of private islands—most with nothing on them other than a single resort—that will blow your mind (and possibly your budget).

Cousine Island.
$$$$ | RESORT | With only four villas, this resort is a birder’s and naturalist’s paradise. Villas in French colonial Seychelles style—all blue and white Chinese porcelain, antique wooden furniture, and lacy white trim—are spacious and well decorated. Unfortunately, tile floors and pedestrian fittings lack the accompanying charm. However, such details can be overlooked in light of the truly breathtaking reality of the island itself. A rehabilitated conservation zone, Cousine is home to more than 100,000 sea birds that wheel and dive through the sky 24 hours a day. Get up close and personal with chicks nesting on low-hanging branches and the nooks of trees, or sitting on the massive pink granite boulders that loom like surreal sculptures all over the island. Totally private powder-white-sand beaches, wonderful and inventive cuisine, and extremely friendly staff complete the experience and ensure many repeat visitors. As if all this weren’t enough, all proceeds from the lodge go back into the continued conservation of this sea-bird sanctuary. Pros: an absolute paradise for birders and nature lovers; great food; with only four villas on this private island, total privacy and pampering are the name of the game. Cons: the gym is in need of a makeover; a prefab look to some of the structures. | Rooms from: $2100 | Cousine Island | 432-1107 | | 4 villas | All meals.

Denis Private Island Resort.
$$$$ | Discovered in 1773 by Denis de Trobiand, this coralline island served as a farm from 1845 to 1982, becoming a resort only in 1978. Entirely rebuilt in 2006, the resort is now a spectacularly elegant yet unpretentious setting for 25 deluxe cottages on the beach (staggered for privacy, some sit partially behind the true beachfront units) that boast features like private outdoor salas with daybeds, gorgeous partially outdoor bathrooms, iPod docks, king-size beds, and private beachfront. The tasteful decor takes an elegant view on the au naturel theme, and the lack of TVs and Internet is intentional: you are here to relax and (comfortably) commune with nature (a TV and computers with Internet are available in the library). A lovely reef just off the restaurant beach, an excellent dive center, and, of course, postcard-perfect, powder-white-sand beaches are also available for guests. The owners also turned the island into a conservation site in 1998, eradicating human-introduced predators, introducing rare endemic birds from nearby islands (including the Seychelles fody, Seychelles warbler, magpie robin, and paradise flycatcher), and attempting to encourage seabirds to use the newly safe (no rats, cats, or dogs) terrain to breed and nest. As a result, the bird life is wonderful. The main areas of the lodge itself are beautifully designed, the food is generally excellent, and the service genuinely friendly. Pros: nature walks with conservationists and great bird-watching; glorious isolation; Cons: deluxe beach cottages are set further back for privacy, and lack direct sea views. | Rooms from: $1474 | Denis Island | 428-8963, 429-5999 | | 25 cottages | All meals.

Desroches Island.
$$$$ | The only resort on the Amirantes coral island group (and situated within an entire atoll), Desroches will fulfill all your coconut-fringed, white-sand-beach-paradise fantasies. Twenty-six double villas are located around the main lodge area, which includes the spacious and airy Veloutier Restaurant, a very hip bar with great cocktails, a gorgeous pool area, a small shop, and the reception area—all graced with comfortable couches in whites and beiges, elegant displays of shells, and a convenient Wi-Fi connection. Farther afield, 23 stunning four-bedroom pool villas are the ideal family vacation or reunion spot. Each gorgeous villa has its own pool, kitchen, and villa assistant. All villas (family or doubles) lay claim to their own piece of white sand shaded by coconut palms, outdoor showers, and views of tranquil turquoise water. Add to all this one of the best activities center in Seychelles—kayaks, surf skis, paddle surfing, surfing, snorkeling, pedalos (a pedal boat), and fly-fishing equipment are all free of charge and of excellent quality. Motorized sports like diving and deep-sea fishing enjoy some of the finest sites in the Indian Ocean. Guests can visit the tortoises, the lighthouse at the northern end of the island, or one of several snorkeling locations just offshore. Be sure to take advantage of the picnics delivered to various idyllic beach locations (nothing like returning from a snorkel to find a picnic with a cooler of ice-cold beer). Pros: absolute heaven for active water lovers and fishermen, with an incredible activities center and stunning diving and fishing sites; four-bedroom villas are an opulent yet affordable option for a large group or family; all rooms are 25 meters (82 feet) from the beach. Cons: villas are spaced close enough that you wouldn’t want to sunbathe nude; the vegetation and wildlife are yet to be rehabilitated, so naturalists won’t find an abundance of endemics or seabirds. | Rooms from: $1200 | Desroches Island | 422-9003, 27-21/418-3581 in South Africa | | 49 villas | All-inclusive.

Fodor’s Choice | North Island Resort.
$$$$ | Operated by Wilderness Safaris, this private island takes the wow effect to a new level. The only property on Seychelles’ third-largest granitic island, the resort’s breathtaking villas are the size of most people’s houses, and unlike most abodes, include a private plunge pool, deck, sun pavilion, butler, and sea views from every angle. With a unique “any menu any venue any time” attitude toward food, guests are encouraged to culinary whimsy, and are welcome to put chefs to the test if not enticed by the daily gourmet menus. Use of your own golf cart and bicycles allow freedom to roam the island. There is something amazingly decadent about being able to cycle to the “wilds” of West Beach (one of the island’s two main beaches), order a fancy fruit shake or cocktail from the bar, grab a fluffy towel, and nest on a comfy daybed. If you hang out long enough, treats from the informal restaurant there—seared tuna, homemade pizzas, grilled veggies, and pork-belly morsels—will doubtless tempt. The fine-dining restaurant on the other beach is gourmet all the way, and set in a magical environment of driftwood, shells, and water features. Great hiking trails that wind through granite hills and rehabilitated palm forests are thick with fruit bats and other wonders like giant tortoises. The total rehabilitation of the island (rats and cats were removed several years back), and introductions of various endangered Seychelles endemic species is the goal at this high-class “Noah’s ark.” With its own dive and activity centers boasting great boat dives, fishing, kayaking, and even surfing, a gorgeous hilltop spa with insane views and yoga classes, beautiful library filled with books about the Seychelles, and incredible wine cellar, you could easily spend a month here if your bank account could handle it. Pros: villas that take space, privacy, and comfort to a new level of barefoot luxury (your villa may well have once hosted Hollywood celebrities and heads of state); dining anywhere, anytime, and on whatever your appetite craves; most activities are inclusive. Cons: you may have to mortgage your house to holiday here. | Rooms from: $4570 | North Island | 429-3100, 27-11/807-1800 in South Africa | | 11 villas | All-inclusive.

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