Kent Redding is one of Africa Adventure Consultants’ (AAC) founders and our President. After living and working in East Africa where he guided trips through the continent’s premier parks and studied with expert naturalists, he came back to the US to start AAC to help other travelers enjoy the wonders of the continent. Kent has been planning award-winning trips for more than 20 years. He and his family recently spent time in East Africa including Kenya and Seychelles. Today on the AAC blog he delves into Seychelles and what makes this remote and exclusive beach destination so special.
Just to say “Say-Shells” as its pronounced, especially slowly, feels calming and relaxing. And that’s how you feel when you visit this remote Indian Ocean island nation.
And when I say remote, I mean remote. These 120 islands sit all by themselves on the edge of the African continent, their closest major neighbor being Madagascar, 700 miles to the south. My family and I arrived from Kenya which is 1,000 miles to the west.
Previously uninhabited, the island nation was discovered by Europeans in the 16th century and colonized by France then Britain. Seychelles was developed as a plantation-based economy. Today, there are approximately 100,000 inhabitants spread over a number of islands and its capital Victoria has just 27,000 people. With most agriculture gone, the industry that fuels its economy is tourism.
The larger inner granite islands – Mahe, Praslin and La Digue – are the most developed and receive the most visitors, but they aren’t overcrowded. Mahe offers the most accommodations choices, many set on pristine white sand beaches. Praslin is a short flight or a one-hour ferry ride away and is home to uncrowded coastline and the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, where the famous coco de mer grows. (The nut of the coco de mer is the largest seed in the plant kingdom and has been bestowed with mythological and magical properties.)
Nearby La Digue runs nearly entirely on bicycles with few motor vehicles on the island. It has no airstrip but is accessed by boat from Praslin. All these islands sport lush hills and mountains, pristine white sand beaches and warm turquoise water. Some have calm waters and others like Grand Anse on La Digue sport crashing waves much of the time. Some beaches hold seashell treasures, while sea turtles nest on them in certain seasons. Some private or semi-private Seychelles islands have just one or two luxury resorts or hotels. These include Fregate (reopening 2024), Felicite, Denis and North Island. The outer coral islands are more remote and difficult to access but still wonderful in their own right. These include Desroches, Alphonse, Aldabra and many more.
Luxury is the name of the game in Seychelles and prices are high. While there are some moderately priced guest houses and bed and breakfasts, most of the properties available are 4- and 5-star. Their prices reflect not only quality but also the cost of doing business in a remote country that must import nearly everything they need including food, fuel, materials, vehicles and more.
My family especially enjoyed the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles where the luxury villas dot steep, lush hillsides around a pristine white sand beach. Other great choices on Mahe include Anantara Maia (great for honeymooners), Constance Ephelia Mahe Seychelles (larger – great for families) and the Hilton Seychelles Northholme (great for couples looking for an adults-only retreat).
Many of the islands have national marine parks and protected areas. We enjoyed visiting the tortoise center on Curieuse Island, a former leper colony turned sanctuary dedicated to keeping these gentle giants safe and helping to increase their numbers through a breeding program. Their distant relatives, the sea turtles, can be found around and sometimes on many of the islands in the Seychelles and we enjoyed watching them munch on sea grass while we snorkeled off our liveaboard catamaran.
Snorkeling and scuba diving are top activities around the Seychelles. And there is much more on offer including whale watching and whale shark viewing (seasonal), deep sea fishing, hiking, biking, birding, golfing (limited) and much more. But for me, Seychelles is a place to go to find a nice quiet beach and relax, knowing that there’s not too much else to do and it’s too far to go anywhere else. And why would you want to anyway if you’re already in paradise?
Seychelles is the perfect post safari beach destination or a destination in and of itself. The country can be accessed by several major airlines including Air Seychelles, Emirates, Qatar, Ethiopian, Kenya Airways and Turkish Airlines. The official currency is Seychelles Rupees but Euros, Great British Pounds and even US Dollars are accepted, along with major credit cards.