Once a haven just for honeymooners, The Seychelles are welcoming more and more travellers to their shores each year; the islands becoming a firm favourite for both families and couples alike.
On the principal islands of Mahé and Praslin, you will find an enticing melting pot of Créole culture and cuisine. Encircling them are the numerous private islands which make up the 115-strong archipelago and range from the mostly granite Inner Islands, whose white sand beaches are flanked with giant boulders, to the coralline Outer Islands, which offer snorkelling and diving in remote waters. Seychelles black parrots and paradise flycatchers flit through emerald rainforests that are home to rare jellyfish trees and Seychelles pitcher plants. Giant tortoises stroll along the shoreline where hawksbill turtles nest.
Mahé: Colourful, cosmopolitan, adventurous
Boasting 68 beaches, 1000 metre high peaks and tracts of misty rainforest, Mahé offers a captivating blend of cultural and natural itineraries - from the colonial mansions, botanical gardens and colourful markets of the capital, Victoria, to the mangroves and coastal headlands of the Morne Seychellois National Park. Travellers could opt for bespoke dining and Balinese inspired décor at the all-villa Maia Luxury Resort & Spa, enjoy plentiful land and watersports at Constance Ephélia or unwind in Creole-style villas at Banyan Tree Seychelles on the tranquil southern coast.
"Mahé is a fantastic introduction to the Seychelles, the vibrant hub of island life. We loved wandering the markets in Victoria, taking snaps of glistening melons, mangoes and pineapples piled high. Pull up at any number of public beaches - Anse Royale is particularly stunning - and join local families gossiping and barbecuing fresh fish as topaz waves wash the shore. Praslin is the second-largest isle, but feels far-flung with its jungly interior. For my daughter and I, the wildlife was captivating, from graceful white-tailed tropicbirds swirling in the sky, to the giant tortoises that liked to munch on salad leaves. We did lots of island-hopping from here, everything was so close. And the beaches were shallow and safe for toddlers, with a rainbow of fish close to shore". Gemma Taylor, Chief Sub-Editor, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine
Praslin: Slow-paced, protected, exquisite
On Praslin, visitors can see the famous Coco de Mer palms in their natural habitat at the UNESCO Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, explore some of the world's finest beaches such as Anse Lazio and island hop to neighbouring Curieuse Island. Once known as Ile Rouge on account of its red earth, guided nature trails here reveal the home of approximately 250 wild giant tortoises and hawksbill turtle nesting grounds. Praslin also boasts some of the archipelago's finest hotels including Raffles Seychelles, where guests enjoy immaculate butler service together with arguably the islands' finest spa and Constance Lémuria, which is home to the Seychelles' only 18 hole championship golf course.
Private Islands: Secluded, tranquil, pristine
One of only two Outer Islands to offer accommodation, Desroches Island epitomises Robinson Crusoe luxury where guests are provided with complimentary bicycles to explore or snorkel in search of stingrays and parrotfish. Denis Private Island is a television and mobile phone-free castaway retreat set in rehabilitated forest, where numerous endemic bird species have been successfully reintroduced. Another resort proud of its environmental pedigree is Frégate Island Private, a five star eco lodge where the Seychelles magpie robin was saved from extinction. On North Island - setting for the royal honeymoon - guests enjoy discreet beachfront villas and wildlife walks with the resident ecologist.
Networked by regular ferries and plane services, island hopping is pleasantly uncomplicated and the best way to truly experience the Seychelles. The two main islands can easily be combined in a single holiday, whilst alternating between one of them and the raw nature of a private island could be the perfect twin centre.