Saturday, 4 April 2015

Traveller Information and Advice

A Brief Seychelles Destination Guide

Imagine over one hundred coral islands forming an Indian Ocean archipelago and the smallest sovereign state in Africa. The image is one of near-clichéd perfect beaches, sun-spangled seas and tropical cocktails. But push beyond the palm-fringed surface and there's a history of political intrigue and espionage.

{This article, by Paul Oswell, TravelMail, originally appeared on the Daily Mail UK website, to view the original, click here }  
This was a hot hideaway during the Cold War. These days, however, the main islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue have traded secret agents for sunbathers, and the islands welcome the romantic, the jet set and the odd twitcher.

Relaxation, watersports and the flora and fauna - not least the islands' suggestive motif of the Coco de Mer fruit - are the backdrop to those brochure-perfect images.


Mahé, and more specifically Victoria, is the cultural and political centre, and it's here that you can see what lies beyond the beaches. For instance, a crash course in the local flora and fauna can be found at the Natural History Museum and the Botanical Gardens.
If something smells fishy, it's without a doubt the lively trading stalls of the Sir Selwyn-Clarke Market, and though you might not have much immediate use for a brace of raw barracuda, it's an interesting spectacle. A colonial past, stories of political upheaval and some of the island's proudest possessions are on display at the National Museum of History.

The main island of Mahé contains the capital, Victoria, and is by far the most developed. The best beaches on the other Mahé Group islands need at least a short boat trip. You can take a catamaran or [ferry] to Praslin, where the blue lagoon of Anse Lazio surrounds arguably the most scenic sands in the Seychelles.

Anse Volbert is perfect for trailing Crusoe footprints along, and Anse Marie-Louise offers tranquillity and cute Creole chalets. The most famous strip of coastline on the neighbouring island of La Digue is Anse Source d'Argent, with Henry Moore-esque boulders towering over the classic white sands. On Grand Anse on St Anne Island, you can paddle among friendly baby reef sharks.

The Seychelles are really a grown-up destination, but that's not to say the little ones aren't catered for, and the best child-friendly facilities can be found around the most popular beaches. Anse Source d'Argent on La Digue attracts sufficient 'en famille' numbers to its safe lagoon and Beau Vallon on Mahé is equipped with plenty of dining options when small feet tire of paddling. On Praslin, Anse Lazio is a great starter beach for junior swimmers and snorkellers.

What to eat

The ocean serves up most of the 'fast' food on the Seychelles, and a fish can go from marina to main course in a matter of minutes. Much of the cuisine has a distinctly Creole twist, so expect a smattering of spice on your tuna steak or red snapper. As this is the Indian Ocean, local variants of curry are also popular, many of them hot enough to warrant a side order of coconut cream, just to take the edge off for timid western palates. Tec-tec is a savoury local soup, and of course the freshest of fruit plays a part in most meals.


The most sought-after export from the Seychelles is the iconic flora of the Coco de Mer. For what is essentially an erotically-shaped nut, it is relatively rare, fetches a high price on the market and also requires an export licence.

Cheeky fruit aside, most stalls in and around Victoria have the usual collections of local art and handicrafts, with sarongs and silks the most popular purchases. Otherwise, you're stuck with the hotel gift shop.

{Editors Note: Eden Plaza shopping centre on Eden Island (Mahé) has recently been opened and offers a selection of boutiques, an art gallery, banking and telecommunication facilities and a supermarket, among others }

Day trips

A great escape needn't involve spending a week on the ocean looking for seclusion. In fact, although you can see St Anne Island from Mahé - it's just 3km away - the beaches and reefs are so secluded and sheltered that it could be 300km from anywhere.

From Mahé you can also strike out for Silhouette Island on a chartered boat, where the time is yours to choose from any number of quiet beaches. Praslin and La Digue are far enough to warrant more than an overnight stay, and if you're hankering for real isolation, there's the little matter of over 100 outer islands, such as in the Aldabra Atoll, the Amirantes and the Alphonse islands, where you can go diving and are not likely to run into any daytrippers.

{Editor's Note: Mason's Travel offers a wide variety of day trips and excursions to help you discover more of Seychelles and get the most out of your visit. To find out more, CLICK HERE }

After dark

Outside of Victoria, the nightlife in the Seychelles is more about sipping something tropical and watching the sun nudge down over the nearest island than noisy discos and parties around the pool.

Most visitors content themselves with a bottle or two of SeyBrew, the local beer, or one of the expertly-shaken rum cocktails. Some of the larger hotels often arrange a cultural night, where traditional dance displays such as moutia and sega take centre stage. For those intrigued by the secret agent aspect to the area, James Bond fantasies can be indulged at one of the local casinos at the Berjaya Beau Vallon Hotel or Plantation Club on Mahé {Editor's Note: The Plantation Club no longer exists, however other casinos at Eden Plaza and in Victoria can be found}.

To find out more about selling destination Seychelles or to plan your trip, visit

Contact your Masons Travel Representative  for rates and packages.   |

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