The 115 islands known as the Seychelles dotting the Indian Ocean offers calm, azure waters, gentle trade winds, soft sand and plenty of opportunities for both romance and communing with nature. The islands' beaches and luxury resorts, many regularly appearing high on the lists of the world's best, are the main draw, but this island nation has plenty more experiences for the traveler willing to dig a little deeper.
La Digue Island — Photo courtesy of victoria white2010
Only 16 of the Seychelles's 115 islands have resorts on them, and of those, three are considered to be main islands. Mahé Island, the largest and most accessible island, is home to the types of beaches that grace the cover of travel magazines, and the mountainous interior has an extensive hiking trail network through forests and past abandoned cinnamon distilleries.
Life on La Digue Island moves at a slow pace. It's a place where life is simple and you're more likely to see oxcarts than vehicles, where local mom-and-pop type guesthouses are the norm and developed resorts are few. Praslin, the second largest island, is a little more quiet and relaxed than Mahé (where 90 percent of the population lives), yet not quite as rustic as La Digue. It is here that you'll find L'Anse Source D'Argent, one of the world's top beaches where years of erosion have weathered and smoothed the pink granite boulders scattered along the beach.
For romance, it doesn't get much better than the exclusive resorts, many occupying their own private island. For a price, you can have an isolated beach-side villa, equipped with a private plunge pool and jacuzzi, where every meal is served when and where you want. Many such resorts, such as North Island and Frégate Island, offer guest-only beaches and plenty of intimate and romantic nooks for a candlelit dinner for two.
Private beach villa on North Island — Photo courtesy of © North Island, Photographer - Simon Upton
While you could easily spend your entire time in the Seychelles on a single resort island, it would be a shame to miss out on all the conservation and ecotourism opportunities available in the archipelago. Giant turtles roam freely on the island of Curieuse, just north of Praslin, and on Bird Island, the northernmost island in the chain, you can witness Hawksbill turtles laying their eggs on the beach in broad daylight or try to spot the 20 odd species of birds calling the island home at any given time.
Escape the steamy Seychelles temperatures with a snorkeling or diving trip to the aquatic wonderland just beneath the ocean surface. At the Baie Ternay Marine Reserve National Park, swim with the harmless giant whale sharks. Swim along the reef at Port Launay to spot fish, sea turtles, octopus, spiny lobster, Nudibranchs and eagle rays. From May to September, 10- to 20-knot trade winds make for cooler weather and ideal sailing conditions.
Catamarans at port in Praslin — Photo courtesy of TheLastResorts