Stunning and unspoiled, the Seychelles is the star of countless tropical fantasies on the island. Beautiful pebble beaches, pristine jungles, thriving coral reefs and UNESCO World Heritage nature reserves are just some of the many attractions of the archipelago’s 115 coral and granite islands, which form the peaks of a vast underwater plateau. The Seychelles are located east of Kenya, near the equator. Nearly half of their total land area is protected, and many of the islands and atolls are located within marine sanctuaries. On land, you can hike mountain trails, bask on the ravishing beaches, rock climb, photograph the unique flora and fauna, and dine on mouthwatering Créole cuisine. There are plenty of water activities in the clear, azure water. Diving, snorkeling, surfing and sailing are all world-class, and the Seychelles have some of the richest fishing grounds in the world.
The larger, granitic inner islands of the Seychelles (mainly Mahé , Praslin , and La Digue ) are the most developed for tourists, with many luxury five-star resorts. Mahé is home to the small capital, Victoria , as well as the international airport, cruise ship port, and the beautiful Morne Seychellois National Park . On Praslin Island you can explore the UNESCO-listed Vallée de Mai , while sleepy La Digue shelters some of the world’s most breathtaking beaches. The outer islands are mainly uninhabited low-lying sand bays and small coral islets and atolls. Fishing is fantastic here, and anglers will find exclusive fishing huts on Alphonse Island and Farquhar Atoll.
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1 Anse Intendance, Mahé
One of Mahé’s most beautiful beaches, this small and secluded crescent of sand on the island’s south coast is a favorite surfing spot thanks to its frequent big waves and wild waves. The lack of a protective reef makes swimming a bit rough when the wind blows from the south-east, but sun worshipers, beachcombers and photographers will be able to enjoy this picturesque palm-lined beach at any time of year. Turtles nest along the powdery shores here.
Accommodation: where to stay in the Seychelles
2 Anse Lazio, Praslin
On the north coast of Praslin Island, Anse Lazio (Chevalier Bay) is one of the most picturesque beaches on the island. You have to walk over a hill to access the beach, but it’s worth it. Flanked by rounded granite boulders, this long stretch of soft blonde sand blends with crystal clear water in dreamy shades of blue. Takamaka trees and coconut palms line the beach providing shaded areas for relaxing and hungry swimmers can refuel at restaurants at either end of the beach. The best time to visit is during the early morning or late afternoon when most tour buses have left.
Accommodation: Where to stay near Anse Lazio
3 Lazare Bay, Mahe
The pretty village of Baie Lazare on Mahé is named after the 18th-century French explorer Lazare Picault, who arrived here when the French government sent him to explore the islands. One of the area’s main tourist attractions is the neo-Gothic Church of Baie Lazare , dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi, which offers panoramic views of the area. The beautiful beaches of Anse Soleil and Petite Anse are favorites, with their striking azure waters and dazzling white sand.
Accommodation: Where to stay near Baie Lazare
4 La Digue Island
La Digue is the fifth largest island in the archipelago and a haven for nature lovers and those looking for a glimpse of traditional island life; bicycles and ox carts are popular means of transportation. Stunning white sand beaches and granite rock line the coast and beach connoisseurs will find here one of the most picturesque stretches of sand and sea on the planet, Anse Source D’Argent . You must pay to access the beach near L’Union Estate , where your admission includes a tour of this old copra factory and vanilla plantation. Another attraction in the landmark is the Veuve Nature Reserve , home to the endangered black paradise flycatcher, also called “the widow” because of its flowing black tail feathers. Scuba diving and rock climbing are also popular things to do on the island, and hikers will enjoy La Pass to Grand Anse Trail , which runs past French colonial homes through forests and wetlands to beautiful Grand Anse Beach .
Accommodation: Where to Stay on La Digue Island
5 Day trip to the island of Curieuse
Once known as Île Rouge for its reddish-brown soil, Curieuse Island is now home to a breeding program for giant tortoises, which swim freely around the sandy coves. Curieuse is the only place besides Praslin where the coco de mer palm grows naturally. The island was also once a leper colony and you can explore the ruins of the leprosarium on the south coast, as well as the doctor’s house, a protected national monument. Most of the island is covered with takamaka and casuarina trees, which shade the white sandy beaches. Curieuse Island is accessible by boat trips from Praslin Island.
6 Morne Seychellois National Park
The Seychelles’ largest national park, Morne Seychellois National Park, covers more than 20 percent of Mahé’s area and is a paradise for nature lovers and hikers. Within its lush borders lies the mountain range named after its highest point, Morne Seychellois , which reaches a height of 905 meters and overlooks Victoria’s capital. Hiking trails ascend the park from the village of Danzil , passing tea plantations and offering spectacular views of Mahé’s southwest coast from the mountain slopes. The moderate Morne Blanc walk is one of the most popular routes and offers spectacular views from the top. Passing west through the park, hikers will encounter Baie Ternay and Port Launay Marine Parks . To the northwest lies the hamlet of Bel Ombre and the isolated beach at Anse Major .
7 Ste Anne National Marine Park
Ste Anne National Marine Park Fabio Achilli / photo modes
Comprising six islands a 15- to 20-minute boat ride off the coast of Mahé near Victoria , Ste Anne National Marine Park became the first national park in the Indian Ocean in 1973. Snorkeling, diving and glass-bottom boat tours reveal the rich diversity of marine life in the park’s coral reefs and you can explore most of the islands in the reserve on day trips from Mahé. You can also spend the night on some of the islands.
Sainte Anne Island is an important breeding ground for hawksbill turtles and home to a luxury resort, Beachcomber Seychelles Sainte Anne. Despite its mangroves and crocodiles, the island was the site of a 1770 French settlement, the first in the Seychelles.
On Round Island , a former leper colony, you can enjoy a nature walk and stay overnight at the Enchanted Island Resort. Île Cachée is an important breeding ground for lumps and a designated nature reserve. On Cerf Island , you can swim, snorkel or dive along the beautiful reefs or sunbathe on the quiet beaches. You can also base yourself here at the Cerf Island Resort or L’Habitation Hotel. Privately owned Moyenne Island features nature trails; houses of reconstructed settlers; pirate graves; a small, thatched chapel; and giant tortoises.
Official site: https://www.snpa.gov.sc/marine-parks/st-anne
Accommodation: Where to Stay on Ste Anne Island
8 Beau Vallon Beach
The attractive bend of glistening sand at Beau Vallon, on Mahé’s northwest coast, is a magnet for tourists and locals alike. Looking out to sea, mountainous Silhouette Island shimmers on the horizon and hotels line the coast. Visitors can find a variety of water sports including jet skis and water skiing. The sea is usually calm here, especially during the south-easterly winds, making this a good choice for families with small children. Lifeguards patrol the beach. On weekends, locals come here for beach barbecues.
Address: Beau Vallon Beach Rd, Beau Vallon, Mahé
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Beau Vallon
9 Consider Volbert
On the northeast coast of Praslin, Anse Volbert (also known as Côte d’Or) is one of the island’s most popular beaches. Warm, shallow water laps the sun-bleached sand and coral reefs beckon just offshore. The calm waters are also safe for swimming with small children. Anse Volbert is one of the island’s main resort areas and you will find many hotels and restaurants along its shores.
Accommodation: Where to stay near Anse Volbert
10 Vallée de Mai National Park, Praslin
UNESCO World Heritage Site The Vallée de Mai National Park on Praslin Island has a prehistoric forest with at least 4,000 specimens of the rare giant Coco de Mer fruit palm (unique to the Seychelles). Other plants here include vanilla orchids, palmiste, latanier, spreading traveler’s palm, and Chinese fans. Nature lovers, bird watchers and photographers will enjoy exploring this reserve, where the trees form an upper canopy and large prehistoric boulders are scattered across the forest floor. The valley is home to many species of lizards and rare birds, such as the Seychelles bulbul; fruit dove; and the national bird of the Seychelles, the black parrot. A great way to explore this ancient forest is to hike the easily marked nature trails. Hiring a guide is highly recommended so you can learn interesting details about the plants and animals.
Official site: https://www.sif.sc/index.php?langue=eng&rub=5
Accommodation: Where to Stay near Vallée de Mai National Park
11 Cousin Island day trip
Established in 1968, Cousin Island is a nature reserve mainly for the Seychelles warbler and the hawksbill turtle. The island is located approximately 2 km from Praslin Island and birdwatchers can walk the trails to spot some of the Seychelles’ rare species. Residents include the Seychelles magpie, the Seychelles brush streamer, the Seychelles turtle dove and the wedgetail fish. The reserve also includes breeding grounds for smaller noddies, fairies and tropicbirds.
Official site: www.natureseychelles.org
12 Nature Reserve Aride Island Nature Reserve
The northernmost of the Granitic Seychelles, Aride Island Nature Reserve is the breeding ground of 18 species of seabirds, including frigatebirds, red-tailed frogs and the world’s largest colonies of lesser noddy and roseate terns. Nature lovers will find the highest density of lizards anywhere in the world, as well as several endemic species of flowers. Wright’s gardenia, or bois citron, is unique to this island. Most hotels on Praslin Island can organize day trips to Aride, but note that the island is often closed from May to September due to rough surf. Visits by helicopter can also be arranged.
Official site: https://www.arideisland.com/
13 Silhouette Island
In a marine park 30 kilometers off the west coast of Mahé, the mountainous Silhouette Island is known for its rich biodiversity. It is the only other island in the Seychelles besides Mahé with a mist forest, which is the 731-metre-high peak of Mont Dauban . The third largest of the Granite Islands, the island has a rugged terrain that has helped preserve its natural beauty. The park protects more than 2,000 species, including birds, geckos, chameleons, turtles and skinks. Visitors will find caves to explore; beaches with beautiful swimming and snorkeling opportunities; and various flora and fauna such as carnivorous pitcher plants, coco de mer palms, centipedes, snails and snails.
To get to the island, you can take a 45-minute ferry operated by the Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa from the Bel Ombre jetty on Mahe. Alternatively, you can arrive by private boat or a scenic 15-minute helicopter flight.
Accommodation: Where to Stay on Silhouette Island
14 Victoria, Mahe
Named Port Victoria in honor of the British Queen after her coronation, the small capital of the Seychelles on the island of Mahé is the only seaport in the country. It’s easy to see the most important sites here in a day. One of the main tourist attractions is the Seychelles National Botanical Gardens . Created almost a century ago, the gardens include 15 hectares of native and exotic plants, as well as flying foxes, giant tortoises and an orchid garden.
Modern concrete and glass buildings have emerged in the city in recent years, and the few remaining colonial buildings are located around Freedom Square . The most prominent historical structure is the bell tower. Built in 1903, it was modeled after Little Ben, a small version of London’s Big Ben.
Overlooking the square, St Paul’s Cathedral is built on the site of the Seychelles’ first church, which was destroyed in 1862 by a freak cyclone. Sir Selwyn Clarke Market , where locals sell fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, and the many craft shops offer souvenirs ranging from ship models to pearl jewellery. For an overview of the flora and fauna of the Seychelles, visit the Natural History Museum , which also displays a few historical artifacts.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Victoria
15 Bird Island
Bird Island, once known as Îles aux Vaches for the area’s dugongs (sea cows), is home to a population of migrating sooty terns, which swells to 1,500,000 birds during the breeding season from May to October. Birdwatchers and photographers can climb elevated observation platforms for a clear view of the nests. Other species on the island include fairies and noddy terns, cardinals, ground doves, mynas, crested terns and plovers. Giant tortoises are also in residence, and the nearby Bank of Seychelles is renowned for its big game fishing. The only accommodation on the island is the Bird Island Lodge, a no-frills eco-lodge, and you can access the island via a 30-minute flight from Mahé.
Accommodation: where to stay on Mahe
16 Aldabra Atoll
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Aldabra is the world’s largest atoll of raised corals. The central lagoon fills and empties twice a day through four channels, revealing mushroom-shaped towers known as mushrooms. Tiger sharks and manta rays often dive over the shallow waters and the atoll is home to thousands of birds, including the white-throated rail (the only flightless bird in the Indian Ocean). There are also smaller and magnificent frigatebirds, red-footed boobies, dimorphic egrets (only here and in Madagascar), Aldabra sacred ibis, greater flamingos and the Malagasy kestrel. In addition to its rich bird life, Aldabra is home to 200,000 giant tortoises – five times as many as the Galapagos.
Other must-see destinations near the Seychelles
Because the Seychelles are located off East Africa, it is easy to combine a visit here with a safari in Kenya or Tanzania. For information on the top areas for wildlife viewing, see our page on the best game reserves in Africa. To find out more about the things to see and do in these destinations, you can also check out our articles on Nairobi, Mombasa, Tanzania and Dar es Salaam.
The Seychelles are also home to some of the most exclusive – and expensive – resorts on the planet. If you’re looking for the perfect pampering place to stay where everything is included, check out our article on the most luxurious all-inclusive resorts in the world. For inspiration on other tempting beach-bound getaways, check out our article on the best tropical vacations.