A wicked seductress, Praslin has lots of temptations: stylish lodgings, tangled velvet jungle that's ripe for exploration, curving hills dropping down to gin-clear seas, gorgeous stretches of silky sand edged with palm trees and a slow-motion ambience. No, you're not dreaming, but this is the Seychelles you dreamed of when you first imagined this tropical archipelago.
Welcome to one of the world's smallest capital cities. Victoria may be the country's main economic, political and commercial hub, but peak hour here lasts an unbearable 15 minutes! It is home to about a third of the Seychelles' population, but even so Victoria retains the air of a provincial town.
The west coast is exquisite on the eyes. There are one or two sights to aim for, but it's the beaches and coastal scenery that are the star attractions. Wilder than the east, this is the part of Mahé where green hills tumble past coconut-strewn jungles before sliding gently into translucent waters.
Beau Vallon & the North Coast
Beau Vallon, 3km from Victoria on Mahé's northwest coast, has the island's longest and, some would say, best beach. While it may be overbuilt by Seychellois standards, you'll find it remarkably low-key and quiet if you've experienced other tropical destinations.
Let's face it: much of the east coast is given over to housing, so there are only a few spots that fit the picture-postcard ideal. And swimming is not that tempting, with very shallow waters and a profusion of algae – hard-core beach lovers may be disappointed. This is not to say the east coast isn't a worthwhile place to visit.
Other Inner Islands
Apart from Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, the other main islands making up the Inner Islands group include Bird, North, Silhouette, Frégate and Denis Islands. These widely scattered islands are all run as exclusive island retreats. If you want to live out that stranded-on-a-deserted-island fantasy, consider staying at one of these private island resorts.
A 20-minute helicopter flight from Mahé brings you to fairy-tale Frégate, which is both a wildlife sanctuary and a hideaway for celebs and millionaires who find serenity in the exclusive Fregate Island Private. The island has no less than seven beaches, including awesome Anse Victorin and Anse Maquereau, which are regularly voted the world's best.
Ste Anne Marine National Park
Ste Anne Marine National Park, off Victoria, consists of six islands, two of which rank among the most accessible of the Seychelles 115 islands – day trippers are permitted to land on Cerf Island and Moyenne Island. There's good snorkelling and each island has its own personality.
The Amirantes Group lies about 250km southwest of Mahé. Its main island is Desroches. Another 200km further south, the Alphonse Group is another cluster of coral islands that provides some of the best saltwater fly-fishing in the world. The largest of the group is the 1.2km-wide Alphonse Island, which offers tourist infrastructure.
About 6km north of Silhouette, North Island is the last word in exclusivity and its hotel is generally lauded as a milestone in the 'couture castaway' Indian Ocean experience. The arrival by helicopter says it all: laid-back indulgence and James Bond glamour in a Bounty-licious paradise.
You land on a strip of coral by the sea. There's a white-sand beach lapped by luxuriously warm waters, a shimmering lagoon with every hue from lapis lazuli to turquoise, plus palm and casuarina trees leaning over the shore. Welcome to Denis, a coral island that lies about 95km northeast of Mahé.
Bird is the ultimate in ecotourism and birdlife-viewing. Hundreds of thousands of sooty terns, fairy terns and common noddies descend en masse between April and October to nest on this coral island that lies 95km north of Mahé. You just have to sit on your verandah and birds will come to land on your head.