Mother Nature was unbelievably generous with the Seychelles, a fabled paradise whose islands lie scattered across the Indian Ocean. Spellbinding beaches are the main attraction, and what beaches! Exquisite ribbons of sand lapped by turquoise waters and backed by lush hills, palm trees and Dali-esque boulders. Beyond the beach, diving and snorkelling are brilliant in the warm waters amid abundant marine life, while few places on the planet do ocean-side luxury quite like the Seychelles. Mahé is the largest island and entry point to the Seychelles, with some fabulous resorts, restaurants and beaches, not to mention the small capital city of Victoria. But it's also the busiest island, with glorious Praslin and La Digue a short boat ride away. Even further out, there are real lost-world islands to be found.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Seychelles.
Anse Lazio, on the northwest tip of the island, is picture-perfect everywhere you look and often turns up in lists of the world's most beautiful beaches. The long beach has lapis lazuli waters with great waves, a thick fringe of palm and takamaka trees, and granite boulders at each extremity. There's some good snorkelling among the rocks along the arms of the bay and there's a beachside restaurant. Despite its popularity, it never feels crowded, but watch your valuables here.
Quite possibly the world's most beautiful beach, petite Anse Maquereau is flanked by granitic monoliths, backed by palms and caressed by waters of the deepest blue. But with so few guests on the island, it's often yours alone – and you can keep it that way if you simply turn the sign atop the steps from 'Beach free' to 'Beach in use' before heading down.
Perhaps the most stunning natural pool and beach combo on the planet, Anse Marron sits nestled behind Gaudíesque granite boulders at the remote southern tip of La Digue. The tiny inlet is truly a hidden morsel of tranquillity, with its sheltered, crystal-clear waters providing a surreal location for a swim or snorkel. The sand on this fantastically wild beach is blindingly white, and the fact that it's a difficult journey to reach by foot only adds to its allure.
Gorgeous World Heritage–listed Vallée de Mai is one of only two places in the world where the rare coco de mer palm grows in its natural state (the other being nearby Curieuse Island). It's also a birding hotspot: watch for the endemic Seychelles bulbul, the lovely blue pigeon, the Seychelles warbler and the endangered black parrot, of which there are between 520 and 900 left in the wild. It's a real slice of Eden.
Famed for being one of the most photographed beaches on the planet, Anse Source d'Argent is a sight to behold. Its dazzling white sands are lapped by shallow emerald waters, backed by some of La Digue's most beautiful granite boulders and shaded by craning coconut palms. Unless you want to wade through watery depths, you'll need to pass through the old L'Union Estate coconut plantation to access the beach, which means paying Rs115 (valid for a day).
Housed in Victoria's restored colonial-era Supreme Court building (1885), this terrific museum opened in late 2018. While the architecture itself is worth admiring, the museum's exhibitions are outstanding. Downstairs is an informative journey through 300 years of Seychelles history, with plenty of information to put the model ships, old cannons and other historical pieces in context. Upstairs focuses on Creole culture, with displays on music, clothing, fishing and architecture.
No trip to Victoria would be complete without a wander through the covered market. It's small by African standards, but it's a bustling, colourful place nonetheless. Alongside fresh fruit and vegetables, stalls sell souvenirs such as local spices and herbs, as well as the usual assortment of pareos (sarongs) and shirts. Early morning is the best time to come, when fishmongers display an astonishing variety of seafood, from parrotfish to barracuda. It's at its liveliest on Saturday.
On this popular tour you learn the story behind the island's main distillery and about the rum-making process. The tour runs for between 30 and 45 minutes and concludes with a tasting and an opportunity to purchase bottles of rum. There is also a forest walk and a small stand of sugar cane. It features a highly regarded restaurant.
This long, gently arching beach is among the most popular strands on the island. It's great for safe swimming and sunbathing, and it's also good for water sports. There are plenty of facilities, including restaurants and hotels. A small islet – Chauve-Souris – floats offshore. You can swim to it for snorkelling.