Seychelles is a name I heard in my childhood during Miss Universe beauty pageants and I used to wonder at its exotic sounding name. Little did I realize that someday I would find the opportunity to visit this beautiful island nation. Seychelles comprises of a group of islands in the Indian ocean off the coast of Africa. It is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, houses the largest nut in the world the coco de mer and the Aldabra land tortoises both indigenous to these island. The 3 main inhabited islands of Seychelles are Mahe, Praslin and La digue. I visited all the 3 Islands, stayed in Mahe and La digue with day trip to Praslin.
Mahe Arrival and checkin to Hotel:
All international flights to Seychelles land in Mahe, so Mahe island is the gateway to Seychelles. I travelled with Srilankan airlines which was the most cost effective departing from Chennai, India. Enroute to Seychelles from India, one can spot the atolls of Maldives as one peers through the clouds from the aircraft. The Seychelles airport is so close to the sea, so as the plane descends you would wonder if the plane was actually going to land on the sea. The airport is quite small and one can walk to the terminal. At the airport one official would separate the tourists from the workers. Those who have work permits are assured to another line. After immigration I headed outside and found the cab driver from the Hilltop boutique hotel where I would be staying in Mahe , waiting for me. My cab driver’s name is Albaster who said that at 66 years old he is the oldest cab driver in Seychelles. After about 30 minutes of driving we reached the hilltop boutique hotel which as its name says is situated on top of a hill. The rooms from the hotel overlooked the marine park and the hotel was surrounded by dense vegetation on the mountain. I noticed a few houses were built even further up on the hill. That night I decided to have dinner at the heritage Marie Antoinette restaurant next door. Begun in 1972 this restaurant is one of the oldest in Mahe and serves a set menu of 10 dishes for 285 SCR (Seychelles rupees). I found it value for money but it was too much for one person to gobble up the whole dish. What I liked best among the dishes were the mango salad, chicken curry, golden apple chutney and the tangy tuna steak. They do not have alacarte, but they have an alacarte beverages menu which is priced separate from the set menu.
Mahe city tour:
The next day Albaste picked me up from hilltop hotel for a tour around Mahe. Mostly this would be a beach hopping tour. We first drove to Beau vallon beach. This is the most famous beach in Mahe for water sports, but the time I went in the morning it had no activity. The beach was large and the sea was calm. There were a few people swimming. This beach is surrounded by hotels like boat house hotel and supermarkets.
We then headed to Glacis beach where some fishermen were sitting on their boat with their catch of the day. Their boat was filled with coral fishes. I usually do not eat Coral fish and the first time I tried tasting a coral fish was the parrot fish at the Marie Antoinette restaurant that was served as one of the dishes. Albaste said that the coral fishes taste very good. The fisherman threw one fish back into the sea which I guess do not taste good to eat. It looked like a little round bony black fish with spots.
Then we headed to North east beach which according to me is a very beautiful beach. The granitic boulders shining under the sun, and the sea with all hues of blue were postcard perfect.
Then we went to Victoria which is the capital of Mahe and the smallest capital in the world. The main streets of Victoria were heavy with traffic. This is the business area of Seychelles and the office goers are concentrated around here. As we inched through the traffic, I got down from the cab to take a closer look at the bicentennial monument which commemorates the creole race which are descendants of 3 races- Asian, African and European. We went around the crowded Victoria market. This is where the locals usually shop and the market is full of fresh produce of vegetables, fruits and fish. Albaste got 3 redsnappers from the market for 50 rupees and dropped the fishes at his home which is in Victoria.
Albaste had to drop off a package at the airport which is on the way down south and suggested we do a packed lunch at the airport takeaway. This takeaway is right opposite to the airport and for just 45 SCR one can get 2 varieties of meat, sautéed vegetables, chutney and rice. We headed to le cap beach opposite to craft village. I sat on a tree stump overlooking the sea and had my lunch watching the blue sea and crabs scampering around in the sand, just like how the locals have picnic lunches.
After lunch we went across the road to craft village. This place has a renovated model Seychellois house and some shops where craftsmen were selling souvenirs like soaps, coconut oils, sun dresses, bags, etc.
After this we went to Anse Royale. This was another very beautiful beach. As I strolled through the length of the beach, I could see small fishes swimming so close to the shore with the waves. The water was crystal clear and the sea was calm. This would be my most favorite beach in Seychelles.
Then we headed to Anse Intendance which is another very pretty beach. The route to get to Anse Intendance was through marshy land that did not have proper roads. After about 20 minutes of bumpy ride we reached this beach. Part of the beach was used by the Banyan tree resort.
Then we drove to Anse takamaka which is named after the huge takamaka tree on the beach. I sat on the branch of the takamaka tree for a while overlooking the sea.
Then we drove across Anse forbans, Anse boileau which means the sea is on the land. True to its name Anse boileau does not have much of a beach. Then we crossed Baie lazare is which has the longest beach in Mahe. The vast expanse of waters was calm here which makes it a good swimming beach.
Then we drove to Port launey where I hoped to take a swim and snorkel. I had read that port launey is a good snorkeling spot and I also wanted to test out the new snorkeling equipement that I purchased. It was already 5 PM and we also had mission lodge to cover for the tour, so I would have only about 30 minutes to spend here. This beach was a bit of a disappointment. The water here was opaque green. There were lots of people on the beach and the sea doing kayaking, swimming, snorkeling etc. I wondered if the snorkelers actually saw anything as I could see nothing underwater. I headed back to the cab and we drove to mission lodge. This place is in ruins now. In the past it used to house the children of the rescued slaves. The mission lodge has got bit of a trek and it has got an awesome view point. I saw a couple of pineapples on the trek, though I could not find that exclusive red pineapple. After this we drove back to the hilltop hotel enroute stopped at pappagalo takeaway in Victoria for dinner.
St. Anne Marine park excursion:
The next day morning I headed to the Marine charter to take a glass bottom boat trip out to St. Anne Marine park. The St. Anne marine park tour included fish feeding and snorkeling at the marine park, trip to Moyenne island and lunch at Cerf island. The snorkeling at the marine park was good. Water visibility was good with plenty of corals and fishes. But in some places the Corals were too shallow and there were plenty of sea urchins so one has to be careful. The fishes here did not seem to be scared of humans and swam right under and in front of your mask as if teasing you to grab them.
After the snorkeling the boat anchors off Moyenne island and one has to walk in about knee deep water to the island. The corals in the water can prick your feet making walking in the water very difficult and slow. I wished I had bought water shoes, but since I did not have them, I wore the regular slip on shoes and was able to walk faster in the water onto the land. Moyenne island has a well marked trekking trail in which you can spot Land tortoises, a church, graves of pirates, hermit crabs as you walk to the view point on top and then down again. Our group was lucky to watch a nesting turtle on this island. The turtle laid eggs, patiently covered the eggs with sand and paddled its way into the sea.
Then we were taken to Cerf Island where we had lunch at a local’s house. There were lots of robins around us and we watched those lively birds as we had our lunch. The owner of the house took us on a tour of the island. He showed us various spices that grew in his backyard, the vegetable garden and the fruit trees. He also rears some Aldabra land tortoises, the youngest which is about 10 years old. Some of us tried carrying the baby tortoise. It was very heavy. I reckon perhaps over 10 kilos. Some of the tortoises were over 100 years old. Some in our group spent the rest of the time swimming in the sea while the remainder of us tried plucking coconuts from the trees which our guide Pete kindly opened it up for us despite having an arm injury. The people with me on this tour were a French couple who did not know English and spent most of their time to themselves in the sea, an Indian couple with 2 kids, an Indian man with his Tanzanian girlfriend. We spent some time chit chatting under the shade of the coconut trees and then returned to the mainland by boat by about 5 PM.
This will be my last night on Mahe and tomorrow I’ll be moving to another island of Seychelles, La digue. Read about my experience at La digue here – La digue experience
Departure day Shop and Eat till you drop:
On the day of departure I got the ferry from La digue back to Mahe and reached Mahe by 10 AM. I had arranged with Albaste to pick me up from the ferry and drop me at Victoria for shopping. He would keep my luggage at his house and pick me up at 2 PM from the hindu temple and drop me at the airport. That way I do not have to lug my luggage around while I shop. I shopped till I dropped on this day , and thankfully Mahe was bright and sunny. Scourged the street for souvenirs to take back home and had a look at the bicentinnel monument, little ben, Victoria market one last time. I had Pork loin for lunch at Pirate arms, and banana almond Crepe as snack at La pause and waited for Albaste in front of the hindu temple. Albaste picked me up as he said he would at 2PM and dropped me off at the airport for my flight which departs at 5PM. There ends my trip to Seychelles. A place which existed only in my dreams until I saw it and I still cant believe I made it there. I just wish that the weather did not play some spoilsport to an otherwise awesome trip. But still there were plenty of good times to remember here.
Please find the Advice,Contacts and Cost information in this link – Advice,Contact and Cost info