Kempinski Blog Article
Think of the ideal vision of a paradise island: shining sands, clear skies, gently waving palm trees and inviting turquoise waters. You are imagining the Seychelles – a country made up of 115 islands, many of which are completely untouched by human settlement. Whether you are attracted by the peace and quiet or the amazing biodiversity, the Seychelles guarantees a stunning experience.
Visiting the Seychelles
The island group is located in the Indian Ocean, to the northeast of Madagascar. Most visitors get there by flying to Mahé, the largest inhabited island and home to Seychelles International Airport, and from there travel between the islands via ferry or plane.
The islands of the Seychelles fall into two main categories: the Inner Islands, a group of granite islands where the vast majority of the population live, and the Outer Islands, a much larger collection of coralline islands scattered over many thousands of square kilometres.
Mahé, Praslin and La Digue form the principal inhabited islands and the centre of the Seychelles' tourist industry. Air Seychelles operates a regular shuttle service between Mahé and Praslin, with less frequent flights between Mahé and smaller islands such as Bird, Denis and Fregate.
Kempinski Seychelles Resort is situated on the South of Mahé, only 30 minutes from the airport, and is an indulgent island retreat offering a 5 star service.
There are also plenty of ferry services provided by Cat Cocos and Inter Island, which offer a scenic – and cost-effective – way to island-hop between the main settlements, while a number of independent operators offer routes to less-travelled islands.
Cars can be hired on Mahé and Praslin if desired, although it is a good idea to book in advance as availability can be limited. Taxis are also available on Mahé, Praslin and La Digue.
The most commonly-spoken language in the Seychelles is Seychellois Creole, a heavily modified form of French. English is understood across most resorts and places of business, but even a little French will go a long way when speaking to locals.
What the Seychelles lacks in grand monuments and historic locations, it more than makes up for with its abundance of natural beauty. Almost everywhere looks like a scene taken straight from a postcard, and every beach has its own unique character, from rock-fringed coves to crystal-blue lagoons.
But if you think the waters look beautiful from above, just wait until you get under the waves. Snorkel and scuba equipment is widely available and highly recommended, and there are hundreds of great coastal spots where whole rainbows of tropical fish, turtles and rays are waiting to be discovered.
After you have spent time by the seaside, there is the Valée de Mai national park to explore on Praslin. Its natural wonders include the coco de mer, a palm tree that has the largest seeds of any known plant, and the Seychelles' highest mountain, Fond Azore – not to mention hundreds of species of flora and fauna.
The Seychelles has a rich and vibrant cuisine, fusing influences from French, African, Indian and Chinese dishes into something entirely its own. Naturally, fish and shellfish play key roles in many dishes – often curried and served with rice or lentils and fresh tropical fruit.
Typical dishes include kat-kat (banana cooked in coconut milk), soupe de tectec (clams cooked in a tomato and ginger sauce), bouillon bréde (spinach broth) and shredded papaya salad. Chillies are also a common feature – ten different varieties of chilli are grown on the island, with a surprising diversity of flavours.
If you are feeling adventurous, why not sample the local delicacy of curried fruit bat? Locally called rousettes, these little winged creatures are said to taste a little like venison by those who have tried them – but be aware that they are a bit boney!
Another unusual but delicious dish is shark chutney. Made with shark meat that has been boiled and mashed, then combined with onion, cucumber, turmeric and lime juice, it is a great accompaniment to papaya and rice.
Often voted the most beautiful beach in the world, this stretch of sand on the north-east of Fregate Island is the perfect place to swim, snorkel and relax. Reportedly, Brad Pitt and Pierce Brosnan own villas here, so it could be a good place to indulge in some celeb-spotting too – no promises, though!
Just off the north coast of Praslin, this island is known for two things: its unusual red soil, and its population of more than 300 giant tortoises. The whole island was declared a national park in the 1970s, and now it is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, as well as the ruins of a former leper colony.
Generally considered one of the top snorkelling spots in the Seychelles, this is the place to be if you want to see coral and endless varieties and colours of fish up close. There are a number of boat charters departing from both Praslin and La Digue, and you can finish your trip by eating at one of the excellent restaurants on nearby Félicité.
One of the world's smallest capital cities, Victoria has a population of just 26,000. However, it is well worth exploring at least once during your stay: there is a Natural History Museum that sheds light on the incredible biodiversity of the Seychelles, a central market, more than 40 restaurants and a handful of nightclubs for those who want to let their hair down in the evening.
Valée de Mai
This World Heritage Site and national park covers a large part of Praslin Island. The first explorers to encounter it reportedly thought they were in the Garden of Eden, and it is easy to see why: its lush, unspoiled vegetation and numerous birds, reptiles and amphibians make it a uniquely relaxing place to spend time in.