As the main island of the Seychelles, Mahé is the heartbeat of the archipelago and, if it’s your first visit, definitely the place to holiday. Apart from offering numerous pristine beaches and lots of history and culture, it’s also a much cheaper alternative to island-hopping, especially if there are more than one of you travelling.
Where to stay:
Fantastic family resorts include:
Constance Ephelia Resort: Home to the largest spa in the Indian Ocean, with amazing family villas, five restaurants and many inclusive activities.
Four Seasons Resort Seychelles: Unsurpassed service, glorious views, private pools with every villa and an amazing kids’ club. www.fourseasons.com
The Savoy Hotel & Spa: Only one year old, the Savoy is the tallest hotel on the island and has the biggest pool, with various sections, a bridge and a poolside bar.
Beachcomber Sainte Anne Resort & Spa: Located in the Sainte Anne Marine Park, this resort offers an array of inclusive land and ocean activities, spacious rooms and great family dining options.
Hilton Labriz Silhouette Island (a 25-minute ferry-ride away from Mahé): The only resort on Silhouette Island, Hilton Labriz has pristine surroundings. Adults’ and kiddies’ bikes are available to explore the island; giant chess and an indoor-outdoor kids’ club are also available. The views of the neighbouring islands are a delight – and don’t forget the Rock Spa!
Self catering homes, villas, guesthouses:
Located about 10 minutes by car from the airport and 15 minutes from Mahé’s CBD is Castaway Fishing Lodge. It’s far enough to be away from the hustle and bustle of the north, but close enough to serve as a base from which to explore the rest of the island. It offers accommodation in various forms, from a one-bedroomed studio to two-bedroomed apartments and a four-bedroomed villa with a pool.
In the north is Machabee Ocean Views, a three-bedroomed, self-catering villa in a quiet area with exquisite ocean vistas. It’s a 10-minute drive away from Beau Vallon, one of the island’s most popular beaches and is good value for money. Also worth looking into are Nice View and Fine View, self-catering villas in Anse Royale and Maison Soleil Guesthouse in Baie Lazare.
For fine dining with a local Creole touch, head to Botanica in St Louis, where owner and chef Christelle Verheyden serves culinary delights. For something a little more laid-back and beachy, Delpace Restaurant in Port Glaud is hard to beat – both in terms of location and cuisine. A great family dining option is Surfer’s Beach Restaurant, right on the shore, where you can sink your feet into the sand while you wait for unfussy, but delicious fare like calamari, prawns and pizzas.
The warm Indian Ocean offers some of the best diving and snorkelling in the world and you’re guaranteed to see a myriad of fish during any swim out. If you’re up for something that requires a little more skill, learn to surf or stand-up paddleboard with iSurf Seychelles. It’s a great day activity for the whole family and the iSurf team pride themselves on getting nine out 10 newbies standing up and riding waves before the first hour’s lesson is up. The calm waters are also ideal for learning. If you’re up for zip-lining through palm fronds or rock-climbing to get your adrenaline pumping, SMAC Adventures will organise this for you, with activities suitable for all ages. Then, of course, there are the beaches – amazing stretches of secluded coastline at every turn.
For nature-lovers, there’s no shortage of gardens to visit – from the National Botanical Garden in Mont Fleuri, just outside Victoria CBD, to La Misère Exotics Garden Centre (with almost 300 plant varieties and a total of over 50 000 flowers growing on 1,2ha of land) and Le Jardin du Roi Spice Garden in Anse Royale, the only place (other than the Vallée de Mai on Praslin and the National Botanical Gardens) where you can see the protected male and female coco de mer palms growing in their natural habitat.
Don’t forget to pop by Eden Island, the man-made marina known by many locals as “mini-South Africa” due to the number of South African expats living in this resort-like estate. Eden Island Plaza is the only mall on Mahé and offers a selection of retail stores and eateries, as well as a play centre where you can leave the kids while you have some time out.
Praslin is the second-most popular (and second-largest) island and also offers a choice of accommodation options for all budgets. It makes a great day trip, about 45 minutes by boat from Mahé. If you’d like to spend a few nights there, consider the New Emerald Cove Hotel or the Côte d’Or Chalets.
This is an edited version of an article that appeared in the August edition of Sawubona magazine, download your free copy. For more information on the Seychelles, visit the Seychelles Tourism Board website.