In the middle of the Indian Ocean lies the Seychelles archipelago of 115 granitic and coralline islands. Before you touchdown at the international airport in Mahé, from a window seat you’ll be able to view the expanse of azure ocean below you, dotted erratically with large and small outcrops, covered in lush green vegetation. It’s a sight that will stay with you forever, like a living postcard etched into your memory. The runway is located alongside the ocean, making for a thrilling arrival. Welcome to paradise.
Almost 50 per cent of the islands are national parks and reserves and there are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the archipelago – Aldabra, the world’s largest raised coral atoll and Vallée de Mai on Praslin, once believed to be the original site of the ‘Garden of Eden’. Home to the smallest frog, the heaviest land tortoise and the only flightless bird of the Indian Ocean – there are sights and sounds found only in Seychelles.
As the largest island of the archipelago and also the cultural hub, Mahé has a lot more to offer travellers than just pristine beaches. But they’re not a bad place to start. Head south of the island to Baie Lazare, one of the most popular beaches on the island, where you can surf or stand up paddleboard (SUP). Thanks to warm, safe waters, no crowds and manageable waves, this is the ideal location to learn or enjoy either of these sports. The waters are crystal clear and during the months of April and May and October and November, visibility is at its best, reaching up to 30 metres. The waters of the Seychelles are teeming with exotic fish of all sizes in a multitude of colours; if it’s the right time of year you’ll also spot turtles and rays. This is what makes an SUP adventure a great way to spend a few hours; paddling along and looking down at a real life aquarium below you.
There is no shortage of activities to experience on Mahé – from zip-lining through palm fronds and rock-climbing steep cliff faces to diving with whale sharks in the bay of Port Glaud and hiking to hidden waterfalls far from the crowds, the mainland offers outdoor adventures at their best. However, if you’re making the trip to the Seychelles, it’s always a good idea to island hop if you can – each island has its own rare natural discoveries and excursions to offer.