From the moment I arrived at Manchester airport I was greeted by friendly Emirates staff and after a quick check-in we were whisked through immigration and sent straight to the Emirates lounge. After several glasses of champagne we boarded the flight where we enjoyed a very comfortable journey on the A380. I was extremely fortunate to travel business class where I was able to experience the delights and benefits of Emirates. The connecting flight at Dubai was very straight forward with minimal waiting and just over 4 hours later we arrived in Mahe which is the largest Seychelle.
Our first stop was Beau Vallon which is less than 5 miles from Mahe and I couldn’t wait to walk along the beach and dip my toes into the Ocean. There are no strong currents, rocks or corals making it perfectly safe for children plus it’s the only beach in the Seychelles which has a lifeguard. The town had an array of restaurants and the Boat House was recommended on numerous occassions, although we did not eat there as we were heading for a sight inspection and dinner at Hilton Northolme Resort & Spa. The hotel is stilted, set on a hillside it has sweeping views of the bay and enjoys a tranquil location and had a comfortable breeze. Due to its full occupancy we were unable to view a room however we observed the infinity pool which was stunning, the spa and public areas.
The following morning we were off on a guided tour on the back streets of the capital, Victoria which has just 25,000 inhbitants. The Seychelles started life as a French colony and is mostly Catholic. It then became British, hence 'Victoria', but there remains a French ambience.
The Seychelles is ideal for a bit of island-hopping, therefore our first adventure was a 60 minute ferry to the second largest island Praslin. A one way ferry ticket is around £40, I would opt for Island Hopper Class tickets so you can sit upstairs and experience the views and fresh air. Business class in the Lazio Lounge is also available for around £10 more where you can sit in an air conditioned area with relaxing seats and receive complimentary drinks and snacks.
On arrival in Praslin we were met by another representative of Creole Services, Sabrina who greeted us with cold towels and a welcoming smile.
Then it was off to UNESCO World Heritage Site Vallee de Mai in the centre of Praslin which is home to Coco De Mer, the symbol of the tourism industry and the largest seed in the world up to a foot across. It is also home to the endemis and rare black parrot. It's like being in Kew Gardens' Palm House, only in the open air. I would recommend taking a guided tour at 9am or 2pm for 30 minutes and then explore by yourselves afterwards.
We were then whisked off to Anse Lazio beach which is often voted at one of the top 10 beaches in the World and now I know why. Its white sand and crystal water is bordered by large granite boulders and is absolutely stunning. Could have stayed there much longer.
Bonbon Plume was our lunch stop where our feet were in the sand whilst we enjoyed a fabulous Creole lunch overlooking the calm sea. Creole cuisine is a mixture of French, Indian and African cuisine. Grilled fish drizzled with a mixture of chilli, ginger and garlic was the served and washed down with a refreshing Seybrew, the local lager.
It was now time to check in to the Coco De Mer Hotel and Black Parrot Suites and to meet our delightful host, Ash. By this time we had only been in the Seychelles 28 hours however we had achieved so much and it felt much longer! Our host and her team offered us the warmest of welcomes and it felt like we were at home. It’s a charming small hotel, set in a beautiful location amidst tropical gardens. Coco De Mer is ideal for families whereas Black Parrot is perfect for honeymoons. The food and drinks were the lowest out of all the properties we visited however nothing was compromised and I could probably say it was one of the nicest dinners we had. The rooms were spacious, well equipped and felt airy. It was Creole evening so the staff entertained us which was pleasantly organised.
After a good breakfast it was time for a 15 minute bus ride to catch a 15 minute ferry crossing to La Digue, the fourth largest island. The ferry is just £24 return or you can join a catamaran for £90 for the day with lunch included.
We then visited Anse Source D’Argent, after Anse Lazio this is the second best beach in the Seychelles although I preferred this one as it had a series of small crescent shaped pink sand beaches separated by gigantic granite boulders. The beach is sheltered by a reef making it perfect for snorkelling and sun bathing. The calm gentle waters made it perfect for little ones too. The beaches are sheltered by palm trees making it postcard perfect.
After this we visited Petite Anse, which was anything but small. It offered a wide long beach but with very little shelter and a very strong current. In fact, it was the only place in the Seychelles where we experienced waves.
At this point we’ve only been here 24 hours and it was time to eat again after a site inspection of Le Domaine de L’Orangerie. This hotel is intimate, elegant and chic in a contemporary style. Whether staying in a garden or a hilltop villa, the rooms are luxurious. Whilst I highly recommend this hotel, if you are not staying here I would suggest booking lunch or trying out the spa with its breath taking views.
Sadly, we left La Digue and headed back to Praslin where we checked into Paradise Sun. Situated on a long stretch of beach, the rooms were spacious however this hotel is a resort therefore it has a different feel to some of the other properties we had visited. During afternoon tea a cooking demonstration was taking place. Complimentary kayaks, nature walks, volleyball, table tennis, stand up paddle board and entertainment is on offer, overall it was a great property for families who prefer a busier agenda. A delicacy on the island is ‘fruit bats’ which we had the opportunity to try during dinner however thank goodness they had just run out! I was advised they were caught in nets and curried but a lot of people don't like the idea, because they have almost human faces. I must admit I will try most foods but certainly did not want to try bat!
The following morning we checked out after breakfast and travelled back by ferry to Mahe and then checked in for a 30 minute Twin Otter flight to Denis Island. The island is privately and promotes sustainable tourism. The islands farm uses organic methods for the needs of the staff and guests – rearing poultry for meat and eggs, cattle for milk, vegetables, fruits, herbs and fish caught in the water. Therefore, the food is as fresh as you can get. Furniture is made in the islands workshop from fallen trees.
The island is tranquil, elegant, barefoot, chic and very intimate. Upon arrival we were greeted from the grass landing strip and taken by golf buggy to the main house a beautiful open sided lodge which houses the bar, restaurant, reception desk and gift shop. It is so beautifully furnished using lots of drift wood, coral and shells and is the real place where everyone comes together on the island. Mealtimes is generally the only time you'll probably see other guests as most tend to relax on the beach by their own cottages or go out on one of the islands amazing deep sea fishing trips or dives!
I really love the laid back relaxed feel of this island and within minutes I found myself relaxing and switching off to the outside world. Paradise!
You could walk around the island in a couple of hours, but it is lush and green with white sand beaches and turquoise sea. There's a small pool outside but I’m not sure that I would use it when I’m surrounded by white sand beaches and turquoise sea.
Within minutes of arriving at my cottage, push bikes arrived and I happily cycled barefooted discovering how lush and green the island was plus deserted beaches. I did not see a sole for 45 minutes.
The cottages are elegant, with inside/outside bathrooms plus there are no TVs, thank goodness. My cottage was a few steps from the ocean and white sand, had a huge veranda and a day bed pavilion, inside / outside bathrooms with a little garden and most importantly, just steps from the ocean. Families are well looked after and there's a great family cottage. There are no kids clubs here, simply a whole island to discover together. There is so much to discover here, from great snorkelling just off the shore, to the islands own farm which supplies the fresh food for the hotel. There's a dive centre, deep sea fishing. You can even get married in the tiny island chapel. Also, watch out for the giant tortoises, they have a huge pen in the middle of the hotel where you can feed them, many others roam wild. At Denis you can be as sociable or private as you like. Dinners are themed and food was good.
Whilst watching the sun set we sipped champagne and it was the prefect end to the day.
After breakfast it was time to vacate this idyllic island and during the flight I reflected on my experience so far whilst watching large circles swirl in the coral seas below wondering if they were whales or sharks!
Back to reality on Mahe and yet again we were greeted with warm smiles, water and cold towels by Creole Services and whisked off to lunch at for lunch at Le Jardin Du Roi with the wonderful host Sabrina, amazing views plus fantastic Creole food. Would recommend the lunch planteur. Afterward we were free to explore the gardens.
Then onto our final stop, Avani Barbarons Resort & Spa. A contemporary property in a beautiful location with amazing food, this hotel caters for everyone – honeymooners, families, business travellers.
The final day of the trip came about all too soon and before we knew it we were boarding the Emirates plane back home! We flew Emirates with a good connection in Dubai which allowed time for a few Duty Free purchases and then on our way to Birmingham. The great service and efficient staff mean I will certainly be flying with them again and will be highly recommending them to others.
After six flights, four ferries, five nights in five hotels the image I had of chilled out, swaying palm trees and turquoise calm waters is all true. I often felt I was staring at a postcard as everything was perfect.
WHY WOULD I RECOMMEND THE SEYCHELLES?
The Seychelles gained independence from Britain in 1976. It's now a welfare state, with little poverty, high employment on the 26 inhabited Seychelles and stringent laws on things such as hawking shells on the beach - which all adds up to a hassle-free holiday.
Due to the Seychelles being so close to the equator, the temperature only varies by a few degrees from month to month, holding steady at around 28 degrees celius all year round. During my visit in April, we experience 32 degrees at 8am and the same temperature at 10pm.
The beaches are "that beach" you see on postcards and calendars. Untouched by anything man made, perfect white sand and crystal clear water.
To really experience what these truly stunning islands have to offer, I would recommend staying at least two different islands and utilise the efficient service of the ferries.
During my brief experience of the Seychelles I visited xx hotels in total, stayed in five, experienced four different islands, sampled amazing Creole cuisine. Each hotel was very difference and catered for different types of clients.
My main experience from visiting the Seychelles was the beauty of each island - it really is like stepping into paradise, a truly unforgettable experience.
After reading this, you may be asking yourselves why you should choose the Seychelles over the Maldives when the price is generally higher. It’s simple. The Seychelles gives you the chance to experience both Mauritius and the Maldives in one country with one great difference, the Seychelles is much quieter. With smaller hotels and more personalised service to make that dream holiday a reality, it really does make spending those extra pennies entirely worthwhile.
In my opinion, the Seychelles has to be one of the world's ultimate luxury holiday destinations.