Whenever I start chatting about the Seychelles, everyone seems to mention that they’ve been to Mauritius but don’t know too much about the Seychelles, despite the short hop away.  I’ve never been to the Mauritius – so it’s definitely on my hit list!

So where is this tropical paradise? It’s located in the Indian Ocean – a unique destination of 115 islands. They encompass a natural wonderland to be discovered on land and underwater. The islands are sanctuary to a diverse and spectacular array of rare flora and fauna and they form the back-drop to the most spectacular scenery your eyes will ever feast upon. These islands live up to their tourism slogan, ‘another world.’

DSC_3530-300x201Families and lone travellers will feel at home in the very safe Seychelles. It’s a perfect destination for couples and families where there’s lots to enjoy for those who are active or for those who simply want to switch off and relax.  Most of the hotels have family entertainment and there’s everything from sailing, snorkelling, as well as golf, cycling and fishing, also hiking and bird watching or simply-sunbathing, the Seychelles have something for everyone.

Mahé, the largest island in the Seychelles is home to the Four Seasons Resort, located at Petit Anse, it’s a haven of luxury and personal service.  If your idea of heaven is being waited on hand and foot, sunbathing on an outstanding beach and having your own private hill-top villa complete with plunge pool overlooking the Indian Ocean, then you’ve found it.

The rooms are opulent, light and airy with a foam-filled Sterns & Foster ‘pillow top’ bed, goose feathered pillows complete with the largest stone bath and power-shower overlooking the sea.

The villa is ensconced amidst a jungle of coconut, mango, jackfruit and cinnamon trees, the view from the bed is of course blue Indian ocean which stretches as far as the eye can see, complete with a rainbow if you’re lucky.

Relaxation is top of the agenda, where you will want for nothing and nothing is too much trouble for the friendly staff.  A visit to the Hilltop spa, 80m above sea-level, which overlooks the sea ensures jet-lag fades instantly and with only a three hour time difference it’s soon gone.  The signature Hill Top massage is a total body treat, here they use local Seychelles brand, Yi-King.

At Petit Anse, meaning, Little Cove, you can discover the underwater world with the resort’s on-site diving centre or you can try snorkelling at the same time and learn about what you will see including Blue-Ring Angel fish and Sharpnose Puffer, to the Trumpet Fish  all with their helpful marine biologists.  If under the water isn’t your thing, then try the Mountain Yoga or Sunset golf which includes improving your golf swing, with added cocktails thrown in to get you going and it provides something for fish too.  The golf balls are actually biodegradable fish food. This hotel really does think of everything! The food served for the guests is a delight.  Breakfast is mind-blowing and provides you with choices ranging from traditional English to Arabic fayre.  The foodie themed nights are decadent and here you can also find a very stylish Sushi bar.  The  more casual beachside restaurant complete with pool table and glammed-up ZEZ restaurant offers everything from traditional Creole dishes, locally caught lobster and Job fish, to steaks. If luxury and good service are your thing, then, you will not be disappointed.

DSC_3440-300x201A short one-hour island hop away is the stunning and seemingly untouched island retreat of Silhouette – there is only one hotel on this remote island, The Hilton Seychelles Labriz & Spa. When you alight from the ferry you are greeted by the hotel’s staff with a very warm welcome and even singing!  The name Silhouette was given after Etienne de Silhouette, the French minister of finances.  Years gone by, the Dauban family operated extensive plantations.  Silhouette remains one of the richest biodiversity hot-spots in the western Indian Ocean. It shelters endemic species including giant tortoises to extremely rare plants and sheaf tailed bats. Much time can be enjoyed either on the extensive ‘paradise’ beach watching crabs in their shells going about their daily business or just sitting in the bath in the evenings watching the Fruit Bats flying in to roost.  Our room was a well-appointed Beach Villa, which enjoys spectacular views of the ocean, just a few steps from the very comfortable bedroom.

The Robinson & Crusoe experience was complete after taking a two hour walk through the forest to Anse Mondon.  This beautiful ‘up-hill and down-dale’ hike was no mean feat and it is not for the faint-hearted. With quite steep rocks to climb which were slippery in places and it being very warm, I congratulated myself for reaching the ‘Belle Vue’ which really was worth the effort. Before me laid a stunning panoramic view of Silhouette’s powerful landscape and a view of the secluded cove and the famous North Island. During the hike, Natasha the guide, pointed out different tree leaves and scents, from Cinnamon, Bamboo, Stilt Palm to spotting a wide range of insects, earthworms, snakes and frogs.   On reaching the Anse Mondon, a small secluded cove, I found treasure in my back-pack containing sandwiches, fruit and drinks.  The island’s real treasure is still to be found as legend has it that the notorious and intrepid Jean-Francois Hodoul, who worked as a ship’s captain and ventured into the wilderness and buried his treasure on Silhouette!  Despite being on this remote island, the food is fantastic.  You have a choice from any of the A La Carte restaurants, Portobello Italian, Sajura, Teppanyaki and Grann Kaz to enjoy authentic Creole food.  After a hard day’s sunbathing beside a very beautiful infinity pool, it’s worth visiting the Silhouette Spa, a stunning retreat with an outdoor jacuzzi, as well as a cold water plunge pool and steam rooms.  It’s another great spot where at 6pm you can watch the sun go down while sitting in the Jacuzzi, watching birds and bats going to roost. For the water babies, the Resort has a water sports centre with PADI Diving training.  Snorkelling equipment, kayaking, water-skiing and jet skiing is also available to keep the family entertained.

DSC_3954-300x201Silhouette is a special retreat combining luxury with nature, a unique island where you can truly relax and switch off from normal everyday life on a beautiful tropical island.  Equally if you prefer to be active you can indulge in water sports, fitness, tennis or hiking, it’s all there for the taking.

Praslin, the second largest island is home to Vallée de Mai, the unique home of the sea coconut, the famous ‘Coco de Mer,’ the largest seed in the world with a ½ metre diameter.  Your visit to Praslin is not complete without taking one of their enthusiastic tour guides to show you the wonders of this UNESCO Heritage site.  Here you will find some of the tallest palm trees in the world and if you’re lucky gazing skywards you may also see the rare Seychelles Black Parrott which is unique to the area.

Le Duc de Praslin, is the only four-star hotel on this island offering exceptional value. It is located at the picturesque Anse Volbert on Cote D’or.  The hotel is situated just off the beach.   There are two restaurants, Le Dauphin Restaurant which serves fantastic authentic Creole cuisine and Cafes des Arts beachfront offering seafood.  Both restaurants attract visitors for miles with their seafood, BBQ and mixed grill buffet nights.

Le Duc’s garden is beautifully adorned with orchid plants and tropical flowers.  Le Dauphin Restaurant is set among illuminated streams, which are home to many spectacularly coloured Koi Carp.

Our fully equipped room with a large bath and shower, overlooked the garden and was moments from the atmospheric water-garden bar.  The owner, Robert, has worked hard to build up his hotel to a high standard and he’s proud to have only local staff work at this well-run family hotel. Robert has built two villas that look over St Pierre Island which is one of the most photographed islands in the world.  Visitors flock there on their boats to snorkel and to have lunch.

DSC_3916-300x201These villas are impressive and come with a car and a beautiful swimming pool from where you can enjoy the panoramic views.  Le Duc offers affordable luxury.  It is the perfect base to enjoy the stunning white sand beach.  With Le Duc’s beachside restaurant and Verve Clicquot upstairs bar, it’s a great place for cocktail sundowners and a romantic meal.  Nearby, there’s an 18-hole golf course at Lemuria and for evening entertainment, a visit to Le Casino des Iles is a must for stepping back in time to post-colonial architecture. On the  other side of the island, you will find what is one of the best beaches in the world, Anse Lazio.  This beach in particular attracts the visitors due to its remote and unusual location accessed by steep, windy roads.  The bus stops 4km before the beach as it is unable to cope with the narrow lanes.  Anse Lazio is impressive, being everything the brochure says that it is and more.  The sea is warmer than a bath, the snorkelling is fantastic, the scenery simply stunning and even better there’s a brilliant restaurant, ‘BonBon Plume’, serving local Creole food and beers.  We had Grilled Crevettes, Smoked Fish and the Crab Creole Curry.   Eating with the locals, the only way to enjoy the Crab Curry, was literally to crunch your way through the delicious crab and slurp the sauce. When in Rome!

The Inter Island Ferry from Praslin to our next island La Digue took only 30 minutes.  It is situated 45km from Mahé and 7km from Praslin it is the fourth largest island in the Seychelles.  Arriving on the island, it was alive with hustle and bustle which seemingly only lasts for an hour while the ferry unloads, passengers are collected and the island bicycles are barted for by day visitors who wish to cycle their way around this friendly island.  Apart from the scheduled ferry drop offs, La Digue is serene with locals and holidaymakers pedalling around care-free and happy.  An ox cart will take you to your hotel should you wish, or if you’re staying at Le Domaine D’Orangeraie, the golf buggy will come and pick you up.

Le Domaine has the most luxurious sunbathing facilities.  Sumptuous beds surround the fresh water infinity swimming pool that overlooks the Indian Ocean.  In addition, there are four-poster style sun beds on the beach.  The beach next to the hotel is not as impressive as others that can be found locally when on your biking adventures, so stick to the pool area.   As part of your hotel package bicycles are included.  These provide the best way to see this spectacular island. In no time you are on your way, peddling past little shops, restaurants, hoards of laughing school children, locals picking up their Job Fish and cycling home with twenty or thirty attached to their handle bars.  Before you know it, you feel like one of the inhabitants, you’re in a shack overlooking the ocean drinking home-made tropical juice and feeding a 75 year old Giant Tortoise!  These tortoises are endemic to the Seychelles.  To find out more about these giants visit Anse Union where they are kept in large numbers and where you can find out how coconut oil is produced.  The President’s villa is also at this location and here there is a spectacular beach, just perfect for that ‘tropical’ holiday photograph.

bike-pic-300x201La Digue is brimming with personality in the day time with lots of gathering of locals, night time is quiet.  A torch is required if you’re walking at night.  We spent time gazing up at the night sky watching out for shooting stars.

The accommodation at Le Domaine is trendy ‘Zen style.’  Most of the villas are in the hills and due to its tropical setting, mosquito nets were provided.   Our bathroom with shower and the stone bath were located separately outdoors adding to the jungle experience!  Bathing outside in luxury was a great part of the day, reminiscing about the sites we’d seen, food we’d eaten and people we’d met.

Le Domaine offers guests the opportunity to take day trips on its catamaran ‘Ophelia’ at reasonable prices.  We opted for the ‘Three Sisters’ day trip which included a visit to the Islands of Felicité, Coco and Sister islands (95 Euros per person each).  The full day trip included a sumptuous BBQ lunch on board the boat, with lots of opportunities to take photographs, sunbathe and snorkel. One of the best ways to see the Seychelles is by boat, this is a great value day out.

The Seychelles are a magical paradise and unlike so many other places, there is no jewel in

the crown, each island is special and unique in its own way. Only by you wanting  adventure and discovery will determine how precious it is.

Love KT x

For more information about the Seychelles visit: www.seychelles.travel

When to go:  The Seychelles is pleasant to go all year around with minimum temperatures of 28 degrees.  Dry Season – end of February to June and October to early Dec.

How to get there:

You can book your flight direct or take a package deal with www.seyexclusive.com. Fly with Emirates from Heathrow or Gatwick via Dubai.

Hotel Accommodation

www.fourseasons.com on Mahé Island, around 30 minutes from the airport

Four Seasons Seychelles – Garden Villa, BB, 2 people sharing – from £ 525 per night To book  Call: 01522 792999, email enquiries@seyexclusive.com, website www.seyexclusive.com

Labriz Hilton Hotel, Silhouette Island

For a Beach Villa (01306 747008 or www.kuoni.co.uk) offers 7 nights with breakfast at the 5-star Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa in a beachfront villa, including flights with Emirates Airlines from Heathrow and group transfers in resort. Prices for 2014 are from £1,815 per person, based on two sharing. To book please quote: IO0382

Le Duc de Praslin, Anse Volbert on Praslin Island is from 300 Euros a night for a double room

Tel: 00 248 4294800

Email: Leduc@seychelles.net

Le Duc Hillside Villa sleeps 8 people is 850 Euros per night including use of a car

Visit www.leduc-seychelles.com for the latest deals.

Le Domain D’orangeraie on La Digue Island

Domaine – prices for Garden Villa, BB, 2 people sharing – from £279 per night

To book call: 01522 792999, email enquiries@seyexclusive.com, website www.seyexclusive.com