The Seychelles, Indian Ocean. The name alone conjures up images of remote, crystalline waters and endless beaches, the unique coco de mer, verdant tropical canopies, and of course, Aldabra tortoises, the friendly lumbering giants that cause the occasional island traffic jam.
The Seychelles’ tropical archipelago of 115 islands brings with it a sense that you are in a place like no other. The Seychellois people are fiercely protective of the islands, and with their incredible biodiversity and varying populations of endemic species, make for a unique opportunity to island hop.
While many islands are not accessible to visitors, Mahe, the most densely populated and home to one of the world’s smallest capital cities, Victoria, has the hustle and bustle whilst on the opposite end of the spectrum, La Digue, is an island only accessible by boat and has just a handful of cars. Praslin, perhaps the crown jewel in this lush environment, is the ideal place to get the best the islands have to offer, combining mountains, the elusive the Seychelles black parrot, secluded beaches, and the iconic coco-de-mer (also known as the sea coconut or love nut).
Amanda Zirgulis, Luxury Escapes’ Account & Campaign Manager for Europe spent two years working in various hotels in this idyllic network of granitic islands, located about 1500 kilometers east of Kenya and about 1,100 kilometers northeast of Madagascar. Here she’ll tell you some tips for eating, playing, and staying in one of the most sought after destinations in the world for a true departure from the daily grind.
Seychelles cuisine is an aromatic amalgamation of influences from mainly East Africa, India, the UK, France, and China resulting in Creole-style dishes using exotic spices such as lemongrass, ginger, and turmeric. Go to dishes include anything fish and seafood, dhal, cassava, curry (don’t forget the bat curry, a delicacy in these parts), snack samosas from road side shops, and of course, all the tropical fruit you can handle.
Octopus Curry: A creamy coconut curry with tender octopus, this dish is generally served on rice and with chutney – known here as chilled pickled vegetables and or papaya. Essentially a national staple, be sure to watch beachside under your palm tree for fisherman gently wading in and out of the shallows to catch these shy creatures from under their rocks and crevices. Go for a casual curry at Starfish Bar and Restaurant at Acajou Beach Resort on Cote D’or in Praslin or DelPlace Bar and Restaurant in Port Glaud on the island of Mahe and enjoy views out onto a shallow lagoon with a tropical island smack dab in the middle of it. Naturally.
Fish: No trip to the Seychelles is complete without having delicious seafood – especially red snapper, lobster, or luscious prawns. For a truly authentic Seychelles experience, be sure to dine at Losean at Raffles Resort Praslin. With a menu completely inspired by the Indian Ocean emphasized by using local ingredients, you’d be hard pressed to find dishes that top the selection here. Be sure to begin with the millionaire salad, a nutty salad made with the locally sourced ‘hearts of palm’. If you’re on Mahe, reserve in advance at one of Beau Vallon’s well-known eateries, La Perle Noire, a romantic and low-key Creole – Italian fusion style restaurant by the beach. Aside from fish, al dente pastas, steaks, spicy prawns, and lobster await.
Snacking Away: There are so many delicious bites on the go, but you can’t beat a smoked fish salad. Marlin, sailfish or swordfish are the name of the game in this chilled dish. The heady smokiness and melt in your mouth fish combined with onions and mango are a deliciously perfect cool-down treat after a day out on the beach, and you will be able to find this anywhere.
For a sink your feet in the sand and a “hallelujah I’m on vacay” kind of feel – bite into a gooey pizza and swig from an ice cold Seybrew beer from Baobab Pizzeria in Beau Vallon on Mahe or bite into a crispy favorite on Praslin-Island Pizzeria- a no frills shack that cooks up delectable pizzas to bring to the beach to enjoy and watch the sun go down on the Indian Ocean. A perfect combo to kick off your holidays.
For a sweet treat, look no further than Seychelles’ very own, Shark’s ice cream, possibly the best I have ever had and a perfect after lunch treat.
Takamaka Rum: Proudly brewed on the island of Mahe, this smooth rum is authentic through and through. Made with sugarcane grown on the island and water from Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the island of Praslin, grab a glass and watch epic sunsets from a perch close to the ocean.
Beaches are synonymous with The Seychelles and the best beaches this side of the equator are all found on Praslin. Clambering around Jurassic styled granite boulders, Anse Boudin is a stunning option to explore. Anse Lazio, is the most famous beach on Praslin. It’s captivating white sands and epic beach walk potential combined with crystal clear waters make this beach great for snorkeling and day tripping. Anse Volbert or (Cote d’Or) as it’s known, is the beach with the most action, buzz and proximity to the many great eateries in the area.
Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve is a national forest and home to varying species of palm, including the Coco De Mer palm tree, found only on the island of Praslin and Curieuse. The palm tree grows the largest seed in the plant kingdom and are often referred to the love nut due to their suggestive shape. The tree is slow growing, and can take up to 40 years to reach reproductive stages. The tree is protected for a reason with the center of the nut considered an aphrodisiac and it is prone to poachers.
The Seychelles offers up anything tropical and lush, the choice is yours. Swimming with whale sharks during migration season, meeting local artisans (visit Andrew Gee’s art studio in the south of the island on Mahe) and visiting the local tea plantation on the island of Mahe are all highlights. Snorkel warm enveloping waters, lounge on beautiful beaches, and take instagram-worthy shots: matte grey boulders, stark white pure sands, and electric blue water all await.
A name synonymous with luxury, Raffles Seychelles located on Praslin is steps away from stunning Anse Takamaka, and close to Anse Volbert or Cote D’or, a calm, long beach and probably Praslin’s most popular. The property itself is breathtakingly built on a hill, with lush palm trees surrounding decadent villas with private pools tucked away in this oasis of greenery. Only a short 15-minute plane ride away, be ready to surrender to a magical island vibe upon arrival.
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