SEychelles_featureOn the list of the world’s most romantic destinations, the Seychelles are about as close as you can get to the top. Located in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa, the cluster of 115 topical islands is a mix of populated ports and never-inhabited coralline islets. Exotic plants and wildlife, including indigenous Seychelles black parrots and towering palms make this destination a standout. Travelers visit the Seychelles for the culture of its capital city of Victoria, and the pristine beaches only reachable by private yacht. Clichéd or not, travelers often refer to the ‘Garden of Eden’, when speaking about their vacation in the Seychelles…once you have felt the sand between your toes here, beach holidays will never be the same again.

The Seychelles archipelago is a destination where white sandy beaches are as pure as the driven snow, where frothy turquoise waters harbor colorful coral reefs and bountiful marine life, where secret coves allow you to have your very own Robinson Crusoe moment, with only birds and tortoises for company. Mahé may be the biggest (and the busiest) of the islands, but it has a fair share of secluded bays. Together with its sisters Praslin and La Digue, it attracts the lion’s share of visitors.

More adventurous travelers, on the other hand, may prefer to take a flying boat to more remote islands, such as Fregate, or Bird Island, to enjoy secluded beaches all to themselves. These islands are especially popular with birdwatchers and nature lovers, due to their abundance of wildlife. The absence of people on many of the islands means that rare plant life has thrived at this Indian Ocean archipelago. Tropical life abounds below the waves as well – best viewed by scuba diving and snorkeling.

When it comes to ethical, eco-conscious tourism in the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles sets the standard. This is not a place where you find mega-resorts, or mass tourism, instead you’ll find an emphasis on local ventures focused on protecting the country’s remarkably diverse landscape and wildlife.

With a population of just 92,000, Seychelles is small in size but it’s a big player when it comes to wildlife conservation. As a matter of fact, Seychelles was the first nation to include conservation efforts and targets in its constitution. Today, almost 60 percent of its land mass is protected, the highest percentage of any country in the world. The country is home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the easily accessible Vallée de Mai, one of the world’s last remaining stands of coco-de-mér palm trees, and the extremely isolated Aldabra Atoll on Seychelles’ farthest reaches, where more than 150,000 giant tortoises live in undisturbed peace.

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The North Island of Seychelles was the recipient of the National Geographic World Legacy Award for Conserving the Natural World. National Geographic annually collaborates with the international tourism trade fair ITB Berlin to acknowledge five outstanding sustainable franchises within the ecotourism industry. The five World Legacy awards include Destination Leadership, Earth Changers, Engaging Communities, Sense of Place and Conserving the Natural World.

The North Island Resort’s fundamental philosophy involves prioritizing the natural ecosystem of the island while providing a sustainable getaway for tourists. The North Island was privately owned as a copra plantation until it was sold in the 1970’s. Invasive species introduced earlier in the century radiated throughout the island, disrupting endemic species until the island was purchased with the intent of establishing an eco-tourism resort in 1997. The Seychelles North Island resort aligned with the ‘Noah’s Ark’ project to ensure that the island would become a haven for native species once again. Scientists working for the ‘Noah’s Ark’ project facilitate the reintroduction of endemic species, while also observing temperature, migration, and the effects of climate change to gain a comprehensive understanding of the island’s ecology. As a result, North Island is once again supporting native species such as the Seychelles Sunbird and the Vulnerable Seychelles White-eye.

It’s not all about nature, though. The Seychelles are a veritable melting pot of cultures; its inhabitants descend from African, Asian, and European immigrants, who have all brought their customs and traditions with them to the islands. This heady mix is particularly pleasing on the palate, thanks to the archipelagos’ fabulous fusion food. Creole cuisine features the subtleties and nuances of French cooking, the exoticism of Indian dishes, and the piquant flavors of the Orient. Grilled fish or octopus, coated with a sauce of crushed chilies, ginger and garlic are national favorites, along with a variety of delicious curries, lovingly prepared with coconut milk, and innovative chutneys made from local fruits, such as papaya and golden apple.

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For being such a small country, the Seychelles have a vibrant art scene that encompasses painters, sculptors, writers and poets, artisans of many types, musicians and dancers. Painters have traditionally taken inspiration from the richness of the Seychelles’ natural beauty to produce a broad collection of works, using mediums ranging from water colors to oils, acrylics, collages, metals, aluminum, wood, fabrics, gauche, varnishes, recycled materials, pastels, charcoal, embossing, etching, and giclée prints.  Music and dance have always played a prominent role in Seychelles culture and in all kinds of local festivities.

 

The people in Seychelles live a simple and unsophisticated island life, and tourism is carefully controlled to protect the unspoiled charm of the islands. Before the international airport was opened in 1971, the islands could be reached only by sea, and since they are miles from anywhere, visitors were few and locals were little influenced by the outside world. They developed their own language and culture – which, like so many things on the Seychelles – are unique.

The nation’s focus on conservation is reflected in its wide range of ecotourism offerings, and a Seychelles holiday represents the best of both worlds: luxury-resort indulgence plus remarkable wildlife experiences you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

When to go to the Seychelles?

Travelers planning to visit the Seychelles should consider the effect that two monsoon seasons have on the area’s climate. The southeast monsoon season hits each May through September and brings with it cool breezes and cloudy skies. The northwest monsoon season means clear skies and clear waters, along with high temperatures and, at times, rain. Seychelles travel reaches a peak during July and August and during the winter holiday season through the New Year. Many travelers, however, choose to visit the Seychelles in November and April for a mix of both seasons.

Air Seychelles headerAirlinePros partner Air Seychelles, the national airline of the Republic of Seychelles, offers international flights to Abu Dhabi, Antananarivo, Johannesburg, Mauritius, Mumbai, Düsseldorf and Paris. Air Seychelles also operates daily domestic flights, as well as charter services throughout the archipelago.