The Seychelles, a 115-island archipelago found east of Africa in Indian Ocean, is rightly celebrated for its pristine beaches – the bays of white sand and turquoise waters are considered among the world’s best.
But this idyllic getaway is not just about relaxation – adventure and active holidays await those who want them, whether that’s spying wildlife on semi-submarine voyages and kayaking through pristine waters, hiking through dense rainforest or exploring La Digue by bike.
Here are some of the top active experiences for those hoping to combine beach time with adventure.
The calm waters of the Seychelles’ protected marine biosphere support activities ranging from catamaran cruises and kayaking to snorkelling and diving. Among those with a particularly strong active focus is the recently opened, family-friendly Club Med Seychelles, on Saint Anne. Crystal Water Kayaks is an ecological kayaking business offering guided tours in 100 per cent transparent kayaks, located on the beautiful island of La Digue, which is known for its beaches, such as Anse Source d’Argent, dotted with granite boulders. The kayaks allow visitors to discover and explore the marine life below – some of the most diverse anywhere in the world – while enjoying the scenic and panoramic views of the coastline.
The Seychelles is known for being one of the Indian Ocean’s top diving and snorkelling destinations thanks to its startlingly clear, bath-warm waters, and dazzling marine life. Best for beginners are the shallow waters of Saint Pierre, which attracts colourful reef fish and the occasional turtle or shark. More experienced divers can discover sunken ships on Mahé, or head to Brissare Rocks to goggle fire coral, parrotfish and yellow snapper. But the real star attraction for divers is the wild Aldabra group of islands, home to myriad creatures including hammerhead sharks, turtles and sailfish.
Away from the luscious beaches, Praslin and Mahé have jungle-clad mountainous interiors that merit exploration on foot. On Mahé, the 45-minute Anse Major trail is an easy route with pretty views that winds its way along the rocky coastline to the tiny tucked-away beach of Anse Major, where walkers can cool off with a snorkel or swim.
Seasoned ramblers may prefer the more challenging Morne Blanc trail in Morne Seychellois National Park, an uphill climb through an old tea plantation and mist forests to the mountain of Morne Blanc where you’ll be rewarded with epic views of the west coast.
Step it up a gear by exploring the sleepy island of La Digue by bicycle. A short boat ride from Praslin and Mahé, this virtually car-free island is perfect for a day trip. Cycle to L’Union Estate, an old plantation where visitors can see giant land tortoises, admire the French colonial architecture, browse markets and relax on the sparkling white-sand beach of Anse Source D’Argent, dramatically backed by granite boulders and palms.
Eden-like nature reserve Vallée de Mai on the island of Praslin is a hit with nature lovers who can follow one of three shady walking trails through its ancient forest. The 48-acre (20 hectare) park earned its UNESCO World Heritage status for its abundance of endemic coco de mer palms, which produce the largest and heaviest seeds in the world. The untamed lush green jungle is a haven for wildlife not found anywhere else in the world, including tiger chameleons, rare black parrots, tree frogs, geckos and blue pigeons.
For an off-the-beaten-track travel experience of a lifetime, nothing beats a stay at Cosmoledo Eco Camp. Gloriously remote, the camp is sited on the uninhabited Wizard Island, one of 22 islands that make up Cosmoledo Atoll, reachable only via an international flight, a domestic flight and a one-hour boat ride. The lodge boasts impressive eco credentials: a maximum of 16 guests are allowed on the island at any time; there’s no bottled water; and rooms are housed within stylish shipping containers to minimise the impact on the environment. Guests can enjoy non-motorised water sports, including kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, snorkelling and catch-and-release fishing, as well as spotting the colourful birdlife: the island is home to the largest colony of three species of booby.
If you’re looking for destination inspiration then sandy stretches such as Anse Georgette, on Praslin; or Petite Anse, on the main island, Mahé, speak for themselves. While some favour the five-star offerings of international hotel brands such as Raffles, Hilton and Four Seasons, others gravitate towards the private island resorts such as Denis Island and Bird Island, with their timeless approach to barefoot luxury and nature conservation. In such times, the exclusive sanctuary offered by such ‘one island, one resort’ offerings has never seemed more attractive, with other aspirational offerings including Fregate Island Private and North Island, long a magnet for high-profile honeymooners such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Not that you need to break the bank to ‘get away from it all’. Take diminutive La Digue. Setting foot on the sleepy, unhurried shores of this refreshingly carefree, and largely car-free, island, easily accessible from Praslin or Mahé, is like journeying to a simpler, more innocent time – albeit backed by world-class beaches and resorts.