The Seychelles Islands
Mahé, measuring 28 km long by 8 km wide, is the largest island and cultural and economic hub of the Inner Islands. It is also the international gateway to Seychelles with the international airport and the nation’s capital, Victoria.
The island is home to almost 90% of the total population (or approximately 72,200 people).
First visited by the British in 1609, Mahé was not visited again until Lazare Picault's expedition of 1742 when the gradual process of settling the island began, first by the French whose direct influence continued until 1814 and then as a British colony until Seychelles gained independence in 1976.
This fertile, granite island with verdant forests, soaring peaks and over 65 beaches enjoys a rich diversity of flora and fauna to be discovered by organised excursions as well as on walks and trails through lush countryside. A leisurely tour of the island by car will take 2 to 2 1/2 hours
Rare endemic plants, such as the Jellyfish Tree, the carnivorous Seychelles Pitcher Plant and the Seychelles Vanilla Orchid, are found in Mahé and nowhere else in the world.
North Mahé, home to famous Beau Vallon beach, tends to be more populous than other regions of the island, and features a range of hotels of all sizes, guesthouses and villas.
South Mahé presents, in contrast, a wonderfully pastoral aspect and is home to some of the island’s prettiest beaches and villages too, all made accessible by an efficient network of roads.
Mahé, Baie Lazare © STB
Mahé is the transportation hub for island-hops and day excursions to neighbouring islands and all other islands within Seychelles. All scheduled domestic flights by Air Seychelles originate from Mahé to the serviced islands.
Mahé has several satellite islands. Six of them are located within the Sainte Anne Marine National Park : Sainte Anne island, Cerf island, Long island, Moyenne island, Round island, and Ile Cachée. Hotel accommodation is available in Mahé, Sainte Anne and Cerf islands only.
Other islands lying only a stone’s throw from Mahé include Anonyme island, Therese island and Conception island. No accommodation is offered on these islands.
Opened in 1973, the Sainte Anne Marine National Park, home to more than 150 species of fish and magnificent underwater life, was the first national marine park in the Indian Ocean. It encompasses 6 islands off the coast of Mahé, a few minutes away from Victoria. St Anne is now one of the most important nesting sites for Hawksbill turtles. The calm, clear waters are perfect for snorkelling and local guides escort tours and provide fascinating insight into the natural history of the reefs.
Read more about the satellite islands of Mahé.
Mahé map and driving directions
See pictures from Seychelles beaches:
-- Anse Diri beach in Mahé
-- Anse Intendance in Mahé
With a population of 6,500 people, Praslin, originally known as Isle de Palme, is Seychelles’ second largest island. It lies 45 km to the northeast of Mahé - 15 minutes by plane or 45 minutes by catamaran ferry. Praslin measures 10 km by 4 km. A leisurely tour around the island by car will take approximately 2 hours.
Prior to settlement of the islands by the French in the mid-18th century, Praslin's Côte d'Or was a favourite haunt of pirates.
The island was named Praslin after the Duc de Praslin, the French minister of marine in 1768 when the original 'Stone of Possession' was erected on the island in what is still known
as Anse Possession.
Praslin is the site of the fabulous Vallée de Mai, one of Seychelles’s two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This is
where the legendary Coco-de-Mer, the world's heaviest nut, grows high on ancient palms in a primeval forest. The Vallée
de Mai is host to six species of palm to be found only in Seychelles.
Vallée de Mai © STB
General Charles George Gordon of Khartoum (Gordon Pasha, 1833-1885) was convinced that Vallee de Mai was the Biblical "Garden of Eden".
Divided by a ridge of hills intersected by a road that leads through the Vallée de Mai, Praslin possesses some of Seychelles’ most striking beaches such as Anse Lazio and Anse Georgette, both appearing on the top-10 list of world’s best beaches.
Featuring the only 18-hole championship golf course in Seychelles and a luxurious casino, Praslin has a rich assortment of hotels and guesthouses steeped in Creole hospitality.
The island is ideally situated for holidaymakers wishing to island hop to La Digue, Chauve Souris, Curieuse, Grande Soeur, St. Pierre, Cousine, and the island bird reserves of Cousin and Aride.
See pictures from Vallée de Mai.
La DigueLa Digue, lying 45 kilometres from Mahé and 7 kilometres from Praslin, is the fourth largest island in Seychelles. La Digue is celebrated for its granite boulders that seem to have been sculpted by a divine hand to adorn beautiful beaches such as Anse Source D’Argent.
La Digue takes its name from one of the vessels in explorer Marion Dufresne's fleet, sent by the French to explore Seychelles' granitic islands in 1768.
Apart from hosting the Seychelles' black paradise flycatcher, one of the rarest birds on earth, La Digue's biodiversity features such stars as the chinese bittern, cave swiftlet, waxbill as well as two rare species of terrapin.
La Digue © STB
See pictures from Seychelles beaches:
-- Anse Coco beach in La Digue
-- Anse Source d'Argent in La Digue
-- Anse Source d'Argent in La Digue (another picture)
La Digue's forests also contain a wealth of flora in the form of delicate orchids as well as trees such as Indian almond and takamaka.
La Digue is an island where time stands still and traditions such as travelling by ox-cart and bicycle are still king. Traditional methods of boat building and refining of coconut products (copra) are still practised on La Digue.
La Digue offers authentic island-style accommodation, mainly situated on the west-coast while the east remains more or less untouched.
The picturesque satellite islands (Grande Soeur and Petite Soeur, Félicité, Coco and Marianne) are ideal for snorkelling and diving excursions.
Accommodation is available in Praslin, La Digue, Chauve Souris, Round Island, Félicité and Cousine Island only.
Read more about the satellite islands of Praslin and La Digue.
Other Inner Islands
InnerIslands include also Bird island, Denis Island, Frégate, North Island and Silhouette. Accommodation is available on all these islands.
Read more about these inner islands.
Less visited than their granitic islands due to their relative remoteness, the ‘Outer Islands’ remain miniature worlds, little touched by man thus offering untouched habitats for many species of wildlife.
Only two islands among the Outer Island groups, namely Alphonse and Desroches, currently offer accommodation facilities. They boast luxuriously appointed lodges as well as unparalleled opportunities for sailing, fishing and diving in places where few have gone before.
The outer islands are divided into five groups : Aldabra, Amirantes, Alphonse, Farquhar and the Southern Coral Group.
Read more about the outer Islands.
Please visit hereunder the links to the places of interest in Seychelles, including world heritages sites national parks, botanical gardens, and nature trails or go to the Seychelles travel guide Homepage.
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