Sensational Seychelles?…Chris thought so.
During my 14 years at Beachcomber Tours I have been fortunate enough to have visited &/or stayed at nearly all of the properties we offer and within that time in terms of natural beauty the Seychelles stands high above all others. In my most recent visit I followed an island hopping itinerary staying at L’Archipel, Denis Island and Sainte Anne Island.
Myself and a colleague arrived on a gloriously sunny and warm May morning to be met by a representative of Masons Travel, our Ground Handlers in Seychelles with a cold towel and a welcome seat in their air-conditioned office. After collecting some information packs we were transferred to the Port, just 10 minutes away to board the Cat Cocos ferry to the Seychelles second largest island “Praslin”.
The ferry journey across to Praslin can be a little choppy, so I approached this element of my trip with a little apprehension, however after roughly 40 minutes we arrived onto Praslin feeling fine and ready to explore the island. Having been to Praslin years ago I would personally still recommend though taking the option of a flight across from Mahe as during some parts of the year the ferry crossing by reputation can be very choppy and not comfortable, whereas the opportunity to fly across in just 15 minutes provides some spectacular views and photography opportunities of the little coral islands beneath.
Our accommodation on Praslin was Hotel L’Archipel, a small 30 room and suite property just 10 minutes from the jetty. Located in an attractive bay the accommodation has a tropical yet colonial feel. The accommodation is dotted on the side of a slope and faces out to the water with large terraces to sit back and enjoy the warmth and views through the mature gardens.
As we were only stopping for one night we took the opportunity to visit the world famous Vallee-de-Mai and took a walking tour around this relatively untouched forest which is home to the world’s heaviest seed the “Coco-de-mer”. We spent roughly an hour wondering around in the shady cool and well maintained forest tracks learning about the forest and this extraordinary natural phenomenon. Having been to Praslin previously if you have the opportunity to spend longer than us I do advise finding time to get out and experience some of the other beaches and laid back ambience that the island offers.
That evening we took cocktails around the infinity pool and dined in one of the hotels two restaurants. While the menu was a little limited the food itself was very tasty and provided for a taste of the Indian Ocean making you remember why you have flown out to experience a tropical destination.
After a very good night’s sleep in the enormous bed it was back to Mahe on the ferry before picking up a light aircraft to Denis Island. The flight over took approximately 30 minutes, but it absolutely flew by (Sorry for the pun). To give a little background about myself, I spent the first 5 years of my time at Beachcomber working in and running our Africa program staying in some quite astonishingly luxurious lodges and since that time this place is the closest I have ever come to replicating the experience.
Coming into land on the grass airstrip and then being taking by golf buggy by a welcoming member of staff into the half of the island where the accommodation sits is a wonderful experience.
There are just 25 cottages on the island, all of them made individually and locally on the island using timber and resources that have been growing there. All the furniture, central facilities, library, bar etc were all built in the same manner. The quality of the workmanship is something to behold as they have produced accommodation ranging from 90-325sqm with outdoor showers, mature gardens, day beds and enormous beds.
We took the opportunity to take a golf buggy tour around the island to learn how it operates, passing through the working farm with a large array of various animals, the vegetable gardens, past the workshop where everything is made and even stopping at the little chapel where wedding are known to take place. It really was fascinating learning more about the island and Seychelles in general.
After a dip in the crystal clear waters that you believe only exist in airbrushed holiday brochures and a snooze on my sun lounger, we spied discreetly on a wedding taking place on the beach which had the most beautiful Robinson Crusoe look to it, quite appealing but not enough yet to get me married! Then in the evening we sat in the large bar before stepping into the restaurant to enjoy a fabulous quality meal.
I can only describe Denis Island as a place where you feel privileged to have spent time and it was with sadness that we headed off again the next morning, although my mood was immediately lifted by that scenic return flight to Mahe.
On arrival into Mahe we took a short 5 minute transfer to the jetty before boarding the 10 minute crossing through a marine park over to Beachcomber’s own Sainte Anne Island which would be our home for a couple of nights. I remember when the hotel opened and it is always a pleasure returning to explore the little changes and updates that have taken place, for example this time I noticed that they have added some giant tortoises in a very large area in the shade.
On the first afternoon I decided to go on a sunset walk through the forest to enjoy the last of the daylight and learn more about Sainte Anne. There are various walking tracks on the island of varying difficulty. The really ambitious can go up a steep path to get great views back towards Mahe, while there is a long track that follows the coast around to a long deserted beach.
On the second day I enjoyed the complimentary glass bottom boat while my colleague went out for some snorkelling in the marine park and came back excited to tell me she had been following a turtle in the water. For the rest of the day I relaxed in and around the swimming pool or in my spacious villa. It really felt like a return home.
Looking back at my trip as a whole I really feel fortunate to have been able to experience a wide variety of islands all within one country and island hopping in my opinion is the way to go for holiday makers who have 10 to 14 nights available to see a couple of islands.