Take a deep breath, exhale and say "ahhhh" for the Seychelles, a true paradise island located off the east coast of Africa. It's the oldest group of granitic islands, with powder white beaches lapped by a stunning azure ocean. While thoughts of the ultimate Robinson Crusoe experience come to mind, the Seychelles also conjures up scenes of touristy resorts, sunburnt honeymooners and overpriced excursions. Starting off with Mahé (the largest Island), this is how we enjoyed an amazing, local experience that didn't break the bank.
The best advice? Stay local and avoid resorts. The further South you go, the better. We stayed in a local neighbourhood and rented a car; which is the best to way experience the local culture. The abundance of fruit means you can just eat it from the trees or buy it easily on the side of the road.
Exploring Victoria, the capital city, was especially great for experiencing the local culture. The local market gave us a great feel for local life; with fish mongers flogging their catch of the day. Popping into the local Hindu temple, we felt the true cultural diversity of the Seychelles.
The beaches on Mahé are stunning. The most remote is Police bay; driving down some remote Island roads, we parked on the side of the road and hiked over from Anse Bazarca. Anse Intendance and Anse Takamaka were great beaches for relaxation and surfing. The pristine white beaches make snorkelling in the azure ocean unreal, and the views of the granite boulders unique. Chilling under the shade of the takamaka and palm forests was blissful.
Be sure to drive North on the West of the Island to Baie Ternay Marine National Park. You will drive through a youth village; reminiscent of a scene from Jurassic Park, arriving at a beach great for snorkelling.
Making our way through the jungle, we hiked to the highest peak; Morne Blanc, which hosts an incredible micro climate. We went through four seasons in a matter of minutes - sunny, cloudy and rainy.
Hiking through the jungle, we passed cinnamon trees and witnessed all kinds of weird birds. At the top, we only got cloud (no views), but the entire experience was totally worth it.
To top off our trip, we prepared fresh seafood ourselves on a hot plate and heard the screeching sounds of flying foxes in the jungle around us. The Seychelles is nothing short of stunning, and while it looks like the typical paradise, it boasts uniqueness in every way.
Written by Shane Van Breda. Photos also by Shane.