With its talcum powder, soft white beaches, stunning scenery and almost perfect climate, the Seychelles has become one of the most desirable holiday destinations on the planet.
The Seychelles is an archipelago consisting of 115 islands located 932 miles off the east coast of Tanzania/Kenya and to the north-east of Madagascar. The country is made up of 43 Inner Islands, the largest being Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, and 72 Outer Islands, the majority of which are uninhabited.
The earliest traces of habitation date back to the twelfth century and were found on Silhouette Island. In 1502, Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama was the first European to officially record seeing the islands, but it was not until 1602 that Captain Sharpeigh and the crew of the English East India Company ship Ascension actually made landfall. In 1756, the French claimed possession of the islands, renaming them after Louise XV’s Minister of Finance, Jean Moreau de Séchelles. Tourism began to develop in 1971, with the opening of an international airport, and by 1979, numbers had grown to 77,000. Over the next decade, visitor numbers continued to increase steadily, reaching 116,000 by 1993 and 130,000 in 2000. By 2013, the figure had rocketed to over 230,000.
The average temperature in July and August is 28°C (83°F) with 230 average monthly hours of sunshine. The climate is that of a tropical rainforest, making the islands feel humid, especially between December and April. The most pleasant time of year is from May to November when the southeast trade winds blow.
Things to do
If relaxing on a pristine white, palm-fringed beach, by the warm azure waters of the Indian Ocean is your idea of paradise, you will not be disappointed. Swimming, snorkelling, water-sports and surfing are available on most of the larger islands. If travelling with children, the majority of resorts have kids clubs offering a range of activities.
The more adventurous can visit the largest raised coral reef in the world, while Curieuse and Aldabara islands are home to thousands of giant tortoises. PADI diving centres organise expeditions to even the remotest of the Outer Islands.
With so many islands and atolls to explore boat charters are popular; around 36 companies operate from Mahé and Praslin islands. Both bare-boat and crewed charters are available. If not sailing, you can still enjoy some island hopping courtesy of local planes that fly into remote airstrips.
Though the Seychelles has expensive five-star luxurious resort hotels, it is possible to spend a week or so in this exotic destination without breaking the bank. Family-operated guesthouses and self-catering apartments are also available as are affordable dining options.
What of the future?
The Seychelles government has maintained a policy of sustainable tourism, limiting the number of new resorts on the larger islands and instead promoting growth elsewhere. For example, Mukesh Valabhji of the Capital Management Group has been advising Six Senses Hotels Resorts and Spas on its stunning new Zil Pasyon project on Félicité Island. The country has also recently launched a United Nations World Tourism Organisation initiative whereby hotels complying with sustainable tourism guidelines will be able to display an internationally recognised logo.
There is little doubt that, given its government’s commitment to managing the tourism industry effectively, this stunning archipelago will remain an unspoiled paradise for many years to come.