MAHÉ ISLAND, Seychelles
Distant Guide Exploring the Magical Seychelles
Welcome to the Seychelles!
Your trip starts on Mahé Island, the largest and most popular island of all 115 islands that make up the Seychelles archipelago. Mahé is home to Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles and the smallest capital in the world (it can be explored entirely on foot). Many hotels, resorts, and restaurants can be found in here, and it makes a great base to explore the island and the surrounding Marine Parks and forest.
Seychelles International Airport sits just a fifteen-minute drive south-east of Victoria and buses run nonstop between the two. For those wanting a private transfer, hop into a taxi outside the arrivals lounge. Alternatively, some hotels provide a free shuttle service to and from the airport so always check your options with your lodgings first!
TO THE BEACH
There’s no place better than a soft sand beach to fight the tired symptoms of jet lag. After you’ve checked in at your lodgings grab your beach bag and head down to Beau Vallon Beach, Mahé islands most visited and largest stretch of sand. The beach sits just a ten minute taxi ride west of Victoria with buses running regularly and that stop at Bel Ombre Road.
If you’ve got the energy, there’s plenty of water sports to enjoy including jet ski rental, surfing lessons, and fishing excursions.
SEYCHELLES OF YESTERYEAR
Your first-night dining on the island has to be special, and a trip to Marie Antoinette provides the perfect restaurant experience. Here you’ll be thrown back in time to dine on Creole cuisine of yesteryear. The short and sweet menu features homemade Seychelles comfort food including fish stew and chicken curry.
HIKING FOREST TRAILS
This morning rise early, don your walking boots and take a 30-minute taxi to the northwest side of the Island. Here you’ll find the stunning Morne Seychelles National Park. The park
actually covers 20% of Mahé Islands land mass and is home to eye-catching fauna, a coastal mangrove forest, with breathtaking vistas and flora abound.
The forest is also home to plenty of walking trails of varying difficulty, so whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a real newbie, there’s a trail for everyone. Guided hikes are suggested for those without the know-how, and these can be arranged through your lodgings. Experienced hikers will enjoy the five hour round hike to the islands highest peak, More Seychellois, which stands at 3,000ft and provides beautiful views out over the island.
After an exhausting day climbing mountains and burning calories you’re going to want to refuel at La Perle Noire, a Seychelles favorite specializing in Italian and Creole cuisine. Spaghetti lobster is a big hit here along with the spicy prawns and juicy sirloin steak. This place gets extremely busy so make sure to book in advance.
This morning you’re on the hunt for one of the islands best vistas, found at Mission Lodge Lookout Point. Take a taxi or bus to the lodge car park, and from here you can hike up to the lookout. The walk winds its way through gardens and forest home to cinnamon trees and an array of plant life, make sure you read the signs to learn about the native flora! Once atop the hill, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking panorama of Male Island that takes in the surrounding rainforest and winding coastline. Bring a picnic and dine in the public gazebo.
This afternoon pay a visit to Tempio Hindu, a beautiful Hindu temple located in central Victoria. This colorful structure boasts delicate architecture, and you’ll find elaborate sculptures both inside and out the building. The temple was actually constructed in 1992 to serve the islands ever growing Hindu community and today is the most popular temple on Mahé. Make sure you head inside to observe the locals in worship, don’t forget to remove your shoes and be respectful of the temple!
After your day of adventure relax and enjoy a hearty meal down at the docks. Head to Bravo, a trendy dockside cafe located on Eden Island on the east side of Mahé Island, just a ten-minute taxi ride from central Victoria. The restaurant/ cafe has an informal vibe so if you’re after white linen table clothes we’d suggest you head elsewhere (we recommend Eden Restaurant at the H Resort). Expect large portions of delicious home-cooked dishes including fresh seafood pasta, octopus curry and Bravo’s signature dish: square pizzas! You'll also enjoy fantastic views out over the harbor.
Today is a great day to jump on a slow boat and head over to Sainte Anne Marine National Park. The park is made up of six different islands and was actually the first settlement of Seychelles back in 1770. The islands were also used as a Royal Marines base during WWII.
ARRIVAL IN SAINT ANNE
Head down to Victoria docks and jump on a ferry over to the Marine Park. The ride takes approximately 20 minutes and departs regularly throughout the day. Makes sure to take note of the last ferry back to Mahé so you can plan your day around your departure time.
UNDER THE SEA
Sainte Anne Marine National Park is the oldest reserve in the Seychelles and is surrounded by freshwater lagoons and small islands. The shallow ocean waters and abundance of coral reefs make the shores of the park perfect for snorkeling and you can expect to see a wide array of marine life as over 150 species live here (including both green and hawksbill turtles!). The parks best snorkeling spot is found in the channel between Sainte Anne and Moyenne.
Those who want to step up their underwater adventures a gear can embark on a scuba diving trip. On a diving trip, you can expect to see both soft and hard coral, shoals of reef fish, nudibranchs, yellow snappers, giant trevally and bottlenose dolphins.
When you’re not diving with the fishes, you can explore the islands many soft sand beaches and tropical vegetation. At low tide, you can even walk from one island to the other but make sure you don’t get stuck!
When leaving the island, visitors are asked to leave nothing behind to ensure the island remains protected. Similarly, nothing should leave the island with you that wasn’t yours to begin with!
RETURN TO MAHÉ
Before taking the ferry back over to Mahé Island make sure you visit Le Mont Fleuri restaurant for fresh seafood. The restaurant sits on the west coast of Ste Anne Marine National Park and has a romantic air to it thanks to its beachside location and fine dining. Enjoy the catch of the day (including lobster and crab dishes) or dine off the chef’s specials menu for a real treat! It’s worth booking a table here in advance as it’s the most popular eatery on the island.
This morning hop on a bus, or take a taxi, down to Anse Royal Beach, just a 30-minute drive south of Victoria. The beach sits on the east coast of Mahé and has a rich history; it was actually the location for the Seychelles first spice gardens as far back as 1772. Today it’s visited by travelers from all over the world to enjoy the soft sand beach, colorful coral reefs and calm ocean perfect for swimming.
Back in Victoria spend the afternoon split between Victoria Botanical Gardens and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Victoria’s main place of worship. The cathedral is considered the Mother church of the Catholic diocese and dates right back to 1851. The first and only bishop of the Seychelles is buried inside the church in a tomb, and although you can’t visit the tomb, you can read all about him inside the cathedral.
Your next stop is the Victoria Botanical Gardens, located just off Mont Fleuri Road. The gardens are home to a large collection of giant tourists and visitors are welcome to feed the slow-moving, friendly, reptiles.
TASTE OF ITALY
This evening cool down with a trip to the Taste of Italy cafe for a scoop or two of freshly made gelato. This Italian themed cafe serves some of the islands best ice cream, and you can enjoy it on the terraced tables outside. If you fancy a little more than just desert the cafe also serves fantastic pasta dishes but there’s no set menu, the owner simply whips up new dishes depending on what fresh ingredients she has in stock.
Your penultimate morning on Mahé Island should be spent at Baie Ternay Bay, a 40- minute ride west of Victoria that takes you through the picturesque Morne Seychelles National Park. The road stops just a 10- minute walk shy of the beach, and there’s no cafes or shops so make sure you bring a picnic! The bays clear water makes for the perfect snorkeling and swimming spot, and there’s a good chance of spotting sting rays amongst the granite reef!
This afternoon head to Sir Selwyn Clarke Market, also known as Victoria Market, for a spot of shopping and aisles wandering! Here you’ll find an array of colorful local stalls set up selling fresh fruit, vegetable, and artisan crafts. There’s a very pungent smell of fish that fills the air thanks to the early morning fishmongers setting out their fish stalls. Keep wandering around hunting for a bargain until the smell gets too much for you! The market is open Monday to Saturday 4 am - 5 pm.
Your final night on the island should be spent in style at Le Grande Maison. This fine dining restaurant has a history of serving mouth-watering dishes since 1972 using only the freshest products sourced from the local area. Enjoy dining on fresh tuna steak, creole seafood soup, and delicious green salads. If you’re lucky, you might land on a live music night where bands from the area play sweet songs late into the evening. Make sure you pre-book in advance to avoid any disappointment!
Choose to fly out of Seychelles International Airport in the evening so that you can savor your last day. Was there something you read about that didn’t have time to do or see? Get out there and do it! You may have just enough time to make one last memory or see one last attraction. But, beware of traveling too far out of the city; missing your flight home is not how you want to end your magical trip! Check out Victoria’s Bicentennial Monument, a national monument built in 1978 to commemorates the town’s 200th anniversary. The monument boasts three simple wings, each representing the three continents that Seychellois ethnic origins are rooted in: Europe, Africa, and Asia.