The Seychelles attract tourists from all over the world. And the reason is simple: the weather is amazing all year round (although it’s never too hot), making it a paradise away from everything. Here, nature reigns supreme, protected by a country that has chosen to promote responsible tourism and safeguard its biodiversity. The many islands that make up the archipelago are divided into two geographically diverse groups. While visiting, you’ll find the granite islands (such as the large and famous Mahé, Praslin and La Digue islands) and the coral islands (which are smaller and a bit further from Mahé). Here, most of the beaches are fairly wild and unspoiled, making them ideal spots for people looking to get away from everything and properly relax.
The 115 islands that make up the archipelago are located in the Indian Ocean, about 1500km from East Africa, above Madagascar. They were initially populated by Malaysian and Arab navigators in 300BC, who traded prized coconuts picked from palm trees on the islands. In 1502, they were discovered by Europeans as part of Vasco de Gama’s expedition and subsequently suffered from French and then British domination, which left behind traces of European culture. As such, today, in the Seychelles, people speak three languages (English, French and Creole), resulting in a fascinating Creole culture, which is a cross between Eastern and Western influences that translates into a warm welcome, intricate crafts and tasty, spicy cuisine.
The Seychelles have some of the most beautiful and photographed beaches in the world, from Mahé’s Beau Vallon and Baie Ternay to bays in Sainte Anne Marine Park, Praslin Island and the nearby La Digue, Saint Pierre and Curieuse islands. But you’re also guaranteed to find some spectacular landscapes inland, such as in the Vallée de Mai in Praslin, a UNESCO Heritage Site thanks to its expanse of coco de mer palms.
Costa Cruises is ready to take you on a trip to explore the Seychelles archipelago, offering you the added bonus of an amazing view of the islands directly from the sea. It’s a unique experience, and one that also offers you the opportunity to embark on day trips to islands and beaches to create unforgettable memories immersed in nature and paradise. Here are our 15 must-see attractions!
The Seychelles: 15 Must-See Attractions
- Mahé Island
- Botanical Garden
- Sans Souci Road and Mission Lodge
- Baie Ternay Marine Park
- Jardin du Roi
- Sainte Anne Marine Park
- Eden Island
- Domaine de Val de Pres
- Praslin Island
- Fond Ferdinand Nature Park
- Vallée de Mai
- La Digue
- Saint Pierre Island
- Curieuse Island
Mahé is the main island in the Seychelles and is home to its capital, Victoria, which is the nerve centre of the entire archipelago. The island is divided into four different regions: Greater Victoria, Northern Mahé, the Western and Eastern regions. The island occupies an area of around 145 square kilometres and is mainly made up of granite. On this island, you’ll find the international airport, the most important port in the Seychelles and the highest mountain, Morne Seychellois (905 metres). Mahé is a strategic place to start your exploration of the archipelago, and we recommend getting a boat or flight over to far-reaching islands.
Mahé, of course, has a lot of beaches, three of which are particularly beautiful and well-loved. Beau Vallon is arguably the most well known and lively on the island. It is a long, wide beach, with soft, white sand and trees offering natural shade when the sun gets too hot. It is the perfect place to swim and play water sports such as SUP, snorkelling, surfing and kayaking, but also ball games, such as beach volleyball. You’ll also find a lively market here every Wednesday.
Anse Intendance is a wild bay in the southern part of Mahé. The coastline stretches around the island like a crescent moon, with fine sand and turquoise waters. This spot is particularly loved by sailors and surfers thanks to its high and powerful waves.
Not far from Anse Intendance is Anse Takamaka beach to the southwest of the island, nestled between granite rocks, clear sand and green hills. It is the best place to spend a day relaxing in the shade and exploring the shallow seabed before heading to the restaurant at far end of the beach, which is the perfect pit stop for a bite to eat between one dip and the next. The sunsets here are also truly mind-boggling.
When you want a change of scenery, you can take a tour of the Botanical Garden and Jardin du Roi, which house a world of spices and a tropical jungle. Alternatively, you can travel down Sans Souci Road and trek through the forest to Mission Lodge for a beautiful view of the islands.
The capital of the Seychelles is Victoria, a town with a population of around 10,000 inhabitants (over 24,000 if you consider the suburbs). The local community survives on tourism and exporting natural products. It is located on the northeast coast, the most urbanised of the island, between the sea and steep hillside. It was founded by French settlers in 1778, before passing over to English rule in the nineteenth century, when it was given its current name in honour of the British Queen.
Victoria is by no means a chaotic or polluted capital. It is a green and harmonious city with little traffic and a very welcoming atmosphere, thanks to the kindness of the local inhabitants. In the centre of town you’l find twentieth-century wooden and stone houses, with façades, shutters and colourful balustrades arranged along curved and winding roads. While walking around town you’re bound to smell delicious, spicy Creole dishes wafting through the air.
The main city district is the Clock Tower area (featuring a replica of a clock tower in London, called "Lorioz," which is now an iconic symbol of the Seychelles). This is where you’ll find national institutions, the cathedral, the courthouse, the National Museum of Natural History and the tourist information centre. Every day, the area also hosts Clarke Market, which is worth a visit if you’re looking to understand how the economy works in the Seychelles. Here, people come to show and sell island produce, such as vanilla, nuts, coconut oil, soap, tuna and cinnamon, which are the most important exported raw materials of the archipelago.
The Jardin Botanique (or National Botanical Garden) is a national monument of the Seychelles. It is located in Victoria, along Mont Fleuri Road, ten minutes from the centre, and is where you can find out more about the history and beauty of these islands.
The botanical garden measures 20,000 square metres and was created in 1901 with the aim of growing plants that were useful to agriculture and the economy, such as the breadfruit tree, the oil palm, coconut palm, coffee plants, cinnamon, cocoa, vanilla and other spices. In 1980, everything changed. The Seychelles’ economy became more focused on tourism and the gardens were opened to the public to display local species that had long been (and still are) an integral part of island life.
Once inside, you can follow the asphalt trails that wind through the Jardin Botanique to admire the orchids and colourful flowers. Here, you’ll also see five species of rare palm tree that only grow in the Seychelles, along with the coco de mer, a coconut palm tree that generates the world's largest fruits.
Along with the waterways and birdsong, make sure to look out for the colony of Aldabra Giant Turtles (some of them are over 150 years old) and fruit bats, which you’ll find hanging upside down in the trees.
Sans Souci Road and Mission Lodge
Just south of Victoria is Mahé's most famous street, Sans Souci Road. This scenic and winding road climbs up to Morne Seychellois National Park, taking you to the heart of the Seychelles’ tropical scrubland in an area measuring forty square kilometres - that’s 20% of the entire nation!
Across this road in the park, you’ll find the opportunity for some great day treks, such as the Copolia Trail and Dent Trail. The more skilled among you can also try your hand at the Morne Blanc Trail, a path for experienced walkers that starts from the tea plantation and runs up to the highest point in the Seychelles, Morne Seychellois (905 metres), which boasts some truly beautiful views.
Roughly halfway up Sans Souci Road, you'll find the ruins of the Venn's Town mission. It was built in 1875 by the London Missionary Society and was used as a school for the children of freed slaves. Today, it welcomes tourists and is home to one of the most famous sights in the Seychelles. Sitting here with a cup of spiced tea in hand, as Queen Elizabeth II did in 1972, you can enjoy an amazing view of the landscape in southern Mahé.
Baie Ternay Marine Park
The north-west tip of Mahé island is a paradise that the authorities have rightly decided to protect by setting up a reserve known as Baie Ternay Marine National Park. It is one of the most beautiful places in Mahé and the whole of the Seychelles. It features a bay with turquoise waters surrounded by tropical vegetation.
Although there is a road leading up to it from the south, the best way to get to this part of the island is by boat, as the road is often closed. The beach is only frequented by a few visitors and is used mainly by sailors. The shoreline boasts a large expanse of fine white sand, where you can spend the day relaxing and enjoying a spot of snorkelling.
In addition to the Cap Ternay, Baie Ternay Marine National Park extends north to other pristine coves such as theAnse du Riz and Baie aux Chagrin, which are smaller and more intimate.
Jardin du Roi
The Jardin du Roi Spice Garden is a 25-hectare park-garden in the south of Mahé island. It is inspired by eighteenth-century gardens and was designed by French settlers to promote the spice trade in their colonies. Here, you can experience a typical day in a Seychelles plantation, looking at rare plants and learning about and savouring the amazing smells of spices.
The best way to enjoy the garden is to walk around the nature trails, before sitting down for a meal in the estate's delicious restaurant, where you can sample tasty Creole cuisine with a touch of cinnamon, vanilla, cloves and nutmeg.
Sainte Anne Marine Park
Sainte Anne Marine National Park is a protected area in the northeast of Mahé, a few miles from the island but quickly accessible from Victoria by boat. It is the oldest protected marine reserve in the Seychelles and owes its name to one of its islands. In addition to Sainte Anne, the marine park includes several stretches of coral reef, and the islands of Moyenne, Cerf, Round, Long, and Île Cachée. These islands are also known as the Inner Islands and are of volcanic origin, which has solidified into granite over the millennia.
Sainte Anne Marine National Park is a testament to the Seychelles' growing focus on the environment and responsible tourism. This park protects an area that once allowed people to tear away coral to build houses, cook sea turtle meat and practice reckless fishing. The purpose of the reserve is to protect biodiversity, with dedicated points for diving and snorkelling.
The park boasts an extraordinary richness and variety of flora and fauna. Here, you can spot sea eagles, needlefish, sea turtles, porpoises and small whales. The reef is thriving, in full health and colourful.
When travelling down from Victoria in a southeasterly direction along the old coastal road, you’ll reach Eden Island, an artificial island created in the ‘90s and housing a residential complex. Eden Island looks flat, like the Maldives, and is similar to the famous Dubai Palm, only smaller (it was unsurprisingly financed by a Dubai fund). The complex occupies fifty-six hectares, is connected to Mahé by a bridge and includes a large yacht port.
Eden Island is home to restaurants, bars and boutiques, in addition to residential properties. In general, facilities are fairly exclusive here, with many private beaches that are only accessible via canals. In front of the island, you’ll also spot Cerf, a small granite island that belongs to Sainte Anne Marine Park, which is home to lush, protected vegetation: a perfect oasis for relaxation.
Domaine de Val de Prés
Mahé is full of cultural artefacts that tell us a lot about the Seychelles’ current and past traditions, customs and art. The Domaine de Val des Prés (Craft Village) is part of the Patrimwann, an umbrella term for attractions that bear witness to the archipelago’s Creole legacy. The word ‘Patrimwann’ belongs to the Creole language and means "heritage trail". It was chosen to describe four places that represent this important cultural component: the Kreol Institute, La Bastille, the Ecomuseo La Planie St. André and the Domaine de Val des Prés.
It is definitely worth a visit so that you can delve into the life of the Seychelles people in a number of different ways. Here, you can touch local art, crafts and gastronomy in the typical Grann Kaz farmhouse (built in 1870). The village also features twelve workshops, where local products are made and sold. While in the Maison de Coco, a house made from coconuts, you can buy souvenirs made from the palm tree fruit.
About thirty-six kilometres north of Mahé is the island of Praslin. It is the second largest in the Seychelles in terms of size and one of the most visited, thanks to its consistently warm weather (there is no real rainy season here). The winds are loved by those who surf and sail, as are the restaurants, where you can enjoy numerous Creole specialities. You can get there by taking a fifteen-minute flight from Mahé, or aboard a catamaran, which takes forty-five minutes. The main village is Baie Sainte Anne, where essential services are located.
Praslin is also known as "Palm Island" (which was actually its original name), due to the presence of a large number of palm trees. It's dominated by coconut palms, including 1,400 coco de mer trees, which produce the largest coconuts in the world.
Mostly covered in wild, tropical nature, the island is perfect for people who love to explore. You’ll also find a mountain range here sitting on a granite foundation, called the Vallée de Mai, which crosses the island from east to west like a backbone. On this island, you can walk through lush vegetation that alternates with rocky ridges shaped by the waves and wind.
Praslin’s sea and beaches are of the same incredible quality you’ll find throughout the Seychelles. Walking and bathing in bays such as Anse Lazio, Anse La Farine, Anse Volbert and Anse Georgette is a must at least once in your lifetime. Anse Lazio in particular is one of the most photographed spots in the world. It is a long and wide strip of white sand beach enclosed by spectacular granite boulders at each end. It’s also lapped by turquoise waters and sheltered by a dense forest of palm and takamaka trees.
Fond Ferdinand Nature Reserve
In addition to the Vallée de Mai, you’ll also find the Fond Ferdinand Nature Reserve on the island of Praslin. It is a protected park that was opened in 2013 and is not yet very well known. It’s yet to attract many tourists, which is why a day trip here is a must-do.
The best place to set off when visiting the reserve is Anse Marie-Louise, which can be reached by bus or car along a road that winds through steep, hairpin bends. If you want to do a guided tour, it’s better to book in the morning. Here, you can walk through 122 hectares of land, which are home to a great wealth of local plant and animal species, including a few coco de mer trees.
After a two-hour walk, you’ll arrive at the lookout, which offers beautiful views over Praslin and the other inland islands of the Seychelles. On the one side you can see Curieuse, Sister, Coco, Round, Félicité and La Digue island, while on the other, you’ll spot Frégate, Mahé and Silhouette island.
Vallée de Mai
The Vallée de Mai is truly the jewel in the crown of the beautiful island of Praslin. It is a small granite mountain range that stretches from one end of the island to the other. Few people know that it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but once you get there, you immediately understand why. It is one of only two places in the world (the other is Curieuse island, which is very nearby) where the rare coconut palm produces cocos de mer, or huge coconuts, which weigh 25kg and have a very unique heart shape (or that of a woman's pelvis, as they say).
You can explore the entirety of the Vallée, and not just to see its coconut trees. Three different length trails allow you to observe other rare plant species up close, as well as streams populated by crabs and giant shrimp, orchid forests, cedars, pineapples, acacias, bamboo, mangoes, bananas fed on by very rare black parrots, hummingbirds and chameleons. This is a pristine jungle capable of transporting you to a prehistoric world, where nature reigns supreme.
La Digue island is located off Praslin, six kilometres southeast and forty-three kilometres northeast of Mahé. Its name comes from a ship belonging to the French explorer Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne, who landed here in 1768. However, it is also called the Île Rouge (red island) due to its extensive coral reef in the direction of Praslin. On the other side of the island, however, the reef is entirely absent.
There are no airstrips for scheduled flights to La Digue, so you can only reach it by helicopter or boat. We really recommend visiting though, even just for a few hours, because La Digue is a true paradise, perfect for those wanting to immerse themselves in its pure beauty.
La Digue is the fourth largest island in the Seychelles, but is still small in size. On the west side you’ll find the towns of La Passe and La Réunion, while the rest is covered in vegetation and is home to fairy tale beaches and natural pools. If you’re looking for a dreamy experience, you can sleep in guest houses hidden among the trees and granite boulders, which are typical island formations that make this spot famous.
One of the most beautiful beaches is definitely Anse Source D'Argent, where crystal clear waters, polished granite boulders and coconut palms create a view you’ll never want to stop looking at. It’s also worth taking a trip to Anse Bonnet Carré beach, in the south, where the waters are calm and shallow and great for snorkelling. On the east coast you’ll find Anse Cocos, a beautiful sheltered bay, and in the village of La Réunion, you can visit Veuve Reserve, a small park that’s home to a number of wild animals.
Setting off from La Digue, you can reach Félicité Island by ferry. It is a small, mostly flat place that’s perfect for nature excursions. You can explore it in half a day surrounded by coconut palms. It is so beautiful that many celebrities have chosen it as a buen retiro for moments of absolute relaxation.
Saint Pierre Island
Saint Pierre is a totally uninhabited granite island that’s adored by snorkelers. It is located to the north of Praslin, opposite Anse Volbert beach in Cote d'Or Bay. Several boat trips depart from here and stop at Saint Pierre. It is worth visiting for the clear waters alone, and also for a feeling that you’re standing on the edge of the world.
Saint Pierre is small and consists of five square kilometres of rocks emerging from the sea dotted with palm trees - a typical Seychelles image. Here, you can swim in incredibly clear waters, or try your hand at sailing, diving or snorkelling. The shallow and even seabed is close to the reef and abounds with colourful fish, and you might also spot some sea turtles. Rare birds such as the whitetailed tropicbird glide through the skies.
Saint Pierre belongs to the marine protected area of Curieuse Marine National Park, which is also considered a paradise within a paradise.
Curieuse Island is a small island just north of Praslin. From 1829 to 1965, it was a deportation centre for leprosy sufferers. Today, the cemetery and doctor's house are a national monument (and house a visitors centre). Otherwise, it is mostly uninhabited and hosts no hotels, so it can only be visited via a boat trip from Praslin. A lot of people choose to do this, because this island is home to about 300 giant tortoises, who you’ll no doubt meet while out for a wander.
Walking along the trails that wind through the island is a great way to immerse yourself in the picturesque vegetation, which consists of mangroves and coco de mer palms. It is one of only two places in the world where they grow spontaneously, the other is Vallée de Mai on Praslin. Large takamaka trees create shelter in the shade for different species of rare birds and other animals on Curieuse Island, which also features a number of picturesque beaches considered some of the most beautiful in the Seychelles.
The waters are rich in marine fauna and are strictly protected by the Seychelles Centre for Marine Technology and Marine Parks Authority. Diving enthusiasts can slip into wetsuits, don an oxygen cylinder and venture underwater to see the so-called "coral garden" (Pointe Rouge) off the east coast, a spot that’s teeming with fish.
Visit Seychelles Islands with Costa Cruises
The Seychelles are one of the best places to visit when looking for a relaxing destination where you can enjoy tropical nature and dreamy beaches. Turquoise waters, white sand, palm trees and green vegetation: a trip to the Seychelles is really a dream come true and Costa can help you to get there via a cruise to the archipelago and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.