A holiday to the Seychelles will simply be the holiday of a lifetime. Just the name conjures up visions of an isolated island paradise, with outstanding white sandy beaches, turquoise waters and the sun beating down on you.
Of course the beaches are the biggest attraction on these 115 islands scattered North of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Backed by lush hills and glacial boulders and sometimes you can even enjoy the beach almost to yourself. But that isn't all the Seychelles has to offer. The islands are also rich in rare tropical plants which flourish like nowhere else on Earth. As for wildlife, see giant tortoises in their natural habitat, spot various species on jungle trails and of course the numerous tropical birds are a major attraction for birdwatchers, particularly on Bird Island.
Sailing, diving, fishing, swimming and just simply relaxing are the most appealing activities for any visitors, and with the dreamlike setting and laid-back vibe, the Seychelles is a perfect romantic choice for honeymooners or for celebrating special anniversaries. The millionaire's paradise islands have become much more accessible in recent times, offering increasingly more economy options in addition to the ultra-luxurious resorts.
When it comes to the nightlife, the first thing to note is that not all bars sell alcohol at times we are used to here in the UK. Although your hotel will hold a permit to allow residents to drink at any time, certain bars may stop serving alcohol at times throughout the day such as 3:00pm until 6:00pm and some bars close early at 10:00pm.
You just have to try the local Creole cuisine, it has many influences such as African, Indian, French and even English. The careful blending of spices is a major feature and they love using coconut milk and breadfruit. Get used to wonderfully prepared meals of lobster, octopus, pork or chicken which are used much more frequently than beef or lamb. However, most restaurants also offer a few items of International cuisine, but still generally leans towards sea food.
Reduce your bar bill by sticking to the national drink Seybrew, which is a German style lager made locally.
Several hotels hold evening barbeques and dinner dances, with the speciality being the local camolet music, often accompanied by dancers.
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The islands lie outside the cyclone belt but receive monsoon rains from November to April with the northwest trade winds. This season is hot, humid and rainy. The southeast trade winds season is between May and September when the weather cools to a more bearable temperature and the rains decrease. However trade winds can create rougher seas and you'll want to seek out more protected beaches.
Although sunnier in July/August, arguably the best time to visit is at wind turnaround periods which are March/April and October/November for calmer winds.
Required clothing - tropical lightweights, with rainwear advisable during the rainy season. Sun hats and sunglasses essential all year round. And don't forget the factor 30.
Things To Do on Seychelles Holidays
Relax on Maheï numerous powdery white sandy beaches (there are almost 70 beaches on Maheï alone). This beautiful island is often used in holiday travel mags of the Seychelles and boasts the country capital Victoria, home to about a third of the entire population. You can also visit the market and see the orchids at the Botanical Gardens.
Praslin island has a quieter ambience than Mahe, but still boasts stylish restaurants, palm trees, and granite mountains sloping into the clear blue sea creating views to die for.
For a totally laid-back vibe head for La Digue with only one surfaced road and virtually no cars, time moves very slowly and you should find the deserted bay of your dreams. It's about 5km from Praslin by boat.
Enjoy all the fun the sea has to offer with waterskiing, windsurfing and sailing in Desroches. The diving there is fantastic, swimming amongst a multitude of tropical fish of many different species so don't forget to take a camera aqua-pack for amazing underwater photographs.
Don't worry if diving isn't your thing, you can still view the coral and fish by boarding a glass bottomed boat from Victoria to St Anne Marine National Park.
Take the kids to see the giant land tortoises on Aldabra, there are around 150,000 of them, reputedly five times more than on the Galpagos islands.
Bird watchers are in their own private heaven on the Seychelles, there are many rare species such as the brush warbler, fairy tern and Seychelles toc-toc in the nature reserve of Cousin. The best time to visit is April or May when most birds nest on the island. Also, spot the almost extinct magpie robin on Fregate island.
Go shopping for local handicrafts, which include textiles, basketwares and wood carvings. Pottery and paintings can also be bought. For that unique souvenir, buy some jewellery made from green snail shells.
The people live a simple and unsophisticated life and thankfully, tourism is carefully controlled to help protect the unspoilt charm of the islands. The airport was only built in 1971, hence for centuries outside cultural influence remained at a minimum. This meant that the people have developed their own unique language and culture.
As for religion, the vast majority are Roman Catholic, with a mix of Anglican, Seventh Day Aventist and Muslim making up the remainder. Keep swimwear where it belongs, on the beaches, but casual clothing is the norm elsewhere.
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