Brian and I were truly wowed by the pristine, unspoiled beauty of the Island of Praslin in the Seychelles, our home for two amazing weeks of relaxing, exploring, swimming, snorkelling, making new friends, fishing and eating delicious food.
There is a reason why these beaches are so pristine and unspoiled; it is quite a trek to get here, we had to take three flights from London since there are no direct flights from the UK. We flew from London to Abu Dhabi with Etihad, and from Abu Dhabi to Mahé, which is the main island, with Air Seychelles and then finally a very small aeroplane with scary little propellers took us from Mahé to Praslin.
The small island nation of the Seychelles is located to the north east of Madagascar; an archipelago of 115 tropical islands where the majority are very small and uninhabited. Some of the islands are made of granite, the Inner Islands, and some are made of coral, the Outer Islands.
The Capital, Victoria is in Mahé, the largest island with a population of about 90,000. Praslin is the second largest island with a population of about 7,000. There are 3 main languages spoken here, Creole, French and English – since The Seychelles was colony both to the French and the British at some time or another.
Most people come to the Seychelles to Island hop and explore different Islands, but we decided that we wanted to base ourselves in Praslin and make it our home for two weeks, to relax but also leisurely explore Praslin and some of the neighbouring islands on day trips. We rented a spacious one bedroom apartment by Grand Anse, from 14th to 27th of February 2016.
We were spellbound by the white, soft sand and the turquoise green waters of the Indian Ocean. The Island’s interior had lush green vegetation which was framed by giant dark granite boulders left here like beautiful giant sculptures carved out by mother nature. In fact the granite rocks are everywhere and a big part of the landscape the moment you arrive at the airport, as you see the giant dark granite cliff faces that rise up among the vegetation.
But you also see them at every beach in Praslin making it for an incredible contrast of soft white sand and the broody dark granite, edges softened by millennia of erosion making the boulders look almost organic with their soft curves.
It did not take long for us to feel at home, and we soon rented a small car (Kia) at a cost of 40 euros per day. It gave us the freedom to explore the Island at our own pace, although there is a good bus service, we wanted the independence that a car could provide and it proved to be a very good decision as it is in fact the easiest way to get around. Driving is on the left side just like we do in England. We had read before going that cycling round the island was not a practical option because of the steepness of some of the roads and when we drove around we could see why – we had never seen such steep roads where the road left the coast and cut through the jungle, with switchback turns and gradients of 30% in places! That said, driving was generally very easy with traffic being very light and well surfaced roads, and very few options to get lost.
We chose to have breakfast delivered to our apartment, a service offered by our super friendly hosts Paul and Brenda at the wonderful Ocean Jewels Resort. It was just a very simple breakfast which consisted of freshly made coffee, eggs (scrambled/poached/boiled or fried), selection of fruit, toast (butter and jam) and a glass of fruit juice. I would perhaps have liked a greater selections of breakfast options, but we did enjoy having it delivered every morning at around 8:30 (you can choose the time) by two lovely young girls who also would return later on in the day to clean our apartment and take our breakfast dishes away.
Chasing the perfect meal to go with the perfect view
Although we had good cooking facilities we did not do much cooking at all, and every day we sampled some of the local cuisine, usually at an amazing location with views of the Indian Ocean. One of our favourites was Cafe Des Arts and their Blue Octopus Bar right next to the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. We ended up eating there twice and the second time we brought our Norwegian friends (more on our new friends later) to enjoy a meal there with us. We almost always chose to eat the local creole food that consisted of delicious sea food curries, rice and vegetables, and loved every mouthful.
Many of our favourite restaurants were often inside one of the Island hotel’s or resorts such as the one below inside the Constance Lemuria Resort; we ate there on our last full day in Praslin and we thoroughly enjoyed the great food with stunning views and impeccably friendly service, it was a great finale to our 2 weeks in paradise.
On the North of the Island we ate at the Bombon Plume at Anse Lazio, it was on our second day in Praslin and we drove North via the scenic route, mostly following the water’s edge around up and down the narrow and often steep road through the lush green interior of the Island. Anse Lazio often tops the lists as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world (as per TripAdvisor) and it is the most famous beach on Praslin claiming to be a tropical paradise; and even though our first visit was on a cloudy and rainy day we loved it there and returned many times during our 2 weeks stay in Praslin.
The food was definitely a highlight for me and although we did have some disappointing meals overall meals were delicious and eating whilst enjoying a warm breeze, surrounded by the clear and inviting waters of the Indian Ocean… not a lot can go wrong with that recipe. The price of a meal in paradise was on average of 30-40 pounds for two people with a couple of drinks.
Another favourite was inside the “Coco De Mer Hotel”which has a restaurant by the sea front with gorgeous views tucked away into a lush tropical hillside at Anse Bois de Rose in Praslin’s South West coast, it had very friendly staff. After the meal we relaxed lying on the sunbeds of Fisherman’s Wharf, perfect place for a nap, though it was quite an overcast day and it did started to rain later on.
The Seychelles has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world
The beaches are what most people come here to enjoy, we found many totally deserted beaches and even the more popular ones such as Anse Lazio or Anse Volbert although more lively they were not crowded at all and still had quiet spots; but I should point out that we have come here in the low season, also known as the rainy season. I particularly enjoyed not having anyone trying to sell you something every five minutes, like you get on most of the beaches in Europe (although I do love many of the European beaches, warts and all).
Grand Anse was our beach; our apartment was just few steps from this very long and quiet beach where we swam in the lovely warm water and walked along the beach every day. The little airport can be seen from the beach and it was entertaining to watch the small planes flying in from Mahe bringing a handful of passengers into Praslin. We enjoyed this short 20 minutes flight over the Indian Ocean, even though the little plane was so scarily small it was amazing to see the Islands from above. Another way of arriving in the Island is by ferry from Mahe and it takes about 2 hrs.
Anse Volbert is the most popular beach on Praslin, since it is the hub of the Island, where most of the hotels and guest houses concentrate. There are many water activities offered here along with all the facilities and it was the only place that we got asked if we would like to go out on a boat trip. There are some little shops selling gifts, colourful sarongs and swimming wear
Anse Lazio has been voted by TripAdvisor users as the 6th most beautiful beach in the world, but I can’t vouch for that since I have not done enough world beaches yet (…but I’m working on it!). It does have the white soft sand, the clear turquoise blue water is warm like a bath and so transparent that it is perfect for snorkelling and swimming. The granite boulders frame the beach and are a stunning wonder of nature, I could not stop admiring them.
Anse Lazio also became famous following the shark attacks of 2011, in which Bull Sharks killed a British man who was snorkelling just about 20 yards off shore. He and his wife were in Praslin on their honey moon. I remember hearing about the attack on the news in 2011 and it was the second shark attack happening at Anse Lazio in just 2 weeks. I don’t think there has been another shark attack there since then. There is now a large shark net on one side of the beach and this is the only beach I did spot lifeguards.
Anse Georgette was no doubt my favourite. To get there you have to ask for permission to visit the Constance Lemuria Resort, since it is hidden away inside their property – maybe why it was virtually empty when we visited, only two other couples there. It is pure and pristine turquoise blue water and the most soft silky sand. The walk to get there is via the Constance Lemuria Golf Course a very pretty and picturesque walk showcasing perfectly kept gardens and a fabulous golf course. Originally our intention was to walk through the resort and up the hill via a tropical forest trail towards Anse Lazio, but we got a bit lost and could not find the right start of the trail. So we decided to relax and enjoy Anse Georgette before enjoying a delicious meal at the resort’s restaurant.
Having the car made it easy for us to explore every corner of the Island and find many deserted and beautiful beaches that we had it all to ourselves.
Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve
The Vallée de Mai is a preserved nature park protected by the UNESCO World Heritage. It’s 19.5 ha area of palm forest which remains largely unchanged since prehistoric times. The park’s main attraction is the endemic Coco-de-mer, which is reported as the flagship species of global significance as the bearer of the largest seed in the plant kingdom, the palm grows to a height of 25-30 metres with fan shaped leaves 7 to 10 metres long and over 4 metres wide. The forest is also home to five other endemic palms and many endemic fauna species. The park has 3 different trails and it is scenically attractive in a very distinctive way. Well worth a visit.
Meeting new friends
Downstairs from our apartment a lovely family of Norwegians arrived few days after our arrival. Brian got to know Kent (the dad) as they started talking, they found that they shared a passion for fishing. They soon arranged a fly fishing trip to a nearby beach and that’s how we then met the rest of the family, mum Sissel and their son (11 years old) Simen.
Like all the family, Sissel spoke good English and was great company for me whilst Brian and Kent tried their luck at fly fishing at Fond de l’Anse, an open bay with shallow water not far from our apartments. We spent a lot of time with them exploring the Island, swimming and enjoying the local cuisine.
Simen was great fun and full of mischief, he also spoke very good English and would often even translate certain words for his mum, we soon began think he must be half fish as he never missed an opportunity to race into the sea and swim!
They were Island hopping and therefore they left Praslin before us to spend sometime in La Digue. We arranged to meet up with them at La Digue later on in the week and had a fantastic time, but more on that at a later post.
We took a gamble coming to the Seychelles in the rainy season, but it paid off since we had mostly very beautiful and clear days and it was a bit cheaper than in the dry high season. We usually like going somewhere warm and sunny during the UK winter months, particularly January and February which are such dark, cold and damp months in the UK. The Seychelles gave us the warmth and light we so badly craved, but also the amazing landscape of lush green vegetation, awesome dark granite boulders, delicious creole food and of course the strikingly beautiful Indian Ocean with its many shades of green and blue transparent water, teaming with life and warm like a bath, it was such a pleasure to swim and snorkel in it.
My next post will be about our day trip to Curiuesse Island and also our day trip to La Digue where we met up with our Norwegian friends. I’ll also ask Brian to write a little about the fabulous fishing to be had there… but until then, I leave you with a lovely sunset at Anse Lazio.
Have you visited the Seychelles? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.