Seychelles in the middle of the Indian
Ocean are a thousand miles from anywhere but
about as close to paradise as you are likely to get on any holiday.
After a spectacular landing in which the plane skimmed over a necklace
of islands I followed a young couple down the aircraft steps.
They were about to have a wedding. Back
home the roads had been icy, ‘as smooth as a bottle’ but there,
the sun was brilliant and the temperature... 86F.
With the waves crashing in and the birds crying overhead they
agreed that it was just the
place for their special event.
The main island is Mahe. Not
big, but very mountainous
with the hills covered by trees, and what trees, Banana,
Palm, Giant Bougainvillea.
There was luxuriant growth it seemed like the sort of place you could
plant a walking stick and it would growth.
hired a Mini Moke and followed twisting roads driving past little green
tin sheds with corrugated roofs that turn out to be shops.
footed local padded homewards, wearing a red baseball cap and carrying
a couple of fish dangling from a string on his finger. Suddenly supermarket shopping seemed a
long way away!
Round another corner we came to a school yard where
children in bright uniforms played in the sun. On the other side of
the road surf crashed in on the sand.
There are 68 palm fringed beaches on the main
island of Mahe, and on most it would be hard to take a bad photograph.
Some hotels have their own, at the Plantation
Club you step out on to 'Val
Meh beach’, the Berjaya
Mahe Beach Hotel even has it’s own little off shore island,
there's The Coral Strand on Beau
Vallon Bay where you can watch magnificent sunsets over Silhouette
If you want a meal with a view, drive
up to The Islander Restaurant.
It’s sides are completely open on to the bay of Anse
San Mouche 40 foot below.
We had come out to the main island of Mahe on Air
Seychelles's Boeing 767, but if that's the whale of their fleet, the
very busy minnows are the 20 seat Twin Otters planes.
They dart back and forth to the smaller islands. No
sooner are you in the air, it seems,
than the plane banks and you swoop down to touch down amid
another set of coconut palms.
By plane it takes only minutes to reach Praslin,
by boat it's two hours. It's hinted that a prehistoric forest there
may have been the original Garden of Eden.
As you wander through it, you begin to believe it.
Colourful birds flit through the trees and if you snorkel a few yards
out from where the waves wash in on the powdery sand curious fish wait
to greet you.
We continued our island hopping by crossing the
blue water to La Digue. We sailed over by schooner.
Salt spray occasionally bashed across the bow, a
welcome addition in that hot sun to the cooling breeze.
The sail was stowed and we entered harbour.
Beyond the children diving from the pier a
line of oxcarts waited and I climbed on to one, joining a young lady
who's shirt bore the legend 'Your guide in Paradise'.
I asked her name. “Herah” she said.
“Herah?” I echoed.
Here ah Come.”
said with a straight face but I think my leg was being pulled. Some
consider La Digue to be the most beautiful of the islands. There are
formations of granite boulders and giant tortoise munch their way
through the ferns.
Where you are not relaxing on the beach there are a
number of excursions you can take.
I tried the excitement of deep sea
fishing and battled with a king fish and I also made a friendly visit
to view the fish at the St. Anne Marine National Park. You travel out
in a glass-bottomed boat.
Put a handful of bread crumbs over the side
and the sea around you will seem to be boiling with fish.
Later you can dive in and feed them by hand, but
watch out for over enthusiastic nibblers.
On the way out I spotted an island and thought it
would be a great place to live, but it turned out to inhabited. It was
the Seychelles prison, possibly
the most beautiful nick
in the world. But there were other islands beckoning.
Frigate Island lies 35 miles from Mahe. It's
surrounded completely by a reef and is only l¼ miles long by a mile
wide. You can swim amid
beautiful coral or take a walk around and be introduced to the
wildlife, like the rare Magpie Robin.
There was so much to photograph and at one
point on the walkabout I was aiming my camera at a brightly coloured
bird in a banyan tree when I almost fell backwards over a giant
into the shade no doubt to brood over it for a couple of
years and I scuttled on to catch up with the rest of the party who had
found some very old graves reputed to have belonged to pirates. Who
ever lay there I don't suppose they could have chosen a better place
to end their days.
There are many so beautiful places on the islands
that you'll find making the choice of hotel very difficult. For example, if you want it really quiet,
consider Felictie Island
where there are only three rooms available - otherwise you may be
happy at Beau Vallon Bay on
Mahe where you can hire a sailboard, go paragliding or even round
off the day with dancing to Camtole music before taking a barefoot
stroll along the beach.
Seychelles Tourist Office. London 071 224
Thomson and all major tour companies.