Thursday, 21 June 2012

Seychelles : A Perfect Seaside Holiday Destination

Pristine white beaches, swaying palm trees, glistening blue water. That’s what one dreams about when you think of a Seychelles, a perfect seaside holiday destination.

Seychelles is an island country spanning an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, some 1,500 kilometres (932 mi) east of mainland Africa, northeast of the island of Madagascar.

At the centre of it all is Victoria, Africa's smallest capital city, where you'll find quaint old buildings that hint towards the islands' colonial past. Here, on the island of Mahe, the landscape is mountainous and dramatic, but many of the islands further north look like specks of sand jutting out of the crystal-clear water. Nearby Praslin Island, in the northeast corner of the Seychelles, is home to thick forests and multicoloured coral reefs.

With such a dreamlike setting, the Seychelles is, unsurprisingly, a choice place for a honeymoon. But there’s much more to do than simply cracking open a bottle of champagne with the loved one in a luxurious hotel. Having earned a reputation as a paradigm of ecotourism, the Seychelles is a top spot to watch birds and giant tortoises in their natural habitat. And a vast living world lies just below the turquoise waters, beckoning divers of all levels. When you tire of beaches you can venture inland on jungle trails, indulge in fine dining or enjoy the sublime laid-back tempo.

And time has come to spread the word: yes, this paradise is accessible to us all. On top of ultra-luxurious options, the Seychelles has plenty of quaint, affordable self-catering facilities and guesthouses, often situated on some of the best land. Though it remains an expensive destination, its tourist authorities are now targeting non-millionaires, promoting these economy options. But fear not: mass tourism it will never be.

Plan your Seychelles holidays for...

Relaxing: Take a boat from Mahe to Silhouette, an island without roads, where you can spend your days snoozing under the swaying trees and your nights sipping cocktails on the wonderfully soft sands.

Romance: The tiny island of La Digue is one of the most isolated spots in the Seychelles. As the sun sets, take a table at one of the island's beachfront restaurants and wash down freshly prepared fish dishes with a glass of bubbly.

Active types: It's rare to hear jet skis disturbing the peace in the Seychelles, but you can still get some of the thrill of whizzing across the water in a good old-fashioned sailboat. Spend a day hopping between the islands, stopping now and then to dive into the water.

Grown-up families: Discover hidden beaches and secluded snorkelling spots that'll keep the whole family captivated on an organised tour around Mahe Island. The guides will even prepare spicy Creole food for you to try at lunchtime.

Kids & teens: Let youngsters loose on activities like painting, archery and water sports at one of the Seychelles' dedicated kids' clubs. With activities to keep kids of all ages happy on their Seychelles holidays, there'll be plenty of time for you to relax on the beach.

Free & cheap: The shady botanical gardens in Victoria are a great place to cool down when the midday sun feels hottest. Look out for the giant tortoises!

Nightlife: Big hotels on the island of Mahe often have live music and dance shows after dark. Enjoy a good meal and a couple of beers, and you might just find yourself joining the performers on the dance floor.

Other nearby island countries and territories include Zanzibar to the west, Mauritius, Rodrigues, Agalega and Réunion to the south, Comoros and Mayotte to the southwest. Seychelles, with an estimated population of 86,525, has the smallest population of any African state. 

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