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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Which of the 115 islands in the Seychelles is right for you?

Stories of hidden pirate treasure have captivated travellers to the Seychelles for decades. Fuelled by rumours of a map lost by the 18th-century French outlaw La Buse, hunters have scoured land and sea. Abandoned trenches pock-marking coastlines document a fruitless but never-ending quest to find the hallowed spot marked X. 

A collection of 115 islands scattered across more than a million square kilometres of Indian Ocean, the Republic of Seychelles is steeped in fantasy and folklore. The choice of sandy stretches is almost overwhelming: there are bays scattered with boulders resembling Picasso paintings; shores lined with rustic rum shacks; and secret coves where hermit crabs are the only company.

Dreamy scenes of sunset walks along the surf have always attracted honeymooners, but the true romance of the Seychelles lies elsewhere. Undulating, jungle-wrapped mountains create a hiker’s paradise, while healthy coral reefs are an underwater playground for snorkellers and scuba divers.

The conservation story is also commendable. Islanders have worked hard to eradicate invasive species, allowing native birds to flourish, and the government has committed to making 30 per cent of its waters a protected marine zone. Championing a sustainable local economy is an exciting new generation of Seychellois, setting up businesses to offer environmentally sensitive tours. 

Although most big resorts are internationally owned, it’s now much easier to sample the country’s culture. Connected by an efficient ferry service, the inner islands Mahe, Praslin and La Digue offer a taste of local living at prices to fit all budgets. But – as the Seychellois will tell you – every island has unique appeal. In fact, there’s a coralline or granitic outcrop to suit all sorts of traveller. Enjoy privacy and indulgence on Felicite, delve into nature on Praslin or venture farther afield to the magical outer islands of Alphonse and Desroches for excellent diving and absolute tranquillity. 

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