With its stunning tropical vegetation, crystal blue waters and incredible array of wildlife, the Seychelles truly is in a league of its own.
Located in the western Indian Ocean, the Seychelles is made up of 115 islands which span across 175 square miles. And while there may be hundreds of islands to discover, Mahé proves popular among holidaymakers, with the Prince and Princess of Wales as well as the Clooneys taking a trip to the sun-soaked location.
But though A-listers may give the earthly paradise their stamp of approval, the Seychelles makes the perfect holiday destination for any kind of traveller. OK! explains why…
Boasting a glorious tropical climate, turquoise waters and powdery white sandy beaches, the Seychelles are paradise on earth. Famed for their outstanding natural beauty, the Indian Ocean archipelago features 115 coral islands and sits off the east coast of Africa, just south of the equator.
The Prince and Princess of Wales spent their 2011 honeymoon on North Island, a small private destination described as the most exclusive private island in the world. It has just 11 villas set in an exquisite wilderness sanctuary. George and Amal Clooney also chose the Seychelles as their honeymoon destination, while David and Victoria Beckham celebrated their 10th anniversary on Mahé, the largest island.
A natural beauty
Many of the islands are home to rare wildlife, including the Seychelles magpie robin – a lively little bird which was on the brink of extinction in the 1970s, with only 16 remaining. And the island of Curieuse has a colony of Aldabra tortoises – the gentle giants roam free in a protected sanctuary.
The rare Coco de Mer species of palm tree grows on just two islands. Its instantly recognisable and suggestive “forbidden fruit” is the largest and heaviest seed in the world – and highly prized as an ornament.
And the eco credentials are impressive at the Hilton Northolme Resort. A coral nursery has been created to protect and preserve reef life and there’s no plastic allowed on site. Drinking water is provided from a source at Mont Dauban, the second-highest peak in the Seychelles. Guests can even adopt some coral and track the growth of their chosen species after leaving the island.
We spent a week at the Hilton Northolme Resort and Spa on Mahé. The elegant adults-only hotel is one of the oldest in the Seychelles, sited at the northern tip of Beau Vallon Bay. James Bond author Ian Fleming stayed there in 1958 and took inspiration to write For Your Eyes Only.
The hotel is now a five-star resort with a boutique feel but has kept its traditional character. Stilted wooden villas and suites – some with private pools – are nestled around the hillside. The decor is unpretentious yet glamorous with stripped dark wooden floors, vast four-poster beds, luxury bathrooms and balconies.
There are three excellent restaurants. The Mahé, featuring food inspired by local Creole cuisine, is where the lavish breakfasts are served. The Oceanview Bar is the perfect place for a sundowner and steak made with local Takamaka rum sauce, while the Wave has a delicious à la carte lunch and dinner menu featuring treats like pan-seared red snapper. Live music is played there each evening.
Out and about
While it’s tempting to not stray far from the Hilton Northolme’s luxurious surroundings, there are many sights worth seeing. Mahé, just a short drive away, has a charming and distinctive vibe. Its colonial past is visible in the architecture – a mini 1903 Big Ben clock stands proudly in the centre. The Botanical Gardens and bustling covered market are must-sees, and if you feel intrepid, hire a Mini Moke to explore the island’s interior.
Silhouette Island – the third largest in the Seychelles – is a short boat trip away but if you want to mimic the A-listers, take a 10-minute helicopter ride, which gives you an incredible bird’s eye view over the azure ocean and palm-fringed beaches.
The five-star Labriz is the only hotel on Silhouette. A family resort, there’s plenty to keep everyone entertained, from fishing trips to beach yoga and a kids’ club. There are also seven restaurants and bars, a swimming pool and a spa and a fitness centre – plus a five-star PADI dive centre, where you can hire kayaks and snorkelling equipment.
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