I am living proof that travel dreams can come true.
In my younger days, I never thought that I would get to travel to the Seychelles, spend time on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, hang out with giant tortoises and get to stay overnight on a private island.
This is unquestionably a dream destination for a holiday and with an impressive Covid vaccination programme in motion, once the world fully re-opens, the islands are ready and waiting to welcome UK guests.
Located in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa, the Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 remote islands; a haven of diverse ecology featuring native flora and fauna, exotic rare birds and vibrant coral reefs and marine life in its deep azure surrounding waters.
Boasting achingly beautiful scenery, sublime beaches and ultra-exclusive resorts, it’s a total winner for seclusion and indulgence in a tropical barefoot paradise.
Temperatures are attractive year-round with enticing sunshine, and the southeast trade winds provide a pleasant sea breeze to relieve humidity between May and October.
An island-hop is the perfect way to experience the Seychelles, and my own route that took in Mahé, La Digue, Praslin and Denis Private Island is a good place to start.
The largest of the islands, Mahé, is 17 miles long by 10 miles wide and is home to the capital, Victoria.
The Victoria Clock Tower, an elegant replica of Big Ben is a prominent feature of the city, along with vibrant Creole architecture.
The busy colourful market is a fine way to get a feel for the Seychellois and their way of life. Built in 1840 and renovated in 1999, it remains the small city’s bustling heartbeat.
A stay on Mahé should include venturing to the National Park, Morne Seychellois, home to the island’s highest point.
The stunning soft white sugary sand beaches of Beau Vallon and Anse Intendance are perfect for kicking back and taking a leisurely stroll along.
I had a very enjoyable stay at the modern Savoy Seychelles Resort & Spa, a large resort with the island’s biggest pool, various dining options and located directly on Beau Vallon Beach.
Head north up the coast and you'll find Hilton Northolme, a stunning secluded resort of 40 private villas overlooking the Indian Ocean and the nearby Silhouette and North Islands.
The Hilltop Restaurant provides jaw-dropping ocean views, whilst the Duniye Spa offers pampering treatments for a relaxing unwind in this exotic location.
Another hotel I can personally recommend is the Constance Ephelia Mahé Seychelles, a tropical haven spread over two of Mahé’s unspoiled beaches and surrounded by 120 hectares of plants and flowers.
Split into two parts, this is one of the island’s largest resorts. However it retains an intimate and secluded feel; and with five swimming pools and a wide array of activities, it provides the perfect playground for both couples and families.
The resort’s north is home to the senior suites and villas, two à la carte restaurants and the beautiful Port Launay Marine Park where you can try ziplining and rock climbing.
The south is home to more facilities, including the soothing spa, kids club, tennis courts, three restaurants and a bar alongside the junior suites, tropical garden view rooms and the jaw-dropping Anse L’Islette beach.
Guests have access to the whole resort, either walking through the palm tree clad pathways or taking in the views on a buggy.
La Digue Island
Anse Source d’Argent on La Digue is reputed to be the most photographed beach in the world. It is hard to put into words just how stunning it is.
The tiny island, accessible by an hour’s ferry from Mahé and 15 minutes from Praslin, is just three miles long and two miles wide and is relatively unspoiled.
It has not been overdeveloped by tourism, with traditional ways of life still in full swing, and with only 25 motorised vehicles on the island, you will regularly see locals and tourists cycling along the road or hopping on an authentic ox cart.
Praslin’s picturesque Anse Lazio is another that consistently ranks in the world’s top ten beach lists. I enjoyed some of the most amazing local seafood over lunch at a restaurant here.
This island provides an array of outdoor gems to explore including the legendary Vallée de Mai, one of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Seychelles, once believed to be the original site of the Garden of Eden.
This hauntingly beautiful primeval forest is home to over 6,000 coco de mer trees, widely considered to be among the botanical wonders of the world.
The Vallée boasts six endemic palm species, other indigenous trees and as the last habitat of the endangered black parrot, is a paradise for bird lovers.
There is a substantial selection of wonderful hotels in which to stay such as Hotel Raffles Seychelles and the Constance Lemuria Praslin Seychelles for golfers.
I stayed at the privately-owned 32 room Indian Ocean Lodge, which offered a warm welcome and oceanfront accommodation.
This is one of the most amazing places I have ever visited. One of the most secluded islands in the world, it is the perfect location for a total technology detox and the opportunity to embrace the natural beauty of Denis Private Island.
An escape here is as laid-back as it gets – there are no keys to the cottage, televisions or cell phone reception in the rooms, so you’re encouraged to simply settle in and relax.
After a short scenic flight from Mahé, you land on the island’s private strip and are personally greeted by the resort manager.
I stayed in one of the 25 beach cottages with its own garden leading to a private beachfront and loungers. A massive bathroom opens onto a private courtyard with an outdoor shower.
I walked along the beach from my cottage, saw not a soul and had a total Robinson Crusoe moment.
Traditional Seychellois cuisine is served in either the spacious restaurant, privately on the deck of your cottage or even on the beach under the stars.
There is, predictably, lots of fresh seafood, and produce from the island's estate creating some of the tastiest food I have ever experienced.
You can spend your days here, relaxing beside the swimming pool, snorkelling through the crystal lagoon or hiking into the lush surrounding greenery to spot local wildlife.
Conservation plays a key role on Denis Island and you can join the team on daily turtle patrols.
Hawksbill and green sea turtles that lay their eggs on the protected shoreline are monitored and tagged, providing valuable information to assist in the protection of the species.
If visiting during nesting season, you might luck into seeing baby hatchlings swarming down the beach to the ocean.
Seychelles is also home to the world’s largest population of giant tortoises. Most are native to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Aldabra, the world’s largest raised coral atoll but you will find some on Denis Private Island in their own dedicated sanctuary.
I was fortunate enough to meet and get close to some of these giant yet graceful creatures in their natural habitat.
You can tickle their necks and they stick their heads right up out of their shells, seeming to relish the attention. Their most famous and oldest resident is Toby, who is 123 years old!
I totally loved my trip to the Seychelles and yes, there are lots of perfect beaches, but there is so much more to explore.
The Seychellois are welcoming, the food is sublime, the scenery is breathtaking and for me, the wildlife, especially Toby, was truly special and several times I had to pinch myself in case I was dreaming!
A Seychelles island-hop is also a great addition to any romantic escape, perhaps along with a helicopter tour - the most magical way to see the full wonder of the archipelago and which can also be combined with a safari in South or East Africa.