Across the island of Mahe, several strange gashes scar the coastline – wounds from unsuccessful treasure hunts carried out by local residents over the years.
Left by 17th-century pirates who cruised through these waters, legends of lost loot are so ingrained in the national psyche even the government demands a 50% cut of any finds by law. But to date, no major hauls have been declared.
Whether there’s any truth to the far-fetched tales is debatable, yet the Seychelles evidently sparkles with riches – from diving with sharks in the outer islands, to hiking the slopes of soaring, jungle-wrapped peaks. And as travellers plan ahead for dream holidays to escape a period of non-stop nightmares, it’s not surprising the 115-island state is topping booking lists.
Granitic, volcanic or small, low coral cays – each island has a different appeal and character, some thriving with communities and others occupied by only one resort. Whether you’re seeking adventure or simply to zone out, here’s our pick of the best places to stay.
STORY Hotel, Mahe
All walks of life stroll along the beach at Beau Vallon on main island Mahe (where all international flights arrive and depart), making it one of the best places to sample local living in the Seychelles. Perfectly placed to soak up the action, this fun and modern property is only metres from the rolling waves. Choose a villa with plunge pool and beach access to sink directly into the sand or opt for a garden room overlooking a tropical lagoon.
Scoring top points for sustainability, the hotel has made environmental protection a priority: measures have been taken to protect flora and fauna on its premises; an onsite water bottling site has reduced plastic consumption; and a rainwater harvesting system has been put in place. A gym and serene spa are tucked into the gardens and there’s a choice of seven restaurants – ranging from buffet to private, petal-strewn fine dining. Off site, there’s a chance to hike through Morne National Park – several trail heads leading to the emerald peaks are a short walk from the hotel.
How: Visit story-seychelles.com
Given human habitation in the Seychelles only dates back a few hundred years, it’s easy to trace the roots of early settlers. Owned by descendants of the French d’Offay family, this elegant beachfront resort – one of the few high-end, family-owned properties in the Seychelles – is a successful marriage of present and past; classic Creole architecture has been polished with a Riviera sheen.
Set on a gently sloping hillside of landscaped gardens overlooking one of the island’s most secluded beaches, 32 rooms and larger suites occupy several plantation-era buildings with sunset-facing verandas, and a shore-side restaurant serves an excellent menu, served with French finesse. A one-hour ferry ride or 15-minute flight from Mahe, Praslin is more laidback than her sister island. Come to visit the UNESCO-listed Vallee de Mai, home to a forest of coco de mer trees, prized for their weighty 20kg nuts.
How: Visit larchipel.com/en
Six Senses Zil Pasyon, Felicite
Everywhere in the Seychelles is magical, but some places sparkle with an extra-special quality. At Zil Pasyon, the only resort occupying the private island of Felicite, accessible by a 20-minute private boat transfer from Praslin or helicopter from Mahe, the emphasis is on uninterrupted relaxation. Thirty pool villas are tucked into the palms and tropical forest, where fruit bats swoop overhead at dusk; a generous lap pool, sun deck, and playful swing above the bath justify spending an above average time in your room.
To do so, however, would mean missing out on so much: take a dawn kayak ride to nearby Coco island, where several seabird species nest; trek a trail to the island’s highest point; dine beneath a native takamaka tree festooned with fairy lights; or enjoy private sundowners on beanbags at a secluded granite viewpoint. Built into the rocks, the spa is extraordinary; book a private slot at the saltwater pool and sundeck gazing out to the Indian Ocean.
How: Visit sixsenses.com/en/resorts/zil-pasyon
Hilton Labriz, Silhouette
Boulder-strewn beaches attract visitors to this volcanic island, but the wild interior is just as captivating. Declared a national park, 93% of the land is protected, creating an adventure playground for anyone lucky enough to stay at this fantastic resort. Despite having 111 rooms and a choice of eight restaurants, it never feels busy, and there are plenty of opportunities for discovering secret patches of sand either by hiking or exploring on a boat.
Silhouette’s history as a coconut plantation is detailed at the Grann Kaz, a Creole house once belonging to the Dauban family, where lively, traditional dinner dances are held. A trail – regarded as the hardest in the country – also follows a route once used by workers to cross the island. Underwater activities are taken care of by an excellent PADI dive centre, which offers open water courses, while the spa – built sensitively between giant boulders – is back-to-nature bliss.
How: Visit hilton.com/en/
How to plan your trip
Abercrombie & Kent (abercrombiekent.co.uk; 01242 547 760) offers seven night holidays in the Seychelles from £3,900pp based on two people sharing. Includes breakfast, flights, transfers and accommodation. Comes under A&K’s flexible booking policy.
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