The islands of the Seychelles lie north east of Madagascar.
The republic consists of 115 islands, which cover a sea area of over 400.000 km². The islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue are the most important, due to their larger populations. The islands are of two kinds - either granite or coral islands.
The Granite Islands
Mahé is the largest island of the Seychelles. It is approx. 27 km long and 8 km wide. On the island one finds many contrasting landscapes: granite mountains, tropical vegetation and beautiful beaches. The species-rich flora and fauna can be explored best via established routes or along charted walking paths. North Mahé is considered the most popular destination, with its famous Beau Vallon. Here one finds rows of hotels, guest houses and mansions. Victoria, one of the smallest capitals of an independent state, has retained much of its charm and character with traditional architecture, a multicoloured market, and shops and boutiques lining the roads. Mahé has a lot of variety, offering a wide selection of activities. Although public transport on Mahé is good and cheap, sometimes it's a good idea to rent a car to explore the island.
Praslin, which is the second largest island, is approximately 1 hour by ship or a 15-minute plane journey from Mahé. Nearly the entire surface of Praslin is covered with tropical jungle. Nature lovers will really like Praslin, in particular the flora and fauna of the May valley (Vallé de Mai), where the well known vanilla blooms and the famous coco de mer grows; it is also the place where some of the world's rarest birds sing their songs. Also on Praslin one can easily reach nearly every point of the island by bus and become acquainted with the island's inhabitants on the way. Praslin is a great starting point, from which one can visit the smaller neighbouring islands.
From Praslin to La Digue there is a ferry, which takes about 30 minutes. La Digue is a picture-book island with gigantic granite rocks at the edge of pure white sandy beaches. These are the beaches that one sees in the advertisements - a fantastic destination for people wanting to escape modern-day life. Visitors to these islands value its tranquillity. Why not treat yourself to an "ox taxi" (there are only about 20 cars on the island) - or rent a bicycle, to explore the islands lanes and paths?
Frégate is a granite island, once a refuge for pirates who had been expelled from the Caribbean and from Madagascar. Apparently even today unknown amounts of treasure are hidden there. Coconut palms, casuarina, papaya, takamaka and mandarin trees are the natural habitat of the numerous frigate-birds, doves, petrels, and other animal species, which prosper in the midst of this magnificent vegetation. Frégate is ideal for people looking to relax and to escape the stresses and strains of everyday life. And perhaps you might even find some hidden pirate treasure.
The island of Thérèse is a great place for deep-sea diving, fishing and sailing.
Cousin, a small, nearly circular island, is a retreat for threatened and endangered species of birds. Nature enthusiasts can observe at first hand thousands of the birds during the breeding season.
Arid is the most northern granite island and home of an enormous sea-bird colony. The island is accessible to visitors from October to the end of April.
Curieuse is a very small island, near to Praslin. Here you can see 150 free-living giant turtles, which can live for up to 300 years.
Silhouette lies northwest of Mahé. The wilderness of this island attracts nature lovers and walkers alike. There are no roads or cars. Instead this equatorial forest is rich in rivers, brooks and waterfalls. Scientists are still discovering exotic and rare types of trees and plants here. The approximately 300 inhabitants make a living from growing coffee and tobacco along with the side crops of cinnamon and avocado plantations. One should explore this peaceful island on tiptoe, but with one's eyes wide open.
Denis Island is a breathtaking, flat coral island, with white beaches, palms and a multicoloured underwater world. The shimmering blue lagoon with crystal-clear water is especially impressive. Great for swimming and snorkelling. Denis is considered as one of the best deep sea-fishing destinations world-wide and offers a wealth and quantity of "Big Game Fish", like heavy fish, shark and Zackenbarsch. This also attracts the divers, who likewise appreciate the fantastic conditions in the waters around the island.
Bird Island: This small island, about 100 kilometres from Mahé, is very popular with ornithologists who understandably appreciate the millions of birds which inhabit this isle. Between May and September the air is full of the chirping and screeching of the sea swallows, who nest here at this time. The island acquired its French name from the sea-cows (or Dugongs) which used to abound off its coast.
Desroches is "the" dream island, with fine sand and coconut palms. The focal point for tourism on the Amirantes, it is roughly 5k long and 500 m wide, with only forty inhabitants, who live in one small village. Desroches is a diver's paradise, with some of the most beautiful coral gardens that the Indian Ocean has to offer.