Shimmering turquoise surf gently lapping onto the shore, a tall coconut palm stretching out precipitously over the water, and craggy limestone boulders reaching into the periwinkle-blue sky. This is what you’ll find on the Seychelles best beaches and one of the reasons why the Seychelles is also known as “the Garden of Eden.”
I’ve been on a quest to find the most beautiful beach in the world for most of my adult life. While hailed as one of the world’s most beautiful tropical destinations, the distance and exorbitant cost for Americans to reach the archipelago made the paradise unattainable. But after years of being at the very top of my Bucket List, an opportunity finally came to visit the Seychelles, and I jumped at this dream-come-true!
On a cruise through the Indian Ocean on the Costa Victoria, we visited the Seychelles best beaches, along with the tropical beaches of Mauritius, Reunion, and Nosy Iranja (Madagascar).
Seychelles at a Glance
Consisting of 115 islands, the Seychelles archipelago is 1000 miles from the east coast of Africa. Popular for honeymoons and romantic interludes, the main three islands for tourism are Mahé, La Digue, and Praslin.
- Capital: Victoria
- Continent: Africa
- Currency: Seychellois rupee
- Population: 95,843 (2017) World Bank
The African island nation was first colonized by the French in the mid-1700s, a time when piracy was common. Most of the first inhabitants returned back to France, but the French influence remained.
The main industries back then were farming the coconut, lime, vanilla plantations.
The largest and most diversified island in the Seychelles, Mahé is home to about 70,000 people (90% of the nation’s total). Still, the island retains its tranquil beauty, with 3,000-foot mountains and a plethora of stunning beaches.
The most popular beach on the island, Beau Vallon is located on the northwest coast. It’s a lively beach town, ringed by clear water and a coral reef for swimming and snorkeling.
We loved strolling along the beach, visiting the corridor filled with vendors selling coconut drinks, souvenirs, and street food. We opted for lunch at La Fontaine, a beachside restaurant where we devoured a heaping plate of piping hot Creole mussels gratin and French fries.
Anse Royale, directly opposite from Beau Vallon on the southeast coast, was my favorite Mahé beach. Postcard-perfect, the end of the bay with its giant granite rocks and turquoise water is often empty. We reached this beach by a local standing-room-only bus for $0.50. It wasn’t exactly a “chicken-bus,” but was a memorable experience as the driver careened through the narrow, curvy road while we clutched the overhead bands for dear life.
The beaches on the northeast coast are beautiful and less crowded than Beau Vallon. You’ll see the same picturesque water with granite boulders.
It took an effort to tear ourselves away from the incredible beaches to experience more of the island. We rented a car and drove around the entire island, which included the northern more touristy part, the less-frequented southern part, and the mountainous middle.
Two mountain passes allow you to meander up into Morne Seychellois National Park and back down on another road. Word of warning – the thoroughfares are not for the faint of heart. Continuous hairpin turns with no guard rails elicited my occasional squeal. We stopped at the Tea Factory, Morne Blanc, and Mission Lodge to admired unparalleled vistas of Port Glaud lagoon on the west coast and Victoria on the east coast.
Victoria, the smallest capital in Africa, is best explored on foot. The colorful city center spreads out from the Victoria Clock Tower, constructed to look like London’s Big Ben. There’s the kaleidoscopic hued Arul Mihu Navasakthi Vinayagar Hindu Temple, a bustling local market, and the botanical gardens to explore.
Where to Stay
Our lovely boutique B&B, the Villa Dorado on the beach in Mahé was $160 per night for an oceanfront room with a balcony and breakfast included, and a rental car was just $68 for the day.
Click here to compare prices of all hotels on Mahé.
Read more about our 3-day adventure on Mahé.
The smallest of the three main inhabited islands, La Digue covers four square miles and has a population of about 3,000 people. Named after a ship of the French explorer Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne, who visited in 1768, La Digue is close to neighboring island Praslin and can be reached by ferry or from the main island of Mahé by ferry ($65) or also on a fast catamaran – there are no airports on the island.
Visiting La Digue has been at the top of my bucket list for about as long as I’ve been traveling. Famed for being one of the most photographed beaches on the planet, I pored over photos of this paradise in glossy magazines and calendars for years. It did not disappoint.
Stepping foot at the marina in La Passe, I was struck by the tranquil Creole vibe. Before heading back (probably to Mahé), make sure to leave some time to explore this charming tiny town and perhaps do some souvenir shopping.
Anse Source d’Argent
Arguably the most beautiful beach in the world and the most photographic beach according to National Geographic., Anse Source d’Argent is magical. The shallow water here is surreal – variegated light turquoise and pale emerald-colored water that is crystal-clear as to be almost translucent. In fact, at low tide, it’s so clear that the rock formations below give the illusion of a coral reef.
A jungle path led us to this dazzling white sand beach, framed by massive pieces of granite protruding into the sky, which also provide a shady respite from the blazing sun. The ethereal vibe made me feel like I was on another planet. Kary had to drag me away.
The only downside is that Anse Source d’Argent is not undiscovered so depending on the time of day, you’ll have to share the main Instagrammable spot with other people. However, just a short walk away are a number of small covers that you can have to yourself.
Other beaches to visit include Grand Anse and also calm Anse Bonnet Carré Beach and Anse Cocos Beach which are only accessible by foot.
La Digue’s climate and varied terrain make it perfect to participate in outdoor activities. Visitors can enjoy water activities such as snorkeling, surfing, and kayaking. Scuba divers have the possibility to sight underwater creatures like sharks, turtles, and stingrays. Hiking in the Veuve Nature Reserve and biking (bike rentals available in La Passe) the hilly island are also available.
The highest point is Belle Vue (Eagle’s Nest Mountain).
For an authentic way to get around the island, try an ox cart rentals!
Designated a National Heritage Site, you can stroll through coconut and vanilla plantations here, as well as tour the French-colonial plantation house, cemetery, and scenic pier.
But the most popular attraction here is the penned giant tortoises, some of which are 100 years old. Full disclosure, I’m opposed to animal tourism which features animals in captivity, so I didn’t spend much time here – just walked as it was on the path to the beach. I’ve heard that it’s possible to see them roaming wild around the island, but we did not see any.
We had lunch (provided by our tour) at a buffet restaurant overlooking the ocean. They offered lots of fresh local seafood options such as curry and grilled fish, Creole and Indian side dishes, salads, and deserts, but it was the view that stole the show.
Where to Stay
Click here to compare prices on hotels in La Digue.
The more sleepy island of Praslin (pronounced “pra-LIN”) is the second largest in the Seychelles archipelago with a population of around 8,000. It’s very different from Mahé, but the common thread is the outstanding beaches.
Originally named Isle de Palmes by explorer Lazare Picault in 1744, Praslin was once a hiding place for pirates and Arab merchants. It was renamed Praslin in 1768 to honor French diplomat César Gabriel de Choiseul, duc de Praslin.
It costs around $55 to take a ferry from the main island of Mahé to Praslin or you can also book a day tour.
Anse Lazio is one of the Seychelles best beaches, often turning up in lists of the world’s most beautiful beaches. From our spot on the beach, we looked out at brilliant turquoise waves, while behind us, a thicket of takamaka trees offered us much-needed shade. On the beach were also the ubiquitous granite boulders so common in the Seychelles. Anse Lazio has a shaded beach bar where we lazily dug our toes on the sand and sipped an afternoon cocktail.
The other main beach in Praslin is Anse Georgette, also framed by granite boulders, turquoise water, and soft white sand. Since time was limited, we opted not to go to this beach because you can only access it by boat or with special permission from Lémuria Resort.
Vallee de Mai
Praslin is home to 4,000 Coco De Mer, an exotic, endemic plant that led to the belief that the Seychelles were the true Garden of Eden. It produces the world’s biggest nut which you can find at Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and tropical rainforest. You’ll also find the endangered black parrot there, of which there are less than 900 left in the wild.
Vallee de Mai also has walking trails, a lot of which are shaded so it’s a pleasant way to spend some time.
Close to the Vallee de Mai, the Praslin Waterfall is beautiful and worth a visit. There’s no signage so you may have to ask at Vallee de Mai for specific instructions if you are not on a tour that includes it.
If you’re driving on the island, there are lots of places to stop and photograph the views. The highest point on Praslin, Mont Azore, offers panoramic views over Anse Possession and Curieuse Island.
Where to Stay
Click here to compare prices on hotels in Praslin.
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About the Author
Patti Morrow is a freelance travel writer and founder of the award-winning international blog Luggage and Lipstick and southern travel blog Gone to Carolinas. TripAdvisor called her one of “20 Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers Having More Fun Than Millennials.” Patti is the author of the book “Girls Go Solo: Tips for Women Traveling Alone,” and has over 150 bylines in 40 print and online publications, including The Huffington Post, International Living Magazine, Washington Post Sunday Travel, Travel Girl, Travel Play Live Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal. She has traveled six continents looking for fabulous places and adventure activities for her Baby Boomer (and Gen X!) tribe.