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Seychelles

 
Nowhere in the Indian Ocean is the sand as powder white and nowhere has such a wide array of beautiful tiny islands, strung out across hundreds of miles of deep blue ocean. The two main islands of Mahé and Praslin have dozens of secluded beaches. Jump on a ferry and half an hour later you are on La Digue with its world-famous boulder strewn beach, a few lazy little hotels and no vehicles other than ox carts.
The islands are slightly awkward to reach, and as there are so many lovely islands to explore you should try and stay for at least a week or even two if you want to take in three islands. They come in all shapes, from the conically volcanic Silhouette, to Bird Island, a breeding ground for millions of sooty terns. The atoll Alphonse has superb wall diving and shallow lagoons which draw saltwater fly fishermen from around the world. North Island and Fregate are two of the most exclusive and luxurious island hideaways on the planet, while on Desroches your villa comes with a couple of bicycles so you can cycle through the coconut plantations to Madame Zabra’s beach which you will probably have to yourselves.

The Seychellois are delightfully friendly, though service isn’t as sparklingly efficient as in Mauritius and most hotels and charming little Creole guesthouses don’t try to compete with the excellent facilities of their southerly neighbour.

This is a place that casts a spell of romance and relaxation, where 24 hour news quickly becomes irrelevant in the face of more important matters such as which cocktail shall I try before dinner tonight, or can I be bothered to go snorkelling this afternoon or should I just lie on this cushion soft sand a little longer.
Seychelles
Seychelles
 
There are 115 islands in the Seychelles archipelago, scattered in the Indian Ocean. Victoria, the capital, has a strong British colonial influence, but it is the beaches and indigenous wildlife of La Digue and Fregate Island which are the real attractions.
 
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Balmy northwest trade winds prevail in the Seychelles from January to March, creating a gentle breeze in a climate which otherwise would be rather hot and humid at this time of year. There is likely to be rain, but it’s warm and far from constant. Enjoy island hopping across the archipelago, snorkelling on the reef and walking at a lazy pace along the sands.
 
The humidity level in the Seychlles drops in April as the trade winds turn around. The air is still warm, but somehow fresher than before. It’s an excellent time of the year for all manner of water sports. Birders should consider visiting Aride Island, a nature reserve with huge seabird colonies. You’ll find enormous numbers of frigate bird, tropical shearwater, lesser noddy, and roseate tern.
 
Winds pick up between May and September, so we compensate for this by booking accommodation on the leeward side of the islands in pleasantly protected positions. It’s warm and not too humid, making it a pleasant climate for wildlife watching. You can see Aldabra giant tortoise, Seychelles black parrot, and a variety of curious plant species such as the jellyfish tree and the highly prized coco de mer.
 
Trade winds turn once again and everything is calm. It’s a glorious month to travel anywhere within the archipelago. Birdlife International is conducting research on Cousin Island, which is not only an Important Bird Area but also home to Aldabra giant tortoise, hawksbill and green turtle, lizard, gecko, and skink. Conservation efforts here won a Conde Nast ecotourism award and are setting standards for sustainable tourism in the Seychelles.
 
The Seychelles tend to be hot and humid as the year draws to an end, with intermittent rainfall. Our favourite option is to stay at a remarkable resort such as North Island and enjoy the many activities on offer. Early in the morning you can mountain bike and walk, then as the day warms up, take to the water, go fishing or drive around the island by buggy.
 
On a private island you can enjoy the beauty of the Seychelles in the absolute lap of luxury. These Indian Ocean islands are the most exclusive way to visit the archipelago and guarantee a spectacular island getaway where you can relax in stunning surroundings, knowing that you have complete privacy and no one will disturb you. Fregate Island and North Island are just two of our favourites.
 
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It is not only the Galapagos which has giant tortoise! You can find them in the Seychelles too. These extraordinary reptiles grow up to four feet long, weigh as much as 770 lbs, and some of them are more than 100 years old. They’ve survived here because their populations were isolated, protecting them against predators. Spotting them is a rare treat, as they are found in so few other places.
 
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The Seychelles might well lie nearly 1,000 miles off the coast of East Africa, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, but they are remarkably well connected. Not only does British Airways fly direct from London, but there are also excellent connections to both South Africa and Kenya. This makes it feasible to spend a spectacular week on safari followed by a second week in an island paradise.
 
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The Seychelles are 115 islands, surrounded by the Indian Ocean. Separated from Africa 90 million years ago, and isolated against predators, its species have taken fascinating evolutionary paths. The Seychelles is a biodiversity hotspot, especially if you look beneath the waves. More than 1,000 species of fish have been recorded, and once damaged corals show significant signs of recovery. Look out for marine turtle, seabirds, and 26 species of crab!
 
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How many of us harbour a dream of having our own private island? For most of us, sadly, it will never come to pass, but there’s something almost as good: staying a while on someone else’s private island in the Seychelles! In fact, this solution might even be preferable. You have none of the responsibilities or costs of maintaining the place, and you can even enjoy the delights of more than one!
 
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Home to the famous coco de mer forests, Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve is a unique habitat to visit while on a luxury Seychelles holiday. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site 1983, although it has been protected as a nature reserve since 1966. This status and protection has allowed the forest to remain in excellent condition - a pristine habitat for wildlife, including the rare Seychelles Black Parrot.
 
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Island hopping is the perfect way to discover the idyllic Seychelles Islands. There are 115 islands in the archipelago to choose from, all of which are slightly different. Some, such as North Island, are luxurious and private, perfect for relaxing, whilst others, like Desroches, are great for cycling and exploring. Begin on the main island of Mahé and then pick and choose your next stops.
 
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