Seychelles? Sea you there! The incomparable Indian Ocean nation has vaccinated almost its entire population and is keen to welcome us back. Over to you, Mr Shapps….
- Go paddleboarding, windsurfing, snorkelling and diving at the Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa
- Club Med Seychelles is a new hotel on the island of Sainte Anne – here you can take part in rainforest yoga
- North Island is perhaps the most exclusive in the Seychelles – it’s where Kate and Wills honeymooned
As of this week, 95 per cent of adults in the Seychelles had been given their first Covid jab.
Some 82 per cent have even had their second jab in the country that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chose for their honeymoon.
And with a population of a mere 98,000, the Seychelles seems one of the safest places to go for a taste of sun, sand and getting away from it all.
As of this week, 95 per cent of adults in the Seychelles had been given their first Covid jab. Pictured is the stunning Anse Source D’Argent beach
Plus some heat: the average daily temperature is 26c to 28c.
Tourism is responsible for two-thirds of the country’s economy, and Sherin Francis, head of the Seychelles Tourism Board, is desperate to lure back overseas visitors, saying: ‘British tourists are always in the top five visitors. It’s always a nice time to visit the Seychelles, but it’s even quieter and even nicer now.’
All that will be required is proof of a negative Covid test taken 72 hours before travel and to have completed a Health Travel Authorisation form (at seychelles.govtas.com).
The downside? There are currently no direct flights — British Airways pulled out in December.
But there are plenty of indirect flights with stopovers (taking 13 h 20 m), plus tempting offers with reduced hotel rates — as much as 40 per cent off in some instances.
A mere 15,156 tourists arrived in the Seychelles up to mid-April, which compares with 129,000 over the same period in 2019, the last ‘normal’ year — 84 per cent down. But which of its 115 picturesque islands to visit? Here’s our guide.
One of the wonderfully secluded beaches on the laid-back island of La Digue, where there are just a handful of cars
The laid-back island of La Digue has a series of wonderfully secluded beaches, traditional vanilla plantations to explore and a great sense of escapism: there are just a handful of cars and people tend to get around by either ox cart or bike.
Pack a picnic to head off to a hidden cove during the day while staying at La Digue Island Lodge, which is designed in traditional Creole style.
Details: From £1,479 pp half-board for a week with flights (tropicalsky.co.uk).
Pink-hued granite boulders provide a dramatic backdrop to the beaches on the private island of Felicite, pictured
Hide away from the world for a while at the swish Six Senses Zil Pasyon on the private island of Felicite. Pink-hued granite boulders provide a dramatic backdrop to the beaches while the island’s interior is hilly and thick with tropical foliage, with paths for walks.
The Zil Pasyon has infinity pools aplenty and villas tucked intriguingly between the rocks.
Details: Seven nights from £3,977 pp B&B with flights — 37 per cent off (turquoiseholidays.co.uk).
And breathe: Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa on the island of Silhouette. Here you can go paddleboarding, windsurfing, snorkelling and diving
BASKETBALL, CURRIES AND BLACK PARROTS
The Black Parrot, the national bird of the Seychelles
There are 115 islands in the Seychelles, lying 930 miles east of Kenya in the Indian Ocean.
The islands are named after Jean Moreau de Sechelles, Louis XV of France’s Minister of Finance.
The French laid claim to the islands in the mid-18th century.
France surrendered the islands in 1794 to the British, who established a colony until the Seychelles’ independence in 1976.
Cinnamon and vanilla farming were an important source of income before tourism.
Curries are the most common local food, especially fish curry.
The main sport is basketball.
Seychelles International Airport opened in 1971, beginning 50 years of mass tourism.
Tourism now accounts directly for 27 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and 66 per cent directly and indirectly.
The Black Parrot, the national bird of the Seychelles, survives only in the palm forests of Praslin National Park on Praslin Island. There are thought to be under 1,000 of them left.
In 2019, 384,200 tourists visited the islands, but this figure fell by 70 per cent last year. Twenty years ago, the Seychelles attracted a mere 130,000 holidaymakers.
Go paddleboarding, windsurfing, snorkelling and diving while staying at the Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa on the island of Silhouette.
Other activities include nature walks (hiking in the rugged interior), tennis, yoga and — for the really determined — workouts with a fitness instructor in the gym.
There’s an Italian, Japanese and local restaurant (serving delicious Creole cuisine).
Details: Seven nights from £2,255 pp B&B in a King Garden Villa with flights (turquoiseholidays.co.uk).
The five-star Hilton Seychelles Northolme on the north coast of Mahe, the capital island, has peaceful villas facing the ocean.
This is a great base for anyone who wants to hire a car to explore the 100 square miles of Mahe including the beautiful Morne Seychellois National Park, home to the country’s highest peak at 2,999 ft.
Each villa at the resort has a plunge pool and there are two small sandy beaches.
Details: Seven nights from £1,799 pp half-board with flights — £800 off per couple (020 7368 1200, trailfinders.com).
On the edge of Morne Seychellois National Park in a quiet spot on the north-west coast, Constance Ephelia Mahe is a charming four-star hotel.
Enjoy a spa treatment, a swim in the calm waters of the bay or just hang out (literally) on one of the hanging chairs from a palm tree by the beach.
Details: Seven nights from £2,299 pp half board with flights — £650 off per couple (020 7368 1200, trailfinders.com).
A couple of miles to the east of Mahe, Ile au Cerf is a tiny island (about 130 hectares), with no roads, and is where the author Wilbur Smith once had a home.
There are three restaurants, a shop, a beach bar — and not a huge amount else.
Stay at the four-star Cerf Island Resort for a truly hidden-away escape deep in the Indian Ocean.
Details: Seven nights from £1,949 pp half board with flights — saving 40 per cent (kuoni.co.uk).
On the waves
What could be more romantic than sailing around the islands on a three-masted schooner?
Choose between two ships, Sea Star and Sea Bird, each with nine en suite cabins, bar lounges and dining salons — as well as spacious sunbathing decks.
Both vessels have a PADI-certified dive instructor to help explore coral reefs, and there are canoes, water skis and fishing equipment, too.
Details: Seven-night cruise from £2,378 pp full board with flights (justseychelles.com).
One of the spectacular beaches on the island of Praslin, the second biggest in the Seychelles
On the island of Praslin, the second biggest in the Seychelles, Coco de Mer Hotel & Black Parrot Suites is surrounded by 200 acres of tropical jungle in which rare coco de mer palm trees and wonderful black parrots are to be found (hence the resort name).
There are two large infinity pools, a spa and lovely walks on the long sandy beaches close by.
Details: Seven nights from £1,779 pp B&B including flights and one free night (kuoni.co.uk).
For golf lovers
Also on Praslin, the Constance Lemuria hotel is home to the only 18-hole course in the Seychelles. When not playing, there’s an impressive three-level pool to enjoy, plus a spa set in tropical gardens. Inland, blue pigeons and black parrots flit around amid yet more coco de mer palm trees.
Details: Seven nights from £1,617 pp with flights (kenwoodtravel.co.uk).
On the private island of Sainte Anne, pictured, activities include rainforest yoga hikes, sailing lessons and glass-bottomed kayaking
Club Med Seychelles is a new hotel on the private island of Sainte Anne. Activities include rainforest yoga hikes, sailing lessons and glass-bottomed kayaking. This resort is eco-certified and aims to teach tourists about the fragile local eco-system.
Details: Seven nights priced from £2,162 pp all-inclusive with flights (clubmed.co.uk).
On an island-hopping break covering Mahe, Praslin, Silhouette and Cerf, you may see giant tortoises
Stay for three weeks and explore the Seychelles on an island-hopping break covering Mahe, Praslin, Silhouette and Cerf, where you may see giant tortoises.
Several nights are spent in each four-star hotel and a concierge is on hand.
Details: From £4,159 pp half-board including flights and transfers (seychelles-travel.co.uk).
Kate and Wills’ island
North Island is perhaps the most exclusive in the Seychelles — it was, after all, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge honeymooned.
There are 11 lavish villas with private pools, Michelin-starred cuisine and a dreamy spa. Also expect sunset cruises, Champagne picnics and guided walks.
Details: Seven nights from £18,700 pp with flights and helicopter transfers (scottdunn.com).
Lush: A sal flower in the Seychelles National Botanic Gardens in Victoria
Fisherman’s Cove Resort on Mahe has a breezy style, a little pool and a long sweep of beach. Activities include massages in the spas, watersports and tennis.
A visit to Victoria, the capital, and its splendid Seychelles National Botanic Gardens is recommended.
Also go for a tasting at a local rum distillery as well as on the Copolia Trail overlooking the town.
Details: Seven nights from £1,507 pp B&B including flights in October (ba.com/holidays).
Self-catering breaks are possible in Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. Enjoy the same incredible views as the ritzier hotels for a fraction of the price.
Details: One and two-bedroom apartments priced from £1,150 for seven nights, including flights (jasmineholidays.co.uk).
- Some anti-Covid measures are in place including face masks in public places. Further information: seychelles.travel and gov.uk. Bear in mind, as with the holiday examples in this story, to book a package holiday, as you will be offered a refund within 14 days should a trip be cancelled due to travel restrictions.
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