“Home away from home” on a holiday is rather rare but we were lucky to experience this on our trip to Seychelles. Sometimes, we connect with strangers in the most organic way which leads to lifelong friendships and that is what we established with our new found “friends”. Enlightened with information about the culture, food and activities in Seychelles from the “locals” we were better equipped to enjoy the next three days in this paradise on earth.
After spending the first part of our trip doing light activities, we decided to get a little more adventurous. The plan was to do the Copolia Hiking Trail which is located in Morne Seychellois National Park. Leading up to the 495-meter-high Copolia Summit (1,630 feet), it is one of the best hiking trails in Seychelles. My kids Aarya and Aarav have never done hiking before so they were super excited. This 1.5 km trail through the fragrant dense jungle was perfect as a debut trek for the kids. Being city kids, this was a different experience where they were exposed to varieties of insects, plants, birds and reptiles. After an interesting hike, we reached the summit which is a granite mountain top that offers the most spectacular 360 degree view. The turquoise water, Sainte Anne Marine National Park, Victoria City, Airport, and Eden Island were clearly visible from the top. After immersing ourselves in the views, reluctantly, we headed back down and were lucky to see pitcher plants, tropical white tail bird, a snake and a gecko passing by. It was an amazing nature experience for the kids.
The view from Copolia Summit is breathtaking and definitely justifies the hike
Our Next stop was at Sauzier Waterfall in Port Glaud. A gorgeous waterfall in the midst of the jungle, it is the perfect stop after the hike. A 7-minute walk from the parking lot takes you to this stunning spot. We spent a refreshing time there enjoying the cool breeze and dipping our feet in the water.
The stunning Sauzier Waterfall in Port Glaud is a refreshing getaway in the middle of the jungle
Refreshed, we headed towards Baie Ternay Marine National Park which is located at the northwest corner of Mahe Island. After a certain point, the road becomes a single track for about 2 kms. After attempting a small section, we decided to cancel visiting the park as the drive was too risky owing to the rains. A visit would definitely have been amazing as this park is well known for its unique biodiversity.
It is the only marine park that is accessible by both land and sea. The U-shaped bay is covered with trees and makes for the most picturesque seascapes. It is also renowned for snorkelling and many boats were ferrying tourists for this amazing experience. We had to give it a miss as we were not prepared. We spent some time on the shore enjoying the sights and sounds of the ocean before calling it a day.
Port Launay Beach with its soft white sand and ample shade makes for a perfect relaxation spot
The south western side of Mahe Island is brimming with high end hotels and beautiful beaches galore. Our day began with a visit to Anse Takamaka Beach which is absolutely extraordinary. The small seawall which has a few steps to go down to the beach reminded me of Dandi Beach in India. The clean beach, dark blue water and stunning takamaka trees from which the beach gets its name made for a picturesque scenery. We enjoyed some quality time at the beach. While the beaches of Seychelles hog the limelight, the general landscape is also stunning. Enroute to the hotel, we made numerous stops to capture the spectacular views, one better than the other.
Turquoise water, pristine sand and takamaka trees galore, Anse Takamaka Beach - Picture perfect!
From here, we experienced one of the most spectacular drives in Seychelles. The meandering Seaview roads treated us to the stunning Seychelles coastline. The myriad shades of blue and green shimmering in the sunlight had us hypnotized. This is one of the best drives I have ever experienced, truly bedazzling!
An extraordinary road trip in Seychelles
Our tummies fueled up, we were ready for some retail therapy. We were escorted by our local friends to The Esplanade Craft Kiosks in Victoria located on Francis Rachel Street. These kiosks are a perfect blend of traditional and modern architecture. The colorful kiosks and products on sale personify the culture and diversity of Seychellois society. The shaded surroundings and general ambience of the place makes for a perfect afternoon of leisurely shopping. Locally produced souvenirs are the ideal way to take back memories of Seychelles and we indulged.
The Esplanade Craft Kiosks are a unique display of the culture and tradition of Seychelles
Our last stop for the day was Beau Vallon Beach, the most popular beach of Mahe Island. Obviously, this beach is bustling with visitors and there are plenty of things offered here. Located on the northern coast of Mahe, it is a base for diving, snorkeling and other water sports activities. There are sun loungers on hire on the beach for those who want to just relax and soak up the sun. The beach is vibrant and alive with many hotels and restaurants serving diverse cuisine. Interestingly, there are no international restaurant chains in Seychelles, a decision by the government with the intention of promoting local food businesses. We visited the very famous La Dolce Vita, a beautiful caf with indoor and outdoor seating. The lovely ambience, friendly staff and of course the delicious coffee was a perfect end to another exciting day in paradise.
Beau Vallon Beach is very popular owing to its clear waters and coral reefs
Our last day in Seychelles was very exciting as we were finally going on the Semi Submarine adventure! We boarded the boat at Eden Island and were taken to Sainte Anne Marine National Park. The spellbinding view of Eden Islands while soaking in the sunshine on the way to the biodiversity hotspots set the stage for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We then embarked on a partially submerged boat tour, a unique way to enjoy Seychelles underwater life without getting wet. Each boat had a maximum capacity of 10-12 passengers with a guide. The view of the spectacular coral reefs, incredible marine life and one of the largest seagrass beds in the Seychelles was truly mesmerizing. This 45-minute experience will remain etched in our minds forever, of course the kids were ecstatic.
Spectacular view of underwater life from the Semi Submarine
After an exhilarating underwater experience, our last stop was at Victoria Botanical Gardens. Established in 1901, this 15-acre garden is one of Seychelles' oldest national monuments. This living green heritage has many must see attractions for nature lovers. It is home to an enormous collection of plants including palms, flowers, spices and fruit trees from several countries in the Indian Ocean. From the Coco de mer plantations to other endemic plants and birds, the garden is a pleasure to walk through. Besides the exotic flora and fauna, the garden houses some iconic monuments as well that were interesting to know about. The garden symbolizes the diversity and tolerance of Seychelles by housing the Guangzhou Chinese Garden, Thai Garden with the unique El Coco feature, Japan-Seychelles Friendship Monument, and Indian Diversity Garden.
The aroma of the Thai spices and visual treat of orchids, the sculpture of the Five Rams and the 'Pot-handle Wall', the Hana-haku (Flower Expo) and artefacts of India, all blended beautifully in the resplendent gardens making for a perfect end to one of the most invigorating trips we have ever done.
The entrance to the Chinese Garden, one of the main attractions in iconic Victoria Botanical Gardens in Seychelles
Feeling overwhelmed by the diversity and never-ending beauty of this paradise on earth, we returned to our resort to freshen up before leaving for the airport. For one last time, I enjoyed a refreshing cup of tea on the beautiful verandah absorbing the landscape of the resort and it's interesting inmates (birds, insects, big snails, reptiles). The Madagascar fody, a stunning red-olive brown colored sparrow was a daily visitor but on the last day, I managed to capture it on my phone camera, a perfect farewell gift!
My favorite companion on the verandah in the resort, the Madagascar tody!
Heading to the airport, we reminisced about our amazing adventure and murmured "Orevwar" to this paradise on earth. For a debut self-planned trip, this was a fabulous start. I guess more such adventures are definitely on the cards.