The archipelago of Seychelles was up there on my list, together with French Polynesia and the Maldives, in terms of idyllic beaches to visit. After spending a bit over a week exploring it, I have to say Seychelles didn’t disappoint; if anything, it exceeding my high expectations. The landscapes are absolutely gorgeous, the people extremely nice, the whole country surprisingly well developed, and the cost is rather reasonable. Seychelles is not a backpackers’ destination (if fact, they really check that you have legit accommodation booked for all the days you are there before letting you go through immigration), but mixing up hotels with Airbnb, renting cars and bikes to move around, and buying some meals at supermarkets, you can get a fantastic experience without an expensive package.
Out of the three main islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue, we decided to focus on Mahe, the most developed one and point of entry / exit, and La Digue, the most chilled one. Praslin, which has equally beautiful beaches and is a great hub for hopping to smaller islands, would have to wait for another time. In Mahe, we stayed at the Le Meridian in Beau Vallon, because we could book it with points, and because that location is a great home base to explore the rest of the island, with cheap car rentals ($60 per day), supermarkets, etc. We slacked for two days and then rented a car for three days; these were the spots we visited:
Beau Vallon: The largest beach on Mahe and by far the most developed, Beau Vallon is quite scenic though not comparable to the top ones. It is probably the best beach for swimming, with consistently calm waters, and for watersports (SUP, parasailing, etc.). Apart from many stores for provisioning and restaurants of all price ranges, we enjoyed Beau Vallon’s local food stalls (grilled fish, chapati with curry, banana chips, fresh juices, etc.) on Wednesday evening.
The east coast, Anse Forbans: On our first day with a car, we drove south of the capital Victoria and past the airport, and soon reached the picturesque shore on the south east side of the island. We made a pit stop at Surfers Beach, and then parked at the DoubleTree Hilton. Walking over some boulders on the south side of the hotel beach, we accessed Anse Forbans and had it all to ourselves J The water, of a transparent green hue, was shallow and full of coral, so rather than swimming we simply floated around to cool off.
Anse Intendance: Crossing over to the west coast, we followed the signs to Banyan Tree Hotel and then to the public beach access… and we left out respective “wows” when we first laid eyes on Anse Intendance, a huge white sand beach with fifty shades of blue, surrounded by lush vegetation. We took dozens of photos, laid in the sun, walked to the cool boulders on the south side and eventually got caught in a classic Seychelles storm. The weather in this country is insane, going from completely sunny and scorching hot to gray and pouring like it’s the universal flood, in a matter of seconds. Many times, you can clearly see the storms approaching across the ocean.
We took refuge in our car, and when the storm had passed, got out and went straight into the water. The waves and currents are usually strong in Anse Intendance, and we got smashed several times… it was super fun! Before heading out, we walked to the north end of the beach and sneaked into the Banyan Tree Hotel to check out their pool… yup, not a bad place to stay.
Viewpoints: On our second day with the rental car, we drove through Victoria again, but this time turned west. We pulled over at a lookout near Fairview for some very cool views of the Victoria harbor and the new development of Eden Island. We then drove down the west coast, which offered amazing panoramas of the shoreline over and over again.
Petite Anse: In the impossible debate about the best beach of the Seychelles, my vote goes to Petite Anse. The beach is inside the Four Seasons, but everyone is allowed to access. We parked outside and were lucky to get a golf cart ride down to the beach (otherwise it’s a 10 min walk down and 20 min up). The beach was absolutely stunning, a crescent moon shape of powdery sand, and turquoise, calm waters. Even the hotel had been built in an aesthetically pleasing style, blending in with the green cliffs. And the beach was nearly empty.
I spent a lot of time swimming; the water temperature in Seychelles is simply perfect. Eventually, a storm came in we hid a hotel gazebo… yup, this would be another nice hotel to stay one day. When the storm passed and we walked on the beach one final time, we got one more gift from nature: a small eagle ray was gliding close to the shore, and the waters were so crystal clear that we could see it perfectly. Mental note for next time: bring snorkel gear.
Anse Major: On our third and last day with the car, we drove west on the north shore to Bel Ombre, and ventured into the 45-min hike to Anse Major. The trail was cool, combining lush forest with ocean views and typical Seychelles rocks… we felt like a dinosaur could emerge any moment. The beach looked spectacular from the trail, but was not nearly as good as Anse Intendance or Petite Anse, the sand rougher and the water harder to navigate due to coral. The area behind the sand quickly became known as “murder zone”, because the ramshackle structures and fish leftovers (Anse Major is offered as a boat day trip from Beau Vallon) made it look right out of a scary movie. In addition, the weather did not cooperate that day, the storms lasting much longer, and the sun barely coming out in between rains.
We still had the car because I was hoping to explore some other place that day, like Baie Ternay or Victoria, but otherwise one could take the public bus to Bel Ombre and hike from there. We did walk around Victoria, check out the market and the mini Big Ben on our way back from La Digue three days later. And that day we also took the bus back to Beau Vallon; it was easy and cost just 7 rupees / $0.5.