“The Seychelles is malaria-free, English speaking, family friendly, and immersed within vast geographical beauty.“
As an avid traveller seeking clear warm waters with rich ocean life, clean beaches and a plastic-free ocean, I stumbled upon the secret of the Seychelles. However, it’s a secret worth sharing!
A family destination that envelopes you in the experience of the slow and humble ways of island living with the opportunity to ‘live off the land’, eat locally grown produce and fresh sea food, without needing to rely on mass imported products that ultimately leave remnants in our oceans.
It is an island where it is inviting to meet the locals and live alongside them, still feeling safe and not needing to be resort-bound. The island is malaria-free, English speaking, family friendly, and immersed within vast geographical beauty.
Arriving in Mahe, we are hit by a wave of humidity. It is hot and the air is thick and warm. Driving a rental car along the meandering road through the rainforest turns my stomach, but the surrounding scene and destination more than make up for it.
The nature and plant life are mesmerising. It is luscious and green. As we arrive at our local home for the evening, we are welcomed with true Seychellois hospitability with fresh pawpaw, banana, and mangoes picked from the trees that surround us, as well as cool coconut water to drink.
The home is nestled in dense and wild vegetation, and just beyond it lies pristine beaches and turquoise waters. Fruit bats hide in the branches of the trees above and at our feet lie the mango pits that they have cleaned.
A walk to the beach takes us past the local grocery shop were people sit and relax. The beach with its with sparkly white sand is open and empty. The ocean is clear, warm, and shallow – perfect for children.
There are some resorts in the area, but all beaches are accessible. Come rain or shine, the water remains constantly warm and inviting. There are many beaches to choose from and the flexibility of having a car makes getting around on the island much more convenient.
A hike worth the effort
At the northern tip of the island is an exclusive and particularly beautiful beach which requires some effort in order to experience its beauty.
We drive as close as possible and embark on a hike which takes us over the mountains and alongside the cliff with a dramatic drop that overlooks the ocean. The views are truly magnificent and worth the challenge of the hike.
Many locals walk their dogs along this trail in the early morning. Thankfully, we are well prepared and start walking early as the trail is effortful. The trail takes us through a cave and then down into the valley, through the forest, over streams, until finally we come to what seems like an undiscovered piece of paradise.
The beach finally comes into view and there is only one thought that comes to mind… Swim!
Immersed in the cool ocean, we cannot help but feel rewarded for the efforts we endured. We were able to enjoy the exclusivity of this remote
beach for much of the morning.
Later, in continuing the pursuit to live like the locals, we discover a restaurant. Enjoying the culinary delights of a traditional curry and fresh sea food, we converse with the owners about boat trips and become acquainted with an owner of a small speed boat. He welcomes us with the opportunity to spend the day travelling with him to and from the granitic Curieuse Island – home to coco de mer palms and giant native tortoises.
The following day, we find ourselves treading on the bare red earth of this island originally named “Ile Rouge”. Having arrived with our local guide on his boat, we are not flooded by tourism but find ourselves alone and peaceful as we meander through the mangroves basking in the sun. A manageable walk transports us over to the other side of the island where we are greeted by hundreds of giant tortoises.
The sight of these creatures creates a sense of having landed in a Jurassic Park movie. It’s a humbling experience observing these giants in their natural habitat.
Travelling from the island, the heat gets under our skins. We stop the boat and dive into the cool ocean with our snorkel gear on and we are spoilt by the vibrant ocean life that surrounds us. Travelling with the local gentleman, we learn about the way of life on this island.
We greet him after a memorable trip and he returns to his home. Splashing in the warm waters under the breaking clouds, we watch as the locals come back to shore after a fishing trip and ask if we’d like to buy some fish from them. They are providing their catch of the day to the restaurants in the area and we are lucky enough to have one personally delivered, de-scaled and cleaned for us in preparation for our evening braai.
The fisherman sits on his paddle board in the ocean as he prepares the fish which we later cook over a fire, seasoned with local spices. We are surrounded by the domestic cats who are drawn by the smell of the delicious feast we’re preparing. Their hungry meowing rings in the air.
With the day’s heat, a trip to the nearby waterfall to cool down is well-needed. We arrive and learn that this is a local hang-out where reggae music plays and the young Seychellois relax and wind the day away. It is as if we have walked into a party in the jungle.
The brave ones among us jump off the higher rocks. We bask in the last of the day’s sun, mesmerised by the cascading waterfall and we relax with the natives in this special place.
The sun sets and we notice above us as the wingspan of the magnificent fruit bats paint a silhouette Batman picture across the sky.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
- The flights to the Seychelles were surprisingly affordable when booking slightly out of season. The flying time from Johannesburg with Air Seychelles was five hours, which is manageable with a small child. Most flights will take you to Mahe, which is the biggest of an archipelago of 115 islands darted in the Indian Ocean.
- It was not easy to navigate the ‘where and how’ in terms of accommodation. Once you begin to read about the various islands, you realise there are so many options. The wild, adventurous part of travelling kicks in and you may feel like just booking the first few nights and then ‘winging’ it, however, this option is not really catered for in the Seychelles. Our research indicates you need to show your full accommodation itinerary upon arrival at customs, or they do not let you enter. We therefore needed to make all decisions beforehand, which, in a sense, made it more structured, less spontaneous and more challenging. Decisions around how to choose which island to stay on and whether you want to travel between these islands was a process. They are all so beautiful, and with FOMO eating away at you, the desire to see more becomes prioritised.