Currently open for visitors from the UAE, the Seychelles is a hot holiday spot right now – the only decision is where to stay
Better-looking than Mauritius and a lot livelier than the Maldives, the Seychelles is a natural beauty spot that’s got a personality, too. Its beaches – often bookended by dramatic granite boulders and backed by pretty, palm-strewn jungle – are screen-saver worthy and serene all at once.
Not just picture-perfect beaches, travellers visiting the hundred-plus islands can venture further than the foreshore to find hikes, waterfalls, giant tortoises, a local music scene, creole food, public beaches, public transport and a raffish island life. Along with that goes a similarly broad range of overnight options – from $15,000 a night down to $120 a night for a perfectly liveable little room still only steps from one of those exquisite beaches.
The Seychelles is self-caterable, too, which makes it a smart choice for price-conscious paradise-seekers. You’ll keep costs down further by sticking to the main island. Mahé (and its capital, Victoria) has all you need for a first visit: national parks, botanic gardens, honking markets, a couple of decent museums and those beaches, complete with truly world-class diving and snorkelling. (Our favourite strands include Anse Soleil, Petite Anse, Anse a la Mouche and Port Launay Beach.)
Switching to a smaller island – Praslin and La Digue are both served by cheap, frequent ferries and flights – means a slower pace of life; and there are tiny, semi-private resort islands, too. These you’ll usually reach by helicopter and, while they certainly feel more exclusive, only one or two have the castaway appeal of the top Maldivian joints. Instead, you’ll be holidaying in a vibrant, living country rather than a pixel-perfect production number. It’s just a different kind of paradise…
The best hotels and resorts in the Seychelles
Anse Soleil Beachcomber
Remember how the Seychelles was 25 years ago? No need, because you can still experience it on lovely Anse Soleil on Mahé’s west coast. It’s a set of 14 plain white rooms and self-catering chalets, and there’s no pool, spa or distractions from the jewel-box beach and snorkelling. Ask for room Nos. 3, 5 or 10 (the quietest) and wind back to 1995.
If you’re looking for a beach with a buzz, you want Beau Vallon: the biggest hotels are here — as are bars, cafes, jet-ski rentals and the rest. It’s where the capital, Victoria, comes to let its hair down, too, on the longest scoop of sand in the country. What’s amazing is that, just steps from the action, you can retreat to Augerine Guest House, a peaceful little hotel with 15 breezy rooms, authentic Creole food served in a sand-floored restaurant and a secret garden that leads straight to the beach.
Avani Barbarons Seychelles Resorts
So laid-back, it’s almost horizontal, Avani Barbarons Seychelles Resorts has a loungey vibe that’s irresistibly relaxing. Alone on a long west-coast beach, it’s pretty peaceful, too (request room Nos. 170-184 to be sure). It also carries off its rough edges (it needs a refurb in places and there are some tough corally patches on the beach and in the sea) with rakish charm, thanks largely to its looks: cool, Insta-appropriate colour schemes and sloping palms on that empty beach.
Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island
For real seclusion, take the 40-minute propjet hop to Desroches. This glorious 6km slip of an island has a few chic little villas and restaurants at one end and absolutely nothing at the other. The daily routine at Four Seasons Resorts Seychelles: grab your snorkel (the underwater world is off-the-charts good), pack a posh picnic from the deli, pedal off on your villa’s bikes to whichever entirely empty cove sings to you, and head back for sushi and sundowners come evening (or, come afternoon, pool and spa). And repeat.
Bord Mer Villas
In the crazy(-beautiful) world of the Seychelles, the fact that Bord Mer Villas is a full three minutes’ walk from the beach (and has no pool) means it can’t charge more than roughly $120 a night. For that, you get stately, spacious villas grouped around lush gardens and (in lieu of a restaurant) a terrific fresh-fruit-and-roti breakfast brought to your veranda every day. A kitchenette and nearby supermarket mean you can live for peanuts, but here’s the punchline: you’ll be glad of that three-minute distance because Beau Vallon beach can get boisterous at weekends (at least by Seychellois standards).
What did Wills and Kate get for their honeymoon here? Privacy fit for a princess. Each of the 11 villas hides in its own hectare or two of discreetly screening jungle, and with 2.5km of perfect beach fringing the isle, you’ll never have to share sand space. Villas themselves are a little old-school (dark wood and no private pools), but food, drink, service, activities, spa and childcare at North Island Resort are tailored to your taste.
Carana Beach Hotel
Set by one of Mahé’s prettiest sandy bays, just a half-hour drive from the airport, Carana Beach Hotel is all about the beach. All of its simple chalets have sea views; alfresco massages take place in view of the surf; generous deck day beds are steps from the sand. A dozen villas have private pools, too, for less than you’ll pay at most other hotels. Produce for dishes is sourced from the hotel’s family farm.
Easily bored? You won’t be. This big, bubbly resort in Mahé’s northwest corner has a main beach kept lively by local kids, loads of dining options and plenty of activities — from zip-lining through the jungle to feeding giant tortoises. For the still-antsy, there are kayakable mangrove swamps and pleasant cafes all within walking distance of Constance Ephelia’s front gate, and you can get a bus into the capital, so you’ll never have cabin fever.
Lazare Picault Hotel
Whitewashed walls, wooden beams, rattan chairs: there’s a lovely simplicity at work here that puts the focus where it should be — on the views over beautiful Baie Lazare. The bay is a perfect shell of Listerine-blue waters and sugar sands in Mahé’s quiet southwest, and the hotel ranges up a hill (sunset views for everyone!). Airy rooms come with kitchenettes, but there’s a decent restaurant, too — and, at the foot of the hill, another one, run by the same family, that is perhaps the area’s best. Other than that, there’s not much here. Which is just how the regular guests at Lazare Picault Hotel like it.
Six Senses Zil Pasyon
Only a couple of years old and still the cool kid on the block, Six Sense Zil Pasyon rocks the sharpest look in the Seychelles, with a playful streak. The fun starts en route — you pitch up to this private island by chopper or speedboat — and carries on through the chic restaurants and help-yourself rum bar. The beaches aren’t the best, but all villas have infinity pools. Even the spa is kick-ass: like the villas, it’s built Batcave-style among boulders, complete with a rope-bridge entrance.
Le Chevalier Bay Guest House
Sometimes, monopolies work. The Chevalier Bay is the only hotel on Praslin island’s Anse Lazio, which means that for an hour or two in the early morning and late afternoon you might get the beach to yourself. Not bad, considering it’s often voted one of the best in the Seychelles (and thus, by default, the world). You’re something of a captive without a car — and the guesthouse restaurant isn’t making it onto any ‘world’s best’ lists — but if your vacation is all about location, you’ll overlook the ordinary bits and lack of a pool.
Ready to book? Find out more about hotels and resorts in The Seychelles here.