London lifestyle & travels with kids and babies
Seychelles island hopping has so much more than glorious sand and sea: this archipelago of 115 islands scattered across the equatorial Indian Ocean are so diverse and unique: some feeling so undiscovered (only 20 are inhabited!), some world heritage listed nature reserves, lush jungle sheltering tropical birds and endemic plants, iconic granitic boulders, some in a laid-back island life, finest worldwide beaches and unique reefs and marine life.
Mahe is Seychelles landing point and do not dismiss it, we actually suggest a minimum of 5 days. Having explored it extensively over the years, we warmly recommend Four Seasons: 67 villas and over 30 private residences perched on stilts are spread graciously on the steep and forested hillside in Petite Anse. They feel like luxurious treehouses with spectacular views, passing clouds reflecting in each villa private infinity pool.
The fruit bats fly past especially late afternoon, miniature colibri birds feed from flowers, fodies and sunbirds sing, little lizards lie in the sun and dragon flies buzz around; one feels therapeutically immersed into nature and a lost Eden. You will find in here some of the best dining in Seychelles at Koi and Zez, best sunsets, villas, spa, swimming and snorkelling with kids included. We raved extensively in our dedicated article; Four Seasons makes one amazing start for truly the best of Seychelles island hopping.
If you are after a more affordable option, Kempinski next door is great for both couples (our case first time around) and families. Baie Lazare beach is wide and stunning; the hotel setting is flat ; beautiful rooms rather than villas. Bare foot dining, great kayaking and snorkelling options and Kempinski’s own mountain have been the highlights during our stays.
One can have yoga at sunrise on this fabulous granite elevation overlooking the bay, or simply trek with kids Kempinski’s extensive grounds, lush mountain range, very own private lagoon and wetlands full with natural splendour and wildlife: huge crabs, snails, flying foxes (or fruit bats) and of course the tone of fish.
Some of the best diving and snorkelling we had in Seychelles starts at Four Seasons or Kempinski Mahe. Napoleon Rock, a mere 10 minutes boat ride from both treated us with amazing sights: huge sea turtles, a school of eagle rays, huge lobster, sharks, sting rays, Napoleon Wrasses; one can have though the same priviledges just by snorkelling by Four Seasons granite boulders.
Anse Intendance and the former Banyan Tree used to be another superb option for conservation and sustainability lovers. Now closed for a change in ownership, rebranding and refurbishment by 2022, we fell in love with its 1 kilometre stretch of white sand hosting hawksbills seaturtles and baby turtles hatching in much needed privacy.
Any places we are not fond of in Mahe? Beau Vallon is very popular but I don’t think makes justice to Mahe beauty at Petite Anse or Baie Lazarre. December and January can be especially tricky in here, the high peaks behind it attracting a lot of rain and the Indian Ocean getting muddy and agitated.
Next of Seychelles island hopping? Praslin is the obvious choice, Mahe to Praslin ferry is 1 hour away, tinier. More chilled than Mahe, Praslin charms with pristine white sandy beaches! Cote D’or and Anse Georgette must be our favourites; first a wide and very long white sandy beach (the longest in Praslin); the second, home to Constance Lemuria, a collection of 3 gorgeous bays.
Best sunsets are at Coco de Mer and here’s also one authentic boutique hotel where we loved the food, the cocktails, hospitality. It makes a perfect pied a terre to explore also the neighbouring tiny islands.
Travelling with 2 young kids during pandemic, we hired a boat and headed to Courieuse, opposite from Raffles villas spread above Anse Lazio green hills. A dream since childhood, one can see the huge tortoises roaming freely on the islands; indulge the surreal granite boulders and pristine beaches and thereafter snorkelling: tones of bat fish swam with us.
Vallee de Mai is one of the World Heritage treats; we also found the hike and trek to Anse Georgette glorious through coco de mer, mango and cinnamon trees, pretty manicured golf grounds of Constance Lemuria blending so well into wetlands much needed for Seychelles endemic fauna and flora.
Cousin and Cousine islands are a short trip of a private boat and La Digue is the universal option by ferry and cycling thereafter for some of Seychelles most iconic beaches.
But perhaps off the radar is Silhouette island, a 93% nature reserve. Beaches are white and pristine by Hilton Labriz: our favourite stretches stood just in front of the spa and Labriz Beach Bar. Cycling around this gem of an island felt super precious: from villa to restaurants, to diving centre, spa and into the wild.
The treks are out of this world and we have attempted with the 7 years old Anse Patates and Anse Lascars – the height of the mountains and very limited development equates to unique flora and fauna, regarded by conservationists as one of the most important hotspots in the Indian Ocean.
We have designed our Seychelles island hopping holiday by ourselves: direct BA flights from London (miles and companion vouchers); booking Four Seasons directly, their Customer Service is superb; the other hotels a combination via Trivago. The ferries were quick and easy to book directly on Cat Cocos website, fun to travel interisland even during pandemic times – all Seychellois are super careful and mandatory masks were effectively controlled and enforced. We also loved the sailing days and our local transfers – fun to get to know the locals, they are so down to Earth, friendly and courious.
Seychelles island hopping is truly the way to get to know this gem of an archipelago and diversity and trust us, 5 islands in 14-21 days is not too much ! Dreaming already about heading back, there’s so much more we’d love to explore like Des Roches and Aldabra and report back !