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The Seychelles offers an alluring proposition for adventurous U.S. travelers. From its distinctive Creole-African culture and smaller tourist count to renowned conservation sites and parks, the country is a fresh alternative to familiar South Pacific destinations.
Sherin Francis, CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, advises travel agents that, unlike in other island destinations, a client can’t simply grab a taxi at Seychelles International Airport in Mahe, check into his or her hotel and start exploring.
“There’s a collaborative spirit between the tourism board and tour operators, and tour operators with each other,” Francis said. “This is why it is important for U.S. agents to coordinate with locally owned-and-operated companies such as Creole Travel Services and Mason’s Travel to secure hotel reservations, work out logistics and devise a personalized itinerary for clients.”
Travelers can be met at the airport by a tour operator representative, who will then provide hotel transportation. In addition, the tour operator will assist with transportation to docks, beaches, park entrances and other islands for excursions, as well as back to the airport. Tour company guides — mostly young and energetic Seychelles natives — will personalize every experience to ensure that it will have depth beyond what the visitor sees and does.
Here are a few examples of soft adventure experiences that can be coordinated with local tour operators.
Catamaran Experience to Moyenne Island Creole Travel Services’ full-day Starfish excursion promises panoramic scenery, an all-levels hike at Moyenne Island (within Ste. Anne Marine National Park), snorkeling and lunch. It will deliver all that and more — including a satisfying venture into the Seychelles’ history along with some Creole home cooking.
Between two snorkeling stops, passengers will be ferried in two small boats to Moyenne Island. Then, they will set foot on Jolly Roger Beach — the start and end point of a guide-led hike whose paths lead to indigenous bird sightings, sanctuaries for adult and baby tortoises and relics from Seychellois and expatriate inhabitants in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. One notable expat is the late British newspaper-editor-turned-naturalist Brendon Grimshaw, who purchased the island in 1962 and steered conservation efforts there until his death in 2012.
While it’s a given that the captain will provide fun facts along the way, other crew members will enrich his narrative by answering questions about everything from snorkeling and scuba to growing up in the Seychelles.
Natural Beauty on PraslinPraslin is the Seychelles’ second-largest island. While small museums dot the destination, Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Anse Lazio, a beautiful white-sand beach, are the two must-visit spots. Visitors staying on Mahe should board a large Cat Cocos ferry at 8 a.m. to get to the gates of Vallee de Mai before larger crowds arrive.
The primordial palm forest of Vallee de Mai is the only native home of the Coco de Mer, the double-lobed coconut that serves as an official symbol for Seychelles. However, there are also waterfalls, streams, plants and wildlife worth seeking out (including the Seychelles black parrot and some of Earth’s tiniest frogs).
Athletic clients may opt to treat the visit as a challenging hike. However, guided tours, a nature center and colorful, educational signposts along the main trail make the park a perfect daytrip for families with young children.
At public beach Anse Lazio, swim and snorkel in crystal waters before boarding the return ferry during a spectacular sunset.
Snorkeling, Surfing and More on La DigueWhile the island of La Digue is a draw for scuba and snorkeling sites such as Grand Anse and Anse Severe, popular tours include a visit to Anse Source D'Argent (the world's most photographed beach) and lunch at the ritzy Le Domaine de L'Orangeraie Resort & Spa.
However, tour companies can provide a knowledgeable guide to help eco-travelers safely navigate the island’s hiking trails (Mere aux Cochons, Casse Dent and Copolia) and concrete bike paths.
The DetailsCreole Travel Serviceswww.creoletravelservices.com
Mason’s Travel www.masonstravel.com
Seychelles Tourism Boardwww.seychelles.travel