We left the luxurious Le Bonheur Villa on Mahe Island and took a ferry across to the second largest island of the Seychelles, known as Praslin. The ferry ride itself was relaxing and took around an hour, gliding over the glassy Indian Ocean allowing us to observe the numerous other islands making up the Republic of Seychelles.
Praslin being the second largest island has a population of around 7500 and lies some 44 kilometres northeast of Mahe. It is home to the amazing Coco De Mer palm tree which has the world’s heaviest seed, the world record for which is 17.6 kilograms! It has the largest flower of any palm tree and is now a protected species and an ornamental tree. We had never seen such trees so we were astounded to see both male and female trees, exhibiting features which clearly mimicked male and female genitalia, and the huge seed known as the nut which quite frankly, looked like a rather large bottom. Praslin is also home to the Vallee De Mai Nature Preserve which has in the past, been referred to as the Garden of Eden. Praslin also has the shimmering white sandy beaches like Mahe and when the ferry docked at the jetty, it was clear to see why this island has been referred to as the Garden of Eden. It was breathtakingly beautiful.
The ocean was crystal clear and the beaches were indeed, pristine. The tropical jungle could be seen all over the island and it looked green and lush. The humidity was however, quite stifling and unforgiving. We made our way to our accommodation which was the Seashell Beach Villa at Amitie on Praslin only around a twenty minute drive from the jetty.
The Seashell Beach Villa was to die for. It was literally on the beach and the setting was stunning. The beach was Grand Anse and again, it was paradise. It was quiet and peaceful, the ocean was tranquil and serene and we immediately got into our swim wear to get some sunbathing in. There wasn’t any other tourists to be seen and it was quite simply, perfect. Mr Nomad discovered a sea kayak propped against a tree and I was persuaded to have a gentle row although this did require some form of physical exertion so the ‘gentle row’ was short lived on my part!
The following day saw us embarking on an excursion of a boat ride to another island known as Curieuse, and to allow us to go swimming and snorkelling in the ocean at choice spots. The boat ride was very pleasant and we were able to see some of the other surrounding islands such as La Digue, Cousin Island, Cousine Island and Aride Island. All of the islands forming the Republic of Seychelles look idyllic.
The ocean was unpolluted and unspoilt and it was clear blue wherever we went and in many places, we could see all the way down to the bottom. The white sands glimmered at each shore line in the searing sun, and the islands were covered in dense, lush jungle. Curieuse island is now a designated bio-reserve being home to not just the protected Coco De Mer trees but also to over 500 giant tortoises. The beach where we went ashore is also a nesting site for the green and hawksbill turtles but we were not lucky enough to catch a glimpse of any such turtles.
Curieuse island was from 1833, a leper colony and remained so until 1965. We went ashore at Baie Laraie where we came upon the ‘Doctors House’ which is a historical site now used as a museum. It provides an example of Creole colonial architecture and we mooched around it, reading about the history of the island.
When we had digested the contents of the Doctors House, we went on a hike following a trail up to Anse St Joseph, through mangrove forests, tropical jungle and passing giant granite cliffs. The humidity on the island was almost 90% and that combined with the strong sun made the trek slow going. The sweat was literally pouring off me but the stunning scenery more than made up for the arduous conditions. The Coco De Mer trees were a sight to behold, and the mangrove forest was interesting and different, making for varied terrain and diverse plant life.
We also caught a glimpse of numerous giant land crabs but they were incredibly shy, scuttling away every time we attempted to take their picture.
Towards the end of the trail, we happened across a Giant tortoise in the forest. It was fascinating! We had no idea how such a large lumbering creature had managed to clamber over rocks, and wind its way through the forest, but it was wonderful to see such a creature in its natural habitat.
Having seen this one large creature, we came to the end of the trail where many more giant tortoises just happened to be, ambling around, grazing on the grass like cows, and happily munching any leaves offered to them by us tourists.
They were magnificent. They were large and lumbering but in many ways, cute albeit cumbersome. Mr Nomad and I took some time to feed them, fascinated by their funny ways and we also had a brief look into a tortoise nursery where the babies were being given a head start, and nurtured until they were ready to be let out into the big wide world (although confined to Curieuse!).
Following a delightful barbecue lunch, we jumped back aboard the boat and travelled out into the ocean, to visit an islet known as Round Island. Our guide described it as ‘Robinson Crusoe’ island and it looked just like that. It was rugged and rocky, treacherous to boats I’m sure if they were to drift too close, but stunningly beautiful with the odd palm tree and the waves crashing at the foot of those trees.
This was to be a chosen spot for snorkelling and Mr Nomad and I wasted no time in launching ourselves into the soupy water for a dip. What became quickly apparent to us was how warm the Indian Ocean is. It was like swimming in a bath tub and it was a lovely warming feeling, enveloping us. This however, lulled us into a false sense of security in that the waves were actually a little ferocious and the guide on the boat was anxious to have us all back for fear of us drifting away. We were lucky enough though to have the opportunity to swim and snorkel elsewhere so after being scooped up out of the ocean, we continued on our journey to another place.
At the next spot, Mr Nomad and I again enthusiastically launched ourselves into the water and we were rewarded with much calmer waves, and an abundance of fish life! Nemo was found, along with a vast array of brightly coloured fish. It was fantastic. We had intended on going scuba diving whilst in the Seychelles but the clarity of the water meant that the snorkelling was just as good as any diving.
After the hike in the humidity, and the swimming in the sunshine, we were exhausted and the remaining days on Praslin were spent on the glorious beach, soaking up the sunshine and experiencing total and utter relaxation in what can only be described as paradise. The Seychelles seems largely untouched and unspoilt by the commercial world that we are used to and the sense of serenity was priceless. The holiday was just what we had desired, and the Seychelles had delivered.