Seychelles — enjoying a tropical island escape

By Christina Skinner
This article appears on page 6 of the April 2022 issue.
The Savoy Resort & Spa had a large relaxing pool.

After 18 months of being cooped up due to the Covid pandemic, my friend Elyse Meltzer and I were ready for a stress-free tropical getaway. It seemed like the perfect post-trip extension to a Uganda safari we had booked for July 2021.

Furthermore, our research indicated that Seychelles was the first country globally to have vaccinated 75% of their population. After closing the country to foreign visitors, the government announced plans to reopen their borders effective March 2021 and lift quarantine restrictions.

A negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before our departing flight was required for entry. We also had to complete an online Health Travel Authorization form and could not board the plane until we had received its approval.

We flew on Ethiopian Airlines from Entebbe, Uganda (with a stopover in Addis Ababa), to Victoria, the capital city of Seychelles. While there are no direct flights from the US to Seychelles, flight options with layovers are offered by Turkish Airlines, Kenya Airways, Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways, among others, depending on your departure city.

Ocean-view accommodations

Map of Seychelles.

With its postcard-perfect scenery of powdery white beaches dotted with giant granite boulders and swaying palm trees, Seychelles is pretty hard to beat as a fantasy beach destination.

This Indian Ocean nation consists of an archipelago of 115 islands, most of which are uninhabited. The three main islands, Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, are where most accommodations, ranging from 5-star resorts to tucked-away guest houses, can be found.

While we considered splitting our 7-night stay between multiple islands, we decided to keep it simple and chose the Savoy Resort & Spa ( on Mahé for our entire stay. The resort is perfectly located on Beau Vallon beach, the longest on the island and popular with visitors due to the clear turquoise water there and plenty of shade provided by palm trees.

The hotel’s 163 rooms (most with ocean views) were arranged in a horseshoe around the large pool that meanders through tropical plantings, lounge chair groupings and a swim-up bar.

Guests can book full board, with meals served at any of the three on-site restaurants, or choose just breakfast. We included only the generous breakfast buffet, as we wanted the flexibility of trying different local restaurants.

Our ocean-view room cost $360 per night including taxes and service charge.


The idyllic Anse Lazio Beach on Praslin Island.

We alternated our days in Mahé between island excursions and lazy time spent at the beach or beside the pool. The promenade that ran along the beach was lined with kiosks offering various activities and day trips. Elyse and I booked a full-day excursion to Praslin and La Digue with JJ Tours ($150 per person), operated by Mamila Charter (

We were picked up at our hotel and taken to the marina in Victoria, where we boarded a small boat with about 30 other passengers. The skies were overcast, and the wind picked up as we left the harbor. Once we were out on the open ocean, the swells grew larger. While we did not get sick, as did many passengers, it was not the most pleasant crossing, but the sun was out as we arrived in Praslin about 90 minutes later.

Our first stop was Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, a primeval palm forest and designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is the only place on Earth where the largest seed in the plant kingdom (up to 60 pounds), the coco de mer, grows in its natural state.

We were then taken to the famous Anse Lazio beach, often voted “the most beautiful beach in the world.” We had several hours to enjoy the fine, white sand and pristine, clear water and to clamber around the impressive granite-boulder formations. I would have to agree with their coveted superlative claim!

A short (and much more enjoyable) 30-minute boat ride took us to the island of La Digue. At the jetty, we were given a choice of touring the island by bicycle (our choice) or in a motorized cart, as no private vehicles are allowed on the island to preserve its ecosystem.

Our first stop was for lunch at a Creole restaurant. The buffet featured local fare, including grilled fish, octopus curry, mashed breadfruit, chopped salads and coconut ice cream.

Reaching this rock pool required careful footwork. Photo by Elyse Meltzer

We continued on to L’Union Estate, a former coconut and vanilla plantation, where we could visit the plantation house, walk through the vanilla groves, peruse the gift stalls and visit the endemic Aldabra giant tortoises, one of Earth’s longest-lived creatures (some live over 200 years!).

Most of us made our way down to Anse Source d’Argent, a photogenically stunning beach made famous in films such as “Castaway” and “Crusoe.” The clear aqua water was very shallow and calm, permitting us to walk out among the boulders and spot various corals and sponges. Some of the group members rented transparent kayaks to get a closer look at the aquatic species.

Exploring the main island

On a different day, Elyse and I hired a car and driver to take us around the island of Mahé ($160). We used the same driver, Allen Esperon (, for transport to and from the airport ($40 each way). There are rental car companies, but we nixed navigating the winding roads ourselves and chose to leave driving on the “wrong” side to a native islander.

We had a great day with Allen, finding him to be an excellent driver and full of interesting details and fun stories about the island’s history.

We started in Victoria, which, with a population of 26,000 and only two traffic lights, is sometimes called the world’s smallest capital city. The architecture was typical of a British-colonial outpost, which Seychelles was before gaining independence in 1976. We stopped to see the Clock Tower, reminiscent of a mini Big Ben, as well as three houses of worship in this very religiously tolerant country: the Anglican St. Paul’s Cathedral, Catholic Immaculate Conception Cathedral and Hindu Arulmigu Navasakti Vinayagar Temple.

In the covered market, we browsed the produce stalls full of tropical fruits and vegetables and locally sourced cinnamon, vanilla and green tea.

Allen drove us along the island’s ring road, following the northern and northwest coasts, making several “Kodak” stops at one gorgeous beach after another. Then we headed inland into the mountainous interior, with peaks as high as 3,000 feet. The dense, tropical foliage included endemic ferns, exotic orchids and rare ironwood trees.

Morne Seychellois National Park encompasses 20% of the island and has excellent hiking trails of various levels of difficulty offering outstanding vistas. Unfortunately, we only had time for a brief walk to see the curious carnivorous pitcher plants.

Back along the coast, we drove along the southern shore, abounding with more scenic beaches. At Takamaka Beach, we stopped to trek to the Ros Sodyer rock pool.

Aldabra giant tortoises looking for an apple core or two.

I didn’t really know what to expect. We clambered along a dirt path for 30 minutes, slithering through barely passable crevices in giant rock boulders and gaining some altitude. We emerged along a granite plateau that dropped straight down into the Indian Ocean.

The path appeared to end there, but Allen beckoned us to carefully follow some precarious footholds down to a natural bowl in the rock formed by centuries of tidal waves. The water inside the 20-foot-deep pool was sapphire blue.

Three local boys were already there and having a great time performing somersaults into the pool. But be warned, this climb is not for the faint of heart!

The last excursion we booked was a snorkeling trip. The kiosks along the promenade touted several great snorkeling locations, but I’d recommend doing some comparison shopping to get the best rate and the best spots for the particular time of year.

We went with Blue Sea Divers (, which had a dive center located just a 10-minute walk along the beach from our hotel. The 3-hour trip with two snorkeling stops cost $80 per person, including use of a wetsuit.

Once geared up, we waded out to our boat and motored for 20 minutes to Baie Ternay Marine National Park, on the northwest coast of Mahé. Manta rays, sea turtles and moray eels can often be seen in the shallow, calm waters, but we were not so fortunate. We did swim over coral reefs abounding in sponges, sea urchins and colorful reef fish.

Kicking back

The beach in front of the resort was just steps from our room. The hotel provided beach towels, and staff placed beach chaises wherever we wanted underneath the shading takamaka trees. Waiters stood close by to take orders for frothy tropical drinks or lunchtime meals, and vendors plied the beach with refreshing coconuts bedecked with straws and hibiscus flowers.

In the evening, we usually began by unwinding on our deck, watching the magnificent sunsets. We’d toast another spectacular day in paradise with wine and snacks purchased from a nearby small market.

We were glad that we hadn’t taken full board at the Savoy Resort so that we could sample many of the neighborhood restaurants in the Beau Vallon area. I would recommend Baobab Pizzeria (N. Coast Rd.) and its fresh hearts of palm salad, the nearby Wooden House Café for sushi, Mahek Restaurant ( for Indian food, and La Perle Noire. This last one is run by a very affable French expat, and we loved it so much, we returned a few nights after our first visit.

Elyse and I agreed that Seychelles delivered the perfect tropical island getaway. Visitor numbers were reduced due to the pandemic, but even once they return to pre-Covid levels, this is not a destination that becomes crowded. We encountered few other Americans but, rather, observed and overheard an international mélange of Russian, Arabic, French and German.

In Seychelles, whether you spend your time chilling on the beaches or enjoying the trails and the aquatic depths, your spirit is sure to be rejuvenated.