Tuesday 28 March 2017

Seychelles: Paradise Found

Bucket List trips

Seychelles is a utopia for watersports lovers.
Seychelles is a utopia for watersports lovers.
Seychelles offers stretches of white beach sand.
Seychelles catamaran
Garden Villas
Katie Byrne

Katie Byrne

You don't have to remortgage your home to island-hop in the Seychelles, says Katie Byrne.

Set the mood

Mention the Seychelles and most people think of honeymoon brochures in which couples walk barefoot along stretches of white-sand beach.

Few of us realise that you don't need to be in love, or completely minted, to find your own little piece of paradise in this Indian Ocean archipelago - it's also an overlooked destination for families and a Utopia for watersports lovers.

The 115 islands include countless big-name resorts, while some are private islands - home only to a few hotel staff and guests that want utter seclusion. Fregate, where Prince William and Kate Middleton spent their honeymoon, is one such example.

Rooms there don't come any cheaper than €3,000 a night, but affordable options abound elsewhere, particularly in the three main islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue.

Guilty pleasure

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We pushed the boat out with two nights at the Hilton Labriz Resort & Spa - the only resort on the breathtakingly beautiful Silhouette Island. Some villas have outdoor rain showers; some private pools. This isn't a couples-only resort. We enjoyed nature walks, Creole cooking lessons and yoga classes, and spotted several families too.

Cheap kicks

We flew into Mahé (home to the capital city of Victoria) to stay at the recently opened Eden Bleu Hotel on Eden Island (edenbleu.com).

It's primarily a business hotel but it's fresh, contemporary and just a short drive to the airport. It's also reasonably priced - for Seychelles standards, at least.

There are cheaper guesthouse options in laidback La Digue, where Creole culture is alive and kicking. Rent a bike and drink from fresh-cut coconuts on Anse Source d'Argent. And yes, the water really is that blue...

Top tip

Foodies shouldn’t miss the fab food market in Victoria, where local produce like coconut oil, cinnamon bark, vanilla pods and all manner of spices are available to buy.

Glitches

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The high-speed catamaran service between Mahe and Praslin (it takes an hour) will test even the strongest of stomachs. Prepare in advance with motion sickness tablets or consider the 15-minute shuttle flight instead. La Digue, the other main island, is approx. seven miles (15 minutes by catamaran) from Praslin.

Get me there

Emirates (emirates.ie) flies from Dublin to Dubai with 12 weekly connections to the Seychelles from €667pp in economy.

Prices at the Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa (hiltonseychelleslabriz.com) start from €255 per night. Elsewhere, you can get a room in the beachfront, rustic-themed Indian Ocean Lodge (indianoceanlodge.com) in Praslin from €193 a night.

Kuoni (kuoni.co.uk) offers seven-night packages with flights via Heathrow from €2,480pp (book quoting IO0381 by March 4, 2016).

Prices subject to change; see seychelles.travel for more.

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