Praslin Island, Seychelles

Photo: © Gerard Larose/STB
Photo: © Gerard Larose/STB

Searching for paradise? The kind of place with heart-stopping beaches, dense vegetation, and dinosaur-like creatures? You probably assume that locations like this vanished long ago. Turned into condos and mega resorts. But off the coast of Africa, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, you’ll find the 115 islands of the Seychelles. The islands are filled with national parks that protect flora, birds, reptiles, and marine life that have disappeared elsewhere. Welcome to the modern-day Garden of Eden.

You’ll arrive on Mahé, the main island, but hop on a smaller plane to Praslin Island. It’s a quick 15-minute flight to the Seychelles’ second largest island, which used to be favored by pirates and Arab merchants. Now you can browse local artwork and buy black pearls in Grand’Anse when you land. Or eat grilled octopus with chili, ginger, garlic, and a SeyBrew Lager. All of that can wait until later though. You’re heading inland.

Inland? What about the turquoise water? You’ll get there. But to truly appreciate your remote location, you must start at the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve. Here you’ll find the Coco de Mer, the world’s heaviest nut. It looks like the female pelvis. Hike through the giant palm forest and vanilla trees. Try to spot the Seychelles Bulbul or the elusive Seychelles Black Parrot. You’ll hear the waterfall before you can see it. And try to stop yourself from picking the gorgeous orchids and colorful tropical flowers along the way. After strolling through this magical, but humid, spot, you’ll be ready for a swim. Anse Lazio is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Or try quieter Anse Marie-Louise, near to your home for the next few days, Le Chateau de Feuilles.

Photo: Le Château de Feuilles
Photo: Le Château de Feuilles

The small resort has panoramic views of the Indian Ocean, a mineral-water pool, and a moonlit restaurant that serves organic vegetables, fresh seafood, and champagne. They also have a private island, Grand Soeur, which has two perfect beaches. You’ll be surrounded by pink granite rocks and coconut trees. Hang out with enormous, 100-year-old land turtles. Go snorkeling or scuba diving with sea turtles and brightly colored fish. Have a BBQ lunch of red snapper. And plot how you can avoid getting back on the catamaran at the end of the day.

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