More than a hundred islands make up the Seychelles archipelago, but the vast majority of them are completely uninhabited. Only the selected few can call a private island their home, while the ‘regular’ Seychellois live on one of the three biggest islands – Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue. Needless to say that the biggest and the easiest accessible island – Mahé – is also the most popular amongst tourists. But there is more to Seychelles than Mahé. More than warm weather, white-sand beaches, and luxury holiday resorts which most tourists never leave. In this post you can read not just about the three main islands of the Seychelles, but also about some of the most spectacular, easily accessible Seychelles islands that most travellers never set a foot on.
Seychelles is more than a honeymoon destination and it has plenty to offer for those looking for a different travel experience. It’s also a great destination for a family vacation as it has all you need to keep the kids happy and entertained: beautiful weather, amazing beaches with plenty of swimming opportunities, exotic wildlife, and good food.
If you wonder what’s the best way to visit Seychelles, you can find more information here: Island hopping in the Seychelles – the best way to discover the islands
3 Main Biggest Islands of the Seychelles
No trip to the Seychelles would be complete without visiting the three main islands: Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue.
Largest and main island of the Seychelles, Mahé is the most popular Seychelles destination with a great variety of big hotels and luxury resorts. The island is 6 km (4 miles) wide and 26 km (16 miles) long and its highest peak rises to 905 meters (almost 3,000 feet).
Mahé is home to more beaches than you can possibly visit during your holiday, but it has much more to offer than that. You can visit the capital of Seychelles – Victoria – with the bustling local market and the Botanical gardens. Go hiking and explore the jungle, waterfalls, stunning viewpoints, visit the most famous beaches, go sea kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, or rent a car and tour the island in search for a remote beach and a perfect Robinson Crusoe experience…
Enjoy a couple of days of luxury at one of the resorts, explore Mahé, but don’t limit your Seychelles vacation to this one island only!
Praslin is the second biggest island in the Seychelles, but it cannot be compared to Mahé. While there are almost 80,000 people living on Mahé, only some 6,500 people live on Praslin. It’s far less developed, scarcely populated and much more laid back.
You will find some of the worlds most beautiful beaches on Praslin, like Anse Lazio, Anse Georgette, or Cote d’Or.
Don’t miss the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve UNESCO World Heritage Site, tropical rainforest and home to the worlds biggest nut – coco-de-mer.
Praslin is also the best base for day trips to neighbouring islands, but if you are looking for a more special experience, I can really recommend booking a longer tour and spend a few days exploring the islands by boat. Sailing is a great way to see the Seychelles! And no, you don’t have to own a private yacht or win a lottery in order to do that – sailing in the Seychelles does not necessarily have to be more expensive than staying at a hotel.
3. La Digue
The smallest of the three main inhabited islands, with a population of less than 3,000 people, La Digue is the perfect mix of local culture and beautiful white sand beaches. With an area of just 10 km2 (3.9 sq mi) La Digue is best discovered by bike or a traditional ox cart and it will give you the most authentic travel experience in the Seychelles.
We spent a day at La Digue and enjoyed exploring the island by bike. The things that left the biggest impression was the old Copra mill which demonstrated the traditional method of milling the coconuts to produce the coconut oil, an old cemetery, and the beaches. We loved the quiet Anse Cocos Beach on the South side of the island, but if you only visit one beach in La Digue, make it the famous white sand beach of Anse Source D’Argent with the giant granite boulders (see featured image). It will take your breath away!
5 unique unspoiled Seychelles islands that should be on your itinerary
The next five islands are all within a pretty easy reach from Praslin and you will find plenty of local companies offering to bring you there. Despite that, the islands are not mass tourism destinations and you will have plenty of opportunities to see lots of wildlife, swim on desolate beaches, and enjoy a more authentic travel experience than on the main islands.
4-5. Grande Soeur and Petite Soeur
The sister islands are amongst the best preserved and unspoilt islands in the Seychelles as they escaped any form of development. The two islands are also home to a nesting sea turtle population.
Petite Soeur is surrounded by a reef and can only be accessed when the sea is particularly calm.
Grande Soeur is a private island allowing a small number of day visitors. It’s an exceptional place with an amazing pristine beach, tall palm trees, impressive granite boulders, and giant turtles roaming around. The interior of the small island looks like it could be a set from a Jurassic Park movie. It’s like being back in prehistoric times.
We spent a couple of hours on the Grande Soeur and had the best time ever. It’s an island with the very best of the Seychelles in one place. We went swimming in the travel-brochure-like beach, walked around the giant tortoises in the most amazing landscape one can imagine, had a bbq lunch on the beach, sat on a palm tree watching the passing boats, and paddled in the sea with hundreds of colourful fish swimming around our feet.
A once-in-a-lifetime experience, a day on Grande Soeur island was definitely the highlight of our trip to Seychelles.
Curieuse is a small granite island just a few kilometres from Praslin with a very unique biodiversity. Curieuse Marine National Park is a sanctuary to a big variety of flora and fauna including hundreds of giant tortoises, endemic birds, and coco de mer – the biggest nut in the world.
You can do a short hike on the island. One of the most interesting areas is the mangrove swamp which can be accessed by boardwalks. Look out for the giant crabs.
7. St. Pierre
St. Pierre is a tiny granite islet with a handful of coconut palm trees. It’s a picture-perfect miniature island in the middle of the ocean. St. Pierre is considered as one of Seychelles best snorkelling locations. Although, I have to be honest with you, if snorkelling is one of the main reasons to visit Seychelles, you will be disappointed as the coral is mostly dead. On the positive side, you will see a wide variety of colourful fish and sea turtles, and not too many sharks hopefully.
8. Cousin or Cousine
Cousin Island Special Reserve is home to some of Seychelles rarest endemic birds and it’s a real birdwatcher’s paradise. It’s also a nesting site for hawksbill turtles.
Not to be missed, but be aware that this island is also mosquito paradise…
Practical information to help plan your visit
- We explored Seychelles islands with a sailing boat tour. You can read more about it here: best way to explore Seychelles.
- If you prefer to stay in a hotel and make day trips, the best base for exploring these islands is Praslin. You can find the best deals for Praslin accommodation here. Praslin can be easily reached by from Mahé by speed ferry (it takes about an hour).
- There is also a day trip available from Mahé to visit Praslin and La Digue.
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