Think stunning boulder-dotted beaches, luscious forests, colourful coral reefs and UNESCO-listed nature reserves and together we get Seychelles. This archipelago of 115 islands with only a few inhabited, in the Indian Ocean lies off the coast of East Africa, northeast of Madagascar. This island country works as a fantastic romantic destination for honeymooning couples and also proves to be an incredible holiday retreat for those who need the beach-escape.
Kick-start the trip by diving underwater at Sainte Anne National Marine Park. Some of the popular activities offered here are scuba-diving, glass-bottom boat trip and snorkelling among the coral reefs. The globe's biggest atoll, and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Aldabra is the location to view giant tortoises. The atoll comprises of 13 islands, thereby making up about one-third of the Seychelles's land mass. A few tortoises have been exported to Curieuse, now a giant tortoise reserve.
Do head over to Mahe island, the largest island in the Seychelles archipelago. Victoria is housed there, Seychelle's capital. It is home to the Botanical Gardens, featuring Coco de Mer trees, giant tortoises and orchids. Also, witness the replica of London's Vauxhall Bridge Tower Clock and explore the colourful markets. Along the way, do marvel at the Creole architecture. In the Mahe island, walk past the colonial-style mansion and wander about the plantations of cinnamon and vanilla.
Hikers will be pleased to hike through the three prehistoric woods on Praslin, searching for glimpses of endemic palms and birds like the shy black parrot. Use the traditional ox-cart transport when in La Digue to enjoy a relaxing journey along the island's coastline or take a small excursion to the Rene Payet Veuve Reserve, housing the endangered Seychelles paradise flycatcher viewed only on La Digue.
Birdwatchers who love to photograph rare birds ought to visit Cousin Island during April and May. Some of the birds spotted there are the brush warbler, the Seychelles toc-toc and the fairy tern. Twitches ought to take a trip to Bird Island, the famous nesting site for millions of sooty terns, which breed there between May and October.
When it comes to shopping, be sure to look-out for batik work, woven baskets and tablemats, straw hats and beautifully-crafted wooden furniture, ornaments and model boats. As for cuisine, do gorge on some of their local delicacies such as Chatini requin (Mashed boiled shark with fried onion and lime juice) or Bouillon brede (Spinach broth).
The stay options in Seychelles are abundant with the best luxury hotels, rental apartments and cheap accommodations available for the tourists to decide which kind to opt for depending on their budget and taste.
Seychelles experiences tropical rainforest climate. The best time to visit would be April-May and October-November for the temperatures are pleasant during this period.