Close your eyes and picture this…. palm trees, powder white beaches, turquoise blue water, the sun on your skin and a cocktail in hand. If a tropical island is your idea of the ultimate getaway, then Seychelles is for you. Yes, Seychelles promises and delivers all you could hope for from a tropical beach destination. But if you were to look a little closer, you will find that, besides the allure of the water and unspoiled shores, there is so much more to this remote island. Here are five things you didn’t know about the Seychelles.
1. No man’s land
Seychelles is situated in the Indian Ocean, just northeast to Madagascar. It is an archipelago that consists of 115 islands, mostly uninhabited. These may all be well-known facts, but what you didn’t know is that this tropical island was once a pirate hideout! Pirates and crocodiles were once as part of Seychelles as holiday resorts and water sports. Pirate’s Cove on Mahe and Cote d’Or on Praslin serve as reminders that the famous pirate Olivier Levasseur left behind hidden treasure estimated at over $160 000 – still to be found. This gives new meaning to the words ‘hidden gem’.
2. Nothing but blue skies?
The Seychelles is famous for blue skies and waters as far as the eye can see. But what lies beyond is rare. In fact, some of the rarest species of birds, including the bare-legged Scops Owl or Syer, are found in Seychelles. In total there are over 220 recorded bird species in Seychelles, with 17 endemic land bird species, some of which are seen as the most unusual rarities in the world. One to look out for is the fairy tern, with a variety of species the tern is often seen as the national bird – and is even on the logo of the national airline.
On land, you will find the heaviest known land tortoise living in the wild. Clocking in at over 300 kgs, Esmeralda is a rare find. In the ocean, there are several species of sea turtles, more than a thousand fish species in coral reef including the beautiful clownfish or ‘Nemo’.
3. Strange but true
Seychelles grows massive nuts! A nut called the ‘coco de mer’ is native to the islands. It is the largest seed in the world and can weigh up to 15kgs. There is also a legendary fruit called the breadfruit. A popular snack, this fruit is prepared in various ways – from fried to boiled. The legend goes that anyone who eats this fruit while at the island, will surely return someday. If that is the case, bring on the breadfruit!
And while on the subject of strange delicacies, you may want to know what it means when you order the ‘rousette dish’ at a restaurant. A local delicacy, rousette literally means fruit bat. The fruit bat has been served in Seychelles since the 1940s and is called the Rousette as this bat belongs to the Rousettus species. Bon appetit! But not to worry, if you are not keen to try these exotic flavours, there are delicious spicy curries to enjoy!
4. A past to remember
Speaking of curry – after enjoying one of those fragrance-filled dishes, you may want to pay your respects at the statue of Pierre Poivre in the SSR Botanical Garden. Mr. Povire was a French naturalist who started with the cultivation of a spice garden in Seychelles. He also introduced cinnamon to the ara – an essential component of the local curries. Other spices in his garden included cloves and nutmegs. While his original garden was destroyed in May 1780, these spices now grow naturally in the hills of Mahe.
The Seychelles has a rich history of pirates, pioneers and missionaries. There are several national monuments to look out for in the capital of Seychelles, Victoria. If art spikes your interest, you have to visit the Domaine de Val des Près Craft Village, where you will find an exhibition of Creole arts. Also learn more about the architecture, as well as gastronomy of Seychelles. Another must-see stop is the Bel Air Cemetery. Located on the western outskirts of Victoria, this is one of the oldest historic sites in Seychelles. Here you will find the graves of prominent figures, including the founding families of Seychelles – the Dupuys.
5. The rich and famous
A popular destination for families and couples, Seychelles has also captivated the rich and famous. It is indeed a place of romance and tropical honeymoons, with a celebrity list ranging from Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston to George and Almal Clooney and most recently Prince William and Duchess Kate all spending their honeymoons on the island. Seychelles also served as inspiration for author Ian Fleming, well-known for his James Bond books. He visited the islands in 1958, and his collection of stories, For Your Eyes Only, was written shortly after.
So, what are you waiting for? Book your trip to Seychelles with Travel Ideas today to explore some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.