The True Paradise on Earth
by Phil Carta
I've always thought that calling a place
"Paradise on Earth" was just a little too hypey for
me . . . at least until I visited the Seychelles. Seemingly
forgotten out in the middle of the Indian Ocean, a thousand
miles from Africa, this archipelago of more than a hundred
islands stretches for hundreds of miles. The warm waters,
high standards and friendly people draw many year after
year to these Jewels in the Ocean that are the Seychelles.
Whichever way you turn, there is a lovely beach and upscale
dining. And for honeymoons, the romance of the Seychelles
has everything else in the world beat, bar none.
Seychelles is a nature lover's dream,
made up of both granitic and coral islands. The granite
islands are the visible tips of mountain peaks that were
originally located on the giant continent of Gondwanaland
which contained Africa, India, Australia and Madagascar.
As these parts drifted apart over the eons the islands of
Seychelles remained in isolation, enabling their plant and
wildlife to develop unaffected by outside influences. This
protective isolation - in effect until only just a few hundred
years ago - combined with the ecological stance of the Seychelles
government, has enabled this unique environment to survive
The finest natural wonderland lies
not on the islands but in the surrounding clear, warm waters.
Water temperatures average over 78°F year round and visibility
often extends to 100 feet. More than 200 species of fish
and 250 types of coral are found on the reefs of Seychelles.
Invertebrate life exhibits an amazing range of form, size
and color with an incredible variety of shells. Giant sting
and manta rays, whale sharks, tuna and other pelagic visitors
Seychelles is much more than beautiful
beaches and great diving. Hiking the many trails through
the jungles, to the hilltops and to isolated beaches where
it will seem like you are the first ever to visit, is one
of the great pleasures of the islands. For many of the hikes
you can obtain excellent booklets that describe the flora,
fauna and other sights along the trails. There even are
helicopter tours of the islands.
The islands are densely populated
by land and sea birds, some of them so rare that they are
found only on specific islands. So day and overnight trips
to other islands such as Cerf, Silhouette, North, Bird,
Denis, Cousin, Cousine, Félicité and Frégate are quite popular.
The Main Tourist
(MAH-hay) The main island of the country
is one of the granite islands resulting in a backbone of
mountainous hills surrounded by innumerable coves and bays
with white sand beaches and upscale facilities. The most
popular bay, Beau Vallon, has several hotels along it's
six or seven mile length with every type of activity imaginable,
including just relaxing in solitude. Two National Parks,
Morne Seychelles in the hills and Sainte Anne Marine NP
help the Seychelois to keep much of their environs as pure
as they ever were. Mahé boasts Creole restaurants, craft
shops, art galleries, and colorful fruit and vegetable markets.
The city of Victoria, on Mahé,
is the capital of the country. Outside Victoria, Mahé is
simply loaded with coconut palms and towering peaks which
offer unparalleled views of neighboring islands.
(PRAZ-lin) The largest nut in the world, from the
Coco-de-Mer Palm (photo) is found only here. The central
portions of the exotic island are almost primeval and a
nice little National Park has excellent annotated walking
trails. There is a lot of rare animal and plant life, almost
as if nobody has ever visited.
(La-DEEG) With something like only two dozen motor
vehicles, but innumerable bicycles and ox carts, La Digue
is even more remote than Praslin. It is a spectacular place,
with lowering boulders strewn around the white sand beaches
and gorgeous waters. Much world class fashion photography
takes place here as wherever you turn there's another spectacular
setting. This is a place to get away from it all.
With its combination English, French,
African and Indian heritage, the Seychelles is a
fantastic oasis of upscale civility. The hotels are uniformly
clean and well kept (well, most of them at least!) and the
food everywhere is awesome. I've probably had a greater
percentage of terrific meals there than most anywhere else.
When people ask about a memorable destination for their
honeymoon, the Seychelles is always my first thought.
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Phil Carta is the owner of Phil Carta's New Adventures, a
travel firm specializing in tropical islands and destinations
around the world. Originally a specialist in scuba diving
travel (Phil is a NAUI, TDI and PADI scuba diving instructor)
New Adventures provides both tours and vacation packages primarily
to places Phil has personally visited. In the Indian Ocean
and South Pacific that includes the Seychelles, Fiji, Vanuatu,
New Caledonia, Micronesia, the Maldives and Egypt and the
Red Sea. In the Caribbean you may see Phil almost anywhere,
although his favorites are Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Dominica,
Jamaica, Antigua, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands,
and the islands of Belize and Honduras. New Adventures has
an excellent and informative web site at http://www.newadventures.com
and Phil can be reached at email@example.com