Here’s a quick quiz for you and see if you can guess correctly, where I’m talking about?:
- The inhabitants consume 114.6 litres of beer per annum — second only to the Czech Republic in annual consumption
- 15% of the population work in tourism
- 88% of the country is covered in forest.
Any guesses so far? Japan anyone? The answer is The Seychelles — the island nation that won Independence from the UK in 1976 and which comprises 115 spectacularly beautiful islands spread out across a vast swath of the Indian ocean and lying approximately 1,500 kilometres off the coast of Kenya. With a population of just over 92,000 — 80,000 of which live on the main island of Mahe (capital: Victoria), the islands are a bout as close as one can get to anyone’s idea of what Paradise might look like! Indeed, the second largest island, Praslin which lies just one hours’ ferry ride east of Mahe (10 minutes by air) was seriously considered to be the location of the original garden of paradise, so unique is some of its flora — the most famous of which is the truly impressive coco de mer — the largest nut in the world, although many people might argue that the largest nut can be found somewhere in Washington, D.C!
Let’s start with the beaches: After 43 travelling the world, I have seen my share of spectacular beaches — everywhere from Ireland to Jamaica, Australia, Thailand, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Boara Bora and many points in between but I have to say that the beaches (all of them) probably beat them all, not just in aesthetic beauty but in the colour and softness of the sand; the colour and temperature of the water and the fact that they are not teeming with people!
You will sometimes find whimsical articles or videos online where photographers or designers attempt to create the perfect woman with Cindy Crawford’s mole; Charlize Theron’s mouth; Kate Upton’s eyes and so on. Well it’s as if there has been a poll where people have been asked to vote on the most beautiful features or attributes of their favourite beach and all those attributes have been fused into one hybrid location. Indeed, the beaches in the Seychelles are so universally stunning that one quickly runs out of adjectives to describe them, reverting instead to just standing there, with mouth open and jaw dropped, admiring the impossible beauty of it all. Think Maldives, but with mountains!
The Seychelles are much more than simply the apex of nature’s beach-building. Due to the island’s high rainfall and rich soil, it looks like anything will grow there and probably does. I even suspect that if one planted a stick in the ground before going to bed, it would sprout branches before daybreak. The largest island, Mahe, boasts a peak that is, at 905 metres tall, just 133 metres sort of Carantouhill — an impressive peak on an island just 26 kilometres long and 17 kilometres at its widest point, all covered in dense forest comprising wild cinnamon trees, the extremely rare jellyfish tree, hibiscus, bougainvillea, frangipani etc. Some of the islands are also host to the world’s largest concentration of Turtles and tortoises in the world and you’ll be pleased to note that there are no poisonous snakes or other creepy-crawlies to keep you awake at night.
What is perhaps most interesting though about the Seychelles though is that despite its huge appeal as the perfect honeymoon destination, it also plays host to a surprising number of families. Surprising because the Seychelles is not a cheap destination. It is not someplace that you can comfortably enjoy on a budget so don’t even try. After all, how can you possibly put a price on paradise!