By Seychelles specialist Hannah
There are few destinations that have taken my breath away quite so much as the Seychelles with its powdery white sands and crystal clear waters.
For honeymooners, the laid-back calm and seclusion afforded by a number of the private islands makes this an ideal choice. Having said that, the Seychelles has a less isolated feel when compared with, say, the Maldives, as there are small towns to explore. There is also a host of wildlife to see, including the seasonal highlight of watching turtles as they lay their eggs and their hatchlings' dash for the ocean.
Explore the pristine reef
Tropical fish in the clear waters of the Seychelles
While over-fishing and pollution have affected many of the world's reefs, the coral around the Seychelles is absolutely pristine. It's easily accessed from the beach or by boat depending on the island, with turtles and exotic fish swimming languidly through.
Snorkel with turtles
Hawksbill turtle, Denis Island
Turtles are found in the water off all the islands in the Seychelles, but are most commonly seen from Bird and Denis islands.
While snorkeling just off Bird Island, I encountered three turtles that had come to the sea grass to eat. With only a few people in the distance, I was able to observe them in absolute peace.
Discover the endemic bird species in the Seychelles
White-tailed tropicbird, Bird Island
If birdwatching is an interest, I'd recommend a stay on Bird Island. This aptly named private island is home to the brown noddy, a species that was close to extinction but is now thriving thanks to the conservation projects put in place by the Bird Island Lodge.
Though the noddies can be seen on other islands, here you'll be able to see hundreds in their colony along with sooty terns, white-tailed tropicbirds and curlew sandpipers, to name but a few.
Denis Island is also becoming a haven for birders, having re-introduced endemic bird species as part of ongoing national efforts to increase breeding populations. Species of note include the Seychelles fody, magpie robin, paradise flycatcher and the Seychelles warbler.
Visit a local market
Victoria, Mahé Island
While some other beach destinations offer little but sunbathing and sea life, the islands of the Seychelles offer a variety of pretty landscapes and interesting places to explore. If you need a rest from the sand, I would suggest a trip to Victoria, the capital, on Mahé Island.
This city is small enough to walk around in 45 minutes and has a number of bustling markets where locals bring their fish and fruit to sell. I was struck by the friendly atmosphere at the market, and it felt like a very safe and relaxed place to explore and learn more about local life.
The Seychelles' international airport is on Mahé, where it is easy to enjoy a short stay before heading on to other islands in the Seychelles.
Explore Praslin and the Vallée de Mai National Park
Path through Vallée de Mai National Park
After a few days relaxing on the beach, I often get itchy feet. If this sounds like you, I'd recommend a stay on the island of Praslin, home to the rare Coco de Mer palm.
The Vallée de Mai National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a stunning diversion from your sunlounger, with a number of walking paths criss-crossing through the dense forest before opening up onto panoramic vistas taking in the secluded coves and tranquil waters below.
Honeymoon hotels in the Seychelles
I would recommend staying on two or three islands during your honeymoon in the Seychelles, to combine time on an isolated isle with some exploration on the island of Mahé or Praslin.
Banyan Tree, Mahé
Intendance Pool Villa, Banyan Tree
Banyan Tree's crescent beach
Located on the main island of Mahé, the Banyan Tree is a great choice for the first stint of a honeymoon, a place to relax, unwind and recover from your international flight.
Set on a cliff, every room overlooks the ocean with its own infinity pool to complete the Seychelles honeymoon experience. For me, these private pools are what really set the Banyan Tree apart.
The sea here is not as millpond flat as on other islands, but the beach is a long crescent of beautiful white sand that lends itself to long walks along the water’s edge, and being so close to town makes the Banyan Tree an easy base from which to explore Victoria.
Denis Private Island
Denis Private Island
Denis Island is, without a doubt, my favourite spot in the Seychelles. As a private island with just 25 cottages, it offers seclusion and romantic isolation.
Though it sounds like hyperbole, the beach is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen, with soft sand lapped by sparkling clear waters.
The reef here is similarly spectacular, with a shelf plunging down 2,000 metres (6,500 feet) so that the snorkeling and diving offer up manta rays, parrot and butterfly fish darting in and out of the rainbow hued coral.
It’s also worth trying to find time for a walk with the resident conservationist who can explain the work that has been done to protect the island’s delicate ecosystem.
The food is another highlight of Denis, and is largely produced on the island’s organic farm, although they do have to ship in the wine to stock the impressive cellar.
All meals are included with some being buffet-style and others a la carte. Wednesday is sushi night and, as you’d expect from somewhere with access to the freshest fish, it is really quite special.
For the ultimate romantic experience there’s little that compares to sharing a beachfront meal, with the only distractions the nocturnal sounds of the forest behind and the moon dancing off the sea.
Without giving too much away, the staff here go to great lengths to make a honeymoon as near perfect as possible, with little touches and surprises that add to the overall sense of unabashed romance.
Bird Island Lodge
Bird Island Lodge, Bird Island
Kayaking from Bird Island Lodge
For a more affordable but equally relaxing hotel, I always suggest Bird Island Lodge, on the island of the same name. While it is more rustic than others, the eco-friendly ethos - the rooms are cooled by fans and there are no TVs or fridges - does add to the escapism couples can experience and the beaches are stunning.
As the only hotel on the island, with just 24 bungalows nestled among the palms, it is one of the most peaceful retreats where I’ve stayed. It feels far more part of its surroundings than other hotels, the landscape left as nature intended rather than being perfectly manicured.
Wildlife lovers are spoilt - it was here I was able to snorkel out and watch the green and hawksbill turtles who feast in the sea grasses.
Le Domaine de L’Orangeraie, La Digue
Le Domaine de L’Orangeraie
Poolside, Le Domaine de L’Orangeraie
Getting to La Digue sets the scene well for the slow pace of life you'll find on the island. Reached by either a two-hour ferry crossing from Mahé or a flight to Praslin and a short boat journey, this sedate tempo continues on the island, where bicycle and ox cart are the favoured modes of transport.
My preferred honeymoon hotel on La Digue is Le Domaine de L’Orangeraie. There are bicycles for guests to use and a great way to spend the day is cycling around the island, stopping off for a picnic and dismounting to snorkel in one of the secluded coves.
During my time here, I borrowed a bicycle and headed out to the national park of Anse Source d'Argent. As a keen photographer, I found the light here at sunset absolutely ideal to capture the Seychelles' signature granite rocks contrasted against the brilliant blue of the sea, the bright white sands and the vivid green of the forest behind.
Best time to honeymoon in the Seychelles
The Seychelles can be visited at any time of year, though January and February often bring rain. The best time to visit is from March to May and then from September to November. My preferred months are March, April and October, to avoid the busy school holidays.
Extending your trip
Leopard, Sabi Sands Wildtuin, South Africa
While the Seychelles works as a one-centre honeymoon destination, it also lends itself well to island-hopping. Equally, a stop in Dubai or Abu Dhabi breaks the journey and gives a balance of vibrant city and laid-back beach. For wildlife enthusiasts, I'd suggest combining a safari in Kenya or South Africa with a week on the beach in the Seychelles to see two aspects of this corner of the world.