Praslin and Mahé may seduce with their beaches but these attractive coastlines encircle mountainous, granite interiors where vanilla grows wild and endemic birds breed. With a few exceptions, the roads only circumnavigate the islands. So to really explore, take a private nature hike with an experienced guide. Routes can be tackled at your own pace, with your guide on hand to point out some of the island's endemic wildlife and flora.
If you’re staying on Mahé, you could hike the Anse Major Nature Trail. This short route, which takes around 45 minutes, leads you over a granite ridge to Anse Major Beach. Along the way, you’re treated to views across the Indian Ocean which, against the black of the granite and almost neon-green foliage, looks particularly blue.
The slip of sand itself, flanked by clusters of smooth boulders, is only accessible by foot or small boat. Before you return back along the trail, there’s time to swim or snorkel at the beach.
For more of a challenge, the Copolia Nature Trail runs through Morne Seychellois National Park. This three-hour return hike leads you deep into the park, where you’ll clamber over boulders, squeeze past thick ironwood trunks and at one point, up a ladder. Look out for carnivorous pitcher plants, wild vanilla orchids and the islands’ endemic Seychelles warbler. The jungle eventually leads you to a viewpoint where you’ll see the capital Victoria, Eden Island and Sainte Anne Marine Park laid out below.
If you’re staying on Praslin, the Glacis Noir Trail leads you into Praslin National Park. This two-to-three hour return hike leads you through endemic palm forests and across curved rock formations until you reach a viewpoint (the key feature of most Seychellois hikes, you’ll find) which looks right across the northeast coast.
As you hike, there’s the potential to see a range of endemic birds including the Seychelles blue pigeon and tiny sunbirds.