Mahé is about as busy as the Seychelles gets. There’s the tiny toy-town-capital Victoria, family-run rum distilleries, botanical gardens and artist studios scattered around the mountainous interior of Morne Seychellois National Park. On this private, guided tour of the island you can take in the sights and finish at Anse Soleil, a secluded cove backed by nothing but almond trees and coconut palms.
After being collected from your hotel, you’ll begin with a walking tour of Victoria. In Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market nutmeg and vanilla pods are piled high, alongside spiky yellow jackfruits and bilimbis (doll-sized cucumbers). You can step inside the vibrantly painted Arul Mihu Navasakthi Vinayagar, the only Hindu temple on the island as well as the (rather plain in comparison) Immaculate Conception Cathedral.
On the outskirts of the city are the Seychelles National Botanical Gardens, where examples of the country’s flora are being carefully preserved, including the coco de mer palm and the rare wild vanilla orchid.
From here, you’ll drive along the twisting roads that lead into Morne Seychellois National Park, which takes up around a fifth of the island. Stopping at Mission Lodge Lookout, you can peer out across the undulating hills to the ocean below. Now a national monument, the site was once a 19th-century school for liberated African slaves.
Heading south, you’ll stop at Takamaka Rum Distillery, started in 2001 by two local brothers using their grandfather’s spiced rum recipe. Using only local sugar cane (and giving any leftovers to local farmers) they produce a range of rums including coconut, pineapple and mango. After a tour of the distillery, which is built on the site of an 18th-century plantation, you can sample a few totes.
Next door is La Plaine St Andre, a renovated plantation house that once housed copra kilns and cinnamon distilleries. It’s now a restaurant, and an ideal spot for lunch.
The next stop is Jardin Du Roi, a spice garden created by the French entrepreneur Pierre Poivre. Compared to the manicured beds of the botanical gardens, this is part-garden-part forest, with the edges of the nutmeg and cinnamon groves blending gently into the surrounding jungle. Your guide can recount uses of some of the medicinal plants and suggest which berries and fruits you might like to sample. There’s also a small one-room museum which introduces the history of Seychelles’ spice trade.
Continuing south, you can visit the studio of Michael Adams, a Royal College of Art graduate who relocated to the Seychelles in 1972. He has a small gallery in his plantation-style home, where many of his bright screen prints and black-and-white painting are hung. Inspired by his surroundings, many depict scenes of local life or Seychellois landscapes.
Before returning to your hotel you’ll visit Anse Soleil, a secluded cove backed by almond and coconut trees. Right on the beach, Anse Soleil Café is a good place to stop for refreshments.