Seychelles is a dazzling collection of almost-forgotten tropical islands in the Indian Ocean, some 1,000 miles east of mainland Africa. There are a total of 115 islands that make up the Seychelles archipelago, and if ever there was a heaven on earth, it's here. Yes, the Seychelles beaches are that breathtaking, and if you come here for nothing else than to relax on a idyllic, sandy stretch, then you'll certainly be in business. But, your list of fun things to do on a Seychelles vacation doesn't have to end there. The stunning turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean invite the adventurous to come see what's below her surface, and the mountainous interiors of the granitic Inner Islands beckon those curious to know what lies beyond. Seychelles is a "pinch me because I'm not sure I'm awake" kind of place. A picturesque world all its own, where mankind has managed to stay wholly out of the way. The natural wonders here are inspiring, the warm weather encouraging, and it's just simply the kind of place you never want to leave.

Seychelles Islands
Seychelles Islands

Once you arrive on the main Seychelles island of Mahe, you're in for the vacation of a lifetime. Who could fault you if you immediately started looking for the first beach to run up on? If you had a chance to spot some of the Seychelles islands from the plane before landing, you'd know that these gems for islands are encircled by white sand beaches, one after the next, tempting all who pass overhead. Strangely enough, though there are many islands to explore on your Seychelles vacation, you could also just as easily enjoy yourself on just one. Mahe is the cultural and transportation hub of Seychelles, and this country's biggest island surely aims to please on its own. Besides offering a range of immaculate beaches and the country's tallest peak, Mahe also presents cultural attractions for visitors to gobble up. Perhaps you'll be up for renting a car to explore Mahe on your own, and if you feel the urge to island hop a bit, there's nothing wrong with that. From Mahe Island, you can jump on a plane, a helicopter, or a boat to get to an array of exciting Seychelles islands, including Praslin Island and La Digue Island, which after Mahe, are the second most popular Seychelles vacation destinations.

Praslin and La Digue are found relatively close to Mahe, and like Mahe, they are granitic islands, offering much more topography than the Outer Islands, which are mostly coralline. Those looking to do any hiking on their Seychelles vacation will find the granitic Inner Islands to be ideal. On Praslin Island, the Vallee da Mai Nature Reserve is an utter joy to hike. The rare Coco de Mer palms here are a large reason why this reserve is a World Heritage Site, and perhaps the also rare Seychelles black parrots have something to do with it. Curious avian creatures, the Seychelles black parrots are quite interesting to view, and they are just one of the species of birds that make Seychelles birdwatching so rewarding. La Digue Island is home to the Veuve Reserve, which while not as renowned as the Valle de Mai, is still a hiker's and birdwatcher's paradise in its own rite. Who knows, hike through both reserves and make your mind up for yourself. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and thankfully, beauty is everywhere here, so you won't find yourself having to defend your sentimentalities.

Hiking and birdwatching are certainly things to consider integrating into your Seychelles travel plans, as is scuba diving. Hailed as one of the planet's top 10 diving destinations, Seychelles offers as much beauty below its area waters as it does above the surface. The clarity of the water makes for some of the best visibility anywhere, and a seemingly countless amount of coral reefs can be visited just offshore, making for a most enviable amount of diving possibilities. Anglers will find little to complain about when it comes to Seychelles as well. Gaining a reputation for being a world-class fishing destination, Seychelles offers both fly fishing spots and those of the deep sea variety. It's like choosing between two equally large diamonds. Whatever the activities are that you want to enjoy on your trip to the Seychelles islands, you can bet there is probably a tour package or vacation package that includes them, within reason, of course.

Perhaps the only downside to Seychelles travel is that it is relatively expensive. The top resorts here command a high rate, especially during the peak seasons, and even the discount Seychelles hotels cost more than one might expect. However, when you remember that you're in Seychelles, it all seems to make perfect sense. These islands are fragile and pristine ecosystems, likely only able to sustain so much human intervention before they become adversely affected. In a way, the relatively high cost of a Seychelles vacation is part of what helps to protect these islands. How mankind has managed to not overdevelop most of the Seychelles islands is a mystery for another day, but thankfully enough, that's the way things have gone.

Top image: jmhullot (flickr)

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