The second largest island in the Seychelles, Praslin has a rich history for being use as a pirates' lair and a stowaway for Arab merchants. Nowadays, Praslin is the go-to for a fantastic beach holiday and island retreat. I fell in love with the Seychelles the second I saw the sun rising over the islands through the camera under my plane when coming in to land, and that love only got stronger when I visited Praslin. Having lived in the stunning Seychelles archipelago for a month, I got to know the Seychelles incredibly well and here I've listed the best things to do and the great places to visit on a holiday to Praslin:
1. Go to the beach
One of the most attractive qualities of the Seychelles is its one-of-a-kind beaches, and Praslin's pristine beaches are some of the finest in the archipelago. For example, Anse Lazio, situated on the north-west corner of Praslin, is described by Lonely Planet as the ‘Best Beach on Praslin’ and has featured near the top of numerous ‘World’s Best Beaches’ lists. It is not hard to see why, as it is the quintessential Seychelles beach – white powder sands, swaying palm and takamaka trees, and of course the turquoise blue ocean. This beach is also one of my favourite snorkelling spots in the Seychelles, with “resident” turtles, huge shoals of colourful fish, and vibrant rare corals. At the end of this sensational beach is a quaint little ‘honesty bar’. Anse Lazio has spectacular views and there are few places in the world where I would rather sit with nothing but a refreshing beverage and my thoughts – it’s truly amazing.
2. Spend the day strolling around Cote d’Or
Cote d’Or on Praslin is a beach that is absolutely bustling and turns a lazy stroll in the shallows into an entertaining insight into Seychelles life. Local shops, cafés, and restaurants line the other side of the road to this stunning beach, creating the perfect balance between peaceful relaxation and bustling life, especially when local football matches take place on the half-grass half-sand pitch. The long, seemingly endless beach and surrounding businesses offer fantastic snorkelling and diving, delicious Creole cuisine, and even fresh drinking coconuts served to you at your sunbathing spot with a straw and a hibiscus flower. With everything you could possibly want within easy reach of this paradise location, a trip here really is an easy way to make the most of your time on Praslin.
3. Go scuba diving
Cote d’Or also offers brilliant diving opportunities, and the place to go is Octopus Dive School. This dive centre is considered one of the top 10 dive schools in the world and is an absolute must when on Praslin. The school caters for all abilities, from complete beginners who have barely snorkelled (AKA me) right up to experienced divers. They sort out all your equipment, and the staff are incredible. Many dive options are offered – I simply took a ‘trial dive’ and saw so much, including sharks, rays, turtles, seahorses, and huge shoals of fish. Diving here is a wonderful experience, as the marine life in the Seychelles is some of the best in the world – and Octopus Dive School will open the door to it for you.
4. Visit the Vallée de Mai to see the coco de met trees
Another must-do when on Praslin is visiting Vallée de Mai. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, consisting of a forest of coco de mer trees. There are only two populations of these enormous trees anywhere in the world – this, and a smaller population on Curieuse Island, so they are well worth seeing when spending time on Praslin. Not only are the trees completely awe inspiring due to their sheer size and stature, but the forest contains some animal species that are just as rare and are endemic to the Seychelles and specifically to this forest – for example, there’s the elusive and highly sought-after Seychelles black parrot (the national bird). Also keep an eye out for bronze-eyed geckos and coco de mer snails that may be lurking in amongst the comical and legendary nuts and leaves. Follow the well-constructed paths to the viewpoint and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding higher ground of Praslin and the forest canopy. Learn about the history of the coco de mer trees, as well as modern poaching threats and conservation efforts currently in place to protect this iconic species.
5. Meet the Aldabra giant tortoise on Curieuse Island
One of the beauties of Praslin’s location is that it acts as a brilliant ‘base camp’, with many options available for day tours and boat excursions. One day (or half-day) trip that I have to mention is a trip to the uninhabited Curieuse Island. I admit that I may be slightly biased as this is the island that I was working on whilst in the Seychelles, but what it has to offer tourists is unique and truly remarkable. Curieuse is a protected bio-reserve, a beautifully wild and wonderful place with bustling and diverse flora and fauna covering the whole island. The must-see and main attraction for tourists, however, is the island’s inhabitants, the population of approximately 120 (trust me, I’ve counted them) Aldabra giant tortoises. The tortoises love people and have so much character, they will actually ‘run’ towards someone if they think it will result in a neck tickle. Also on offer is a delicious barbecue cooked by the rangers who dedicate their lives to protecting the tortoises and the surrounding island. How often do you get the chance to eat your lunch overlooking a pristine beach whilst having giant tortoises wandering around your table and feet?
6. Go snorkelling to spot sea turtles
If you are interested in snorkelling and really want to get the most out of the exceptional marine life that the Seychelles has to offer, then take some of the boat trips that Praslin provides. One that offered a truly memorable experience was a boat trip to Grande Sœur and Petite Sœur. Here we snorkelled in the pristine waters and reefs surrounding this group of rocks. What made it so special was that we were about to leave and then we came across a lone hawksbill turtle – the skipper took us to the turtle and we then proceeded to swim alongside the turtle for 30 minutes. What an amazing experience it was to snorkel away from the popular areas and feel like the only people in the whole ocean with the turtle – such a memorable and intimate experience.
If you would like more information on exploring these beautiful areas in the Seychelles feel free to call us on 020 8547 2305 or send us an email at [email protected].