Cenote Ik Kil © Vicente Villamon
The beautiful Seychelles islands are regularly credited as one of the most romantic destinations in the world. The Seychelles casts a siren-like spell over travellers, with crystalline turquoise waters, pristine coral reefs, and powdery beaches that encircle vast granite pinnacles and verdant rainforest.
The islands stretch like an array of jewels across nearly one million square kilometres of the Indian Ocean east of Kenya, and even have their own suggestively shaped fruit, the famous 'coco de mer' double coconut, to emphasise the country's seductive charms. Only a few of the 115 islands are inhabited, with most of the local population (known as Seychellois) gathered on the main island, Mahé, around the capital city of Victoria.
The Seychellois population comprises an eclectic mix of the descendants of freed African slaves, Arab, Indian and Chinese traders, and British and French settlers and seafarers who go about their business speaking a Creole patois. The multi-party democratic republic was once a thriving pirate's haven, but today it serves as a refuge for sun-seekers, honeymooners and nature lovers who congregate in the top quality hotels and resorts on the shores of the main islands.
Whether you come to soak up the equatorial sun on silver sands, dive among more than 800 species of fish in the island waters, marvel at flocks of colourful birds flitting between rare jungle trees, or to cement your marriage vows, you will find the Seychelles archipelago to be paradise on Earth. Although primarily enjoyed as a luxury destination, there is an increasing drive to develop the budget tourism options on the islands, opening the doors of paradise to travellers who may previously only have dreamed of a holiday on these exotic shores.