There’s a lot you know about this paradise island country – that it has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world ready to swoon your heart at the first sight, lush rainforests, and an entire world of history and culture. But here are some fascinating facts you probably didn’t know about the Seychelles.
1. The Seychelles are the only granite islands in the world. The Seychelles is comprised of 73 coral islands and 42 inner islands, including Mahé and Praslin, which are formed by granite. These 42 additions to the archipelago are the only islands in the world that have no coral or volcanic elements. Granite rocks can be found clustered along many of the inner islands’ beaches, bringing with them a charm that gives the Seychelles its label as one of the most fascinating destinations in the world.
2. The Seychelles was uninhabited until around 1770 when French settlers began to arrive with their African slaves. Before that, pirates had used the islands as bases and stopover points. Today, Seychellois are referred to as having a ‘melting pot’ of cultures, ranging from all over the world particularly Europe, Africa, and India.
3. The Seychelles was once a pirate hideout, in particular Anse Forbans (Pirate’s Cove) on Mahé and Côte d’Or on Praslin. It is believed that famous pirate Olivier Levasseur hid a treasure worth more than $160,000 that remains unfound.
4. Seychelles has one of the smallest capital cities in the world named Victoria. The capital city of Seychelles, Victoria, is so small that people can explore it without spending 24 hours to do it. It has a total area of 20.1 km² with around 30,000 residents.
5. It is believed that Moyenne Island, available within the Ste. Anne Marine National Park, has a buried treasure, but no one dares to approach it because they think the island is haunted by a spirit that is guarding it.
6. Some of the rarest species of birds can be found in Seychelles, including the bare-legged Scops Owl or Syer. This specific owl is so rare it was once thought to have become extinct, but was rediscovered in 1959. You can find it at the Morne Seychellois National Park on Mahé Island.
7. Ian Fleming, the author of the famous James Bond novels and short stories, came to the Seychelles islands in 1958 to find inspiration for the next chapter in the spy saga (For Your Eyes Only) and ended up naming one of his characters, Milton Krest, after a tonic and ginger beverage that he tasted during his stay.
8. A Seychelles giant tortoise named Jonathan is the oldest known living terrestrial animal in the world. Jonathan hatched in Seychelles in 1832, but was later moved to Saint Helena, a British Overseas Territory, in 1882.
9. The native Coco de mer produces the heaviest (about 15kg) and largest seed in the world. The locals love it so much that there is literally one everywhere you look.
10. The Seychellois society is one of the few in the world that is matriarchal. Here, mothers dominate the household. Women decide on expenditures and determine the future of children in the household. Men are important for their earning ability, but have little role to play in the domestic sphere.
11. Almost half of the limited landmass in the country is occupied by national parks and reserves. This is in support of the government’s various environment and ecosystems protection and conservation policies.
How to reach?
Seychelles International Airport is situated on the outskirts of the capital, Victoria, and welcomes flights from all over the world. Direct flight to Seychelles is available from Mumbai via Air Seychelles. Flights with more than one stops in between are available from almost all major cities in the country via carriers such as Etihad, Kenya Airways and Sri Lankan Airlines.
Aldabra: A 1000 kms south of Victoria lies the world’s second largest coral atoll in the Indian Ocean which is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Tourists can spot numerous bird and animal species on the island. Tiger sharks and manta rays often prowl the shallows, and the atoll is home to thousands of birds, including the white-throated rail. Also, on view are lesser and great frigatebirds, red-footed boobies, dimorphic egrets (found only here and in Madagascar), Aldabra sacred ibis, greater flamingos, and the malagasy kestrel. In addition to its rich avian life, Aldabra is the habitat of 200,000 giant land tortoises – five times as many as the Galapagos.
Indulge in water activities: Seychelles’ stunning topography of coral reefs, drop offs, wrecks and canyons, coupled with the rich marine life, makes it one of the best diving sites around the world. Some of the popular ones include Brissare Rocks, Fishermen’s Cove Reef, Shark Bank and Trompeuse Rocks, among others.
Anse Lazio: Ranked as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world as per multiple international surveys, Anse Lazio, located in Praslin Island, is known for its turquoise sea, soft white sands, boulder-strewn areas and the backdrop of lush green tropical trees. The best time to visit is during the early morning or late afternoon when most of the tour buses have left.
Vallée de Mai National Park: The Vallee De Mai Natural Reserve is the heart of Praslin and is home to the rare Coco De Mer trees which have the largest seeds in the world. The reserve is in the form of a huge palm forest with several rare flora and fauna some of which cannot be found anywhere but in this reserve.