THINGS TO SEE & DO IN MAHÉ
With its beautiful beaches and balmy tropical climate, it can be all too easy to slip into a routine of day after lazy, languid day spent stretched out in the sun in the Seychelles.
But when it comes to sightseeing there are plenty of interesting attractions and places to visit to add to your to-do list – should the beach and pool eventually begin to tire, that is. From lung-busting hikes to bustling markets via swimming with giants, here’s our pick of things to see and do in Mahé.
Victoria Market – or to give it its more unwieldy official name, Sir Selwyn Clarke Market – is one of the main Mahé tourist attractions and a great place to head for an authentic local experience.
Yes, there are tourist stalls selling souvenirs, knickknacks and brightly coloured sarongs, but it’s also a bustling food market where you can get a slice of day-to-day Seychellois life as people noisily go about their business picking up the day’s fish, fruit and vegetables.
The island’s Botanical Gardens make for a lovely, shady spot to while away an hour or so on a hot afternoon. Located in the capital, Victoria, they’re home to some of the island’s most impressive plant life, including waterlilies and magnificent Coco de Mer trees.
In terms of interesting fauna to keep an eye out for, there are some of the giant Aldabra tortoises that are indigenous to the islands, while the trees in the rainforest section are filled with fruit bats.
Seychelles Golf Club
Mahé’s golf course is open to visitors (with bookings required on Thursdays and Saturdays) and offers club hire. With only nine holes, while it’s far from a championship course it makes for a lovely day out surrounded by the suitably stunning scenery of a former coconut plantation turned wildlife sanctuary.
It’s a challenging round, too, with lots of tight approach shots, plenty of hazards and a lack of run from heavy fairways. There are other idiosyncrasies caused by the natural surroundings, not least of which are the red crabs you frequently run into should you find yourself in a bunker.
Morne Seychellois Hiking Trail
This trek up Mahé’s highest peak is a must if you’re a keen walker looking for a hard day’s climb.
You pick up the trail in a layby on the Sans Soucis Road on the edge of the Morne Seychellois National Park, and it takes about five hours in total to scale and descend the 905m (3000ft) mountain.
Not one for the fainthearted, this walk takes you up through dense jungle teeming with wildlife and over massive granite promontories (which can be slippery after rain). Suffice to say the panoramic views from the top are absolutely sensational.
A little further down Sans Soucis Road from the starting point of the Morne Seychellois hiking trail, this 19th-century mission is one of the highest points on the island that you can reach by car.
It’s a beautiful and atmospheric spot with the ruins of the old Venn’s Town, a former school for the children of freed slaves, being surrounded by dense forest and opening out on to dramatic views.
Swimming with Whale Sharks
If you’re a keen diver or lover of the natural world, this is always going to be high on the list of things to do in Mahé. The south of the island is one of the Seychelles’ – not to mention the world’s – best places to see these wonderful creatures.
In terms of where to dive, the south of the island is directly on the migration path from August/September to November, with October being a time when sightings are highest.
Praslin Day Trip
There are no fewer than 115 islands in the Seychelles, so if you’re planning on a slightly longer stay on Mahé, it makes sense to see at least one other. At just over an hour’s boat ride away, a day trip from Mahé to Praslin is a great way to explore another part of the archipelago.
The second largest of the Seychelles’ islands, beaches aside (of which there are obviously no shortage on Mahé) the main attraction is the Vallée de Mai. This national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site is a vast, primal and almost mystically beautiful forest full of giant Coco de Mer palms and the home of the rare Black Parrot. A special place.
Another day trip from Mahé that’s well worth it is Moyenne Island. A short boat ride off the coast of Victoria, this tiny island was the life’s work of one-time British newspaper editor Brendon Grimshaw who bought it in the 60s for £8,000.
Recently deceased, he leaves a legacy of an island that, thanks to his careful conservation, is now home to more than 120 giant tortoises and countless other species of interest. Surrounded by the Ste. Anne Marine National Park, it’s also a great snorkelling spot.
Like our pick of things to do in Mahé? See our introduction to the island’s best snorkelling and diving.