Hidden in the waters off the west coast of Africa is the stunning Seychelles. This archipelago is made up of multiple island groups, and there are over one hundred islands to choose from! Turquoise water, lush hills, and raised coral reefs make this country a sparkling gem ready to be discovered.
However working out which is the best island in the Seychelles can be difficult. Thankfully we know this region well, so are here to help you!
Whether you’re travelling to relax on the beach or immerse yourself in adventure, the Seychelles islands have it all. And we can help you make the most of your trip with the best islands in the Seychelles for whatever trip you want to have. (Recommended: Maldives vs Seychelles).
Below are the three best islands in the Seychelles to visit – Mahe, Praslin, and La Digue. We show you why they’re worth visiting, the activities on offer, the best beaches in each and the hiking trails you must try!
So read on for all the information you need, and to begin your Seychelles adventure!
The largest island of the Seychelles, Mahé offers some of the most breathtaking views, exciting hikes, and a variety of adventurous activities suitable for everyone. That’s why it easily makes our list of the best islands in the Seychelles.
Home to 80% of Seychelles’ population, the island is a haven for those seeking a little more exploration on their travels and who want to really delve into the culture of this beautiful place.
Get the most out of your stay by following our tips for the best hikes, activities, and beaches that can be found on Mahé.
The best hiking on Mahé
Housing the Morne Seychelles National Park, some of the best hiking is easily found in Mahé. There are many to choose from, but these trails are our favorites:
1. Morne Blanc
Definitely one that will help you work up a bit of a sweat, the Morne Blanc Trail within Morne Seychelles National Park takes you through an old tea plantation and up to the top of this majestic mountain.
Witness magnificent views of Mahé’s western coast on this 1.5 hour hike. This trail is considered advanced, and make sure you remain on the trail so that you avoid the several hidden holes scattered along the way.
Most importantly, have your camera ready to immortalize the beauty you will witness on the way!
2. Copolia Lodge
This is another trail that you can take within the national park which meanders through a shaded forest. It then takes you onto a plateau that offers panoramic views of Victoria and the Sainte Anne Marine National Park.
On clear days, you might even be able to see the islands of Praslin and La Digue. Along the trail, you will be treated to cinnamon, vanilla, and pineapple plants as well as the Pitcher Plant – a carnivorous plant! A uniquely Seychelles experience, this trail can’t be missed by hiking enthusiasts.
3. Glacis Trois Frères
The easiest of the three on this list, Glacis Trois Frères takes roughly 1 hour to hike. This is another within the national park, though on the east instead of the west.
This hike will give you widespread views of surrounding islands, but make sure you bring along bug protection and good shoes to make the most out of this 300-meter climb.
The best activities on Mahé
If you’re looking for culture, diving, or any number of tours when in the Seychelles, Mahé is a good place to start. Here are some of the best activities you can enjoy on the island:
1. Discovering Wildlife
Depending on which island you visit, you’ll be witness to different types of wildlife in the Seychelles. Most of Mahé’s human population is concentrated in the capital of Victoria, which means the rest of the island is full of natural rainforest and shores.
At Morne Seychelles National Park, which takes up 20% of the island, you can see the scops owl endemic to the island and there are several wildlife tours that run from Victoria and can treat you to this wildlife and more. Off-shore, you can find whale sharks!
2. Victoria Market
A more relaxing activity, the Victoria Market offers a great selection of local foods and souvenirs for tourists. It’s frequented by locals as well and offers a fantastic insight into local culture.
You can also learn about Seychellois Creole cooking and locally grown fruit and vegetables here, direct from those who live and breathe the land.
3. Diving and Snorkeling
Likely the most diverse location for diving in the Seychelles, Mahé hosts over 75 different dive sites for you to choose from.
It’s famous for the granitic mountain range that is submerged beneath the Indian Ocean, providing a unique underwater geology. There’s also a variety of wrecks to explore, so you’re in for a remarkable adventure that can only be found in the Seychelles.
If you’re more into snorkeling, the west coast of Mahé is a choice spot to find reefs, lagoons, and mineral underwater landscapes. Several companies offer snorkeling excursions and tours. Port Launay and Baie Terney are snorkeling sites we’d recommend.
The best beaches on Mahé
Finally, if you’re going to an island country, you have to make the most of its beaches, especially in somewhere as incredible as the Seychelles.
It’s very difficult to find a bad beach on Mahé, but here are three that we adore:
1. Anse Boileau
Soft sand, lush greenery, clear water – you’ll find all of it at Anse Boileau on the west coast of Mahé.
With calm, shallow water, this beach is a great place for swimming, snorkeling, and windsurfing. This is also one beach that is far enough away from the capital that it won’t get all that busy.
Luckily it’s still surrounded by amenities including shops, guesthouses, and supermarkets, which makes spending a full day at Anse Boileau an easy luxury.
2. Anse Parnel
Accessible via bus, this beach is incredibly easy to get to. With clear and shallow water, it’s good for families and inexperienced swimmers.
Occasionally disappearing with the tide, this peaceful oasis is a gem hidden from the prying eyes of popularity. Be careful of the rocks and coral when going in and enjoy what the beach has to offer. When you’re done, there are nearby accommodations and a restaurant to re-energize you.
3. Anse Intendance
Powdered white sand and imposing granite formations make this another unique beach.
You can get to Anse Intendance via bus or car, which is great because this is often ranked as one of the most beautiful points on the island. Be careful about swimming here though. Between May and September, the waters can become choppy and unsuitable for swimming.
It also becomes deep very quickly, so be prepared. If you go during the choppy season, the beach is still a beautiful point for picnics and watching the sunset on the horizon. One of the most photogenic places on the island.
Once a pirate hideout, this island of jungle-covered mountains and natural wonders is a must-see for its unique features and the traditional Seychellois life here.
Revel in the novelty of stopping at the island’s only traffic light to witness a flight coming in for a landing; or travel to Praslin National Park and bear witness to the indigenous rare flora and fauna like blue pigeons or the coco de mer palm.
With a UNESCO World Heritage Site, quaint coastal villages, and roadside stalls selling fresh fruit, Praslin is one island that must not be overlooked when searching for the best islands in the Seychelles.
This is the island to visit and be based if you’re looking for an island that feels more remote and wild than Mahe, but still has unique outside activities.
The best hiking on Praslin
The second-largest island in the Seychelles, Praslin has a surprisingly low population, which means there is plenty of uninhabited land to explore.
We love Praslin for its dense greenery and tropical immersion. These are some of the best hikes to experience it all.
1. Vallée de Mai
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Vallée de Mai is described as the heart of Praslin. It became a nature reserve in 1966 due to its population of coco de mer trees, which produce the largest seeds in the world!
Walk through the nature reserve at your own pace, taking 2-4 hours, or hire a guide who can help you spot wildlife that might be harder to see and who can regale you with stories of the island.
2. Fond Ferdinand
Fond Ferdinand is yet another nature reserve on Praslin, but is six times as large as the Vallée de Mai and has additional plant and animal species to discover!
A little more difficult than Vallée de Mai, this hike will also take roughly 2-4 hours, depending on pace and ability. The park’s reasonable entrance fee includes a guide and will allow you to reach an elevated lookout point that provides views of several other islands in the Seychelles.
3. Anse Lazio to Anse Georgette
If you’re looking for more of a challenge, this hike is perfect for you. It takes roughly two hours to complete but is largely uphill with overgrown jungle terrain.
However the difficulty makes it so much more rewarding when you finish! At the end you will be treated to turquoise views and a short trip to a glorious beach which is perfect for a relaxing dip.
The best activities on Praslin
Although offering some similar adventures to Mahé, the differences in population, wildlife, and scenery make each activity here exceptional.
With so much nature to explore, you’ll struggle to find anything that isn’t spent outside enjoying the sun. Which is why it’s one of our best islands in the Seychelles!
1. Day Tours
What’s the best way to really get to know an island? By hearing about it from a local, of course!
With a variety of tour companies to choose from, you’ll be able to find one for any interest – from island hopping to in-depth Praslin exploration.
If you’re not in Praslin for long, this time-saving solution will provide you with everything you want to experience. It is also an easy solution for getting around the island if you’re not renting a car.
2. Rita’s Art Studio & Gallery
Owned and run by local artist Rita Morel, who you may be able to see at work creating beautiful Seychellois landscapes and still lifes, this gallery is open for all.
It’s perfect for finding unique souvenirs that demonstrate the true beauty of the islands. Work from other artists is also often displayed and can be purchased for your wall back home.
3. Giant Tortoise Farm
Less than a mile off the north coast you’ll find the little island of Curieuse, home to a Giant Tortoise Farm! You can only access the island via organized boat excursions, which include entry in the price.
The wardens will show you around the Aldabra tortoise pens before allowing you freedom to explore the rest of the island. Bring a picnic along with you and enjoy it on any number of beaches here which have spectacular views of the water.
There are also places for snorkeling and swimming, as well as a small museum to make a day out of it.
The best beaches on Praslin
The benefit of Praslin’s population being less than 10,000 is the number of secluded coves and beaches you can find. So you can find beaches on the island all to yourself. It’s a private paradise!
If you hire a car on the island, you will manage to find innumerable untouched beaches as you drive along. But if you’d prefer a more structured exploration, here are three beaches in Praslin that we love.
1. Anse Georgette
Whether you’ve hiked two hours to get there or arrived by car, Anse Georgette is one of the most beautiful beaches in Praslin.
It is a public beach but is best accessed through the nearby resort. It’s best to call ahead and reserve a space if you plan on arriving as the resort works to keep numbers low for the best beach experience possible.
Although the swimming here can be more dangerous than other locations due to strong tides, the turquoise blue views and soft sands make a picnic or walk along the shore enjoyable, and the photo opportunities glorious.
2. Anse Lazio
Surrounded by lush takamaka and palm trees that offer welcome cover from the hot sun, Anse Lazio is easily one of the best beaches in Praslin. The glassy water and white sand help make it one of Praslin’s cleanest beaches as well.
This beach can get more crowded than others due to the great opportunities for swimming and snorkeling, so be sure to arrive early. Alternatively, if you wish to delight in a romantic sunset, you can’t do much better than Anse Lazio.
3. Anse St. Sauveur
On the southern coast of Praslin, you’ll find this small beach frequented by photographers and selfie aficionados.
It’s best known for its shady coconut palms and calm, shallow water. With no surf, this one is perfect for families and snorkelers. Even if you’re not snorkeling, though, you’re likely to catch a glimpse of a fish or two. From the beach, you’ll have a clear view of Mahé.
3. La Digue
Almost completely motor-free, La Digue offers a laid-back attitude and easy-going lifestyle for locals, which means a stress-free vacation for you.
We love this island’s sandy shores and lack of urgency – you’ll get where you’re going when you get there. Whether you’re exploring by foot or on bicycle, you’re bound to be treated to quieter experiences that can be lost on the bigger Mahé and Praslin.
So if you’re looking for the quietest and most laid-back experience that the Seychelles has to offer, La Digue is definitely one of the best islands in the Seychelles!
The best hiking on La Digue
1. L’Union Estate
In the west of the island, you’ll find the L’Union Estate, which is a perfect park for moseying. Gain insight into the island’s colonial history through the architecture of old plantation houses or catch a glimpse of the giant tortoises that make this place home.
At the end of the path, which is perfect for any ability level, you’ll find yourself on Anse Source d’Argent, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
2. Nid d’Aigle
A difficult hike, climbing up to the Nid d’Aigle will treat the worthy to views of Praslin and other surrounding islands peeking out of the waters.
Also known as the Eagle’s Nest, this is the highest peak on La Digue. Halfway up, you’ll find a restaurant that might be worth stopping at on your way down if you want incredible sunset views over the water.
The path’s terrain is difficult, a combination of jungle, forest, and rock, but it will certainly provide you with a sense of accomplishment.
3. Anse Marron
In the southern part of La Digue you won’t find any roads or path markers, but you will find long adventurous hikes – and this one can take up to 5 hours!
Discover the brilliant nature and wildlife found in the Seychelles through the use of a tour guide who will not only ensure your safety on these unmarked paths but will also paint you a picture of the island’s history. In the end, you’ll find yourself on a beautiful, secluded beach that few will ever see. It’s paradise embodied.
The best activities on La Digue
Unlike its sister islands, Mahé and Praslin, La Digue isn’t so filled with organized activities. That being said, there are still plenty of things that are worth doing on La Digue, and these are some of our favorites:
1. Veuve Reserve
La Digue is one of the few places in the world that the black paradise flycatcher, or veuve, lives. Catch sight of these beautiful birds and be one of only a handful who have.
Other animals also live within the reserve along with different types of local plants and fruit. There are multiple walking trails to choose from with informative panels about the animals you might see. If you want, you can also hire a guide who can take you on a more informative walk around the reserve.
When in La Digue, do as the locals do and cycle! If you want to see as much of the island as possible, this is the best way. In fact, when you’re cycling on the roads, it’s other cyclists that you’ll need to watch out for more than cars or other motorized vehicles!
The roads that do exist are paved and only an occasional hill might catch you off-guard. You can rent manual bikes on the island but be sure to inspect them before heading off.
3. Copra Factory
It used to be that coconut farming was the main industry on La Digue and L’Union Estate houses the remnants of the coconut plantation that once was the main source.
Visit the Old Plantation House, vanilla plantations, a colonial graveyard, and a boatyard along with the giant tortoises. It’s an easy way to gain insight into the history of La Digue and, if you’re looking to cool down, it also ends with a lovely beach.
The best beaches on La Digue
1. Anse Marron
A beautiful point for island activity, this beach is comprised of two sections: open, deep water and a boulder-protected saltwater pool.
There is no coral reef on the southern coast of La Digue, which means the water gets deep quickly. However, the large granite formations that decorate the beach create a protected pool that is perfect for swimming in.
This is not an easy beach to get to though, which is what makes it so worthwhile. Hire a tour guide to ensure you find this hidden secluded beauty.
2. Anse Severe
One of the most well-known beaches in La Digue, this one is usually only empty in the mornings. However, it’s unlikely you could ever consider this small beach ‘crowded’.
The shallow water is great for swimming and snorkeling alike, although seaweed is a frequent visitor. The beach serves as an excellent point to see stunning sunsets over Praslin across the water.
Nearby, you’ll find access to snacks and drink as well as local accommodation. You could spend the whole day at Anse Severe in the water or on the beach.
3. Anse Source d’Argent
Famous for its beauty, and often labeled the most beautiful beach in the world, Anse Source d’Argent is a must see if you’re visiting La Digue.
With access only via L’Union Estate, you’ll have to pay a small fee, but it’s well worth it. The shallow water is great for families, and the nearby coral reef offers the beach protection from strong currents.
Several amenities can be found near the beach, which is as great a place for snorkeling as it is for swimming. With the world’s best beach there can’t be any surprise that La Digue made our list of the best islands in the Seychelles.
The Best Islands in the Seychelles: Which Islands to Choose
There are over one hundred islands within the Seychelles to choose from, but Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue are the three most popular and offer the most options. That’s why they’re the best islands in the Seychelles.
But it’s worthwhile checking out tours that will take you from Mahé or Praslin to and around the other smaller islands; these tours allow a grander view of Seychellois life and more variation in the scenery.
But wherever you explore and wherever you stay, you’ll never be bored in the Seychelles.