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The Seychelles

The Seychelles' 115 granite and coral islands are scattered like emerald jewels along 400,000 square kilometres of the Indian Ocean. Its isolated location – northeast of Madagascar between the African East Coast and India, and just below the equator – offers visitors a unique chance to experience a slice of paradise without the crowds. Pristine white sand beaches and turquoise seas coupled with tropical sun and starry skies create an idyllic escape for anyone seeking postcard-perfect, barefoot luxury.

Thirty of the islands are inhabited and the remaining 85 are completely untouched. While some support vast granite pinnacles and verdant green rainforest, others are tiny coral outcrops poking barely a metre out of the sea. Unspoilt by commercialism, visitors can relax, explore and enjoy tropical island experiences within this tranquil yet vibrant destination. Sixteen islands currently offer accommodation ranging from 5-star luxury to rustic island lodges and cosy beachside bungalows. No matter your choice, the Seychelles' sublime laid-back tempo, delightful people and stunning natural surrounds guarantee a memorable stay.

As a result of their isolation, the Seychelles are rich in rare plants, bird and sea life which flourish nowhere else on the planet. Excursions including cruises, nature tours and photographic expeditions guide travellers through sanctuaries and conservation projects; inland jungle trails, misty mountain peaks; and vibrant coral reefs supporting thriving shoals of fish and visiting pelagic species. Giant tortoises lumber ashore to lay their eggs on Curieuse Island, and more than 800 species of fish shelter in the archipelago waters. Bird Island is home to two million Sooty Terns, and Fregate Island is the world's last hope for the almost-extinct Magpie Robin. The Seychelles' Vallée de Mai, a World Heritage Site, is one of only two places in the world where the legendary Coco-de-Mer palm grows naturally, with soil so fertile it was once believed to be the original earthly paradise – the Garden of Eden.

Ultimately though, the Seychelles' beaches are its biggest attraction. When a person fantasises they are stranded on a desert island, they imagine the exquisite Seychelles beaches made famous through countless films and commercials. The pristine, jewelled waters of Anse Source d'Argent, Anse Soleil, Petite Anse and Grande Anse are absolute heaven for beach lovers: soft white sands squeak underfoot; large smooth boulders lounge in the shallows and, oftentimes, (as some can only be reached by bicycle or boat) the few footprints you see in the sand are your own.

Excellent diving and snorkelling opportunities can be had in the clear, warm waters of the archipelago. The diverse coral reefs and drop-offs support an equally diverse marine life of big game fish and colourful reef fish. Divers who like more of a thrill can even swim with whale sharks in August and between October and January.

The perfect way to cap-off the perfect day is to get out and enjoy the Seychelles' warm nightlife. Its casino, local bars and fine restaurants offer unforgettable Creole and international cuisine including fresh seafood and soups. Be sure to try a shot of Coco D'amour, the delicious local liquor, as a nightcap before bed.

The Seychelles enjoys tropical climate all year around with daily highs of between 25°C and 30°C. The seasons are controlled through the wind direction of the Monsoons: the north-westerly trades blow from October to March; and the brisker south-easterly trades blow from May to September bringing the cooler and windier conditions ideal for sailing. The periods of calm between the trades produce fairly warm and wind-free conditions throughout April and also in October. December and January are the wettest months, and humidity is highest from February to May. Conditions for swimming, snorkelling and especially diving are superb during April/May and October/November when the water temperature sometimes reaches 29°C and visibility is often 30 metres plus.

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