The most beautiful place on Earth

Trip Start Jun 25, 2006
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Trip End Aug 01, 2007


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Flag of Seychelles Islands  ,
Saturday, October 14, 2006

Note: We apologize for this entry being so lengthy. Since Internet access in Seychelles was very limited and we had a full week of seeing really amazing stuff that we want to share, this post goes a bit long.


He Said:

The two taxis, three flight segments, a jam-packed bus, and very rough ferry ride that it took us to get from Zanzibar in Tanzania to the island of Praslin here in Seychelles was totally worth it! I didn't think there were any places these pristine left on our planet. You know that tropical paradise screen saver have on your computer or the beach scene in all those cheesy motivational "Successories" posters you see at the office, those photos were probably taken in Seychelles. Imagine crystal clear water in a million shades of turquoise, calmly lapping onto beaches with white sand so fine it feels like flour, huge weathered pink granite boulders peppering the shoreline, and lush vegetation and palm trees covering the granite peaks. Add the fact that most beaches are totally empty and even the busiest beach on the island had no more than a few dozen people on it and how could you not think that this is paradise! Coming from the magnificent sands of Zanzibar I had a very high standard for judging pretty beaches, and well, Seychelles didn't disappoint. Seychelles is the sixtieth nation I've been to and it truly is the most beautiful place I have ever been fortunate enough to visit. By beautiful, I'm not talking "oh this is pretty," I mean mouth agape, tears-to-your-eyes gorgeous! I would have a hard time even imagining something better. I know, you are probably thinking all this is hyperbole. Google it yourself, look at a few really good pictures and you will see why I am so impressed. (Our photos above don't capture the beauty or colors very well)

Because Praslin is so lightly touristed, many of the minor roads going to the beaches have hardly any traffic (5-10 cars an hour!) We've walked more here than any time during our trip, in fact most of our stay we've averaged close to ten miles a day! Our days have been spent on foot or riding rented bikes through the verdant jungle roads, sitting on the beaches, and pinching ourselves at how we ever managed to be so fortunate to visit Seychelles.

Midway through our time here we took a daytrip over to the neighboring island of La Digue to see Anse Source D'Argent, the much ballyhooed "most beautiful place on earth." Well...in my humble opinion, the claim is 100% accurate! Even though it was overcast with a gray sky so the turquoise hues of the water were subdued, it truly is unbelievable. My photos don't even begin to do the place justice. I have never seen anything like it. With how chatty Katie and I tend to be, anything that shuts us up in awe must be pretty impressive. As we were walking amidst the huge granite boulders lining the beach, we were totally silent, only once in a while chiming in with something like "this is unreal!" What is funny though is that there are a lot of other places in this tiny nation that come within striking distance of the "most beautiful" claim as well.

We also did a SCUBA dive one afternoon off a nearby uninhabited island. Although the visibility wasn't stellar, we could see far enough to spot at least twenty sharks, the largest being around six-feet long! I'll let Katie tell you a bit more about that experience...but just in case she leaves this part out - anytime during the dive when we sighted sharks Katie did everything she could to maneuver so that I was between her and them. How's that for true love! "Please Mr. Shark, eat my husband first!"

A short aside: So far on this adventure we've been fortunate a number of times to use frequent guest points at hotels as well as get a few complementary upgrades. Often this luxury pairs humorously with our other travel logistics. For example, in both Cairo and Malta we stayed in suites (which had we paid for them rather that used points or received a free upgrade would have cost well over $700 per night) but arrived or departed the hotel using local public buses, wearing flip flops and carry dusty backpacks. Hmmm, I can only wonder the thoughts going through the bellman and desk clerks heads? Seychelles is another great example of our continuing paradox of traveling in "high style" on a budget trip. We flew here for free using frequent flyer miles, and are staying in a really cute, moderately priced beachfront apartment (L'Hirondelle), cooking our own meals, and riding public transit. We share the same magnificent beaches with people paying $500+ per night at nearby resorts. So bottom line: You can come here and have a marvelous time without being a millionaire or travel guru, it just takes a bit of transit time and planning. The gold standard for a beautiful city of course is Venice, but for natural beauty: Seychelles has everywhere beat!

In yet another great contrast of this trip, tomorrow we are flying from affluent Seychelles back to Nairobi then onward to Malawi, one of the poorest nations on earth, to begin our two-month overland adventure through southern Africa. I hope we don't go into shock!


She Said:

So after a night in Nairobi, we finally made it to Mahe, Seychelles (the main island) and debated about our travel logistics to our final destination the nearby island of Praslin. We basically had 2 choices to travel the 30 miles - high-speed catamaran ferry, or fly in a tiny little 8-seat plane (the difference in cost was only about $20 each). Since our flight in was a bit bumpy on landing and it was a big plane, I absolutely pleaded that we take the ferry, as I was very scared to fly in the tiny plane with rough air. I won, and we made our way to the port where the seas looked really calm. This was all an illusion as the port was in a harbor, and the seas were so ridiculously rough outside it. The ferry itself had 200 or so auditorium style seats inside an air-conditioned room. Each seat had a seat back pocket with a motion sickness bag (first sign of things to come), which I didn't notice when we sat down. There were automatic air fresheners bolted to the wall on each side of the room, which I also didn't notice (second sign of things to come). As soon as the ferry rounded the corner out of the harbor, and it started to get a bit bouncy, one of the staff came over to us and asked if I was prone to seasickness. Turns out that she was basically the seasickness hostess and had a crew of about 4 other people working with her to "ease the passengers." What??? Finally, it all came together for me - the motion sickness bags, the air freshener, the sea-sickness counselors - this hour long ride was going to be torturous, and I am the one that begged for it! Turns out it was much worse than I could have ever imagined, and several times it felt like the ferry was going to tip over - huge swells, rocking back and forth, and at least 20 people vomiting (with the crew quickly running to get the used bags and dispose of them). I survived by deep breathing, staring at a fixed point, and basically mentally separating myself from the situation. I decided then and there that we are flying back. And the best part of the whole story is that starting next week, they are getting a new state of the art catamaran that has some amazing new stabilizer, so none of you will ever have to experience it when you visit the Seychelles!! Lucky ducks!

But it was worth it!! The beaches in Seychelles are amazing - just like a little slice of heaven. I have a hard time imagining how a beach could be more beautiful or look more like paradise. Even the breezes smelled like flowers! Since Seychelles is close to the equator, the temperature is pleasantly consistent year round, with highs in the mid 80s and lows in the mid 70s. Hot enough to enjoy getting in the clear water, but cool enough so you are not sweating. We spent the majority of our time outside (wearing sunscreen) sitting under palm trees at the beach, hiking around, and riding bikes. Extreme relaxation!!

One afternoon we went Scuba diving. We had a few choices as to different dive sites, and Todd was really keen on going to this one site around some huge granite rocks with pretty corals, lots of tropical fish, and the possibility of giant sea tortoises, eagle rays and giant Napoleon Ras (Google that because they look so funny with their big lips). Only problem was that reef sharks frequented the area as well. Naturally, I have a strong curiosity when it comes to sharks, and really LOVE Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. But, I really LOVE them on TV - not swimming next to me. The Dive Master assured me that these sharks were really just big fish, and that they were more scared of us that I could ever be of them. Oh, and that we would likely encounter a shark or two where ever we went. So, I (normally the world's biggest wimp) went along with it.

Once we got on the boat, I started sizing up the other divers just making sure that they weren't all the Jacque Cousteau/Indiana Jones type. They seemed okay, and it turns out that at least half of them were more nervous about the shark thing than I was. It was perfect - they asked all the questions I wanted to ask (What do we do if we see a shark? What if it swims near us?), and the Dive Master was pretty good at soothing everyone's nerves. As we got close to the site, I was getting closer to having a mental melt down. My nerves were kicking, made worse with each passing second due to the huge swells we were boating through. And Todd knew I was just on the verge of serious panic because he was talking to me like I was a five year old. I started having second thoughts. And then we got to the site, the boat stopped, and promptly started rocking back and forth and up and down. And then I knew that the only thing that would get me off a perfectly good boat to swim to my bloody shark death was... seasickness... anything to stop the rocking.

When we were all in the water and getting ready to descend to 50 feet below the surface, the Dive Master gave us this bit of instruction: "If a shark swims towards you, start swimming towards it, and it will turn away." And then he was underwater. WHAT? Are you insane? Was that a joke, or serious advice? It didn't really matter, because under no circumstances was I going to do that... that is what husbands whose idea this was are for, right?

And then it happened. Five minutes after we were in the water we saw our first shark silhouette in the distance and it came towards us until it was about 15 feet away and then it turned. And that was just the first of the 20 or so sharks we saw on the dive. Sometimes they were in groups of 5 or 6, making giant circles around us. And, yes I did maneuver myself so that Todd was always between me and the sharks, but that is the chivalrous thing to do, right? Turns out, it wasn't that big of a deal after all. Once you are underwater, breathing all that compressed air, and looking though the glass of your mask, it doesn't seem like you are really there. It's more like watching it on TV!



We Said:

So to close our time in paradise, here's a few travel tips for coming here:

The major islands in Seychelles are:

Mahe - The largest and "busiest" of the islands. We didn't see much of it other than the international airport and ferry terminal.

Praslin - We stayed here and are so glad we did. Praslin has best beaches for sunbathing (with sunscreen) and swimming as well as lots of lodging options and logistics connections by air and sea.

La Digue - Small and laid-back, and certainly worth a few days. It is only accessible by ferry. Super pretty beaches, but not as good for swimming due to coral or rough currents.

Other islands - There are dozens of smaller islands in Seychelles dotted with a variety of very exclusive resorts. We didn't go to any of these.

Seychelles is as beautiful of a destination as you could ever hope to find. Unless you were easily bored, anyone would love it here. The stunning natural surroundings and positively gorgeous beaches have enough to keep any visitor enchanted for weeks.

Seychelles is surprisingly underdeveloped and sparsely populated. There are not a lot of restaurants, nightlife is nonexistent, population centers are small, and not a lot of traffic. All this helps accent the natural beauty and preserves the charm and magic.

Seychelles is as safe as it gets, and there is virtually no crime. We felt completely secure everywhere we went, day or night.

English is the language of business and government and is widely used and understood. Locals speak a Creole dialect as well as English and French.

Being an isolated island chain, Seychelles is pricey. The cost level is about equal to that of Hawaii or New York City. Food is generally expensive and hotels are limited to either high-end resorts or a few much more affordable small guesthouses that have rooms with kitchens. Most tourists we observed seem to come here on all-inclusive tours from Europe. Making your own arrangements as an independent traveler is very easy as well.

Seychelles is very low hassle; you will never be given sales pitches, there are no beggars, locals are friendly but reserved, and life is slow-paced and easygoing.

Coming to Seychelles from the US will take a while, but if you combine it with a few day stopover in Europe or Dubai (Fly Emirates), you could have a great time getting here.

We both agree that this is our favorite stop on the trip so far! We would come back in a heartbeat (and are already plotting ways to make this happen!).
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Comments

kristenjohnson
kristenjohnson on

Hey guys!!
Was just online trying to catch up on your latest adventures. Clearly I was thinking of you guys...I just bought a pair of shoes this weekend by the BRAND Seychelles! :-) Yes, retail therapy still going strong. :-)

It's fall here now, temps are cooler, leaves are changing. Beyond that, ya know, life as usual. Lorel's last day was Friday (guess she really is having a baby, eh?), just one of the many women in CPC who will be taking maternity leave. Nothing too exciting in my life (except a new toilet, now THAT is fun, huh?? Especially when you get one because the old one started leaking into the dining room...home ownership. Wahoo. You miss these issues, RIGHT??)

Another thing I KNOW you miss, Katie - Tactical New Product Meetings! Yep, got one tomorrow a.m. So, must be off to get ready.

Miss you guys LOTS. We all continue to be tres jealous and need to live vicariously through you. Be in touch soon.
Love - kj

tad
tad on

A comment from Ava
'remember SHARK!!!'

kzandea
kzandea on

Listening to Toto in Your Honor
Decker-sans,
Was in Tanzania climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in August, and enjoying the beaches in Zanzibar - did you get the note I left at your hotel? Am glad you are having a good time and happy to see photos from places I've been, and places I am now inspired to go.
The photos are great, which isn't surprising. I'll try to send you a few of my own, if I can get to editing them....I actually have to WORK while you are playing! Enjoy, Enjoy! Matane, Love, Kitty-chan

James Ramsay on

Seychelles truly is the most beautiful place on earth. If you want to achieve complete relaxation, this is the place to be!
http://www.luxurious-holidays.co.uk/luxury-holiday-seychelles provides all the information you need on Seychelles including where to stay and what entertainment is available.

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