Wanderlusting in Praslin
Seychelles is all about exploring the islands because each of them has its own beauty and hidden treasures such as chirping birds, ancient giant tortoises, pristine beaches, underwater park or simply beautiful views over the archipelago.
If you plan at least 2 weeks here, it’s a must to book a few nights on Praslin, or even a week as we did and you will not regret it. Praslin is definitely the place I’ve enjoyed most during the honeymoon. It’s less crowded and less development than Mahe, wilder and more authentic. The landscapes are incredible, each corner begs for a photo or at least one Instastory. Also, the island is a great place to make day trips to other small but wonderful pieces pf earth in the Seychelles.
Getting there! you only have two options:
- By plane – taking a small but modern Twin Otter aircraft operated by Air Seychelles for their domestic network from the internationl airport on Mahe, at the domestic terminal. The plane can carry up to 16 guests between Mahe and Praslin and it’s ideally suited to island hopping. The flight to Praslin takes only fifteen minutes, during which guests will be able to experience a bird’s-eye view of Seychelles beauty, before they reach Praslin, the home of the Vallée de Mai. The price for a round trip is around 100 euros per person.
- By ferry – you can jump on a Cat Cocos ferry and start exploring other island from Mahe. High-speed catamarans operate the ferry routes between the islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue, with crew training, operational standards and safety equipment all of the highest standards. A trip to Praslin is approx. 90 euros per person (round trip) and it takes almost an hour to get there. A round trip from Praslin to La Digue is approx. 30 euros per person (round trip also) with Inter Island Ferry. This is a family run business that after 30 years of hard work proudly operates a fleet of modern high-speed catamarans.
We highly recommend taking the plane to Praslin because is unique and thrilling experience.
Are you wondering why am I so excited talking about Praslin? Well, let me explain first and not only you will fully understand my feelings but also you will start looking for some cheap flight tickets there to see this wonder with your own eyes,
A few facts about Praslin: it’s the second largest island (38.5 km2) of the Seychelles, lying 44 km northeast of Mahé. It was named Isle de Palmes by explorer Lazare Picault in 1744. During that time it was used as a hideaway by pirates and Arab merchants. In 1768 it was renamed Praslin in honor of French diplomat César Gabriel de Choiseul, duc de Praslin. The island has 3 main settlements the size of a village, between them being only lush tropical forests that make you feel like being on your own desert island.
Of course, if you go to Praslin you must see all the 3 areas and also enjoy the ride and the spectacular views on the way: Baie St. Anne – where the ferry docks are with speed boats ready to take tourists off to Mahe or La Digue, Anse Volbert – with a picture perfect beach and lots of places to eat and drink and Grand’ Anse – near the Praslin airport and a good point to watch the sun go down.
Very important! Travelling to a tropical island is a unique experience and totally different than travelling to a cosmopolitan city in Europe, for example, which has many monuments, museums, cathedrals, castles or other establishments. Being on a tropical island is about staying outside, exploring the fauna and flora, searching for a hidden beach, getting to know the lovely people that live there and knowing about their culture, cuisine and traditions but, most of all, it’s about clearing your head and admiring the unreal beauty of this earth.
Enough talking and more specific talking and photo sharing about the things you should do while on Praslin:
1.Go and spend a few hours in Vallee de Mai – a nature park and UNESCO World Heritage Site
This national park in the Seychelles is one of only two places in the world where the rare coco de mer palm grows in its natural state – a tree in the palm family that bears the largest double nut with the largest seed, among the species of the plant biodiversity found in the world, the weight of its largest fruit was 42 kilograms. Vallee de Mai is also a hot spot for rare birds such as the endemic Seychelles bulbul, the lovely blue pigeon, the Seychelles warbler and the endangered black parrot and for it’s wildlife (the Seychelles bronze gecko, Seychelles giant day gecko, snails, snakes and even scorpions).
This forest, with its primitive plant and animal species, is a remainance from the time when the supercontinent of Gondwana was divided into smaller parts, leaving the Seychelles islands between the present day Madagascar and India. Nowadays it’s still considered a slice of Eden.
You can explore the park throughout the 3 hiking trails, the shortest is about 1km and the longest is 2km and all are clearly marked and easy going – perfect for families. As you walk amid the forest, you will see that the park is well shaded by the natural canopy of the palms, which grow incredibly tall, making you feel like Alice in Wonderland!
The tickets are about 20 euros per person (a bit pricey but we loved the time there and it’s a once in a lifetime experience). I highly recommend taking a private guided tour (~10 euros per person) for up to 2 hour guided walk through the forest because you will find out many interesting details such as the history of the coco de mer.
2. Take a day off just to discover the villages and enjoy the creole lifestyle
Renting a car is the easiest way to go from village to village and explore the whole island. The day ends at 18:30 when the sun goes down and time passes by really fast when on vacation so it’s better not to waste it by waiting for the bus. After hitting the beach in the morning and having a coconut water to hydrate we figured that we could simply walk along the narrow streets and see the daily life of the creole people. The settlements on Praslin are very modest, but clean and lovely. We’ve seen the church in Grand’ Anse, the old bookshop and another Anglican church on the west coast, traditional houses and shops. You can easily stop and exchange a few words with the locals, they will be more than happy to tell you things about their politics, economy, traditions and customs and share some advice about visiting the island.
3. Beach day, every day
This is a must! Praslin is home of some of the most beautiful beaches in the world (this is a fact, not my personal impression) and in order to reach them you must go across the entire island. I’m talking about Anse Lazio and Anse Georgette, of course. You can check out my previous post Top 5 most beautiful beaches in the Seychelles and find out more about these picture perfect places. Less known to the public but also exquisite relaxing spots are Anse La Blague, Anse Boudin and Anse Kerlan.
4. Chase the sunset
If your favorite color is sunset, then seeing the sun go down on the island is perfect for a romantic night or just a quite half an hour on the beach while enjoying the Seychelles brewed beer – Seybrew. Our accommodation on Praslin was located on the beach, on the west coast where we could witness the sun going to sleep every night. But, we also searched for different places that offered an impressive view over the sky and the ocean, both on fire before night fall. The scenery was impressive from every location, but the natural painting I liked most was near Anse Kerlan – the ocean was a bit fury, the palms were slowly dancing in the winds and the sky was like a screensaver. After such a moment be sure that will find the sunset one of the greatest wonders of the world. We should enjoy the simple things more often, appreciate these small moments of happiness and always remember that no matter what happens, every day can end beautifully.
5. Coconut oil factory
One of the most important natural treasure of the island is the coconut – rich in minerals, healthy fats and fiber. This magic fruit is known for its great versatility, as evidenced by many traditional uses, ranging from food to cosmetics. They form a regular part of the diets of many people in the tropics and subtropics and you will see that in Seychelles, they sell different types of coconut everywhere, some of them to drink with a fashionable straw on the beach, some of them for their delicious flesh. Due to its fat and hydrating profile, the coconut is also used to produce the well known coconut oil. On Praslin, we had the opportunity to visit an old factory where the owner was still using a traditional method of producing this magic oil, so fancy nowadays all over the world. Mister Francis was very kind and also happy to have guests so he presented the entire process (while working on producing the coconut oil) from shredding the coconut to bottling the final product. His oil is very appreciated for its cosmetic usage and he even has clients from some countries in Europe.
6. Island hopping
If you have time and love boat trips, I suggest to book one or two day trips to the near islands, such as Curieuse, St. Pierre and Cousine.
Curieuse – a small granitic island 2.9 km2 in the Seychelles close to the north coast of the island of Praslin. In 1829, Curieuse was first used as a leper colony, and it functioned in this capacity until 1965. This helped protect the ecosystem from human influence. Today, ruins of the leprosarium remain, as well as the former physician’s residence at Anse St. Joseph (now an educational center and museum). On the beach in front of the Doctor’s House, sea turtles lay their eggs. There are also more than 500 tortoises walking around the island and eight different species of mangrove trees, takamaka trees, hawksbill and green sea turtle breeding ground and the Seychelles Black Parrot as well as much more indigenous flora and fauna.
Saint Pierre – the perfect illustration of a mythical desert island, having a few granite rocks, lapped by the waves with a handful of palm trees swaying in the wind and waters sometimes a little turbulent but clear and rich in fish. Saint-Pierre island is less than 2 miles off the coast of Praslin, opposite Anse Volbert and the village of Côte d’Or. Several tour guides (many of them will offer their services on Anse Volbert beach) organise snorkeling excursions, often combined with a visit to Curieuse Island. The price is about €50 per person, including a meal.
Cousin – is a nature reserve protected under Seychelles law as a Special Reserve, managed by Nature Seychelles, a national nonprofit organization and Partner of BirdLife International. The island is a paradise for bird lovers, hosting over 300,000 nesting seabirds of seven species. Visitors can see Cousin Island from Monday through Friday between 10:00 a. m. and noon. The island is closed to visitors at weekends and on public holidays and there is no accommodation on the island for spending the night.
Writing about Praslin tonight and generally thinking about the lovely moments spent in the Seychelles made me a bit melancholic and dreamy about my next trip to the islands because I could never in a hundred summers get tired of this. And there will definitely be another Seychelles trip in the future. But until then…let’s plan a vacation to another jewel surrounded by the crystal clear waters of the warm Indian Ocean.