“So how was the flight?”
“I can’t be sure, but it might’ve been the best arrival I’ve ever had.”
“Did they play the music?”
“Yes! What was it? It was great. If the islands and the color of the water didn’t welcome me, that certainly did.”
“Did you know that the owner of Rolls Royce actually made a color “Seychelles Blue” for one of his cars?”
“I didn’t, but that doesn’t surprise me. That blue water around the islands is something I’m not sure I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a lot of islands and a lot of water. Something fitting of Rolls Royce, that’s for sure.”
“Come on, let’s get you settled.”
To make a very long story short, I had wanted to go to the Seychelles since I was in university and met my friend Kenny who was from there. The only bad thing is that the Seychelles, being an island nation in the middle of the Indian Ocean, isn’t exactly easy to get to from the USA and not to mention, not exactly in the budget of most college students. Fast forward almost ten years after university when I was no longer a broke college student and Kenny and I were finalizing my plans for my visit to his tropical island home country.
When I talked to people about the Seychelles, most didn’t even know it existed. If they did, it was almost like a quiet whisper. A fantasy that they had heard of, but didn’t know much about. A place of myth and wonder that was reserved for the chosen few. Like most fantasies, it had grown from an exotic and sensuous reality until it developed into something wondrous and magical. I am fortunate enough to say that I can tell you first hand, that magic is alive and real on the islands of Seychelles and you can feel it as you set foot on those lush, yet rocky islands.
Depending on who you talk to, the Seychelles are home to the best beaches in the world. Literally. Anse Lazio, Anse Georgette, Anse Source de’ Argent, Grand Anse, Petite Anse and Petite Anse Kerlan are consistently rated as some of the best beaches in the world by people with much bigger travel credentials than I have. One of them, is usually in the top three, if not the number one.
When my good friend Janel asked me what I was doing for the summer, I told her I was going to the Seychelles. Considering I met Janel on a beach in Mexico, and since Seychelles has some of the best beaches in the world, it’s no surprise she was interested in joining immediately.
Janel and I shared more than just a love for beaches. She is from the UK, and also what you would call very well traveled and usually open for an adventure. Between the two of us, I think it’s fair to say we’ve probably seen more than half the world. Besides traveling, we both loved to do watery sports like surfing and scuba diving. When I told her there was waves to be surfed and that I was hoping to do some diving with whale sharks, the final straw was broken and she signed up for a fun-filled adventure just waiting to happen.
When I got off the plane on the main island of Mahe, Janel was there with Kenny at the airport waiting for me. They both ran up and gave me a huge hug. It had been a year or two since I had seen Janel, Kenny was a lot longer. I was excited to see them both and we got caught up with each others lives while I waited for my bags.
I was hungry so Kenny insisted on taking us to one of this favorite beach-side restaurants. By beach-side, I mean, my toes were in the sand as we sat down at a picnic style table. Not knowing what to order, Kenny took charge and ordered for us all. We had a lemon fish salad for a starter, which was mouth-watering delicious. He ordered an octopus curry, grilled fish, and a pizza for the entrée. Not surprising, considering Creole is the national language of the island, curries are a staple in Seychelles, and it was phenomenal. A little spicy but not too hot and the octopus was cooked to perfection. The fish tasted of rosemary and garlic and seemed to melt in your mouth. I don’t know why but I was surprised to learn that pizza is extremely popular on the islands and you can find it almost everywhere. Pizza is pizza, it’s always good, but even the pizza seemed to have the island zest and was better than usual. We washed it all down with the tasty local beer Seybrew, and got caught up with each other’s lives. After dinner, we went back to Kenny’s place and I passed out with a fully belly and a happy heart.
The next morning, my heart grew even happier. I was finally able to see in full glory the paradise that is Seychelles. After a quick breakfast, we drove through the capital Victoria, up and over one side of the mountain to get an amazing view of the surrounding islands. Then we continued down and around the other side and were presented with Mahe’s most popular beach, Beau Vallon. We parked and found some of Kenny’s friends standing around a truck drinking a few beers. Kenny introduced us and we were all soon drinking and talking as if we were old friends.
“So how long are you going to stay here?”
“Well, we’ll be in Mahe for a week, Praslin for about ten days, then Le Digue for a few days, then back to Mahe for some time before we leave. Not that long, really.”
“Well good for you guys. You’re going to love Praslin. Most people think it’s the best island and it has the best beaches. Welcome to Seychelles!”
And welcomed we were. If the Seybrews didn’t have us feeling giddy, the beach certainly did. The sand was as soft and as white as snow and the water was Gin-clear and equally intoxicating. Off in the distance, we could see flush green islands of various size dotting the horizon. It is no wonder why Seychelles is rumored to be the location of the Garden of Eden. It was truly a wonder my eyes had never seen before. And it was just my first day.
We spent the day relaxing on the beach and playing in the waters of the Indian Ocean. It was heaven on Earth. At one point a guy and a girl walked by us and randomly took our picture a few times. We both saw it laughed and didn’t think much of it. I guess the chance that we were celebrities was enough for the paparazzi to snap our photo. Kenny came back and picked us up and we drove back over the mountain into Victoria. We got ready for dinner at Kenny’s place and then headed to the Takamaka rum distillery.
Using local ingredients Takamaka rum is unlike any other I have ever tasted and is certainly in a class of it’s own. The Coco Liqueur is especially delicious, if I may say so. Besides the rum, the food was exquisite. We sat at an outside table under the stars as we drank and laughed getting ready for the food. Again Kenny took the liberty of ordering for us, and after the first time, Janel and I were more than happy to let him do so. There was a full moon shining above, making the night especially perfect and something I will never forget.
After a week of fun with Kenny and his friends, we left to go to Praslin. Kenny came with us for a short vacation and thanks to Kenny knowing the owner of Villa Miles Etoiles, we got an amazing rate for a house on top of the biggest mountain in Praslin. The house itself was incredible, but even better was the jaw-dropping views that came with it. We could see the entire island from our living room; with that Seychelle Blue water, white beaches and other nearby islands all taking my breath away every time I walked passed the balcony.
After we dropped off our stuff, we headed down to check out some of those world renowned beaches for ourselves. First was Anse Volbert, a long stretch of white sand and clear water that was very similiar to Beau Vallon. We had lunch and drank a few beers and then headed on to our next destination, Anse Lazio.
I had seen Anse Lazio in pictures and on the travel channel, but as usual, that didn’t compare to reality. I didn’t know how it was possible, but the sand was even softer and the water was even clearer than Anse Volbert. It was a small beach with massive granite rocks framing it in on each side. Some of the rocks were four or five meters high. The rocks did it. They gave the impression that they were protecting or hiding something and only the lucky ones were able to get permission to play there. The only unnatural thing about the beach was an area of ropes put up for swimming that kept people from going out too far because of a shark attack a few years earlier. Other than that, the place was pristine and untouched by mankind. If Mother Nature didn’t do a good enough job of selling it for us, there was actually a photo shoot with a gorgeous girl in a tiny bikini going on as we arrived. As far as beaches and tropical landscapes go, it couldn’t get any better. Postcard, picture perfect.
For the next ten days we would explore every inch of the island bliss that is Praslin. After the villa, I rented a house in hopes of saving money and cooking in. However, Seychelles had other things in mind. Being a small island in the middle of nowhere, there wasn’t exactly the most modern of facilities for getting groceries, but that’s okay. We were on vacation, after-all. So we went out. We drank fruity cocktails in tall glasses. We ate more local dishes at unique restaurants; some of them on the beach, others on the sides of the mountain. We danced at the one club on the island. The waves weren’t that cooperative for surfing and since it was the wrong time of year, either were the whale sharks so we didn’t go scuba diving either. However, we did have amazing weather, and we played in the sand and we basked in all things island life.
We planned it so that when we left Praslin, we would go to Mahe with a pit stop in Le Digue. We left early in the morning and unlike the first part of our trip, the seas were rough and the weather was foul. It wasn’t raining but there were grey clouds that looked very ominous. When we arrived in Le Digue, let’s just say we were happy to get off the boat. We dropped off our backpacks and rented bikes to ride around the island. Our first stop was to play with the giant tortoise that are famous in Le Digue. They were certainly the biggest and friendliest turtles I had ever encountered. We continued on to some of the beaches that were supposed to be world class, but because of the weather and the high seas, we didn’t stay very long. Some of the beaches required a little hike through the jungle and it was fun to play pirate in search of treasure on a deserted island. It might not’ve been a beautiful day weather-wise, but it was still interesting to see paradise in this gloomy state. I actually swam on Grand Anse, but the tide was so strong I almost got swept out to sea. After recovering my breath and happy to still be alive, we got back on our bikes, rode back to the pier and waited for our boat back to Mahe.
For the grand finale of our trip, a friend of Kenny’s was having his birthday on a big and beautiful and sail boat and had invited us along for the festivities. Seeing the islands from the water was amazing in every sense of the word. Not only the big islands, but the smaller islands that were just rocks sticking out of the ocean with one or two palm trees swaying in the breeze. In a word, majestic. This was also the first time we had entered the water not from the beach so the water was much deeper and much bluer. The water was so clear you could see all the way down to the bottom of the ocean, and it was so blue that it was like being a tiny fish in an olympic sized swimming pool, filled with blue dyed water. Everywhere I looked was blue. I remember feeling both in harmony and helpless in the vastness of that blue water which made me feel both excited and terrified at the same time. We drank the day away and got lost in the deep blue.
Janel left later that night and I would leave the next day. The month had flown by and it was time to go. As it says in Catch-22, “Maybe a long life does have to be filled with many unpleasant conditions if it’s to seem long.” There was absolutely nothing unpleasant about Seychelles, making the days melt away like the burning orange sun easily sinking down into the horizon. I can still see it now and I can’t wait to go back.