Paradise for Future Generations
The Seychelles is composed of fifty islands north east of Madagascar that form across an archipelago named after the 18th century Minister of Finance, Jean Moreau de Sechelles. Now a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and independent in its own right, the Seychelles is renowned for its high standard of living, and with a population of around 87,000, houses fewer people than any state in Africa.
The last twenty years of government has been very stable, and this has had a galvanizing effect on the country’s tourism. The area has achieved a listing as a World Heritage Site for natural environments, with the view to protecting its beautiful habitats for future generations.
Arriving In The Garden of Eden
Portuguese explorer Vasco De Gama first sighted the islands while committing acts of piracy against Arab vessels off the coast of Kenya. Later evidence found on the islands suggests that the hidden coves and calm waters of the islands provided pirate vessels with a place to hide and perhaps stow their treasure.
Major General Charles Gordon, the British Officer credited with describing the Seychelles as ‘Paradise on Earth’ actually believed Praslin Island was the location of the original Garden of Eden due to his conversion to a branch of evangelical Christianity that held the belief that certain places were geographically connected to the divine. With this in mind, my boyfriend and I decided to check out Gordon’s claim for ourselves, and see just how close to paradise the Seychelles would take us.
More Than a Beach Vacation
Keen to experience the famous wildlife, and imagining pirate coves laden with treasure, our trip in an open topped boat out to Praslin Island uncovered mountain peaks of brilliant greens, sugar-soft white beaches, pink granite rocks and the chance to see the rare Aldabra giant tortoise.
We took photographs of the Coco de Mere palm which the locals use to grind into an aphrodisiac, along with pictures of robins, pigeons, warblers and terns native to the Seychelles. The tortoises are so friendly you can pat them, and they are quite happy lumbering around grassy areas where tourists are free to approach the curious animals.
On day three our idea of adventure tours gained a new meaning when we sat on soft white sands in the sea-bed watching sharks feed over our heads. We were all praying the guide knew what he was doing, as he held the shark feed that attracts these predators just meters above our heads. I am pretty sure everyone had the same struggle; how do I take in the beauty of this sight and how will I ever innocently kick my legs in the ocean again knowing what lies beneath?
Praslin Island, Seychelles
Familiar with wave types and surfing from previous trips to Australia, I immediately recognize the coral reef as the perfect spot to catch some waves, and for next few hours it’s almost impossible to interest me in anything else. Never mind that there is the rare Seychelles black parrot to be seen on expedition to Praslin Island – I want to surf.
My boyfriend finally gives in – after we’ve been to Praslin – and agrees to go for lessons with me, so that he can experience what I’ve described as ‘the greatest feeling on earth’. What we discover is that when you surf a concave reef wave into a Seychelles inlet, it gently deposits you near the shore. There is no foamy muck on the cresting wave; a sign that most surfers know indicates clean, pure water.
In my experiences with surfing around the world I’ve never been entranced by crystal clear water like this. The stand out factor is the scent of the waves around me, like rosewater and watermelon and just how our oceans should smell.
I’m already saving for us to return to the Seychelles for another wonderful beach vacation. For those who love adventure and travel, the Seychelles offers even more thrills including sky diving, water skiing and deep sea fishing, but for me, it turns out the beach is all I need.