When? August 2008, coming from Mauritius, last leg How? Car, boats Who? Solo
Praslin and La Digue
My luck has turned as I’ve travelled north. Seychelles is everything that Mauritius wasn’t. It’s sunny and gorgeous and enticing.
The hotels are equally luxurious, if not more so, though tending more to boutique and it’s even more expensive.
First, a catamaran to Praslin, the second largest island in the archipelago. Historically, this was the most important pirate hideaway in the area, but is now renowned for its exquisite beaches featuring regularly on best in the world lists.
One must-see is the Vallèe de Mai, the UNESCO World Heritage Site which is the only place in the world where the world’s heaviest nut Coco de Mer, grows in the wild. You can’t really see them growing on the trees but there are collections of the huge nuts laid out – the largest weigh fifteen kilos.) They’re buttock shaped and a little grotesque.
More appealing is La Digue islet, reached by yet another ferry and toured on a hire bike. This is where the beaches that feature on all the posters are found. This sea-side chocolate box coral island is dotted with huge striated granite boulders guarding stretches of unspoiled white sand. Palm trees bend over artistically. It’s definitely a little patch of paradise.
The ambiance might have picked up, but the company hasn’t. Nearly everyone I meet is romantically entwined and not interested in a gooseberry. I take a boat trip to Cousin Island to see the fluffy tern chicks and the giant tortoises and snorkel in the marine reserve. Lunch is set up on a long table on the beach. I’ve already established that nearly all the couples on the trip are indeed on their honeymoon. The women have spent the whole of the journey talking about their weddings and comparing dresses, while the men look on smiling indulgently. Except for two guys sitting together at the end of the table who I haven’t spoken to so far. ‘Don’t tell me you’re on your honey moon too?’ I inquire.
‘Not yet,’ they reply. ‘ Next year’.
Back on Mahe ,the largest island of the Seychelles, there’s time for more yet more beautiful beach exploration and lounging. I’m still eating dinner on my own, but the tiniest cutest lizard in the world is keeping me company.