|Seychelles: Life in Slow Motion|
By Amna Khalique
Date: May 25 2010
Visiting Seychelles is like stepping back in time into another realm. Calm, serene, phenomenally gorgeous beaches, so many species of wildlife – you will definitely be tempted to visit each year. With a population of approximately 90,000 in the entire archipelago consisting of 115 islands, Seychelles is natural, untouched beauty at its best.
The dream to visit Seychelles started when I was in high school and I heard about fishing in glass-bottomed boats. I was told the water so clear that you could almost see down to the coral reefs and that the sand was so white it looked like snow. True enough, Seychelles lived up to its reputation.
As our cab driver drove us from the airport to our resort, I finally understood how Seychelles’ unparalleled beauty makes it one of the world’s top destinations for honeymooners. As the car drove further uphill, the view from the top got better with each turn; the outer islands – some tiny islands that are uninhabited and some larger ones – were visible from everywhere. The islands were lush green, contrasting sharply with the deep blue ocean and the bright blue sky. Photographs cannot do them justice.
What makes these islands unique is their untouched, natural beauty and the fact that they are not densely populated. The Seychellois likely have made little effort in making their nation a tourist destination. However, tourists do not throng to Seychelles because it is an expensive place. Here you can relax, unwind, be one with nature, read–all without bumping into groups of fellow tourists. Even the public beaches here resemble private ones. On Mahe alone there are dozens of beaches where you can soak up the sun. The views are stunning. I remember how we could see the ocean, just a few feet away, as soon as we walked into the hotel lobby. The rhythmic sound of the waves is hypnotic.
The Seychellois have a sweet, island charm about them. Extremely friendly and hospitable, they are also very laid-back, which sometimes results in slow service at restaurants. Maybe the Seychellois are this way so they can take a step back, not rush through their day but, instead, take in all of the sights and sounds that their country has to offer.
The food here is delicious. My favorite restaurants in Mahe are Kraz Kroel-recommended by our cab driver-where we ate delicious crab, and Chez Plume, which is only a few minutes from our hotel on foot. Chez Plume served lovely Creole food in a small, cozy outdoor setting at comparatively reasonable prices.
Seychelles has a tropical climate and during January it rains incessantly. But the rain did not prevent us from making our trip a memorable one. The highest point in Mahe is Morne Seychellois (905m), atop which the view is spectacular. The opportunity to see small islands surrounding Mahe from so high was a great experience, despite the fog and rain. On the way to the top we stopped for tea at the tea factory, where we were given a guided tour. The best part of the tour was the portion where we sampled fragrant local teas, including vanilla (grown in Seychelles), lemon grass, and orange. Needless to say, we returned home with various sizes and flavors!
Just a short hike from our hotel (about 20 minutes) was the Grand Anse beach – a little frightening for anyone who doesn’t know how to swim. Since there is no reef by the beach, the ocean here can be very rough, especially during the monsoon season. The tides were extremely high, but you could see miles into the horizon. Even more fascinating were the several tidal pools we crossed on our hike. Small but extremely deceptive, the pools filled up as it started to rain, making it almost impossible to get back to the shore.