Stress-free Seychelles

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iol travel nov 26 seychelles SAM_0274 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS One sip of this island life and youll never be the same again

Psychologists need to record this new emotional problem for the textbooks: post-Seychelles depression. That’s the paradise paradox: after a holiday in tropical heaven, there is nowhere left to live the dream again.

In wonder if William and Kate felt the same way when they got back to England after their royal honeymoon on the islands.

Where else do you find a hundred-plus archipelago islands snoozing idly in the Indian Ocean like illuminated jade gemstones on a stretch of blue velvet? Where else can you visit granitic rock islands, most of which are lushly deserted?

Your first sight of the Seychelles – from the descending plane – will remain with you for life.

You look down and gasp. Islands so green and mountainous you think you’re Robinson Crusoe, and water so blue you want to jump in and frolic around like a dolphin.

It looks 10 times better than in the pictures, as no camera can ever capture the beauty of the perpetual Seychelles summer.

iol travel nov 26 syechelles SAM_0130 You cant overdose on heaven INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Everything you see is in technicolour. Turquoise-blue seas, water brighter than glass, beaches whiter than snow and a sun so gentle you want to catch the rays and hug them.

Once landed on Mahe, the main island, you sense it immediately; the pace of life is slower here and the sweet fruity scents are calming.

As the taxi takes you through Victoria, the capital, you hear the Seychellois, thanks to their colonial history, speaking a mixture of Creole, French and English.

By the time you’ve zigzagged past sun-dappled banana trees and Chinese fan palms and arrived at the Coral Strand Hotel in Beau Vallon – incidentally the most beautiful beach on Mahe island – you know what to write home. Not, “30 degrees and sunny” but “Please forward my furniture”.

As soon as your toes touch the sand, you know why you are here: to worship the sun and life itself. You breathe in more deeply, and your stampeding brain grinds to a halt. This is exquisite.

Some Seychellois breeze past, smiling. They are as relaxed and harmonious as their islands, and proud to welcome you here.

You sink on to a lounge bed, close your eyes and smell the fresh fish being roasted. The coolness of the ocean soothes your skin. Crickets lull you into a hypnotic state. Tropical birds chip in with their cheerful twittering and the sea laps gently at the shore. The sunlight rests on the palm trees that casually lean over the beach.

Local men try to sell you coconuts on the beach. When you kindly decline, they offer a substitute. “Wanna smoke weed, my friend?” Tip: say no again.

At night, you visit Boat House, a local restaurant. It has the ambience of a Bacardi commercial; local but upbeat, wooden bars but daring. For à la carte, you try La Perle Noire.

On Wednesday nights, stroll to the Beau Vallon Bazaar. Join clumps of people dancing around campfires, enjoying a drink and a chat, and taste the spicy tuna.

Staying at the hotel proves just as adventurous. Share a cocktail on the beach, and listen for exciting nocturnal sounds under the starry sky. Dance to the jazz band or dip into the ocean and swim in the romantic moonlight. The Seychelles are as sophisticated as they are sexy.

Life on the island is not cheap, as most goods are imported. It’s cheaper to import a chicken than to grow your own. However, takeaway food costs almost nothing and guest houses offer five-star service at a lower price.

Then, to explore the island and the surrounding marine life, you can either pre-book tours through tourist agencies, or try your luck at the hotel reception.

But as tourism is the biggest fish on the island, there are always locals happy to offer tailor-made trips, whether it’s a chauffeur-driven island tour or a snorkelling or diving expedition.

On the beach, you find Michael, who runs Nemo Dolphin Glass Bottom Boat, and he kindly makes you a super deal. You sail into a marine park that has light emerald green water with a hint of blue on top of virgin white sand, and gasp again. Zebra fish and turtles doodle underneath the boat and, after feeding hundreds of fish, you jump in the water yourself.

Then, through ankle-deep water you wade on to Ile Moyenne. Blooming red trees elegantly bow before you as you climb to the top to pet century-old tortoises. You trail around and pretend you’re shipwrecked, and imagine where to build your palatial hut.

Back on Mahe, Remsey drives you along breathtaking coastlines, from the lively north to the rugged south. You could rent your own car, but for a fraction of the price Remsey expertly shows you places the map hasn’t even heard of.

He tells you the Seychelles are more than a just pretty picture come true, for beyond its pristine beaches lies a legend of a something so well-hidden, it’s easier to bottle the Takamaka tree shadow than it is to track down the Treasure of Le Buse.

Bel Ombre is a stunning stretch of coast where Olivier le Vasseur, a.k.a Le Buse (Buzzard), was hot on piracy. He is rumoured to have pinched a large diamond-encrusted cross from an Amsterdam church and smuggled it to the Seychelles, where he buried it with his other pirate earnings.

Unfortunately, Le Buse was hanged three centuries ago, on which day he threw a cryptic map into the gaping crowd. The good news is, after many fruitlessexcavations, the $150 million treasure is still yearning to be found. So, to all treasure-hunters out there, simply compute finding the treasure into your budget and book that luxurious five-star resort.

Heck, throw in a helicopter ride too.

As you settle into island life, you must hop islands too. A 15-minute plane ride or an hour’s ferry ride will get you to Praslin, the second-biggest island.

Allegedly, Praslin is home to the Garden of Eden, and when you visit Vallée de Mai (Unesco World Heritage Site), you will see how the waterfall and Coco de Mer palms present a true heaven on earth. Ironically, the Coco de Mer is not only bottom-shaped but it’s also an aphrodisiac.

Falling nuts are to be avoided at all times, as a mature 15kg fruit will knock you out.

Frequented by the rich and famous, now’s the time to get pampered, it is heaven time.

As a BMW drives you through the delightful gates of the Constance Lemuria Golf & Spa Resort (some say it’s got six stars), you are living your dream.

“Welcome to paradise,” the warm-hearted staff smile as they open the heavy bamboo doors to reception.

Here you are prettier than William and Kate and you more VIP than William and Kate.

It’s magical; even though the resort is fully booked, you hardly see a soul, and the beaches look untouched by human toes.

Porters with golf buggies and private pool villas with masseuses, it is all part of the Lemuria Experience, and it is exactly what you deserve: a slice of heaven.

You want to savour every second spent with your own pools, palm garden and private beach. You’re even considering adopting Mr Max, your butler, as he’s so good to you.

Still, you go out to see why Bill Gates likes it so much here on the best golf course in the Indian Ocean.

You enjoy a spot of lunch at the Beach Bar & Grill, which looks out over the bay where you lazily paddle around on a pedalo an hour later. Then you pick up some snorkel gear and head to Anse Georgette, possibly the most romantic beach in the world.

Experience fish kissing your toes and follow sting rays as they hover over the immaculate ocean floor.

Everything on the resort breathes serenity and luxury. At Tee 15, next to the helicopter base, you lift your glass and say cheers as the sun dips down.

You smile, as you cannot remember ever having been as happy as here in the Seychelles.

IF YOU GO

Flights:

http://www.airseychelles.com/en/home/index.php

Island-hopping: http://www.seychelles.travel/en/things_to_do/from_mahe.php

www.catcocos.com

Hotels:

www.coralstrand.com

http://lemuriaresort.constancehotels.com/

Tours:

[email protected]: Nemo Dophin Glass Bottom Boat (tel: +248 259 9127)

[email protected]: Remsey Tours (tel: +248 278 3393)

Dining on Mahe:

www.boathouse.sc

[email protected]

www.chezbatista.com - Saturday Star

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