Enjoy sun, rum and the Coco de Mer on Praslin
A one-hour ferry ride away from magical Mahe lies Praslin, one of the jewels in the crown of the Seychelles islands. Considered one of the most beautiful islands in the world, it's easy to see why visitors flock here.
Praslin is all about breathtaking beaches, Creole cuisine, locally produced rum and of course the Coco de Mer - the world's largest nut which is unique to the island.
The moment you set foot on the pier you're surrounded by the musical sounds of Creole voices and the open, friendly smiles of locals who bend over backwards to be of assistance. The island boasts a population of around 8 000 people, but boy you'd never guess it. Outside the main towns there's a feeling of openness and space.
There's a cosmopolitan feel to the island and it's evident in the array of bars and restaurants dotted across the island. We had a lovely lunch at the hugely popular La Pirogue restaurant and it really was one of the best meals I had on my entire trip.
A late night drink at the pool bar of the Oasis Hotel, where you're literally sitting on a stool with your feet in the water, is a wonderful way to unwind after a day of sightseeing, swimming or sunbathing. The spacious rooms with the massive bathrooms and terrific shaded balconies are an absolute treat too.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the fantastic Takamaka distillery on the island which produces a number of suburb rums, including a coconut flavoured rum which captures the taste and smell of the Seychelles beautifully. Visitors can tour the distillery and , of course, there are a number of daily tasting sessions where you can sample what's on offer.
For South Africans, Seychelles offers a fantastic mix of the exotic but still has an African feel. One look at the locals, most of whom speak more than passable English, and you know you're among Africans. In fact, the entire population is made up of a modge podge of nationalities who have found a home on these amazing islands.
From the fabulous beaches Anse Lazio to Cote d’Or Beach and to the majestic Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, Praslin should be on every African traveller's bucket list. The guides at the nature reserve, where you will learn all about the Coco de Mer, are passionate and extremely knowledgeable, so you won't even realise how much ground you're covering while listening to their entertaining talks about the natural flora and fauna.
I truly recommend Seychelles for any South African looking for tropical paradise-type holiday. It ticks all the boxes without having to fly endless hours, and as an added bonus you're supporting the ever-growing African tourism market and getting a whole lot more for your money.
There's so much to see and do, I promise that it will be worth your while.
What to pack:
* Definitely not a lot of luggage. Stick to a couple of swimsuits, lots of sunscreen, flip flops and sandals, some shorts and light tops. A beach cover-up and some light, smart casual wear to hit the nightspots and you're all set.Remember to bring along a floppy hat or cap that you can easily stick in your luggage - it gets really hot in the middle of the day.
* Don't bother with formal wear - hardly anyone here does and it will just weigh down your luggage.
* South African travellers should bring along adapters for their laptops and chargers as the plug points are mostly standard European ones.
What you'll pay:
* A return flight from Johannesburg to Praslin costs around R12 500 (excluding airport duties).
* The ferry from Mahe to Praslin costs around R800, cheaper than most domestic flights in South Africa.
* A luxury double room at the Oasis will set you back around R2 600 per night, but if you'd rather opt for self-catering accommodation there are 3-star options from as little as R800 per night.
* The entrance fee at Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, the home of decades-old Coco de Mer trees, is around R1 150 but it's worth every penny. And the guides are not only knowledgeable, they're passionate about their island and very entertaining too.
* A trip on a regular bus will cost you around R7.20 - a fraction of a short bus ride in any of South Africa's major cities - and the buses run from 6 am to 7 pm on weekdays.
* A meal can set you back between R150 and R300 - depending on where you're dining. My advice is to watch where the locals are eating if you want the very best Creole food at a price that won't hurt your pocket.
* A litre bottle of water at the hotels could set you back around R75 - R100. If you're watching your budget, you'll save a great deal by buying from local shops instead.