Praslin – More than just Beautiful Beaches
The beaches of Anse Lazio and Anse Georgette on Praslin in Seychelles, East Africa, are regularly ranked as some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Large bays with fine sand, clear water, and tall green palm trees win over critics and, more importantly, travelers. But there’s more to this holiday destination than just great beaches, the Coco de Mer, and pristine jungle-like forests. Check out some of our favorite places on this paradise island.
Praslin is the second largest island of the Seychelles, measuring 38.5 km2. It lies just north of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean and is part of the African continent. It’s located roughly 37 kilometers northeast of Mahé, the largest island and home to the international airport. A 20-minute propeller plane ride or a 60-minute ferry ride will bring you from one island to the other.
If you opt for the ferry from Mahé to Praslin, you’ll arrive in St. Anne Bay. This is where the largest town, Baie St. Anne, is located. Eve Island, a man-made island with small residential areas, protects the bay. By plane, you’ll normally land at Grand Anse Bay, but some charters fly to other parts of the island.
The local language is Seychellois Creole. But don’t worry – everyone here understands both English and European French.
Praslin is and will always be a paradise – with over 22 beaches, it has more than earned the title. Off the northeast and southwest coasts, coral reefs create sheltered areas where time has sculpted the world’s most famous fine sand beaches.
One of these is Anse Lazio, which is frequently ranked in the top ten internationally. The silky sand, clear blue water, and granite rocks in the background provide fantastic photo opportunities. It’s also a great place to swim and snorkel. Don’t swim too far out though – the sea quickly becomes very deep, and currents can form. There are lifeguards on duty, though, to ensure that nothing goes wrong.
Anse Georgette is just as well known and beautiful as Anse Lazio. It sits in a little bay to the north, and you can reach it in several ways. The simplest route passes through a hotel property, but you’ll have to pay a fee. Another option is a day trip to the beach by boat. Otherwise, you can simply use one of the hiking routes. These long, jungle trails are quite challenging, but the incredible views are worth the effort.
The Fond de l’Anse beach, located in the enormous Grand Anse Bay, is on the southeast coast. It’s an ideal spot for family activities like swimming, snorkeling, and surfing, and it offers views of the Cousin and Cousine islands. Due to its location in one of the touristy areas, there are plenty of restaurants and small shops nearby.
Anse Gouvernement, which overlooks the neighboring island of Curieuse, was the filming site for French director Polanski’s adventure movie Pirates (1984). Calm waters with only small waves create ideal conditions for swimming and snorkeling, as well as fishing and sailing. Anse Gouvernement blends seamlessly into the Cote d’Or beach and the Anse Volbert bay. Because of its proximity to the Anse Volbert Village, activities that add variety to ordinary beach life are not far away.
Anse I’Armour, in the southeast, is rarely visited due to strong tides and large amount of seaweed, making it unsuitable for swimming. However, you can get a glimpse into the everyday lives of fishermen and islanders. The fish is also fresher here than anywhere else on the island because it is sold right after it is caught.
The Vallée de Mai (May Valley), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a jungle-like park and home to the Coco de Mer, the Seychelles’ national emblem. This palm tree produces the world’s largest seed, weighing up to 25 kg and resembling a woman’s womb. Numerous rare bird species inhabit the jungle here, which you would be lucky to spot from hiking trails throughout the area. While some of the birds are quite shy and hard to spot, their songs will accompany you during your stay. Another attraction is the vanilla orchid, which is found in abundance throughout the park.
The Vallée de Mai’s counterpart, the Fond Ferdinand Nature Reserve, was only formed in 2013 and is in the southern part of the island. The mostly flat trail leads to one of the viewpoints, allowing you to see not only the entire island, but also several of the smaller surrounding islands.
Because Praslin is a rather flat island, there are several easy hiking trails. These often connect one beach to the next and provide breathtaking views. Anse Lazio is the starting point for many of the routes. One option is to take the trail to Anse Kerlan, which is accessible for everyone. The tour to Anse Georgette, as previously mentioned, is more challenging. You can also opt for the coastal path to Grand Anse and then go on various tours from there. You can combine the Salazie track, which is approximately nine kilometers long, with the Pasquiére track to form a loop. Both trails run through river valleys and are ideal for beginners. Another alternative is to walk to Anse Volbert and spend the day on the beach.
Aside from the national parks, we highly recommend hiking to Le Glacis Noir. This path leads to the island’s highest peak and is therefore rather difficult. The view, however, is always worth the effort.
Diving and Snorkeling
Those who don’t just want to stay on the islands can go on excursions to other islands and dive sites. Praslin boasts the most dive locations of any of the Seychelles islands, although some are more challenging. The area surrounding South Marianne Island has one of the most diverse fish populations in the Seychelles. In addition to schools of fish, divers can find reef sharks, rays, turtles, and huge moray eels in these waters.
Any diver interested in unusual rock formations should make a visit to Sisters Bank or venture to one of the most difficult diving sites, Amoujié Maman. Granite banks alternate with larger sand dunes, opening up views into the big, blue sea. The Booby Rocks offer yet another unique diving experience. This place is home to rays, octopus, lionfish, and a variety of other species, big and small. There are also night dives available for the chance to see the most unusual creatures in the moonlight.
We recommend a visit to Coco Island to travelers who want to see a larger coral reef. A large reef surrounds this little, picturesque island, which is home to a variety of native fish. A trip to Grande Soeur Island is another recommendation. While snorkeling there, you’ll see baby sharks and, above all, turtles. St. Pierre, a small collection of rocks, is also perfect for snorkeling. Small reefs and their inhabitants can also be spotted off the main island’s beaches. The Fond de I’Anse comes highly recommended.
Excursions to the Smaller Islands
Apart from snorkeling tours to Coco Island and Grande Soeur, many of the other islands make great day trip destinations. Often you can combine a day’s trip to see more than one island. Cousin was the Indian Ocean’s first marine and island sanctuary, offering pristine scenery and a diverse bird population. Endangered bird species in this area are beginning to re-stabilize their populations as a result of robust conservation efforts. Another fascinating fact is that no pests live on the island, such as rats or mice. This is thanks in part to the close monitoring of each docking boat. Aside from that, Cousin has a diverse range of local flora, as well as a few hiking routes and minor beaches.
On Curieuse, a little island about a kilometer northeast of Praslin, visitors have the opportunity to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat. On this small island, there are plenty of beautiful beaches and hiking opportunities. You can even do stretches in flip-flops. If you go to the Badamier Trail, however, wear sturdy shoes because the path is partially unpaved. We highly recommend taking the trail from Doctor’s House, which includes an exhibit of the island’s history, to the turtle nursery. Sister Island, Félicité, the bird island Aride, and Cousine are all little islands great for exploring.
Art and Culture
If you’d like to see some art during your trip, pay a visit to the Passerose Gallery, right on the Cote d’Or beach. There, you’ll see pictures, artifacts, and, as in many buildings in the Seychelles, wild geckos. The images on display range from simple paintings to works of art by Léon Radegonde, who previously represented the Seychelles at the Berlin International Film Festival, Berlinale.
For anyone interested in learning about Seychellois culture and traditions, the Musée de Praslin is a must-see. It was the island’s first museum and, like the gallery, is located on the Cote d’Or. In addition to the native flora, the connected garden contains a large number of medicinal plants. And if you stay a little longer, you will have a good chance of seeing flying foxes in the garden.
The Black Pearl Ocean Farm provides another unique experience. It is the only pearl oyster farm in the Indian Ocean and shows, in large basins, what mussel beds with giant clams look like. You can also go to the workshop to watch how the freshly harvested pearls are processed before being sold in the boutique. A personalized piece of jewelry, for example, would be a unique travel souvenir.
Praslin has a great deal to offer. Nonetheless, the island’s appeal is mostly reduced to its stunning beaches and biodiverse environment. Both are compelling reasons to visit, but there’s so much more to see and do. Many cultural sites and landmarks are often overlooked yet are well worth a visit. The same can be said for many of the nearby tiny islands, which have a lot to offer. This is an excellent place to learn about the Seychelles not only from a geographical standpoint, but also from cultural and historical ones. The tropical beach paradise blends uniquely with the islanders’ cultural peculiarities to give an unrivaled vacation experience.