Seychelles islands photo of beach

A tropical beach in the Seychelles islands (iStockPhoto/Thinkstock)

What to do in Seychelles

The 115 islands that make up the Seychelles are scattered in the Indian Ocean northeast of Madagascar, between four and ten degrees south of the equator. Everywhere you turn, there's another perfect beach with clear water bordered by lush hills and otherworldly boulders. And best of all, the islands' high prices and remoteness have kept them low on the mainstream tourism radar, making for little to no crowds. No wonder explorers of yore thought these islands were the original site of the Garden of Eden.

The Seychelles come in two types: 41 granite islands, known as the Inner Islands, and 74 coral islands, called the Outer Islands. Most of the population lives on the Inner Islands, while the Outer Islands are left wild and untouched by civilization. The Seychelles are heralded for their extensive conservation efforts, and a good chunk of the island group is made up of national parks and marine reserves, including six national marine parks and two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Aldabra, the world's largest raised coral atoll and home to giant land tortoises, and Praslin's Vallée de Mai, a lush land-based ecosystem.

The islands' have an enticing blend of African, Indian, Chinese, Arab, and European culture, and more than 80 percent of the population is Roman Catholic. The Seychellois have a distinct Creole language, and English and French are also widely spoken, remnants of colonial times. Victoria, the capital city on the main island of Mahe, is a single-traffic-light kind of metropolis with colorful markets and ancient architecture, and it has the only international airport in the islands. It's also a center of art, galleries, and crafts.

There are plenty of other islands to choose from, the other main ones being Praslin and La Digue. But anywhere you go, large resorts are tasteful and not in your face and local guest houses abound, making for a laid-back, tropical experience deep within the Indian Ocean.

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