Mahe is the main island of the Seychelles and sits about 1000 miles off the east coast of Kenya, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The Seychelles archipelago consists of some 155 islands and the islands were uninhabited for a long time outside of the odd gang of pirates. Mahe wasn’t truly inhabited until 1756 when the French moved in but they were then quickly ousted by the English about 40 years later.
Mahe is home to granite mountains, jungles, coral reefs, great food, fun people and pristine beaches. There are some incredible experiences to be had in Mahe and here are our top choices for you.
Step Into The History In Mahe
Mahe is home to most of the historical sites of the Seychelles. Most of the sites are found around the capital city of Victoria and you can visit old catholic churches, colonial homes, museums, Hindu temples, and ancient planter houses.
Some of the top sites that aren’t to be missed include:
The ‘Jubilee De Diamand’, a fountain made for Queen Victoria in 1900 and is now a national monument.
The Seychelles Natural History Museum. This is set in an old colonial house and shows you the unique flor and fauna and the history of how the Seychelles came to be settled.
The Jardin Du Roi Spice Garden is also a great way to step back into the history of the island. It is actually a museum inside an old planter’s house from the 18th century. The museum teaches you about the lives of slaves and colonists in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Get Involved In The Culture
Like most ‘ island cultures’, the Creole culture is colorful and a lot of fun. The people are happy, laid back and have a love for music, food, dancing and the ocean of course.
If you are in Mahe in October, then you’ll be lucky enough to be part of the Creole festival and carnival. It is a party of note and the streets fill with music, food, dancing, and colorful costumes. The island really comes to life and it’s an awesome way to get your fill of Creole culture.
Taste Some Of The Local Cuisine
While you’re in Mahe, you’ll have to try some of the local food. Indian, French, Chinese, and English cooking styles have all influenced the evolution of Creole flavors to create quite a unique cuisine. The food is truly delicious and won’t forget your first taste of creole food. The ingredients usually consist of spicy curries, local fruits, fresh seafood and on a rare occasion, fruit bat. Fruit bat curry is a delicacy but it is hard to find these days.
Creole cuisine is everywhere on Mahe and you’ll find it on every corner. One of the best places to go to is ‘Bazar Labrin’ near Beau Vallon. It is held on Wednesdays and is probably one of Mahe’s most famous street markets. Locals move their home kitchens into the market and serve up a range of local food. It is most lively between 4 and 830pm. The market is alive with live music, dancing and the smell of lovely creole cuisine floating around. Try some of the local Creole delights such as mango salad, banana St Jacques fritters, spicy and flavourful curries, papaya chutney, as well as marinated and grilled meats and fish. Some of the yummiest dishes to try are a smoked fish and green papaya salad, freshly grilled fish wrapped in banana leaves, octopus and coconut curry, and grilled bread-fruit.
Stroll down the beaches
Did you know that the Seychelles is home to the two most photogenic beaches in the world? The beaches by law are public property in the Seychelles. So, no matter where the beach is, you are allowed to be on it. One of the best things about the beaches is that there is no one on them, well not nobody, but they are not busy by anyone’s standards. There are so many to choose from and, if you get off the normal routes for a little adventure, you could find yourself on your own little slice of paradise with a beach to yourself.
When you walk through the jungle and out on to the fine white sand, you realize why they are said to be so stunning. The water is warm, crystal clear and every shade of blue. The beach covered by palm trees, jungle and granite boulders and it gives you a notion that you have stepped back in time.
There are more than 50 beaches on Mahe and one of the most popular is Beau Vallon. This is not a ‘middle of nowhere’ beach and would be thought of as quite touristy. It’s a great beach to catch a buzz of Mahe’s life on. It has a local side with fruit sellers and market stalls lining the edges and a touristy side with hotels, bars, and restaurants on the sand. You can hire jet skis, go parasailing and more. It’s a great play to relax with all the amenities you need around you.
If you’re looking for more of a chilled beach, head to Anse Intendance. It’s one of the least spoiled beaches on Mahe and is over a kilometer long, so you’re bound to find a secluded spot. The Banyan Tree Resort has a beach bar that you can order drinks from until sunset. If you are there between October and February, look out for turtle hatchlings.
Head Under Water: Diving or Snorkelling
A trip to Mahe wouldn’t be complete without going diving or snorkeling. The Sainte-Anne Marine National Park is a quick boat ride from Mahe and there are a lot of captains ready to take you there and diving and snorkeling in the National Park are truly amazing. The marine park is the oldest in the southwest Indian Ocean and is made up of 6 different islands. Between all the islands are a host of different ecosystems and together they make quite a unique combination.
While swimming around you will come across some lush and protected coral gardens and seagrass meadows. The seagrass meadows here are the largest in the Seychelles and attract a lot of green and hawksbill turtles. You’ll also find a huge range of species while you’re exploring the warm crystal clear waters. There are huge shoals of colorful fish, rays and the very special manta rays. Manta rays call the area home between April and December and make their way there to feed on the plankton blooms that come off the reef. They are incredibly graceful and curious creatures and swimming with them is magical.
Robinson Crusoe Adventure Cruise
This adventure cruise involves a day of island hopping on a stunning vessel called The Opelzir catamaran. Starting in Mahe, you hop on board the lovely boat with a small group and tour around the neighboring islands for the day. The tour is quite reasonable and is easily booked online.
You will start the day by sailing to St Pierre Island. It is a beautiful place to chill or snorkel and swim in the warm blue waters. I would recommend going for a walk along the palm tree-fringed beaches and stepping inside the jungle to admire the small granitic island.
Then it’s time to cruise over to Curieuse Island for a nature hike. You’ll walk through lush forests, around mountains and eventually find yourself to the stunning beach of Anse Saint Jose. While walking through the forest, keep your eye out for the local wildlife. Giant tortoises roam the island and are only found in the Seychelles and the Galapagos Islands. They don’t move that fast and are easy to spot, I’m sure you’ll find one.
It is then time for lunch. Enjoy a delicious barbeque on board while sailing to the secluded cover of Anse Georgette for a quick dip, and then take in the views of Praslin island as you sail home to Mahe.
This is an incredible day trip that will give you a sense of the diversity of the islands of the Seychelles and a lovely way to escape Mahe for a day.
The deep ocean around Mahe is full of life and if you have always dreamed of going deep sea fishing, this is the place to do it. The deep bank off Mahe has good runs of blue, black and striped marlin, huge yellow-fin and dogtooth tuna, and giant trevally. It’s easy to find and book a day charter and seeing the life out there and the chance of catching the fish of your dreams is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. You can fish all year round in Mahe but for calmer seas, it is best to go between October and April.
Hike In The Morne Seychellois National Park
The Morne Seychellois National Park encompasses 20% of the land area of Mahe and is pretty much deserted. There are beautiful hiking trails that take you from the countries highest peak to coastal mangrove forests. It is covered in thick forest and as you walk through the jungle you may see some of the endemic birdlife of the Seychelles. A great hiking route to follow is the one that brings you out on to Anse Major, Mahe’s most secluded beach. It’s only accessible through the park or by boat. It is very secluded and there are no bars or restaurants there so be sure to take enough water and a picnic.