The 8 best islands to visit on a Seychelles cruise


The islands of the Seychelles offer some of the world’s most iconic natural scenery, from stunning white-sand beaches to towering granite boulders and colourful coral reefs. Located in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, the Republic of Seychelles is an archipelago nation to the east of mainland Africa. The Seychelles is home to a diverse ecosystem, and visitors to this island nation will find a multitude of tropical fish, rare endemic birds and even giant tortoises.

With over 100 islands of varying sizes throughout the country, it would be impossible to visit them all on one Seychelles cruise. As Emerald Cruises adds new Indian Ocean itineraries to our 2023 offerings, we’ve curated a list of the eight best islands to visit in the Seychelles.

Our pick of the Seychelles islands: 


1. Mahé Island

Mahé is the largest of the Seychelles’ 115 islands, and home to its capital Victoria. But visitors should not be fooled by this, as Mahé is only four miles wide and 16 miles long. Not only is Mahé the biggest in size, it’s also the most populated and busiest of the Seychelles’ islands, with over 90% of the nation’s population residing there. Mahé is the gateway to the Seychelles, with the country’s only international airport sitting on the island, and this is where all visitors to the archipelago will get a taste for island life before starting their Seychellois sojourn.

 

Mahé is the perfect Seychelles starting point for those who enjoy a faster-paced lifestyle. Victoria’s streets are colourful and bustling and there is much to do in the capital, such as shopping in the famous Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market, filled with local fruits and fish, or paying a visit to the Seychelles National Botanical Gardens.

 

Those looking to slow down a little will find no shortage of spots to relax – Mahé is lined by countless beaches, such as Petite Anse, regarded as one of the best swimming spots on the island. Visitors to Mahé will also be treated to the stunning views of the Morne National Park, which covers over a fifth of the island. Here, you’ll find thick forests and sky-scraping mountains, the highest reaching over 3,000 feet.

2. Sainte Anne Island

Located just off the coast of Mahé is Sainte Anne Island, where visitors will find Sainte Anne National Park, which spans across eight islands knowns as the Mont Fleuri District of the Seychelles. This island was first discovered in 1742 by French explorer Lazare Picault on the day of Saint Anne, which is where the island takes its name from.

Sainte Anne is lined with pristine white sandy beaches, meaning visitors are spoilt for spots to take in the island’s wonderful scenery. The National Park was established in Sainte Anne in the 1970s to protect the biodiverse marine life in the area. The waters around Sainte Anne and the Mont Fleuri District are home to an abundance of aquatic species, including tropical fish and sea turtles. Visitors also flock to the island from across the world to see its wide variety of flora and fauna.

Highlights of visiting Sainte Anne include snorkelling in the channel between Sainte Anne and Moyenne, one of the Seychelles smallest islands, where you’ll colourful corals full of fish. Granite rocks and seaweed beds also make for interesting viewing underwater. Visitors can also enjoy swimming, surfing, kayaking and glass-bottom boat rides through Sainte Anne’s waters.


For nature enthusiasts, Cousin Island (also referred to as Cousine Island) is high on the list of Seychelles islands to visit. Once used as a coconut plantation, Cousin Island Special Reserve is now a conservation area protecting the island’s rare endemic birds and other native species such as the hawksbill turtles that nest on its beaches.

This private island is often referred to as the ‘jewel of the Seychelles’. Visitors can explore the island with a guide on nature walks and learn all about Cousin’s unique and thriving ecosystem. Those who prefer to take to the waters can enjoy paddle boarding and scuba diving. The Reserve even offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences with hawksbill and green turtles during nesting and hatching seasons.

4. Praslin Island

Although Praslin is the second largest of the Seychelles’ islands, visitors will soon realise this island is much quieter and more laid back than Mahé with only around 7% of the Seychelles’ population living here. But there is still plenty for visitors to do on this picturesque isle.

Praslin is famed for having some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, such as Anse Lazio, Anse Georgette and Cote d’Or, lined with white sand and palm trees galore. With a natural rainforest in the heart of the island, the granitic isle of Praslin is also home to the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Praslin is a wildlife wonder, where visitors will find endemic birds such as the Seychelles bulbul and the elusive Seychelles black parrot. The island provides refuge to vulnerable species, such as a population of Aldabra giant tortoises. Praslin is also one of only two places in the Seychelles – and in the world – where you’ll find rare palms growing coco de mer, the world’s largest nut.


5. Aride Island

Aride is one of the most unspoiled and untouched islands in the Seychelles archipelago. Just north of Praslin, this lush green island is a protected conservation area and is considered to be the most natural of the Seychellois islands.

Aride is home to some half a million birds of approximately 10 species. Many of these birds are rare and endemic to the Seychelles, making Ardie one of the most important seabird colonies in the Indian Ocean. The world’s largest populations of Tropical Shearwaters and Lesser Noddies can be found on the island, as well the Seychelles’ largest population Roseate Terns. Famously, a roost of frigatebirds can be seen circulating the island almost year-round.

The island of Aride is not just home to remarkable populations of birds – many other rare and endemic species reside on or around the island. Aride is bordered by a spectacular coral reef which has become one of the Seychelles’ most popular diving spots. Other wildlife that can be found on the island include the endemic Seychelles Fruit Bat, ghost crabs, skinks and geckos – bottle-nosed dolphins are also often seen swimming nearby. For those interested in flora and fauna, Aride is the only natural site where you’ll still find Wright’s Gardenia shrubs growing.

6. Curieuse Island

Those looking to truly immerse themselves in the Seychelles’ wilderness will not want to miss the chance to visit Curieuse. Located just a few hundred metres from Praslin, Curieuse takes its name from the French for ‘curious’ – and this perfectly reflects the experience visitors to island will have whilst exploring mountains and mangroves.

One of the largest inner islands of the Seychelles, Curieuse boasts towering granite boulders, unspoilt forests and clear surrounding waters. A mile-long boardwalk trail allows you to hike through the island and take in all Curieuse has to offer. Along the way, you’ll see free-roaming giant tortoises, rare coco de mer palms and dazzling beaches.

7. Grande Soeur Island

Meaning ‘big sister’ in French, Grande Soeur is close to a smaller nearby island named Petite Soeur (‘little sister’). Grande Soeur is a private island, and those lucky enough to visit will be treated to stunning views and crystal-clear waters.

Keeping Grande Soeur private means visitors can take in the sights in peaceful quiet. The island is flanked by two white sandy beaches and surrounded by wonderous reefs. The beaches of Grand Soeur are some of the most tranquil spots throughout the Seychelles.

Nature lovers will marvel at the granite structures throughout the island which call back to prehistoric times. Enjoy a walk through the lazy waves along the shore or head into the water for some snorkelling and you may even spot a family of sea turtles. And no trip to Grande Soeur is complete without enjoying a BBQ on the beach!

8. La Digue Island

Although one of the larger islands of the Seychelles, La Digue takes things at a slower pace, offering visitors a taste of traditional Seychelles life. Visitors can take in the island on a bike ride or enjoy a time-honoured oxcart ride.

La Digue offers perhaps some of the most iconic views of the Seychelles with its striking pink granite rocks, transparent waters and pearly beaches. Hidden bays provide shade and, further inland, old colonial buildings still stand on the island, giving visitors a glimpse into the past and the history of the Seychelles. There are many trails throughout the island, and visitors can walk across La Digue within an hour. Be sure to keep an eye out for the rare Seychelles Black Paradise Flycatcher as you amble through this slice of utopia.

For those interested in the history of the island, the remains of an old coconut mill still stand where copra and coconut oil were once produced. You can also learn about La Digue’s historic boat building industry at the island’s shipyard. 

Begin your Seychelles adventure today!

With new Indian Ocean itineraries coming to Emerald Cruises for 2023, now is the perfect time to start planning your Seychelles cruise! Our Tropical Charms of the Seychelles itinerary will take you to each of these unique islands, offering you the chance to experience the diverse Seychellois culture before returning to the luxurious comfort of your superyacht.

Ready to start planning your tropical getaway? Download your FREE luxury yacht cruising brochure to learn about the Emerald Cruises experience that awaits you.