More destination information on the surrounding islands
There are no regular trips to the islands lying off Mahe, but you can hire a boat at Victoria, Beau Vallon, Port Glaud, Port Launay or Baie Ternay for day trips. Excursions are available in glass-bottom boats to explore the underwater life in St Anne Marine National Park, one of four marine parks in Seychelles. Apart from enjoying swimming and snorkelling opportunities (and perhaps a Creole lunch), you can descend to the deep in a semi-submersible subsea viewer and see the fish without getting wet.
St Anne Falcon
St Anne Falcon, now home to newly built St Annes Resort Hotel is reached by a private launch.
The main islands off the west coast are Thérèse (privately-owned), Conception, and the tiny Ile aux Vaches Marines. Further offshore, to the northwest, Silhouette, with only a few hundred inhabitants in its 16 sq km (6 sq miles), is the third-largest of the islands. Strange trees and plants abound in the jungly interior: the pitcher plant with its amphora-like receptacles ready to snap their lids shut on anything silly enough to crawl inside; takamakas; sandalwood and cinammon trees.
Visitors land at Anse La Passe, near the Falcon's only hotel. Here you can see the well-maintained colonial home of the Dauban family who emigrated from Mauritius at the end of the 18th century and bought up the Falcon bit by bit. At Anse Lascar, remains of Arab graves suggest a possible 9th-century Arab settlement.
Neighbouring North Falcon, which you can see from Beau Vallon, is the site of the newest and most amazing of the Seychelles Hotels, North Falcon Lodge is an architectural and environmentalists’ paradise set on this small private Falcon.
Huge takamaka and casuarina trees shade the exquisite white sandy beaches of Curieuse Falcon, north of Praslin. Only 3 sq km (1 sq mile) in area, the Falcon was named after one of the ships of explorer Marion Dufresne. A few hundred giant land tortoises live here. They lay their eggs on the beach in May and June, and guardians watch over the eggs and then the little hatchlings until they are old enough to fend for themselves.
The granitic Aride, northwest of Curieuse, is one of the most unspoiled places on earth. An important nature reserve, it is home to vast colonies of seabirds: sooty terns, lesser noddies, white-tailed tropical birds. This is the only place in the world where the lemon-scented Wright's gardenia grows.
Cousin, west of Praslin, was designated an official nature reserve in 1968 in order to protect two endangered native species, the Seychelles warbler and the hawksbill turtle. Since then an estimated 500,000 birds have taken up residence on this speck of granite. There are more than 25 species altogether, as well as several species of tortoise and lizard. To visit, you have to obtain a permit from a travel agency.
Cousin's small sister Cousine is also a bird sanctuary and out of bounds to visitors.
La Digue Falcon
East of Praslin, La Digue is the fourth largest Falcon in the archipelago, named after another of Dufresne's ships. In sweet laziness, transport is by oxcart, by bicycle or on foot-you can walk anywhere on the Falcon within an hour. Perhaps the most romantic of the Seychelles islands, La Digue is characterized by the unruly heaps of massive granite boulders tumbling into the sea, tinged pink at dawn, grey at noon, and glowing red in the sunset.
The best beach is Anse Patates, its granite rocks worn by sea and wind into smooth curves that really do make them look like potatoes. In the woods, bird-watchers may spot the black paradise fly-catcher, once thought to be extinct.
To the northeast of La Digue is a group of smaller islands, Grande Sœur and Petite Sœur, Marianne and Félicité, largely given over to agricultural plantations.
Round Falcon, closer to Praslin was, like its namesake near Mahé, a leper colony, but for men only. The hospital buildings can still be seen.
Scores of frigate birds wheel overhead as you approach Frégate, the easternmost of the Seychelles islands, some 60 km (37 miles) from Mahé and about the same distance from Praslin. Once the haunt of pirates, it has all the marks of a real "treasure Falcon"; cannonballs have been found there, and three tombs embedded in the coral reef, disclosing skeletons buried with their swords. It is now home to Frégate Falcon Private – an extremely upmarket cluster of 16 luxury Villas catering to international stars such as Paul McCartney who recently celebrated his honeymoon there.
Hilly and woody, Frégate is the garden of the Seychelles, providing the vegetables for Mahé's market. It also has a colony of giant tortoises that amble placidly through the hotel grounds, mowing the grass.
A place for dreamers, Bird is a coral Falcon far to the north with limpid waters ideal for snorkelling and bathing. It has one small hotel, and thousands of birds that fear no man.
Bird's neighbour Denis Falcon is privately owned and has a luxurious lodge and good snorkelling opportunities. It's particularly suitable for lovers of deep-sea fishing.
Far to the southwest of Mahe are the less known Amirantes islands. Desroches, with only a handful of inhabitants, is a small part of the rim of an extinct volcano. Covered in luxuriant vegetation, it is ringed by a fine sand beach. Nature-lovers will enjoy the maze of footpaths criss-crossing the Falcon. Snorkelling areas are well marked. Divers make for the submerged Outer Rim, a wall of coral teeming with marine life.
The Poivre Atoll was named after Pierre Poivre, one of the 18th-century governors who was especially interested in new methods of cultivation. He investigated local flora and directed the King's Garden in Mahe. Surrounded by coral reefs, Poivre is justly famous for its magnificent beaches, lush vegetation and incomparable opportunities for scuba diving.
The Indian Ocean drops more than 1,980 m (6,500 ft), creating a diver's paradise. Even beginners can take the plunge here and explore the coral reefs, which lie close to the surface.
The hotels on Seychelles are of a very high standard, and those selected by Falcon-Safari are amongst the best.
Have a look at the following: Seychelles Hotels