Seychelles is an archipelago of some 115 widely-spread islands located north-east of Madagascar in the warm azure waters of the Indian Ocean, on roughly the same latitude as Kenya. The phrase ‘heaven on earth’ gets overused, but Seychelles is one place that lives up to this description.

Think picture-perfect beaches of white sand, with palm trees swaying in gentle ocean breezes. Seychelles’ beaches – especially those framed by smooth granite boulders – frequently appear in lists of the world’s best strips of sands, and it’s no wonder.

This is perhaps the ultimate ‘barefoot luxury’ destination, with a handful of very luxurious lodges and resorts pandering to your every need. Wellness and relaxation are taken very seriously in Seychelles – we’re talking spa and massage treatments and deeply indulgent ‘me time’.

Seychelles can be easily reached from either Nairobi or Johannesburg, with scheduled flights into the capital, Victoria. From there, boat or helicopter transfers rapidly bring you to the islands of your dreams.

Your first encounter with Seychellois culture may well be culinary: over the centuries, these islands have come under various influences, and this is reflected in the unique dishes you may be served. Shark curry inevitably has a bit of a bite, while if you really want to spread your gastronomic wings, fruit bat is a local delicacy. Or so we’re told!

On shore, there aren’t too many things to do (other than cycle, stroll along the beach, or work on your tan) – but then that’s precisely the point. Seychelles is a holiday destination, and it more than delivers when it comes to rest and recuperation.

If you feel the need to be more active, you need to head out to sea… Seychelles offers some of the world’s best blue-water fishing, or you can drop in on the islands’ teeming reefs. In terms of natural history, perhaps the most iconic species are the Aldabra giant tortoises. There are also the suggestively-shaped fruits of the rare coco de mer palm tree, which have inspired many legends.

Some of the best Seychelles stories concern treasures buried on remote islands by pirates and buccaneers. Huge quantities of gold and jewels are believed to be hidden there – another good reason to bring your bucket and spade!

Gateway cities: Mahe (Victoria)

Best time to travel: Year round

Highlights: Beaches, superb luxury resorts, weather, diving, wildlife

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