When it comes to wishing for the archetypal idyllic island, it's impossible to think past the glorious bays caressed by the gorgeously multi-hued waters of MahÃ©. To the northeast, a range of granite peaks, including MahÃ©'s highest point, Morne Seychellois (905m), adds to this vivid panorama.
By far the largest and most developed of the Seychelles islands, MahÃ© (named by the French in honour of the 18th-century governor of Mauritius, MahÃ© de Labourdonnais) is home to the country's capital. Small wonder that it has excellent vacation and adventure opportunities, from exploring the mountainous jungle of the interior to diving pristine sites and snorkelling with whale sharks. Or just do nothing at all and flake out on porcelain-sand beaches. Wherever you're based, paradise lies close at hand
Anse Intendance:One of MahÃ©'s most beautiful
beaches, this small and secluded crescent of sand on the island's south coast
is a favorite surfing spot thanks to its frequent big swells and wild waves.
The lack of a protective reef makes swimming a little rough when tradewinds
blow from the southeast, but sunbathers, beachcombers, and photographers will
enjoy this picturesque, palm-framed strand at any time of year. Turtles nest
along the powdery shores here.
Baie Lazare:The pretty village of Baie Lazare
was named after 18th-century French explorer Lazare Picault, who landed here
when the French government sent him to explore the
islands. One of the area's main tourist attractions is the neo-Gothic Baie Lazare Church, dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi, which provides
a panoramic view of the area. Luxury resorts fringe the beaches here, and
stunning Anse Soleil and Petite Anse are favorites with their striking
azure water and dazzling white sand.
Beau Vallon:The alluring curve of glittering
sand at Beau Vallon, on MahÃ©'s northwest coast, is a magnet for both tourists
and locals. Looking out to sea, mountainous Silhouette Island shimmers on the horizon, and
hotels fringe the shore. Visitors will find a variety of watersports on offer,
including jet skis and water skiing. The sea is usually calm here, especially
during the southeast tradewinds, making this a good choice for families with
small children. Lifeguards patrol the beach.
Morne Seychellois National Park:The largest national park in the
Seychelles, Morne Seychellois National Park covers more than 20 percent of the
area of MahÃ©. Within its lush borders lies the mountain chain named after its
highest point, Morne Seychellois, which reaches a height of 905 m and overlooks
Victoria. Hiking trails ascend into the park from the village of Danzil, passing tea plantations, and offering spectacular views of the
southwest coast of MahÃ© from the mountain slopes. Walking west through the
park, hikers will reach the Baie Ternay and Port Launay Marine Parks. To the northwest lies the
hamlet of Bel Ombre and the isolated beach at Anse Major.
Ste Anne National Marine Park:Encompassing six islands off the
coast of MahÃ© near Victoria, Ste Anne National Marine Park became the first national park in the
Indian Ocean in 1973. Snorkeling, scuba diving, and glass-bottom boat
excursions reveal the diversity of marine life in the park's coral reefs, and
visitors can explore most of the islands within the reserve. Home to a
five-star resort, Ste Anne Island, is an important nesting site for hawksbill
turtles. In spite of its mangroves and crocodiles, the island was the site of a
1770 French settlement, the first in the Seychelles.
On Round Island, a former leper colony, visitors can explore the
ruins of the hospital, enjoy a nature walk, or dine at the Creole restaurant. ÃŽle CachÃ©e is an
important breeding site for noddies and a designated protected nature reserve.
At Cerf Island, visitors
can swim, snorkel, or dive along the beautiful reefs or bask on the uncrowded
beaches, while privately owned Moyenne Island features nature trails, reconstructed
settlers' homes, pirate graves, and a small, thatched chapel.