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On our travels in the Seychelles we found Praslin, an island not only with the most beautiful beaches, but also with UNESCO World Heritage Site Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve and the Curieuse Marine National Park close by. An unique place for nature enthusiasts to explore endemic animals and plants above and under water.
Praslin is a small island in the Indian Ocean belonging to the Seychelles, situated about 1’800 kilometers east of the African coast and only about 44 kilometers north-east from the biggest island of the Seychelles, Mahé.
With barely 40 km2 the island of Praslin is the second largest island of the Seychelles. 7’500 people live on Praslin, most of them along the coast. Praslin belongs to the group of the Inner islands of the Seychelles and is one of the granitic islands with photogenic weird shaped boulders along the coast like Mahé and La Digue.
You can choose from three options to get to the Island of Praslin. We chose the cheapest option by speed ferry of Cat Cocos from Mahé to Praslin (from 48 € / Person), which takes about an hour. The boat can be busy, so book upfront online. You find information about the transfer from the airport to the ferry port on the same website.
We tried to phone as we were too late to book online (min. 48 hours in advance), but the office wasn’t reachable over the weekend. Luckily the ferry wasn’t busy and we were able to book an hour before departure on Monday morning.
The sea can be rough and many tourists became seasick on the way back from Praslin to Mahé the other day. So, if you don’t have sea legs and easily feel sick on a boat, you should maybe rather choose to fly to Praslin. Air Seychelles flies daily to Praslin and you can enjoy sensational bird-views over the islands, if only it is a short pleasure as the flight arrives already after 15 minutes.
If you can afford to give yourself a treat and fly from Mahé to Praslin by Helicopter, you’ll have certainly the best start of your holidays ever. It has to be the best way to hop islands on the Seychelles!
It’s easy to get around on Praslin, after all there are not to many roads other than along the coast. We managed to get lost anyway by taking the wrong bus in the opposite direction! No real problem as it was a great way to see also the west-side of the island along Grand Anse and the lush forest pocket around Vallé de Mai as the bus drove over the mountain pass before arriving at our final destination on the east-side of the island at Anse Boudin, north of Côte d’Or.
Easy, cheap but not very reliable is to travel by bus. It’s only 5 Seychellois Rupees per person no matter how far and buses drive to almost anywhere on the island. It can happen that a bus drives off before scheduled or doesn’t drive at all and you will be lucky having chosen to leave early for your ferry departure. Our bus had a puncture! We were very grateful for a friendly islander, who gave us and others a lift to the jetty, although it wasn’t on his way.
You’ll be able to rent a car at the jetty of Praslin easily. The island is small and you don’t really need a car as buses drive you almost anywhere. But of course, the luxury of being independent with your ‘own’ car is great and you are not restricted to taxis in the evening, when the buses don’t drive. Be cautious, the streets are very narrow and can be dangerous, which doesn’t stop the buses to speed around corners.
For myself, Praslin is ways to mountainous and the roads to narrow, the car drivers to crazy to drive around by bicycle, but then, I’m not a big bicycle fan other than in flat Netherlands with own bicycle paths. It’s easy enough to hire bicycles on Praslin. Why not, if you want to do some exercise in the heat of the tropics!
You can charter a boat to get to the best secluded beaches and the islands around Praslin. No better way to enjoy a day in the Seychelles in my opinion. Zibo Boat Charter is based at Côte d’Or on Praslin and offers quite some beautiful tours for small groups up to eight people. Contact details you find on their website and on their Facebook page.
The island is too big to explore only by foot. You can walk along the main road which is often the only connection between the villages, but it’s not very pleasant. Of course this is different if the beach stretches all the way without interruption from one place to the other.
Praslin has a wide range of high-end, luxury five star beach front accommodations to small hand-picked guesthouses and self-catering apartments. It depends on your preferences and you’ll certainly find your own little gem, if you book early enough. We found our little paradise with …
Luckily one of the two luxury self-catering apartments of Jardin Marron at Anse Boudin had become available short-term because of a cancellation. As we entered the garden of eden full of flowers between granite boulders and went to enjoy the views from the deck with sun chairs overlooking the Indian Ocean to the island Curieuse on the opposite side, the place blew our minds!
Marie, the Seychellois owner of the properties in this magical spot, showed us around and was very helpful with useful information for our stay. As she led us into our apartment we were gobsmacked by the comfort we were to enjoy during our stay on Praslin.
From a well-equipped kitchen, a spacious living-room with patio overlooking the ocean, a bathroom with the widest luxury shower I’ve ever seen to a bedroom with sea view even if lying in the bed – this place didn’t come short in anything!
As soon as we’d settled in, we went to the shop only five minutes away to buy a picnic for the beach at Anse Boudin, which stretches just in front of Jardin Marron. We spread our towels and sat down between the scenic granite boulders on the white sand there-while we took in our surroundings with a splendid feeling of life is incredibly good to us!
You can’t go wrong if you look for white sandy beaches with crystal-clear turquoise, bathtub warm water to spend lazy days. As rated by many visitors Anse Lazio is the most beautiful of Praslin’s beaches if not of the whole Seychelles. But others don’t stand far behind like Anse Georgette, Côte d’Or, Anse Cimitiere, Anse Bois de Rose and of course, our almost private, small but beautiful Anse Boudin.
Snorkeling from the beach is good at Anse Lazio. At Côte d’Or and other beaches in Praslin the water level is shallow which makes snorkeling rather difficult.
At Côte d’Or we took a boat trip for a day. An excellent way to combine a visit to Curieuse Marine National Park with the Aldabra tortoises breeding project at Curieuse and snorkeling in the fish-rich waters around St. Pierre island. Find out more about this trip under ‘Boat Trips To Neighbouring Islands‘.
A few diving operators are situated on Praslin and know where the best diving spots are to be found.
In a protected valley in the heart of Praslin the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve harbours six of the Seychelles endemic palm species with the iconic Coco de Mer palm. If you are lucky you’ll see endemic animal species like the Seychelles Black Parrot or chameleon. It’s also a sensible habitat for freshwater fish, prawns, crabs and shrimps. Book a free guided tour with SIF (Seychelles Islands Foundation) in advance to see also the small beauties of nature, which you might otherwise miss.
The entrance fee isn’t a bargain with 20 €, but for a good cause as it supports not only this Nature Reserve but also the second World Heritage Site of the Seychelles which is not accessible for public, the atoll Aldabra.
The lesser known Fond Ferdinand Nature Reserve next to Anse Marie-Louise only opened in 2013 and is with 122 hectares six times larger than Vallée de Mai and is even richer on endemic animal and plant species. You can reach a viewpoint with spectacular view of Praslin and the other inner islands of the Seychelles within about a two to three hours hike.
Trails lead to the best beaches, sometimes quite steep over mountain slopes or through coastal vegetation. Ask the Tourist Information Office or your local host for a map and instructions.
Praslin, as the rest of the Seychelles, is a melting pot of different cultures which originate in Africa, Europe and Asia, as do the ancestors of the inhabitants and their favored language Creole. The colourful bouquet of these roots revives in music, art and architecture. Best is to check the calendar or local hangouts and to mix with the friendly islanders at one of their events, to visit some local art studios and the museum at Côte d’Or.
No shortage on day trips from Praslin to the neighbouring islands and the best snorkeling spots.
Just a 15 minutes hop with the Inter Island Ferry Cat Rose from the Jetty in Praslin. No need to book in advance normally. Rent a bicycle in La Digue at the jetty for 100 Seychellois Rupees / day and there you go. Check my previous post about La Digue for more information.
Curieuse Marine National Park exists since 1979 and protects Curieuse with its surrounding waters. We took a day trip with Ziblo Boat Charter from Côte d’Or to this small island of only three square-kilometers, where more than 300 Aldabra giant tortoises linger around the Ranger’s Station and the rest of the island. (Entrance fee for Curieuse Marine National Park 200 Seychellois Rupees).
Our guide, Stephen, took us through the breeding station of the tortoises, explaining about these magnificent giants and their tiny off-springs.
We fed leaves to the tortoises which Stephen had collected as we had been waiting for our departure from Praslin. They seemed to enjoy the treat immensely.
From the Ranger’s Station we walked a well-signposted path from Baie Laraie to Anse St. José on the other side of the island through coastal vegetation and over walkways crossing mangrove forest with myriads of crabs hiding in the muddy ground.
After a slow walk of about an hour with many stops for giant crabs, tortoises and birds we arrived at the ruins of the leper colony and the doctor’s house which is now a museum with information about Curieuse Island’s history.
We spend a few hours sunbathing and swimming at the beautiful beach of Anse St. José, while Stephen and Rocco prepared the best barbecue we had during our whole time in the Seychelles.
As we sat on the beautifully decorated table with Mango – and various other salads, coconut and fruits, we were offered the best seasoned Job and Calcal fish we’d ever tasted. Also chicken was added to the menu so that no wishes could possibly be unsatisfied.
Luckily we had enough time to relax after our rich lunch to be able to move again, before we headed to St. Pierre for snorkeling.
Just a short drive of maybe 15 minutes by boat and we jumped into the clear water to snorkel between a variety of fish species, we’d never seen before.
Swarms of fish encircled us curiously and some of them swam alongside me. A unforgettable, wonderful experience which I can warmly recommend to anyone, who visits Praslin.
We didn’t have the time to visit more islands during our visit on Praslin. A combination of a tour including the island of Cousin, a fishing trip or a trip of more days to Mahé and probably other islands is certainly an option, if you stay in the Seychelles for longer.
Praslin is a destination with tropical climate and pleasant temperatures all year round, well off any path of cyclones. From April to September the south-easterly wind causes sometimes choppier sea and cooler temperatures than during the period of the north-westerly wind from October to March with higher humidity and more rainfall.
If you can, I recommend as for most of destinations, to visit during shoulder seasons. Peak seasons are December, July and August. Anyway, we visited Praslin mid July and only after our departure it got a little bit more busy. Not comparable with European destinations during summer holidays though.
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