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The 115 Seychelles islands lie far-out in the Indian Ocean and are as well known for their natural beauty as for their exclusive resorts. Only 16 islands have resorts, typically secluded five-star retreats. Main-island Mahé is blessed with white sand beaches and a mountainous interior; Praslin, the second largest island, is an UNESCO World Heritage Site of indigenous palms and beaches regularly voted the world's best. Vanilla vines and delicate orchids fill the forests of nearby La Digue Island, where the locals still favor ox carts and bicycles over cars.

Beaches

Framed by granite boulders, the soft white sands of Anse Lazio on Praslin Island slope gently down to warm, clear waters for swimming and snorkeling. Anse Source d'Argent, also on Praslin, regularly appears on postcards with its lush green palms, pristine sand, and calm turquoise water. The tradewinds at southern Mahé's Intendance Beach whip up waves perfect for surfing. Dive and snorkel off Beau Vallon on Mahé, a sweeping bay lined with resorts offering beachside bars ideal for a sundowner.

Things to Do

Inhale the fragrance of cinnamon and vanilla at the Le Jardin Du Roi Spice Garden and pick up handmade candles and medicinal plants in the shop. Try your hand at de-husking a coconut and grilling breadfruit at the Praslin Museum on the Cote d'Or, where you can also view fruit bats and sip citronelle tea. Sainte Anne National Marine Park, 20 minutes by boat from Mah , is home to green and hawksbill turtles and bottlenose dolphins.

Eating and Drinking

Seafood and steamed rice is the staple diet of Seychellois, and the national favorite is grilled octopus with chili, ginger, and garlic. Curries prepared with coconut milk and exotic chatinis (chutneys) of papaya and golden apples are on most Creole menus. Up-market resorts serve cuisines from around the world in the candle-lit al fresco restaurants, typically set by the beach.

Nature

The Coco de Mer, the world's largest nut, grows high in the ancient palms of Vallée de Mai, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Praslin. Trek through palm forests against a backdrop of granite cliffs and boulders on the Glacis La Reserve trail on Mahé. Granite outcrop and reef Cousin Island is a designated nature reserve where you can catch a glimpse of the rare Seychelles warbler birds plus 300,000 nesting sea birds, lizards, and hawksbill turtles at sea.