Mahe Island Seychelles.
Off the East coast of Africa, in the Indian Ocean, 640 mls NE of Madagascar and 975 mls East of Kenya. The international airport is on the East coast, 6 mls SE of the nation's capital, Victoria.
The largest and one of the most northerly of the Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands. Its nearest neighbours are Silhouette, Praslin and La Digue.
Mahe is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and dramatic places in the world. This long, narrow, irregularly shaped island, which measures roughly 16 by 8 mls, has a lush, mountainous interior and a picturesque coastline of large granite boulders interspersed with picture-perfect, palm-fringed beaches of fine white sand. The island's highest point, Morne Seychellois, soars to almost 3,000 ft above sea level, its top often obscured by light cloud. In addition to being the largest of the Seychelles, Mahe is also the most populated, being home to 90% of the nation's residents (roughly 80,000 people), and yet it doesn't feel crowded, thanks to careful and consistent regard shown for the environment by planners and developers. The North of the island is more built up and is the site of the capital, Victoria. This is the only "city" in the Seychelles, and the commercial centre where most of the banks, shops and travel agencies are based in a concentration of about a dozen streets. It offers little in the way of interest, except for limited shopping possibilities and access to the port for onward travel to other islands. In addition to its scenery, the island is renowned for the friendliness of its people; the gap between rich and poor is not striking. The main languages spoken are Creole, English and French.
Well-off honeymooners and families; special-interest groups. Prices are high here.
Predominantly international resort complexes and medium-sized hotels, all with modern facilities. Family-run guesthouses and bungalows are interesting cultural-exchange alternatives.
Wide choice, with around 70 in all: small or large, deserted or crowded, highly visible or hidden away in some remote part of the island. Beau Vallon, the main tourist beach on the NW coast, is a 2-ml-long arc of white sand with clear waters and a wide range of water sports on offer; it is also the calmest of the beaches, so good for young families. Anse a la Mouche (SW) is a large, palm-fringed bay with shallow waters, ideal for swimmers. Anse Royale (SE) is the favoured spot for snorkelling, as is the more sheltered Takamaka Bay (SW). ½-ml-long Anse Intendance (SW) is one of the most beautiful bays, popular with surfers, although swimming is dangerous during the monsoon season (May to Sept). Few of the beaches have lifeguards, sometimes limited cover is available from a particular hotel covering part of the beach.
Victoria offers a range of locally produced wares and a daily market for fresh fish and vegetables; the Codevar Centre has a wide selection of local art and crafts. All villages have small, basic grocery stores.
Daytime: beach and water sports, including snorkelling, diving and sailing; shopping; golf; horse riding; paragliding; bird-watching; walking and hiking.
Most hotels offer evening entertainment programmes, from barbecue nights to dinner dances and folk singing; one cinema in Victoria; national theatre; 5 discos/nightclubs, open mostly at weekends; couple of hotel-based casinos.
The main choice by far is creole, but many eateries offer a more bland "international" cuisine for those who can't take the spice. A reputable pizzeria at Beau Vallon. Several takeaways can be found in Victoria. A few Chinese and Indian restaurants exist in the bigger hotels.
A bus service operates daily to all parts of the island; a half-hourly service covers the most populated areas in the North, but in the South it is closer to one an hour. Cars, minimokes (tiny, low-slung, roofless safari-type cars) and jeeps can be hired through hotels, guesthouses and travel agents. Efficient taxi service, but fairly expensive.
Coach tour of island taking in market, beaches, botanical gardens and tea plantation; boat trip to marine national park for fish feeding, snorkelling, semisubmersible ride and creole barbecue; scenic helicopter flights over Mahe or other nearby islands; neighbouring islands of Praslin and La Digue, by boat or air.