The African islands just off the continent’s east coast in the Indian Ocean is the new destination hotspot for all types of vacations, water sports and just plain fun-in-the-sun. No wonder Prince William and his new wife Kate decided to spend a ten-day honeymoon there. The paradise islands offered the couple seclusion, romance and lots of dipping and diving. Seychelles is continuously earning a reputation around the world as a top choice tourism destination. Ever since their first multicultural carnival and the visit by the royal couple, Seychelles has been the buzzword in the tourism industry.
The turquoise waters, clean white powdery beaches, along with the exquisite plants and natural habitats of Seychelles attract vacationers from all over the world. Sometimes compared to the Garden of Eden, the climate of Seychelles is always warm without extremes. The luscious terrain, beautiful beaches, and peaceful resorts scattered in different areas around the island make Seychelles the perfect getaway vacation spot. Add delectable cuisine, upbeat entertainment and friendly people, and you get a sunshine Mecca to die for.
I visited Seychelles for its first carnival in its capital city of Victoria on the island of Mahé a few months ago. I had the time of my life at the 2011 Seychelles Carnaval International de Victoria’ which was a cultural extravaganza of parades, floats, receptions, gala dinners and all types of entertainment. Over 60 different nations were invited to take part in this monumental multicultural event. Carnival-goers and participants from different countries around the world came to experience what the carnival and the islands of Seychelles had to offer. During the carnival, I attended musical concerts in the evening and experienced the fun-in-the sun during the day. After carnival fun some of us ventured inland to do the jungle trails and others just relaxed and enjoy the peacefulness of this utopian island.
The people who live here are also what help to make the island peaceful and enjoyable. The Seychellois people are a colorful blend of different races, cultures and religions. People of African, European and Asian origin have come to Seychelles at different times throughout its history bringing with them their distinct traditions and customs. All have contributed to the vibrant Seychellois way of life, giving the island a reputation of being a melting pot of cultures. These multicultural influences can be observed throughout the domains of local art, cuisine, music, dance and architecture all over the island.
The Creole music and dance on the islands have their roots in African, Malagasy and European cultures with rhythms traditionally accompanied by simple drums and string instruments. During the carnival, I joined in the fun doing the moutya, a popular, erotic dance derived from the days of slavery and can still be observed today, especially during festive celebrations. The islands are known for their Creole cuisine, reflective of its variety of people, featuring the subtleties of French cooking, the exoticism of Indian dishes and the distinct flavors of the Orient. Carnival-goers sampled the signature island cuisine that also included grilled fish and seafood dishes with sauce of crushed chillies, ginger, garlic and coconut milk, along with locally grown fruit like sweet fried bananas.
The coral islands of Seychelles are comprised of 1,000 varied species of fish with marine parks where you can even do a little snorkeling. With a backdrop of lush towering hills, big glacis boulders and splendid natural beauty, Seychelles is also a living museum of natural history, and a sanctuary for some of the rarest species of flora and fauna on earth. With almost fifty per cent of its landmass set aside as national parks and reserves, Seychelles is home to two U.N.E.S.C.O World Heritage Sites: Aldabra, the world’s largest raised coral atoll and Praslin’s Vallée de Mai, which really was once believed to be the original site of the Garden of Eden. A one-of-a-kind for ecotourism, Seychelles is a top spot to watch birds, giant tortoises in their natural habitat and a living world that lies just below the beautiful turquoise waters.
So don’t wait any longer. It is time to take a different type of African vacation. You don’t have to be royalty to visit even though you feel like you are once you get there. Seychelles Tourism Board CEO Alain St. Ange once said he was sure that journalists would become ambassadors for the islands after a visit. And you know what? He was right. I am now a self-proclaimed ambassador for Seychelles. After one visit, you will become an ambassador, also. I guarantee it.