The majority of visitors to the Seychelles archipelago in the Indian Ocean have just one thing on their minds – a perfect beach holiday on a true tropical island paradise, and they will be coming to exactly the right place! However, the ridiculously beautiful islands that make up the Seychelles have a great deal more to offer than just a hammock under the palm trees. The country is home to some of the most rare plant, animal, marine and bird species anywhere in the world and has proclaimed no less than 6 Marine Parks and one National Park to protect their habitats. Come and explore one of the most interesting island groups in the world. Do try and visit the sanctuaries on Curieuse or Labriz to see the unique giant Aldabra Tortoises, and if you are lucky you may also get to see some endangered Sea Turtles, either in the water or at their breeding grounds. A day-trip to Cousin Island is great for bird watchers.
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The most well-known of the Marine Reserves is Curieuse Island, which is situated just 2km by boat from Praslin, one of the largest islands in the archipelago. Here you can really get back to Nature hiking through the incredibly diverse habitats on a guided nature trail. You will have a chance to meet the famous Giant Tortoises and see the incredibly rare Coco de Mer Palms which are endemic to the Seychelles and which produce the largest and most unusually shaped nut in the world! Visit the ruins of the old Leper Colony and then enjoy some excellent snorkelling in the warm inviting waters of the Coral Gardens.
The Baie Ternay Marine Park is an absolute must-see on any marine enthusiasts’ itinerary. This park can only be accessed by sea and has one of the most beautiful sea shores in the Seychelles. The beaches are superb, the water is warm and clear and you may be lucky enough to spot a Whale Shark (relax – these are the Gentle Giants of the marine world and feed only on plankton!), some frolicking Dolphins or even a rare Hawksbill Turtle.
Ille Cocos Marine Park encompasses three tiny islets that will fulfil all your ultimate deserted tropical island fantasies. The snorkelling here is wonderful with a great abundance of marine life and crystal-clear warm waters.
Port Launay, Silhouette and St. Anne Marine Reserves are just as wonderful! In fact, it is very difficult not to become repetitive when extolling the virtues of all these superb Marine Parks, and you should make time to visit each of them! St. Anne boasts an excellent variety of different corals in all shapes, sized and colours. Silhouette is the largest of the 6 Marine Parks and has large tracts of virgin forest to explore, and striking granite formations that just appear to drop into the deep blue waters. Port Launay Marine Park boasts eight stunning beaches and a luxury resort and also offers great snorkelling with a good chance of spotting Whale Sharks in season.
Veuve Special Reserve or National Park was established primarily to protect the habitat of the rare Seychelles Black Paradise Flycatcher. This Reserve is on the island of La Digue and is well worth a visit to see this rare Flycatcher and several other species that are nurtured here.