Mahé: where dense forests and giant granitic outcrops kiss palm fringed beaches. Here, pristine, azure reefs blend into deep cobalt blue seas which touch the horizon. Lush, verdant vegetation is scattered with dwellings, and resorts hug the coastline, ready to welcome travellers to this dream destination.
Only 27km (16miles) long and 6 km (4miles) wide, Mahé is the biggest of the Seychelle’s granitic islands and is home to around 90 percent of the population of the Republic of Seychelles. The republic’s capital, Victoria is found here and has the countries only port.
Surrounded by sister islands and islets, it’s the base from where many visitors explore the other islands of the Seychelles. However, there is much to see and do in Mahé itself.
Mahé has over 75 accessible dive sites, and is considered the most diverse scuba diving location in the Seychelles.
Port Launay Marine National Park and Shark Bank are two premier dive sites around Mahé. The protected lagoons and shallow reefs of Port Launay Marine National Park make it perfect for beginner scuba divers, and whale sharks are often spotted.
The ocean surrounding Mahé has a unique underwater geology that’s shaped by a submerged granitic mountain range. Over and above the resident marine life, scuba divers can also explore a variety of wrecks.
Shark Bank is appropriate for advanced scuba divers. Here, marine life includes reef sharks, batfish, barracuda, brissant rays, yellow snapper, great schools of pelagic species, and the occasional whale shark – which is typically seen between September and November.
Scuba diving and snorkelling in Mahé can be done throughout the year and water temperatures are more or less constant – between 26-30℃ (79-86°F).
For keen fishermen and anglers, fishing excursions from Mahé can be arranged. The Indian Ocean is home to more than 900 species of fish and big game fishing, bottom fishing and flats fishing are all possible in the Seychelles.
Found in the north-western region of Mahé, Morne Seychellois National Park is where you’ll find the island’s highest peak – which rises t 2,969 feet (905 metres). Happy hikers can enjoy various trails within Morne Seychellois National Park. These include the Morne Blanc Trail, which traverses a steep path and leads hikers through an old tea plantation and mist forest, ending at a clifftop platform with panoramic views. The Copolia Trail leads hikers through dense jungle to a summit with 360-degree sea and mountain views. This trail is known for its density of carnivorous pitcher plants. The Casse Dent Trail leads hikers through forested areas of palm trees, screw pines and other indigenous trees, and ends at a waterfall. Within the park, there are also the Salazie Trail and the Grand Anse Cascade Trail. Salazie Trail leads hikers through mahogany forests and tea plantations.
Port Launay Marine National Park also lies on the north-western side of the island and despite being located in a relatively urban area, Port Launay Beach is considered the one of the best beaches in the Seychelles. Mahé has more than 70 unspoilt beaches, with Anse Major, Anse Jasmin, Petit Anse and Anse Du Riz being considered some of the best.
Sainte-Anne Marine National Park is an islet opposite Victoria Harbour on the north-east of Mahé. Like all Seychelles islands, Saint-Anne Marine National Park is blessed with crystal clear waters and calm seas, making it perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving. This protected marine park is comprised of six islands, including Ste Anne, Ile Moyenne, Ile Ronde, Ile Longue, Ile Cachee and Ile aux Cerfs.
Excursions in glass bottom boats run daily, giving a limited amount of visitors the opportunity to explore this pristine, protected marine area. The reefs around the island are rich in colourful coral and the island contains one of the largest areas of seagrass meadows within the granitic islands. Marine life is abundant and scuba divers and snorkellers often see green turtles Hawksbill turtles and bottle-nose Dolphins.
This region is one of the most important nesting sites for Hawksbill Turtles and in nesting season, some beaches are restricted so that this natural process is not disrupted in any way.
Cerf Island is the second largest island in this Marine Park and is known for its superb snorkelling, swimming and scuba diving.
Access to some of the islands is restricted as some are privately owned. Spanning only five acres, the uninhabited islet of Ile Cachée is an important site for breeding Noddies. Ile Cachée is classed as a Nature Reserve and also has a dive site which can only be accessed during the northwest monsoon.
Close to the Victoria harbour is The Victoria Botanical Gardens – a tropical feast for the eyes where visitors will see giant Aldabra tortoises, iconic Coco de Mer trees, exquisite orchids and vibrant indigenous flora. From bustling markets to colonial mansions, Victoria is worth exploring and offers visitors insight into creole culture, creole cuisine, and daily life in the Seychelles.
For tree lovers and flower fans, Mahé is a true plant paradise. Mahé’s forests contain rare endemic plants that are found only in Seychelles. These include the carnivorous Nepenthes pervillei (Seychelles pitcher plant), the critically endangered Medusagyne oppositifolia (the jellyfish tree), and many unique species of orchid.
The Seychelles has the largest proportion of protected areas in the world and is home to a wide variety of animal species, including 220 bird species, 13 species of amphibians and 30 species of reptiles. There are also 1000 species of invertebrates that inhabit the islands with many falling under special protection.