The North of Mahé
Attractions and Activities in the North of Mahé
Beau Vallon Bay
Looking at Mahé on a map, the northern part of the island almost looks like a thumbs up! On the western flank of this region lies Beau Vallon Bay, the island's tourist centre. The beach here is several kilometres long, and incredibly beautiful. Thanks to this, there are numerous hotels and other holiday accommodations nestled here alongside restaurants, shops, and much more. Besides that, you can also find a wide range of excursions and watersport centres, including some excellent diving schools.
Starting from Victoria, it takes around fifteen minutes by car to reach this beach. Follow Revolution Avenue to the north-east, past the slightly worse-for-wear Marie Antoinette Colonial House, before taking the road to the left, which winds and curves through the St. Louis Pass. On both sides of the road you can spot an interesting mixture of modern apartment buildings and colourful painted wooden houses, often sporting corrugated iron roofs, lace curtains, beautiful terrace furniture, and TV antennae on the roof. After passing through St. Louis pass, it feels like another world. There is no longer any traffic, and you can't hear the honking of cars any more. Instead, there is simply tranquillity; time to take a breath and enjoy it!
The Northern Tip of Mahé
One of the island's high points is a tour of the northern tip of Mahé, from Beau Vallon around the top of the island. Driving this route gives you a really vivid impression of the island's diversity of landscape, while one of the best aspects of the tour is the fantastic views of the deep blue water and lush, secluded islands visible throughout the route. North of Mare Anglaise at the bottom of the 'thumb', a narrow coastal road leads between steep mountainsides and numerous small bays, up to the northern tip of the island, and then back towards the south-east.
Part of the western portion of this route, winding through tropical greenery above the coast, is the village of Glacis. This beautiful area was the site of many European houses in the 1950s, with European settlers fulfilling their dream of owning property in the Seychelles. Besides that, there are some luxury villas and beautiful resorts located along this coast, many of which promise a truly unforgettable holiday. British writer Ian Fleming was inspired by this region in the 1960s, something he incorporated into his James Bond novels.
The old colonial building La Bastille, north of the centre of Victoria, is the seat of the Seychelles Ministry of Culture and Information, and can be visited as a national monument by the public (open Mon - Fri: 8.00 - 16.00).
Following the road past the island's northernmost point, round to the south-east, visitors will reach North-East Point, where the Kreol Fleurage company bases itself. Kreol Fleurage is the Indian Ocean's only existing fragrance company, and it is well-worth making a little detour to take a look at their workshop and laboratory. Those who are interested will gladly be shown how many of the perfumes are prepared, while it is also possible to take a guided tour of the garden, where the classic floral ingredients for perfumes are grown, including lemongrass, patchouli, and ylang-ylang.
Driving past Victoria in a southerly direction, following the coastal road, you will come across the island's industrial area, including a brewery and a few brick factories. To the east, you may spot some lagoons in the water, which were actually artificially created in the 1990s by placing artificial islands in the water. When the tide falls, some of this area, protected from the ocean by the string of small islands, seem almost dry. The mangroves, which were resettled into this region, are these days designated a breeding and conservation zone for fish.
If you choose the East Coast Highway instead of the coastal road, you will pass modern industrial areas, existing and expanding residential areas, and a sports complex. At the start of the 21st century, the sea here was also reclaimed, and the artificial Eden Island was placed in the ocean; flat like the Maldives, similarly packed like the Palm in Dubai, but on a much smaller scale. This modern, 56-hectare complex is an extensive marine, only connected by a bridge to the main island. Here, you will find exclusive houses, only accessible via the island's 16-hectare waterway system, along with restaurants, bars, boutiques, a supermarket, and even a few private beaches.
Eden Island is located just 8 km from the airport, and around 10 minutes from the capital, Victoria. Just next-door to the island is the artificial urban wetland reserve, Roche Caiman. This 2.9-hectare region is also the result of land-reclamation work, and consists almost exclusively of freshwater, with some deep areas and other, temporary, shallow areas. A variety of plants, birds, insects, amphibians, reptiles, and other animals are all dependent on specific habitats that can be found in the reserve, Attentive observers can see such species as greenshanks, terek sandpipers, whimbrels, yellow bittern, night herons, and mangroves (Mon - Fri, 9.30 - 15.30). Roche Caiman is located between the Roche Caiman housing estate and the National Sports Complex.
The panoramic viewpoint La Misere can be reached by car in just ten minutes from Eden Island. This picturesque vantage point offers a wonderful view of Eden Island itself, as well as the other islands off the coast of Mahé. From here you’ll get an especially good view of the Sainte Anne Marine Park with its five islands: Cerf, Sainte Anne, Round Island, Long Island and Moyenne; you’ll even be able to see the outlines of Praslin and La Digue in the distance! The panoramic point is equipped with a large information board that will help you identify what you can see.
If you happen to be near to Eden Island then be sure to make a short stop at La Misere Viewpoint to see the geography of the archipelago with your own eyes and enjoy an aerial view of the islands that you'll be visiting (or that you've already visited).
Sans Souci Road
From Victoria, it's well-worth taking a drive on the Sans Souci Road to the island's western coast. This spectacular panoramic stretch extends across the island, as well as past various landmarks, ensuring plenty of highlights during your tour. The road can be quite steep here and there, and winds here and there too, so be sure that you are confident in your own driving abilities before attempting the route.
The route to the top is really worth it, however. It seems that after every corner you're rewarded with a magnificent view of the sea, which increases in beauty and brilliance with every metre you travel. You should aim to insert short breaks into your ascent to the summit, taking the time to enjoy the scenic surroundings. In fact, stepping out of the car here and there not only rewards you with magnificent views, but also the sounds of local wildlife.
At the ruins of the former Mission Lodge, located shortly after the pass, around 500 metres above sea level (1,640 ft), you can look out over the island's west coast for the first time. The lodge was built in 1875 by church organisations, and once served as a home for freed slaves. It is said that even Queen Elizabeth II has enjoyed a cup of tea and the view from the lodge's pavillion.
Immerse yourself in the world of tea at the Tea Factory. The accompanying kiosk, which is open Mon - Fri from 9.00 - 16.00 allows you to peruse a rich selection of local varieties.
The tea plants here, originally imported from Kenya, thrive in the rich rainfall of this mountainous region, allowing this entire private area to be covered in tea, with a total of approximately 110 hectares of tea growing. In the 'Tea Tavern' café, next to the factory, visitors can enjoy a fine drink or a small snack (open Mon - Sat: 9.00 - 16.00) before continuing on their journey.
West of the Tea Factory, follow the winding road down towards Port Glaud and enjoy the fabulous views of turquoise lagoon water and offshore islands. The last passable piece of road heading north runs from Port Glaud past a mangrove area. A short time later, approximately 1.5 km (1 mile) down the road, the wonderful Port Launay can be found, idea for a quick swim.
Anyone looking for something a bit adventurous can try out the Zip Lining at the Ephelia Resort, which even non-guests can enjoy. Travel up a hill on an electric buggy before travelling back down again thanks to the different connected cable routes, with eight stages in total. Near the end, you are suspended a full 120 metres (nearly 400 ft) above a small jungle valley! Also in the region are another sandy bay between rocky formations, north of Port Launay. This is Baie Ternay, and offers excellent snorkelling conditions. The road ends at this point, but you can walk to Beau Vallon thanks to a small footpath.
Leaving Port Glaud in a southerly direction, and following a short drive through forests above the coast, you arrive at the majestic Grand Anse. Surrounded by huge granite mountains in the background, the turquoise ocean and sandy bay make for a really picturesque sight. The untouched nature of the region is also evident, and the lack of offshore reef adds to this 'wild' atmosphere. From Grand Anse Village, the La Misère Road snakes through the mountainous scenery towards the east of the island.
The so-called Vacoa Nature Trail is located approximately 700 metres south of the turnoff to La Misère (the starting point can be found at the cap park of the Avani hotel), and leads you on a thirty-minute tour of the Dauban River's mangroves. After passing the swamp area, granite formations, and a bridge, the road leads through an impressive forest area which features the endemic 'Screw Pine' (Vacoa in Creole), after which the road is named.
Travelling further south on the western coast of the island, you come to Barbarons, a sprawling village between Grand Anse and Anse Barbarons. Not far from Barbarons, and following fifteen years of building works, a nineteen-hectare nature park was opened in 2014, named the Seychelles National Biodiversity Centre. The ultimate goal of the park is the protection and maintenance of the local biodiversity of the region. In a specially-constructed area of forest, visitors can find all five endemic palm species of the Seychelles, while another section represents the flora of the Seychelles' Aldabra Atoll. In the arboretum, prominent visitors to the Seychelles are sometimes asked to plant a Coco de Mer palm. The modern botanical garden can be visited from Monday to Saturday from 7.00 - 15.00.
Along the coast a little further lie a number of bays that are well-worth a look despite their relative difficulty of access: Anse Cimitière, Anse Polite, and Anse Lisette. By the time you get to Anse Boileau, the Montagne Posée Road branches off to the east and meanders over the ridge up to Anse aux Pins. Protected only by a narrow coral reef, the small beach of Anse Louis is a beautiful beach when the sea is calm. At the north end of the beach, towering 60 metres (196 ft) above the sea, is a cliff, atop which the palm roofs of the Maia Luxury Resort can be seen, along with dense forest - undoubtedly an unforgettable spot for your luxury holiday.
Thérèse Island & L'Islette
Driving along the north-west coast, a few islands come into view, just a few hundred metres offshore. These are Thérèse Island and l'Islette, both of which are beautiful spots that can only be reached via private boats. From the peak of the 160 metres (525 ft) mountain on Thérèse, you have a really good view of Mahé's mountains and the Pointe l'Escalier. This point, whose name translates as 'Stair Point', takes its name from the mysterious rock stairs that can be found in the granite here. Whether these steps were naturally formed by erosion or beaten into the rock by early settlers, no-one knows, but the latter theory entices popular speculation as to whether there is treasure buried here.
Ile aux Vaches
Off the coast of Barbarons lies the uninhabited Ile aux Vaches (island of the manatees). These marine mammals once lived there for hundreds of years until they were one day slaughtered and irrevocably eradicated, proving that even in the Seychelles environmental protection and sustainability is not always successful. The island is not particularly attractive to visit, but the waters between the island and the coast are more worthy of attention.
Driving from Victoria towards Beau Vallon Bay, approximately 50 metres (165 ft) before the beach (at the entrance to the Beau Vallon Bay Hotel), the road extends up to Bel Ombre. This site stretches out over several kilometres, and is a little less touristy, which a church, two shops, and quiet beaches. The beaches are separated by picturesque granite formations, and these views can be enjoyed from the various guesthouses that are located on the coast. Those who prefer a more luxurious setting for their trip could try the Fisherman's Cove Hotel, which lies on the outer western edge of Beau Vallon Bay. The Bel Ombre road eventually ends up in Danzil, a small village where the Italian Restaurant 'La Scala' can be found, which enjoys the reputation of being one of the best in the Seychelles.