Crystalline waters, perennially sunny skies, resorts of rustic-luxe huts perched above the ocean -- at first glimpse the Seychelles appear similar to island paradises you may have visited before. But then you hear the song of the rare Seychelles Warbler or glimpse the indigenous coco de mer palm and realize you're in an exotic land about as far as you can get from home. This archipelago nation off the east coast of Africa is made up of over 100 islands, some made of granite, others of coral. You can use one of the main islands of Mahe, Praslin or La Digue as base from which to explore the more remote ones. Because of the country's proximity to Africa, many couples first go on safari before heading to the Seychelles to relax on the beach.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
You'll probably have to take three, or even four, flights to get there -- one to a European city like London or Amsterdam, then onto a Middle Eastern hub like Qatar or Dubai where you'll connect to a flight to the main island of Mahe. From Europe it's a total flight time of about 12 hours to Mahe.
When To Go: Seychelles at its best
There's no truly "off" season in the Seychelles, but June, July and August are reliably cool and dry. June might be preferable because it's a little less tourist-filled than the later summer months. The period from November to April is warmer and rainy. Temperatures average between 75 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit all year long.
May and October fall just outside the high tourist season, so you might find some deals.
What To Do
Ogle exotic flora and fauna:
Stroll through Mahe's more-than-a-century-old botanic gardens, which are filled with an array of plants, trees, and flowers like (literally) nothing you've never seen. Or head to the Aldabra atoll, a ring of four coral islands which are home to over 100,000 giant tortoises.
Play in the water:
In the Seychelles you'll have a long menu of water-based recreation to choose from -- sailing, kayaking, snorkeling and diving are all excellent. It's worth it to take a boat trip out to a coral snorkeling site offshore, since you'll find much more intriguing marine life there than you would closer to shore.
Though it's tempting to be lazy and not leave the little idyll of your chosen resort, it would be a crime to not explore at least a few other islands. A variety of boat, helicopter and airplane charters are available to take you around.
-- Celeste Perron