Nestled in the Indian Ocean east of Kenya and north of Madagascar is a 115-island archipelago so beautiful that early British explorers thought they had stumbled upon the Garden of Eden. While the Seychelles Islands were reportedly first sighted by Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama in 1502, little — if anything — was known of them prior.

Though remote, the islands attract visitors seeking the ultimate romantic escape — the current Prince and Princess of Wales honeymooned here. After all, there are few places more isolated than this heavenly cluster of islands.

Of course, there’s more to the Seychelles Islands than pristine beaches and water so clear you never lose sight of your feet. In addition to abundant natural beauty and wildlife, the main island of Mahé, home to the capital city of Victoria, boasts beautiful 18th- and 19th-century French and British architecture. And that’s to say nothing of the incredible seafood and resorts.

As you prepare to book a full-day flight to reach this island paradise, check out our definitive guide to planning the perfect Seychelles getaway.

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Before You Go

Tourism has boomed since the Seychelles International Airport opened in 1972 and is now the leading industry. United States passport holders don’t need a visa for visits of up to 90 days and can be granted a visitor permit upon arrival, but you must show proof of return transportation, lodging information, and sufficient funds for the duration of the trip.

What to Pack

The Seychelles Islands have a tropical rainforest climate with substantial humidity that is tempered by cooling ocean breezes. Pack plenty of swimwear, loose-fitting clothes, and open-toe footwear, as much of your time here will be spent on the beach. Hiking is also a popular activity, so consider bringing some sturdy boots. Keep in mind that the rainy season runs from December through February.

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What to See

Beaches are the main draw for this island nation, and since the Seychelles Islands are so far-flung, many of them are virtually untouched and are rarely crowded. Anse Lazio beach on the island of Praslin is particularly famous for its clear blue waters and native takamaka trees.

Farther inland on Praslin is the Vallée de Mai Nature Preserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This dense jungle is home to primitive plant and animal species that have remained isolated since the islands were formed. While visiting, try to catch a glimpse of the Seychelles black parrot, found nowhere else on the planet.

Nearby, the island of La Digue is known for its lovely Anse Source d’Argent beach, where you’ll find a shoreline framed by picturesque granite boulders. If you need a break from the beach, the city of Victoria on Mahé is home to incredible architecture, open-air markets, museums, and a vibrant nightlife scene.

Courtesy of Fregate Island Resort

Where to Stay

While budget-friendly lodging is available in the Seychelles, splurge-worthy resorts are also plentiful. Top places to stay include the Six Senses Zil Pasyon on the private island of Félicité — all of its 30 villas face the ocean and feature private plunge pools — and the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles on Petite Anse. Its open-air spa and breathtaking views are reason enough to make the trek.

What to Know

The Seychelles Islands are not known to have been inhabited until the French began colonizing the area in about 1770. Over the years, control of the Seychelles passed between the British and French, until the nation gained its independence from Britain in 1976.

Today, the country remains incredibly multicultural, with most Seychellois tracing their roots back to early French settlers and East Africans who came to the islands later. There is also a sizable South Indian and Chinese influence on the cultural makeup of the islands, which is manifested in the islands’ seafood-heavy cuisine. Specialties include shark chutney — mashed shark seasoned with bilimbi juice — and ladob, plantain simmered in coconut milk and served as a sweet or savory dish.

How to Get There

The Seychelles Islands are some 1,100 miles off the coast of mainland Africa, so the best way to reach them is by plane. Most connecting flights originate from Doha, Dubai, or Nairobi. Travel between the islands is typically by small plane or helicopter. Ferry service between the main islands of Mahé, La Digue, and Praslin is operated by Seychellesbookings.com.

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