It is hard to believe that these islands were once places of exile. The British colonial power sent militant followers of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem here in 1937 and 20 years later the militant Cypriot Archbishop Makarios. At that time the Seychelles But Siberia is something else.
Today, the British heir to the throne are spending their honeymoon in the now independent republic. And on the highest point of the main island of Mahé, the Emir of Abu Dhabi has built a huge palace that is lit up at night. The world's rich people are competing to build luxurious residences and resorts on these 115 dream islands off the east coast of Africa.
Unlike the coral atolls of the Maldives on the other side of the Indian Ocean threatens the granite islands of Seychelles not the flooding due to rising sea levels. but if you want to see it before it floods the land grab by the super-rich and upscale mass tourism, you shouldn't wait too long. and yes, that makes you part of the problem.
Of course, you don't necessarily have to let yourself be driven into the stress of a restless island hopping in search of the loneliest sandy beach and the photos that are most likely to look like the holiday brochures, nor do you have to fall for the promises of ultimate luxury and total relaxation in secluded exclusivity. After all, relaxation and luxury can be enjoyed in one of Germany's many wellness temples, three-star chefs included, and in our latitudes, the wine stays cold longer.
And no matter how many islands you have seen, in the end it is always the one you have not been to that some know-it-all declares to be the only true one, but azure blue sea teeming with colourful fish, sandy beaches, palm trees and the sultry, heavy air of the tropics inviting laziness are everywhere in the Seychelles.
Mahé offers more than beaches
There, like 90 percent of the population of this paradise, you can stay right on Mahé, the largest island, where there are also some not quite so expensive hotels and where, apart from some amazingly empty beaches, you can also discover fauna and flora, cuisine and culture.
To start with the culture: it is young. the islands were not settled until the end of the 18th century. and it is creole, which means a mixture of european, african and asian elements: the beautiful multicultural heritage of imperialism. French and british adventurers, pirates, colonial officials and plantation owners, slaves and freed slaves from east africa, arabic, indian, chinese and malaian merchants brought their languages, their cultures, their religions, food and traditions.
The most sensual way to experience this colourfulness is in the Catholic or Adventist churches, the Hindu temple or the mosque of the capital Victoria."Lafet La Digue") on August 15th it is quite common for members of all religions to celebrate together - at the secular festivals such as the "Carnaval de Victoria" at the beginning of March, the "Festival Kreol" at the end of October and the Subios Sea Festival at the beginning of November anyway.
At times, of course, the celebration of Creole, especially under the influence of tourism, turns into a kind of Disney World, where you don't know whether you're in the Caribbean, the Pacific or maybe at the Carnival of Cultures in Berlin because of rum punch, Hawaiian shirts, flower garlands, pirate romance, bands playing variations of "Island In The Sun" and dancers who act on the edge of soft porn.
Some of the musicians who mix the traditional sega songs with reggae, calypso and salsa for the tourists are excellent people. The best thing to do is to ask them where they perform at a village or town festival or in a smaller club. There you can still make real discoveries - even at the big "Country & Western Jamboree" in July, because for some reason this uramerican music has an enthusiastic following here on Mahé. As in every country that lives from tourism, kitsch and art are close together.
Creole cuisine is based, as it should be, on fish in all its variations. curries, sweet and spicy coconut sauces, fried vegetables and desserts that quickly make up for the body's beach compatibility are standard. the resorts serve a europeanized form of this cuisine: not so spicy, not so sweet, not so greasy - not authentic.
If you want to get a first impression, we recommend the traditional restaurant "Marie Antoinette" in Victoria; afterwards, you might dare to try one or the other at a stand at the Sir Selwyn Selwyn Clarke Market or in smaller restaurants, for example in the rural south of Mahé.
Of course you have to dive or snorkel in the Seychelles. A few meters from the beach you already feel like in an aquarium. But if you have had enough or if you got a sunburn, you should also dedicate yourself to the exploration of the island. If you dare, take the bus (all Seychelles speak Creole, English and French), otherwise you rent a car.
Since there are no dangerous animals on Mahé, you can walk alone on trails through the jungle, for example to the remote Anse Major beach, where you might spot a sea turtle, to the waterfall of Cassedent or through the Morne Seychellois National Park, where carnivorous pitcher plants grow between the granite rocks.
In the late afternoon you should enjoy a cup of tea in the tavern of the tea plantation and watch the flying foxes coming out of the trees in search of food, or watch the spectacular sunset from the "Mission Lodge" on Mont Fleuri during a picnic.
Here, in the 19th century, missionaries had built a school to teach former slaves who had freed British warships from the hands of Arab slave traders, only to abandon them on the nearest islands, which these exiles did not consider a paradise.
Not far from Mont Fleuri, just below the ostentatious palace of the Emir of Abu Dhabi, a village is called La Misère - misery. US drones park on the island's airfield, and warships are moored in the harbour - they are used against the Somali successors of those pirates romanticized in folklore.
In short: sun, sand and sea, drinks at the swimming pool and palm trees in the evening breeze are also available elsewhere, but those who are curious will find much more in Mahé than the holiday brochures promise.