Paradise may be an over-used word, but standing on a seemingly never-ending stretch of beach in the Seychelles, Jonathan Wynne-Jones thinks he has found it.
White, powdery beaches merge with the impossibly blue sea in the Seychelles. Thick, powdery sand crunches then crumbles underfoot and a sea of impossible blue shimmers under the African sun. Waves roll lazily into shore, receding to reveal spindly crabs tap-dancing their way across the beach.
Apart from the sound of the ocean gently caressing the beach, the only noise is the breeze in the trees and the occasional thud of a fallen coconut. There is no one else in sight and there are no other islands for miles around. For anyone in search of the ultimate getaway, Desroches is the answer.
Lying 230 kilometres to the south of Mahe, the largest of the 115 islands that make up the Seychelles, it has a pristine and primitive beauty that appears to have changed little since Vasco da Gama first travelled here five hundred years ago.
Surrounded by coral reef that provides excellent opportunities for diving, Desroches is ringed by white sandy beaches, but what is noticeable as we fly in to land is the density of the forest that seems to cover the whole of the island. The tall casurina trees provide welcome shade as we cycle along dirt-tracks to the lighthouse at one end of the island or to the restaurant for morning breakfast on the beach.
At night, dinner is served under the stars with the ocean for background music. Waves froth and fizz as they rush to within inches of the candle-lit tables, provoking excited gasps and chatter from diners. The real force of the ocean is not felt until we’re out on a boat the next day, trolling for fish primarily, but also hanging on for our lives as we crash against a series of waves in our search for a shoal of tuna. Desroches is at the heart of one of the best areas in the world for deep-sea fishing, with game including some of the biggest adversaries such as marlin, barracuda, kingfish and sailfish.
Having cast our lines and opened a cold bottle of beer, I sat back waiting and hoping. As the minutes pass, I begin to recall previous fishing experiences that were invariably fruitless, but then suddenly there is a noise I’ve never heard before – the whirring of the line like a spinning yo-yo. Rushing to grab the line at the back of the boat, I then saw a majestic silvery-blue sail fish with its huge dorsal fin leaping through the air, wrestling with the line.
As exhilirating as that split-second was, the battle to bring the mighty fish in was exhausting although ultimately incredibly rewarding. Having pulled the sailfish aboard and taken the obligatory pictures, we then released it back into the water as the resort is committed to protecting the island’s wildlife and environment. Any fish that is killed is served to the fortunate diners. The barbecues are a particular highlight, with prawns the size of sausages.
While there are around a dozen tables set for meals at the main restaurant, it’s possible to spend the whole day without seeing anyone. There are more tortoises on the island than guests and the only other people are staff from the resort. As each luxury suite or villa is only yards from the beach, which tend to be deserted, it often feels as if we have the island to ourselves.
With the biggest dilemmas of each day being whether to swim in the ocean or the villa’s private pool or whether to have a beer or glass of wine, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve never been anywhere more relaxing.
Leaving the island is not easy, but at least we are only returning to Mahe which is still a world away from the hustle and bustle of London. Its capital, Victoria, is the smallest capital city in Africa and unquestionably the sleepiest. The French and British colonial legacy is still very much evident in the architecture and monuments, from the courthouse and post office to the fountains and clock tower.
In the background, mountains are dotted around which ensure that the drive to our final resort, the Constance Ephelia, is a long and winding journey. Set in 120 hectares of the Morne Seychellois national park, it is surrounded by mango swamps and rare vegetation that flourishes in the island’s tropical climate. Crucially, it also boasts two of the most stunning beaches on Mahe, with one in the south of the resort stretching as far as you can see and another smaller beach in a secluded bay, which forms part of the Port Launay Marine National Park.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect however, is that despite being the largest resort on the island with suites and villas sprawling around manicured lawns, it felt surprisingly spacious. During the day, the pool areas are quiet as each one is shared with only a few rooms. Then at meal times, even though the buffet is fairly busy, as well as impressively fresh and varied, there are also four differently-themed, but equally outstanding restaurants, which offer a more intimate dining experience.
The level of cooking at the Oriental Cyann restaurant is as good as anything you’d expect to find in a top London establishment, with dishes ranging from roasted lobster tail and Tongarashi spiced yellow fin tuna to duck liver with Sichuan pepper and lamb dusted with Creole spices. However, the good food comes at a price and the wine list had me gulping long before the South African pinotage arrived at a fairly extortionate cost.
But then luxury doesn’t come cheap and there is no questioning the high standards of the resort, from the state of the art spas to the exceedingly comfortable rooms. The only real problem with the Seychelles is that after a while you don’t want to leave.
Constance Ephelia Resort £182, half board depending in the season. A seven-night package including flights with Air Seychelles is from around £1,465.
Desroches Island Resort £380, inclusive of food and drink.
See for yourself – take the Virtual Tour of Desroches Island at
All prices are per person, per night
Courtesy : Telegraph 10 June 2010
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones