Seychelles (Honeymoon Part 2)
We were in need of a relaxing end to our two-week honeymoon, so we chose a beach destination not too far away from Tanzania, the island nation of the Seychelles. Not many Americans go there since it’s on the other side of the world, but we were already in the general neighborhood so it made some sense. I knew of the Seychelles before so when our travel agent recommended it as option I was sold.
We flew into Mahe airport, a few miles south of the small capital Victoria. Across the street from the airport was a mountain so high that you had to lift your head to look at it towering above.
We got picked up and driven across the island to our hotel. The scenery was beautiful and reminded me of the Caribbean. The island’s population is mostly Creole, reflecting its history as a French colony. Our driver talked to us almost the whole 40 minute drive. The Seychelles Tourist Bureau should extend him an employment offer; he spoke so highly of the country and its people. He kept repeating that we should feel safe on the island, that everyone is trustworthy and nice to tourists, and that we could even test his claim by walking around that night, even in the worst areas of the island, with wads of bills in our hands, and not be separated with a single dollar bill in the process. He was also flabbergasted (yes, that’s the best word to use in this context) at our ignorance of the “coco-de mer,” the country’s unofficial icon.
The Four Seasons Seychelles lies in and above Petit Anse bay on the southwestern side of the island. The scenery from the lobby was spectacular. The perfectly formed natural bay was colored by every shade of blue and green on the spectrum.
Mahe looks a lot like a Caribbean island but what sets its apart is the granite boulders on its beaches. The rocks, smoothed by millions of years of wave and water action, look like huge misshapen grey eggs stuck in the water.
We were blown away by the view from our hillside villa. I think the pics below speak for themselves. After seeing this set up, we were a little disappointed that we would only be spending one night here.
We spent the evening watching the sunset on the beach and then going to an overlong and unnecessarily expensive dinner at one of the hotel restaurants.
The hotel breakfast buffet the next morning was one of the biggest spreads I’ve ever seen. We enjoyed watching the dozens of birds bother people at their tables, so bold that they would fly onto the table while people were eating, and try to peck at food. There were other wildlife sightings viewing at the buffet, including an older Russian man with two scantily clad blondes and a girl that looked to be about twelve. No sign of a wife. Were the older women his daughters? No way. What about the younger one? He didn’t talk to any of them the entire time. It was bizarre.
Later that morning we walked down to a local beach off the hotel grounds. We heard there was a restaurant there with good food but managed by an owner who was, in the words of one of the hotel staff, an “asshole.” We spent some time on the beautiful beach and played with the half dozen puppies that lived nearby. We had another puppies on the beach experience, on a trip to Vietnam. You pretty much can’t go wrong with puppies on the beach. We attempted to have lunch at the restaurant but realized we didn’t have enough time to eat because we had spent so much time with the dogs. I did kind of want to try the “bat curry” or “grilled bat” though.
That afternoon, we took a 30 minute flight from Mahe to Descroches, a private island about the same size–and approximate shape–of Central Park.
Desroches was unlike any hotel stay we’ve ever had. It’s a self-contained resort in in the middle of nowhere. On one end of the island, neatly separated from the rest of the island by an airstrip, is the hotel property– the main dining area, pool, hotel offices, tennis court, scuba diving center, and about 10 guest rooms.
On the other side of the airstrip, are ten or so villas looking out onto one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. Beyond the villas are stretches of coconut palm groves and miles of deserted beach. This part of the island is a lot less developed, save for a small Creole village, a vegetable farm, a tortoise pen, and, inexplicably, a sawmill staffed by imported Indian laborers. There were so many coconut trees around the island that there were signs warning you to watch out for falling coconuts. Getting hit in the head by a 3 lb. coconut from 70 feet above would probably not feel so good.
About 50 feet of palm-shaded lawn separated our villa’s back porch from the beach. In the front was a fenced in area with a small dip pool and an outdoor shower–that was a common amenity our trip. The room came with two kayaks, a stocked minibar (all included) and a lineup of South African satellite channels showing all sorts of bad (but good) American movies.
Desroches is difficult to get to, and I think that’s the draw for people. It is ideal for those looking for a getaway, a place where you can walk for miles and miles along a picture-perfect white sand beaches and not see a single other person. You can browse for seashells, gaze into the turquoise water just zone out and lower your blood pressure in the process.
Depending on what you like to do, you can can do as much or little as you want on the island. Some people come for the deep-sea fishing and scuba diving; others, like Emily and me, were happy to take up kayaking, snorkeling, and stand up paddle boarding.
Transportation around the island was interesting. If you don’t want to exert yourself getting to dinner, you can call the front desk and a few minutes later be picked up in a golf cart.
Each room also comes with bicycles to make getting around the island more convenient. The problem with this arrangement was that Emily, having grown up in Manhattan, doesn’t know how to ride a bicycle. My first attempt to teach her, during our trip to Vietnam in 2013, ended abruptly with Emily slowly crashing into an ironically named “No biking” sign. We tried again at Desroches, but watching Emily wobbling along the dirt road so slowly that even Lance Armstrong would have trouble balancing himself, was enough to convince us that another solution was needed. We would have been out of luck had the hotel staff not provided Emily with an adult tricycle. It had a big basket in the back for transporting our picnic baskets and snorkel gear, so her inability to ride a bike had its advantages in this case.
The hotel dining area, next to a nice big pool only 100 feet from the beach, was really nice, but Emily and I especially enjoyed having picnic lunches at spots around the island. All we had to do was tell the front desk when we wanted to do a picnic, and they’d pack a lunch for us and place it in a wicker basket with silverware, plates, and other stuff you’d need for a picnic.
On one day we had biked out to one end of the island and had lunch in a small clearing by the beach before kayaking out to dock about 200 yards out into the ocean, tying up our boat, and then snorkeling.
What makes Desroches stand out from other island paradises are the giant tortoises that live freely on the island. We loved biking over to the football field-sized pen, petting and feeding them coconut pieces and leaves and whatever we could find. They are really amazing creatures, so curious about us and very trustworthy.
I can’t say I have too much more to report from our time at Desroches other than what I just described. It was a relaxing three days, and we were really sad that as our honeymoon drew to a close. But we knew that it wouldn’t last forever. We had jobs to go back to and a dog to reconnect with. Poor little Ollie had probably written us off for good. His squeaks and squeals upon seeing us walk in the door were enough to shake us out of our jet lag and post-vacation funk.