My Adventures in Seychelles

14th May 2016

After three decades of existence on mother earth, you've had your share of joy and sorrows, you've hit all the wicked curve balls outta the park, you turn into a bit of a philosopher. You realize that your plans are only as good as they look on paper and that He can spill the ink on your manuscript any time He wants, mostly without warning. It is only those who defy His plans for them and go against almighty's will and achieve what they really want. Maybe their road is rockier, or maybe they are caught somewhere between - "Whats yours will come to you" and "If you want it, go for it" and that's what triggers them to choose the latter.

I identify myself with that kind, the kind that really believes in living out its dreams and stubbornly follows them, NO MATTER WHAT..!

The year 2016 started on a bright note, the idea of conceiving a new, different lifestyle intrigues, if not excites. But it didn't work out. The hunger for an alternative, and the refusal to accept a life of unhappiness drove me to uncharted territories. Being an Indian woman, you have limited choices in life, but that doesn't mean you have to accept it and help it become a FACT. That's when the inner rebellion comes to play. :)

Left home, bid adieu to the family who wanted nothing but happiness for me, but couldn't align their definition of it with mine. And returned to the land that gave me the roller coaster decade full of beautiful memories and adorable, dependable friends - NEW DELHI.

Photo of My Adventures in Seychelles 1/1 by Suhani Sharma
Travel Dreams

That's when I decided to heal the wounds with a bit of sand and salt water, and did it heal me up...! :)

My choice of Seychelles came as a second alternative, just like Kate Winslet was the second choice behind Gwyneth Paltrow for the blockbuster classic Titanic. But just like Winslet, Seychelles turned out to be an absolute delight, more of which will unravel as i pen down my thoughts on this deeply enjoyable voyage.

The Gateway to all my travel adventures

Photo of Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Suhani Sharma

So with some vacation money in hand, I booked my flights via Sri Lankan Airways with a day's halt in Colombo (The airlines booked a beach side hotel which was just I was hoping for as a warm-up to my Seychelles adventure)

My arrival in Sri Lanka came with a surprising twist, I stumbled upon an Indian family, one of which had grown up in the same vicinity in my hometown, Lucknow, as me. But the conversation did not yield anything pleasant, the unnecessarily snobbish (unlike a Lucknowite) woman actually gave me a heads up that not everyone on the trip is going to be a Nigella Lawson recipe, that I can expect some spicy Masterchef Canada innuendos as well.

Beautiful views, annoying staff

Photo of Camelot Beach Hotel, Negombo, Sri Lanka by Suhani Sharma
Day 1

My arrival at the Camelot Beach Hotel wasn't an easy-breezy affair either. Apparently, a single female traveler is an opportunity for many, including the bus boys, who kept asking if I wanted to go for a walk on the beach, and did I mention that I'd arrived at 11;00 in the night?

Don't miss the hoppers...! :)

Photo of Camelot Beach Hotel, Negombo, Sri Lanka by Suhani Sharma

Anyway, the delectable breakfast more than made up for all the pestering. I must admit, the view was phenomenal. Just meters away from the beach, Camelot hotel is a true delight for honeymooners or weekend vacationers.

The jutting out Laccadive Sea was the perfect backdrop for the first few pics on my vacation

Photo of Laccadive Sea by Suhani Sharma

Lush Green Sri lanka

Photo of Camelot Beach Hotel, Negombo, Sri Lanka by Suhani Sharma

After taking a stroll through the beautiful garden, I happened to share a chat with a Sri Lankan teenager, Feyon. The boy seemed very eager to know everything about me and I also wanted to know about the lifestyle of a regular Sri Lankan. But I decided to cut the chat short and moved to my room for a little nap. The day went by with the blink of an eye and I was all set to take my next leg of the journey. The cab dropped me to the Colombo Int'l Airport and the codeshare - Mihin Lanka Jet set the course for my destination - Seychelles. I recently read that "Happiness is getting the first glimpse of your destination from the landing plane window." And indeed, the view was breathtaking - turquoise blue water, palm fringed lines; it was all overwhelmingly beautiful at Mahe Island, the first of the Seychelles archipelago on my itinerary.

First few glimpses of the island paradise

Photo of Seychelles International Airport, Anse Des Genets, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

Mahe boasts the world's smallest capital - Victoria. Nestled in the centre of the island, the capital has a beautiful parliament house, legislation house and Clock tower, that's somewhat a symbol of the city of Victoria. Lined with some of the finest boutiques you'd find in Seychelles, the capital city also has multi-cuisine restaurants and eateries to cater to all taste buds.

Photo of Victoria Clock Tower, Victoria Street, Christchurch, New Zealand by Suhani Sharma

But my stay was far from the capital - I chose an Air BnB Tierra Santa holiday home, located on a hill, and giving a birds eye view of the blissful Indian Ocean. My host was kind enough to pick me up and even drop me later to the nearby Beau Vallon beach for some sightseeing.

Hands down the best sunset I'd seen, up until then at least :)

Photo of Beau Vallon Beach, Beau Vallon, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

Mother to the proud Miss Seychelles 2014, Sara ensured that I had all the necessary numbers from Cab drivers to groceries and basic tourist information about the island. The buses are not frequent but if you go by the time table, you'll have a much easier time exploring the island. So my first evening in Seychelles began on Beau Vallon beach that staged the most beautiful beach sunset I had ever seen in my life, up until then at least.

Mesmerizing sunset of Seychelles

Photo of Beau Vallon, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

A short stroll on the beach introduced me to the jolly good Seychellois people, always smiling, always greeting, and one of them stood out, probably cause he was an honorary citizen - John. A brief exchange of smiles ensued and I moved ahead, looking for my next breathtaking view when I suddenly realized how cool would it be if I asked this man with a boat if I could hitch-hike with him to the other side of the beach - his response was a beaming 'Yes' and what followed next would set the tone for the rest of the amazing adventure I was about to embark upon - Seychelles.

As my AirBNB owner would say - "Wow Suhani, first day in Seychelles and already on a Yacht sail?" :)

Photo of Silhouette Island, Silhouette, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

You can read about my tryst with John's yacht experience in a separate blog where I've detailed how amazing a day I spent on John's 6-million dollar yacht, and that too, without shelling out a single penny. South African turned Seychellois people are indeed generous, and a complete Gentleman too (In case you're wondering if I had to return the favour in any damn possible way)

How a total Stranger gave me a perfect day in Seychelles

Some of the pics from the day are posted here -

Day 2

Tierra Santa Holiday Home, the best stay I could hope for on Mahe Island.

Photo of Mare Anglaise, Beau Vallon, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

Beautiful Blue Beau Vallon

Photo of Mare Anglaise, Beau Vallon, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

View of Bel Ombre from the yacht <3

Photo of Mare Anglaise, Beau Vallon, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

A dip in the mid ocean is a must-have if you're on a yacht :)

Photo of Mare Anglaise, Beau Vallon, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

And I'm a Piscean...! :)

Photo of Indian Ocean by Suhani Sharma

So after a day on the yacht, I returned to my shelter in Mahe, still wanting more. The bugs had crept in with the fall of the night and I was restless.

End to an awesome day at Eden Island Yacht parking...!

Photo of Eden Island Marina, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

Not wanting to spend my night in bed after a to-die-for day, I opened a little wonder gizmo called my iPhone and logged on to Tinder. Every time I set out for a vacation, I make a promise not to use the app and let the acquaintance-building happen the natural way, but with no one in sight near the hilltop bungalow, I lucked over a Seychelles native of British origin, Scott. Being a complete gentleman that he was, he took down my address and picked me at about 9 for a night safari of sorts. I was so scared and so excited that it was difficult to balance the two out, but kept my sanity check before getting in his car and from what I understood, he seemed like a lovely guy. He promised me a beach that would take my breath away and he DELIVERED, quite literally.

Paving the way to true romance :)

Photo of Carana Beach Hotel, Glacis, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

With a bottle of Coconut rum in one hand and the train of my beach gown on the other, I tipsy-walked on the moonlit Carran Beach with him, who regaled me with the stories of his childhood, and more importantly, his teenage adventures, that included many a lady :) While he rolled a joint and I cursed my inability to smoke (and hence smoke up) we talked about a bunch of things - from her job as a teacher to his giving Marijuana to one of the cancer stricken patient, and see him revel in absolute bliss (sounds horrendous, but it didn't feel so in his narration) and to my asking him about why I was being bestowed one of the best days of my life courtesy - John Anderson, who took me island hopping and showed me the side of Seychelles, i wouldn't have otherwise. His answer was relatively straight forward - Some people, chirpy, bubbly and effervescent, like you, demand love and affection and care and his act of kindness was nothing but his own interest in bringing an additional smile on your face. If I've to feel good about myself, his explanation did seem plausible, but my theory on 'do good karma and it will come back to you' just put my questions to rest. And then, ahem ahem, came the much awaited kiss. I was NOT taken by surprise. If I play "Never have I Ever" one more time, I'll be the first one to finish the bottle.:) I was drunk but still sober enough to enjoy the cool breeze, the moonlit waves and .... of course, the occasional travel romance. But Sorry to disappoint as that was all the romance destiny had in store for me that night. After another beautiful ride through the promenades and mountains, he dropped me home and as I write this email, I'm getting text from him, asking me how I still remember him. :)

Photo of My Adventures in Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

It was a day I would never forget, even if I want to, even with Alzheimer, the wholesomeness of this beautiful day will always remind me of the risks I took and the dividends they paid.

Day 3

Views from my bed....! :)

Photo of Mare Anglaise, Beau Vallon, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

The next morning woke me up to a breathtaking view of the Indian ocean right from my bed. The mesmerizing wind coming from the window reminded me of how lucky I'd been in life to have gotten this opportunity. An hour later I was packed and ready to go. The AirBnB owner Sara arranged for a drop to the jetty and the handsome driver gave me a totally different glimpse of Mahe island while on our way to the Jetty.

Finest Island-hopping option, Cat Cocos...!

Photo of Pier Cat Cocos, Baie Sainte Anne, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

Cat Cocos and Cat Rose are a series of Catamarans that take visitors from Mahe to Praslin and La Digue at different times of the day. Usually the first one leaves in the morning and the second mid afternoon. You can easily book your tickets 30 minutes before departure. However, if you wish to be on the safe side, a day in advance is fine enough. Equipped with various amenities like the big screen TV, a small cafetaria and seating on top deck, this 2 hour drive to Praslin island, my next destination was indeed a good one. For people who are seasick, like me, some medicine and light breakfast is suggested.

My Arrival in Praslin was greeted with Blue ocean...and smiling faces...!

Photo of Baie Ste Anne, Baie Sainte Anne, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

As I arrived in the beautiful Praslin, the weather took me by surprise. An overcast day meant the ocean wasn't gleaming as blue as I would have liked it to be. But one the other hand, the ride to my hotel felt like I was in a tropical rain forest, covered with lush green trees, flora and even fauna. The sight of mango trees did make me reminisce about my roots (being a girl from Lucknow, I always digged mangoes)

Beautiful terrains...!

Photo of Praslin, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

So 20 minutes later I arrived in C'est Mon Choix, which literally means "it's my choice" and what a choice it was.

2-minute walk from my hotel was this beach... Amazing...!

Photo of Grand Anse, Grand Anse Praslin, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

Two minutes walk from the beach, a beautiful pool next to my room, good breakfast and warm and kind hotel staff (who also happened to be the owners, a family of three)this budget hotel was indeed a good choice for me.

It was my choice too, quaint, idyllic and warm...!

Photo of C'est Mon Choix Hotel, Grand Anse, Grand Anse Praslin, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

After a quick chat with the South African owner Martha and her handsome son, I ventured myself to the nearby attractions. But first up was the quest to find a nice restaurant. I found one in a small Pizzeria run by a group of Sri Lankans. With a hearty, large-sized vegetarian pizza and a bottle of water, I set out for the perfect lunch spot.

Best Lunch Spot....!

Photo of Grand Anse, Grand Anse Praslin, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

I found just what I was looking for, a promenade of sorts that went about 100m into the ocean, and I chose the tip of it so I'd see nothing but the ocean. It didn't go as I'd imagined though. A Sri Lankan hotel worker, who was enjoying his off day, came by and started chatting with me. I offered him a slice of pizza and he told me more about the island. Being a solo female traveler does not mean any different on the island of Seychelles. Eve teasing, racy comments, it was all a part and parcel while I was walking through the streets of Praslin. However, one act of kindness did minimize the intensity with which those men were lurking over. With one remaining slice of pizza, I stopped by that same group of hooligans and offered the slice to an autistic man, who happily took it and, from what I understand, enjoyed it too. In that moment, the lewd comments and cat calls, all stopped. There was only one word in the air - Merci.. Merci Merci....! :) I guess kindness and bravery are rewarded the same way, in every corner of the world.

The only flip side to booking a hotel on Grand Anse side of the island is that you get seaweed spoiled beaches that aren't really good for any water activities. So after lunch, I took a bus to the other side and chose Cote d'Or as my next attraction.

Photo of Cote D'Or Beach, Baie Sainte Anne, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

The beach had powdery sand and beautiful palm fringed coastline. It felt lovely and lonely though, suddenly the cat calls and racy remarks didn't feel as bad as they did when I experienced them first hand. That's the thing about solo travel, not every moment is bliss. You yearn for conversations, you look for companionship (even if temporary) and you definitely look for someone to share the delectable gelato with, which I ate from a nearby Gelataria Da Luca.

Heaven in a Cone...!

Photo of Gelateria de Luca, Baie Sainte Anne, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

A fine mix of banana and raspberry, this gelato tasted like heaven and made my day. On my way back, I saw the mysterious entrance to Anse Gouvernment, one of the secluded beaches that sure carried some enigma that instantly interested me. So I decided I'd pay it a visit next day. On my way back from the other side of island, I had to change buses at Baie St. Anne Jetty port. To my sheer luck, the bus driver took a route so scenic, it took everyone's breath away.

One of the best moments throughout the trip, this view...! :)

Photo of Praslin, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

The bus drove along the beaches all the way to the other side of the island and trust me, with pin drop silence inside the bus and astonishingly beautiful views outside, I had the most peaceful and soul-stirring time of my life. In that moment, I envied the lives of island people, the sky had turned sapphire blue, darkness was enveloping the island with every passing minute and the cool breeze mixed with warm air coming from the bus window was the sign of the mystique that surrounded the atmosphere. I've traveled by bus quite a lot in my life, but the silence and peace of this bus ride is beyond any words.

By the time I returned to the hotel, it had already been 7:30 so I quickly took shower and got ready for my dinner. Wearing my red maxi dress and listening to soothing music, I set out to explore the eateries nearby, unfortunately the darkness on the roads was haunting and also a bit concerning since an African man started following me and passing comments that didn't go down well with me. After a quick run to the nearby Pizzeria, I thought I had successfully gotten past the hooligan, but the moment I stepped out of the pizzeria to head back to my hotel, the same man stumbled across again, sending his lewd invites again. I don't know how many of you have run on a street with a large pizza in your hand, but trust me, it ain't so good. :)

Day 1

The next day welcomed me with a bit of rain, leaving me wondering if I'd be able to execute my day's plan. To my relief though, the hotel owner Martha didn't just offer delectable breakfast with my favorite passion-fruit, but also an umbrella to save the day.

Day 4

Only Home to Coco De Mer

Photo of Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, Baie Sainte Anne, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

A few clicks, a few videos here and there and I was at the entrance of Vallee De Mai, a natural reserve that boasts the biggest nut in the world - Coco de Mer. Also a world heritage site, this rain-forest of sorts plays host to the rarest of flora and fauna alongside the amazing coco de Mer nuts, grown only in the island of Praslin.

Photo of Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, Baie Sainte Anne, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

The 90-minute tour was highlighted by a visit to one of the tallest trees in the world. Although, I must admit that this did not really impress me much, so after a quick ride home (and a nap) I curled myself up for an evening in Anse Gouvernment.

Love in the time of medicare :)

Photo of Anse Gouvernement, Baie Sainte Anne, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

Tagged as one of the most secluded beaches in the continent, this one lived up to the hype.

Seclusion at its best

Photo of Anse Gouvernement, Baie Sainte Anne, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

With hardly anyone is sight, I kept the social traveler inside me in full bloom and kept striking conversations with fellow travelers. Before it could get too late, I hailed a bus home (The last bus in Praslin can be caught at 6 p.m.) and returned to the quite C'est Mon Choix.

The best bus stop of my life...! :)

Photo of Anse Gouvernement, Baie Sainte Anne, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

Another good thing about this hotel was the handsome son of the owners Martha and Steve - Adrian. A South African-born Seychellois, Adrian was very kind in giving me a little tour of the surroundings and made that night memorable with his candour and stories about this magical place.

Photo of Praslin, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

As we returned, I retired to an early sleep with hopes to have an amazing day at arguably one of the best beaches in the world - Anse Lazio. Nestled in the northwest side of the island, Anse Lazio has been rated by Tripadvisor and several other travel websites on numerous occasions as the one of the top 10 best beaches in the world. And I could understand why. Pristine white powdery sand, lined with coconut trees and striking blue water, Anse Lazio is every traveler's dream destination.

Day 5
Photo of Anse Lazio, Baie Sainte Anne, Seychelles by Suhani Sharma

Watch this space for more on my Seychelles Adventures....!

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