The Seychelles is an archipelago of 150 islands in the Indian Ocean. Long has it been a desirable destination for honeymooners and the yachting set. The picture that most people would have in their head of the Seychelles would be of white sandy beaches, and swaying palm trees. This is a fairly accurate picture at a glance, but the Seychelles has much more to offer. The main island of Mahé has a rugged and precipitous interior, with large areas of lush, tropical forest. Hikers have plenty of routes to choose from in the 3045 hectare, Morne Seychellois National Park. The park shares a name with its highest peak, which at 2,969 ft. will give you an excellent view of the whole island. A smaller national park on the neighboring island of Praslin is one of only two places in the world where the giant, coco-de-mer palm grows naturally. SCUBA enthusiasts have a choice of many dive sites around the archipelago. The larger islands to the north are the granite summits of underwater mountains. The outer islands are coralline and often surrounded by reefs. The more pristine sites are currently hazardous to reach due to pirate activity in the more remote areas. On a world-wide scale, the diving doesn’t match the quality of the Red Sea or other such areas, but with frequent sightings of whale sharks, you can have a great diving experience. The culinary experience in the Seychelles is sadly rather limited. Due to its remote location, and because of the threat of piracy on cargo ships in the area, imported produce comes at a premium. Little of the land in the Seychelles is devoted to farming. This makes fresh fruit and vegetables expensive and lacking in variety. Even the roadside fruit-vendors sell imported goods. The only cost-effective cuisine on the islands is fish. Buying fish from the local vendors and cooking it up on your own beach barbecue is a real treat. One staple of the local restaurants is ‘Creole Cuisine’. Unfortunately, the interpretation of this style of cooking is normally to pour a can of tomatoes onto a piece of fish. There are good restaurants on the islands but the price of quality is sky-high. On an average budget, it would be difficult to eat good food every day. The island of La Digue is perfect for exploration by bicycle. Upon arrival, you will see a number of bike-hire businesses. Bikes are cheap to hire and you can easily spend a couple of days gently pedalling your way around. This is highly recommended as the roads are quiet and generally not too steep. Some of the beaches on La Digue are world-class, and snorkelling from the beach will provide encounters with turtles and rays. Strolling around the woodland on the island, you may spot the endemic and rare paradise flycatcher. Game-fishing trips out to the remote Farquhar island group tempt keen anglers from around the world. Bonefish are the main target, and their density here is the highest in the world. Over 60 species of fish can be landed using fly-tackle; this provides enough variety to keep fishermen coming back every year. Of course, the beaches are a big draw, and any trip to the Seychelles will involve spending some time lazing on them. There are plenty to choose from on every island, and some have world-wide acclaim, such as La Digue’s Source D’Argent Beach. The Seychellois are a laid-back and relaxed people. This has its charms, but it can be a source of irritation when you are hungry, and waiting to order in a restaurant. Be sure to factor in some extra time when planning your daily itinerary. It is a common occurrence for two drivers to stop in the middle of the road to have a chat, regardless of the line of cars and busses gathering behind them. Transport can be costly on the main islands. Praslin is small, but a short taxi journey will be disproportionately costly. The bus-service is cheap though, and if you can fathom the routes and times, you can save yourself a lot of money. The smaller islands don’t have the same problem because foot-travel will cost you nothing! At certain times of day, sand flies can be a problem on some beaches. They will bite you like crazy until you get off the sand. The locals will recommend coconut oil to deter the flies; this seems to have some success in defending yourself. A trip to Cousin Island and some of the other, small islands will pit you against more mosquitos that you may have seen in your whole life. A strong repellent containing DEET will provide some relief. There is no malaria in the Seychelles though, and the mosquitos are merely a pest. In conclusion, the Seychelles has a lot to offer to a range of visitors. There are opportunities to be active and plenty to do nothing. If you are a pure foodie however, you may be better off choosing a different destination. Also, if you are on a tight budget, you will probably miss-out on a number of experiences. It isn’t a cheap country.