Seychelles in September
The second Eid holiday after Ramadan provided the opportunity to get away for a week on September 12 as the long hot summer was ending in the UAE. Katherine and I choose the Seychelles Islands for a beach vacation. Etihad Holidays had an attractive package to include the Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort. The Seychelles is only a four hour flight from Abu Dhabi and in the same time zone, making it an easy travel destination.
The Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa. It is home to numerous beaches, coral reefs and nature reserves. Mahé, the main island, is a hub for visiting the other islands and home to the capital, Victoria.
The Seychelles were uninhabited throughout most of recorded history. Some scholars assume that Austronesian seafarers and later Arab traders were the first to visit the uninhabited Seychelles. The earliest recorded sighting by Europeans took place in 1502 by the Portuguese Admiral Vasco Da Gama. A transit point for trade between Africa and Asia, the islands were occasionally used by pirates until the French began to take control starting in 1756. The islands were named after Jean Moreau de Sechelles, Louis XV's Minister of Finance. Britain eventually assumed full control in 1814. Seychelles became a crown colony in 1903, and independence was granted in 1976 as a republic within the Commmonwealth.
Travel to the Hilton resort took a couple of legs, but it was easy and non-eventful. We took the Air Seychelles 2:20 am flight from Abu Dhabi (ugh!), a car service across Mahé Island to the Hilton Labriz jetty, and after checking in, a 35 minute ferry ride to Silhouette Island and to the Hilton. Silhouette Island lies 20 km northwest of Mahé. The main settlement is the Hilton Resort. Until 1960 the island was owned by the Dauban family, who developed extensive plantations on Silhouette. Following the purchase of the island by the Seychelles government in 1983, a small hotel was constructed. This was later replaced by the larger Labriz Resort which was then bought by the Hilton hotel group.
I have been to a number of beautiful beach locations over the years, but the beach front villa at the Hilton was the best I have ever seen. A very private and individual unit literally on the beach, about 20 yards from the back terrace. The room had all the amenities you could expect, with a beautiful and spacious bathroom that also had a walk out to a private outdoor shower. The beach was also secluded with no more than 5 people in the area whenever we went in to the warm and clear Indian Ocean. The weather was perfect all week, highs around 80F and cool evenings with the ocean breeze open to the villa bedroom
The resort grounds were extensive and nicely done, with 5 restaurants to pick from. The breakfast buffet was excellent, by far the best meal of the day right alongside the beach. We had a craving for the bacon every day (those expats living in the UAE will understand why!). The reviews we read had warned us about the high cost of the restaurants at the resort and they were on the high side but one dinner did get our attention for sure. We assumed the buffet at the main restaurant would be good for our last evening and would be about the same cost as the other dinners (including room service) we had, but the equivalent of $180 seemed a bit much.
This is a great location for just relaxing and enjoying the beach, no nightlife of tourist venues to visit (Mahé Island has more things to see, including some small casinos). The main attraction outside of the beach are snorkeling or diving, the spa and walks through the rainforest. We did take a few hours on our last day to take one of the walks which eventually led to a totally secluded beach further up the island. We took a guided snorkeling trip to the north part of the island one afternoon. Although it was great to spend an hour in the ocean, we didn’t see too many fish that day.
The spa at the Hilton is outstanding and in a beautiful setting built into hillside boulders near a beach. If relaxing on the beach all day wasn’t enough, a 90 minute massage looking over the ocean should do the trick.
A great vacation in a secluded and beautiful location. Please take a look at the pictures in the accompany photo album to see what we mean. The Seychelles is definitely worth a return visit.