Chasing The Sun: Seychelles Part 1- Mahe

If you saw a coconut tree growing sideways, tell us you wouldn’t swing from it too.

Words by Lauren Hill. Images by Ming Nomchong. Art by Felicity Palmateer.

We started dreaming up the next Chasing the Sun campaign on the flight home from Tonga – where we’d had encounters with humpback whales, free dove into azul ocean caves and even scored fun surf. How could we top that? 

As we weighed up a handful of palm-fringed islands in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans, the ‘Seychelles’ was impossible to forget (despite the island’s reputation for fickle surf at best).

 The Seychelles are a thousand miles from anywhere, and while completely uncrowded surf was a major draw card, the islands have so much more on offer : the magic of rare, endemic flora, the intermingling of African beats and Euro cuisine, and the lore of French corsairs’ buried treasure. 

Lauren on the most micro-esk wave on Mahe. This was La’s first wave in the Seychelles. But definitely not her last.

We touched down at sunrise on the Seychelles’ main island of Mahe. I was immediately struck by the feeling of permanence of the islands: the sturdy, towering granite boulders give the island of Mahe a distinctly different vibe than islands like the Maldives. Unlike the shifting sands of most atolls, the granite seems to extend in both temporal directions, rendering it both ancient and permanent. Plus, the whimsical plumage of Acacia trees, most commonly associated with the plains of Africa, reinforced the exoticism of the landscape.

Secret beaches and tiny islands lay around every corner

Gondwanaland was one of two supercontinents on our planet, formed just before Pangea around 180 million years ago. The tough granite structure of the Seychelles was part of Gondwanaland, later splintering off from India to become the planet’s only granitic islands. During this period the Earth was changing rapidly, including a mass extinction of three quarters of life on Earth, including all non-avian dinosaurs, a phenomenon called the Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction Event.

Lauren and Felicity explore our own secret beach right in front of our Mahe accommodation, Surfer’s Beach Hotel

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Beach Front restaurant at Surfer’s Beach

Ming and one of her numerous coconut trees

Little wavelets galore

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One, Two, Three, a coconut for me!

We made our way along the slow-going coastal road to the southeast of the island, lined in lush greens, to the breezy little vista of Surfers’ Beach Hotel. We had no idea what to expect from food or accommodation in the Seychelles, so we teamed up with the kind folks at Seyvillas to help us find lovely accommodation options and to guide our itinerary to four Seychellois islands in two weeks.

Relaxing on our very own private beach at Surfers

La and her sponge bob

There are few things out there that feel better than sand in between your toes, especially in the Seychelles

We were pleasantly surprised by the spacious and clean accommodation at Surfers’ Beach — just a minute walk from a sincerely stunning swath of beach blanketed by  glittering little polished stones of smoky quartz once embedded in the boulders lining the beach. The steady SE trade winds this time of year meant constant onshores that kept us cool amongst the otherwise balmy tropical heat.

Felicity & Lauren, Seychellaxing

The beach is made up of granite and crystal. No wonder it’s so magical there

Felicity in full SeycHellyea mode

Finding shade after chasing the sun all day

It was breezy on the east coast of Mahe, but that didn’t make it any less beautiful

They like long walks on the beach… – Surfer’s Beach

 Over the following three days, we circumnavigated Mahe (it takes around 2-3 hours), slurped coconuts to hydrate after 30 hours of travel, and put in a fair few hours at Baie Lazare, the most consistent wave during our stay. It’s a left-hander breaking over shallow, but not too shallow, reef covered in a grassy green moss interspersed with live coral, much of which was stifled to death by the onslaught of El Nino. In 1999, the Seychelles experienced a major coral reef die off that NGOs like Nature Seychelles and Wise Oceans are working to replenish (more on their work later).

The Seychelles – it’s what Pinterest boards are made of.

The not so carefully drunk coconut – Lauren’s first coconut in the Seychelles. Just cost her $12 USD

The water wasn’t of the clarity that we expected because of the richness of plankton in the water. There’s an important trade off that we’d made without knowing it: in the Seychelles, you can have stellar water quality, or you can have consistent surf. It seems to be rare to have both at the same time. Stoked to be surfing, we traded off little lefts as the sun wove between cerulean skies and big cheery cumulous clouds.

Felicity takes on the point at Baie Lazare

Baie Lazare – Big granite boulders – tiny little longboarder

Felicity on a green slider

Solitude in the Seychelles. The most amount of people we were ever in the water with at one time was 4. You don’t get that many places in the world any more

Lauren testing out some water slides

Lauren gracefully taking on what Mahe had to offer

Flick showing us that there is more to the Seychelles than just pretty beaches

There is no wave to small for this lady slider

The beautiful beach in Baie Lazare

Lots of surfing calls for lots of food — and while eating healthily vegetarian in the Seychelles is no simple task, it is feasible with a touch of creativity. Little roadside stalls offer up plenty of local fruit – tiny sweet bananas, (kinda pricy) red papayas, dried coconut and even the odd selection of locally grown veggies, like pumpkin and greens. We hit one of the supermarkets in the centre of Victoria, the Euro-inspired little capital of the Seychelles, which was filled with a staggering quantity of white breads, sweets and sodas. Most of the food is shipped in from South Africa or the Middle East, so brands and items in Seychellois food stores are always changing, depending on what was available to ship on a particular date. We discovered a section of healthy options and scored a couple bags of red quinoa, rice cakes, artichoke paste, jarred tapenade and tamari (we celebrated!), then headed for the resort town of Beau Vallon, which offered the broadest selection of fruit and veg. And so we happily filled our cozy little Surfers’ Beach self-contained kitchen with bonafide Byron Bay hippy food. Winning.

A BTS of a BTS. There was a lot of this going on this trip

Palm lined streets of the little capital city of Victoria

The street stall smell test. The smells and flavours of the fruits in the Seychelles will make your mouth water from across the street

And just when we’d sorted ourselves comfortably with top notch food supplies and worked out the wave at Baie Lazare, it was time to board the ferry to make our way to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, according to Nat Geo, and happen upon waves we hadn’t even anticipated ….. 

There is no better way to end a perfect day in the tropics than finding a little beach shelter like this to relax into the evening

Seychelles board rack

We’re always finding CTS team mascots along the way.

Wrapped up in tropical goodness

The systematic care for beaches on the island of Mahe is inspiring: local folks get paid a small stipend to clean up and rake a small stretch of sand each morning before they head off to work.

Everyone who visits the Seychelles get’s their own palm tree

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The most perfect spot for a hammock

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And you can’t go to a tropical wonderland and not cartwheel your way through it

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Little Monkey Ming

Flick on her own slice of paradise

Flick & Lauren checking out their Polaroid skills

Visiting Nature Seychelles and  Dr. Nirmal Jivan Shah- Mahe

Getting the low down on the conservation efforts of Nature Seychelles with Eric blais. Nature Seychelles is responsible for the largest coral reef restoration project on the planet they are also pioneers in conceptualizing a national “blue economy,” wherein the oceans ( and especially their protection ) become of utmost importance in any national economic decision making.

Nature Seychelles organic gardens

recycling and reusing. Little chilli plants are grown in old tyres

This is the (recycled plastic) boardwalk out from the Nature Seychelles headquarters, where we learned about their other projects with bird conservation at Cousin Island and using yoga as a tool for environmental awareness and connection. Learn more: www.natureseychelles.org

Look up. It will make your day better

Lauren and Felicity excited about our fancy dinner at Kempinski Seychelles – www.kempinski.com/Seychelles

CTS: Seychelles crew – Lauren Hill, Ming Nomchong & Felicity Palmateer

We found the most perfect Palm Tree on Mahe, and decided to hang out and play

Salty locks and sandy toes

Lauren – also known as Island Girl

Would you ever want to come down from there? I know we didn’t

The perfect spot for a Palm Tree Picnic

Seychelles wave hunter

The lovely Lauren Hill

Felicity Palmateer & Lauren Hill

Ming Nomchong

Glassy take offs – Felicity Palmateer

Crazy busy lineups

Felicity making the most of an almost non existent sitauition

I bet they were thinking – how is she even surfing that? – Lauren on possibly the second smallest wave ridden this trip

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Chasing The Sun: Seychelles – La Digue coming up next…

MAJOR SPONSORS:

Billabong Women’s

Sanuk

Summersite

  1. Conner Hats

Yellow Leaf Hammocks

Seyvillas

Four Seasons Seychelles

Accommodation on Mahe – Surfer’s Beach Self Catering

FRIENDS OF CHASING THE SUN:

The Beach people, Faithfull The Brand, Arrow Divine, Mister Zimi, Spell Designs, Sunday Somewhere Eyewear, All That Remains, Seychellesbookings.com

Big thanks to Nature Seychelles & Wise Oceans

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