If you’re searching for paradise on earth, don’t overlook Seychelles. One of the world’s smallest countries, Seychelles is an archipelago located 1,000 miles off the coast of East Africa in the Indian Ocean. This stunning island chain is one of the world’s smallest countries. The islands boast a broad array of marine life, beautiful beaches, and tropical vegetation.
With just under 100,000 people calling the Seychelles home, its wonders don’t end at its beautiful landscape. These islands are also home to some of the rarest animal and plant species in the world. The archipelago comprises two main island groups: the rocky Mahé islands and the flat coralline islands. Victoria is the capital of Seychelles.
The island’s average temperature ranges from 76°F to 88°F, making it a year-round tropical delight. Having so much to offer, it’s not surprising Seychelles has become one of the world’s most popular honeymoon destinations. Without further ado, here are our 21 interesting Seychelles facts!
1. Home to Some of the World’s Rarest Species of Birds
There are many surprises awaiting bird watchers traveling to Seychelles. The Seychelles outer islands are well-known for their abundance of feathered species. More than 250 bird species have been observed on the islands. There are many unique land birds and important seabird colonies that are home to various vagrants and migrants.
Bird lovers will want to keep an eye out for the Seychelles Black Parrot (kato nwanr), the country’s national bird. An endangered species, there are only 1000 black parrots remaining on earth. In Seychelles, these birds use old tree trunks’ deep cavities for breeding. Other endangered bird species you can still see in Seychelles include:
- Seychelles paradise flycatcher (vev)
- Seychelles warbler (pti merl dezil)
- Seychelles magpie robin (pi santez)
- Seychelles white eye (zwazo linet)
- Seychelles scops owl (syer)
2. World’s Largest Land Tortoise Lives on Seychelles’ Bird Island
The world’s largest free-roaming tortoise makes its home in Seychelles. Aldabra tortoises can be found on the island of the same name, can grow to weigh as much as 550lbs. Esmeralda, the largest Aldabra tortoise on record, is estimated to be 175 years old and weighs 672lbs.
To see these huge tortoises, you’ll need to travel to Aldabra island, where tortoises outnumber humans. Over 100,000 Aldabra tortoises are roaming freely around the island. The tortoises make their homes in habitats including coastal dunes, scrubs, and mangrove swamps.
It is common to see these slow-moving herbivores grazing around the island. These giant tortoises are a must-see for everyone traveling to Seychelles.
3. Seychelles’ Capital, Victoria, is the World’s Smallest Island
Named for Queen Victoria, the Seychelles capital is one of the smallest capital cities in the world. Although it’s tiny, about a third of Seychelles’ population calls Victoria home. The Victoria Clocktower, built in 1903, is the city’s most prominent feature.
The brightly colored Arul Mihu Navasakthi Vinayagar Hindu temple in the city center is one of the city’s biggest attractions. A place of worship for the island’s Indian population since 1992, it’s the only temple on the island. The temple gets its name from the Hindu deity of prosperity and safety, Lord Vinayagar.
Being such a small capital city, you can quickly explore it on foot in a couple of hours. However, if you want to visit the city’s nooks and crannies, you’ll probably want to set aside an entire day to see all of its attractions.
4. The World’s Largest Seed is Native to the Islands
In addition to boasting the world’s largest tortoises, Seychelles is home to the world’s largest seed. These seeds are a product of the coco de mer palms and a cultural and botanical icon in Seychelles. The seeds from the coco de mer palms weigh between 30 and 55 points, making them the world’s largest and heaviest seeds.
You’ll also hear the coco de mer palm’s seeds referred to as the sea coconut or double coconut. The coco de mer palm only grows on two of the country’s 115 islands—Praslin (Seychelles’ second-largest island) and Curieuse.
The coco de mer palm is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list as an endangered plant. There are only 8000 mature coco de mer palms left in the world.
5. Seychelles Was Once A Pirate Hideout
After Portuguese explorer Vaco Da Gama discovered the Seychelles islands in 1502, its two main islands became a hideout for pirates. One of the most well-known pirates to take refuge in Seychelles was Olivier Le Vasseur, also known as “Le Buse” or the Buzzard. According to folklore, Le Buse fled to the Seychelles, where he hid stolen Portuguese treasure in 1721.
Le Buse’s treasure is believed to be buried somewhere on the island. At least two men have dedicated their lives to finding the treasure. Reginald Herbert Cruise-Wilkins spent 27 years searching for Le Buse’s treasure until his 1977 death. His son John took over the task and has spent 50 years hunting for the missing treasure.
John still hasn’t found the treasure that is valued at $1.4 billion. If you’re up for a treasure hunt, you should consider adding Seychelles to your upcoming vacation list.
6. The Islands Were An Inspiration to James Bond Author Ian Fleming
Famous author Ian Fleming found inspiration for his James Bond book’s island adventures on the Seychelles island Mahé. Fleming traveled to Seychelles in 1958 to enjoy the island’s warm weather, pristine beaches, turquoise water, and, most importantly, adventure! Legend says
Fleming was struggling with the plot for his book when he landed in Seychelles. Seychelles’ breathtaking landscape was enough to inspire Fleming, whose book, “For Your Eyes Only,” was set in Seychelles. Fleming named the book’s character Milton Krest after a ginger and tonic beverage he drank during his stay on the islands.
7. Aldabra Atoll
One of two UNESCO heritage sites on Seychelles, Aldabra Atoll, is a ring of four large coral islands enclosing a small lagoon. A coral reef surrounds the island group. It’s the world’s second-largest raised atoll reef and located in one of the earth’s most remote ecoregions.
The atoll has remained mostly untouched by humans because of its remoteness and inaccessibility. As we mentioned earlier, the world’s largest tortoises make their home on the Aldabra Atoll. The ocean and landscape are rich and diverse, giving the atoll an array of colors and formations.
8. It’s an Archipelago Country with 115 Islands
Scattered over 1.3 million square kilometers, Seychelles is an archipelago country of 115 islands with an array of tropical flora and fauna. National parks and marine reserves protect over fifty percent of the country’s flora and fauna.
Because Seychelles is located outside of the cyclone zone, most of its islands avoid the yearly bashing during the Indian Ocean’s cyclone season. Thus, Seychelles is a great destination at any time of the year, with the biggest challenge being how to decide which of its 115 islands to visit.
9. It’s a Celebrity Hotspot
Given the Seychelles beauty, it’s no surprise the destination is a celebrity favorite. Celebrities go to Seychelles to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of their hectic lives. Royals and Hollywood A-listers among this secluded getaway’s biggest fans.
Prince William and Kate Middleton, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, Gabrielle Union, and Dwayne Wade are just a few of the celebrities who’ve honeymooned on this island paradise. Seychelles’ distant location allows the rich and famous to enjoy a private and luxurious escape from their hectic lives.
10. They Love Breadfruit
Breadfruit was a staple of plantation life during Seychelles’ colonial period, preventing plantation workers from starving. Today, it remains one of the country’s most important traditional crops and is a mainstay on lunch and dinner plates throughout the island.
Breadfruit is a starchy plant and smells like freshly baked bread when cooked. The versatile plant can be prepared in many ways, such as boiling, frying, and cooking it in coconut oil to make Seychelles traditional dessert Ladob. Legend says anyone who eats breadfruit while visiting Seychelles will return to the islands someday.
Related: How to Buy a Home in Seychelles
11. The World’s Largest Crab Makes its Home on the Islands
Seychelles boasts a lot of the world’s biggest things, including its giant Coconut Crabs. The Coconut Crab, also known as the Palm Thief and Robber Crab, is the world’s largest terrestrial arthropod. The coconut crab can weigh up to 9lbs and grow up to 40-inches from leg tip to leg tip. The monstrous crab has ten legs and a huge abdomen.
Coconut crabs are solitary creatures living in coconut fiber-lined underground burrows. These crabs are quite protective of their dwellings and tend to live in areas without a high human population. They often climb coconut and pandanus trees to escape predators.
12. Treasure Guarding Spirits Haunt St. Anne Park
If you go treasure hunting on Moyenne Island in St. Anne Marine National Park, keep an eye out for spirits. Legend says ghosts haunt the park protecting its important treasures. According to some accounts, Mary Best, an English woman who moved to the island in 1910, walks around the island at night.
Mary’s not the only spirit you’ll need to be on the lookout for. Legend also says that the spirits of pirates who buried their treasures on the island killed two of their own to ensure their spirits would forever protect the treasure. A British man who bought the island in 1962 claimed he heard the spirits’ voices and footsteps and them knocking on windows and doors.
13. They’re the Only Granite Islands in the World
Two hundred million years ago, the 115 islands that makeup Seychelles were once the continent Gondwana. Constant tectonic shifts resulted in the island archipelago that we know today. Seychelles consists of 73 coral islands and 42 inner islands. Seychelles’ inner islands are made of granite, making them the world’s only islands without coral or volcanic elements.
The beaches on these islands have clusters of granite rocks, unlike beaches anywhere else in the world. The islands are also the world’s oldest ocean islands and are known for tropical rainforest interiors.
14. Has the Highest GDP in Africa
At $12.3 in 2020, Seychelles has the highest per capita gross domestic product in Africa. Seychelles’ economy depends heavily on tourism. Fishing, coconut and vanilla processing, printing, coir (coconut fiber) rope, beverages, and furniture also contribute to Seychelles’ economy. Most of the Seychelles’ inhabitants work in the service sector.
Related: Cost of Living in Seychelles
15. The Islands Have Three Official Languages
Seychelles is a multilingual country with three official languages—English, French, and Creole. Although the country’s residents speak all three languages, they identify as native Seychellois Creole speakers. Seychellois Creole is a French-based language locally known as seselwa or kreol.
The country uses English in most formal communication and to communicate with the country’s many visitors. It’s also used widely in electronic and print media. French is also spoken widely on the islands.
16. Outstanding Watersports
Seychelles is a fantastic destination for almost any water sports adventure seeker. Its pristine white sand beaches and turquoise water make it ideal for anyone who loves water and beaches. Longboard and shortboard surfers enjoy testing their chops on the Indian Ocean’s crystal clear waters off the Seychelles coast. Seychelles offers some of the best fishing in the world.
For others, kayaking is more their speed. Kayaking in Seychelles allows you to explore stunning mangroves, open spaces and relax in the fresh air. Sailing the inner islands is a great way to explore some of Seychelles’ most impressive sights. If you want to get up and close with marine life, be sure to go snorkeling while in Seychelles. Scuba diving is a water sport for those looking for an unforgettable underwater experience in Seychelles.
17. Seychellois Society is Matriarchal
Seychellois society is one of the world’s few matriarchal societies. Mothers are the dominant figures in Seychellois households, managing their family’s spending and taking care of the children. Seychellois law requires fathers to support their children.
Adult children and other family members living at home tend to support older women. Men’s primary role is contributing money to the family. Single mothers are common in Seychelles.
18. Important Breeding Site for Ten Species of Seabird
Seychelles’ Aride island is home to over 10 million breeding seabirds of ten different species. You’ll find Aride’s seabirds mainly on the plateau and hillside woodland habitats. Aride boasts more seabirds than any other Seychelles island, including the largest colonies of two species in the world.
Large numbers of two non-breeding frigatebird species also call Aride home. You can see the frigatebirds year-round on Aride’s hilltops, the granite islands’ largest frigate bird roost.
19. You Can Hunt for Pirate Olivier le Vasseur’s treasure
As we mentioned earlier, Seychelles was once a pirate hideout. If you have time on your hands, you could hunt for Pirate Olivier’s buried treasure worth $100 million. The islands are rumored to be littered with treasure, but Pirate Olivier’s is the greatest booty haul.
The story of Pirate Olivier’s treasure has been passed down through various generations. Yet, nobody has found it. Maybe you could be the lucky one?
20. The Jellyfish Tree is Endemic to the Island
Scientists believed the Jellyfish tree was extinct until it was rediscovered on Mahé island in the 1970s. The Union for the Conservation of Nature lists the rare Jellyfish tree as critically endangered, and scientists are working hard to ensure its survival.
The tree was originally called Medusagyne for the mythological Greek creature Medusa because the tree’s fruits resemble the hair on Medusa’s head. The trees can grow up to 33 feet tall. There are currently only 30 known Jellyfish trees in the wild. Getting to see one up close is a real treat, and Seychelles is the only place you can do so.
21. Home to Two UNESCO Sites
Given all of the unique plant and animal life represented in Seychelles, it’s no surprise that the archipelago is home to two UNESCO sites. The Aldabra Atoll has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1982. Due to its remote location, it takes several days to arrive at Aldabra on a chartered boat. Visitors can also take chartered flights to Aldabra.
Located on the granitic island of Praslin, Valle de Mai is Seychelles’ other UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palm forest in the Valle de Mai reserve has remained primarily unchanged since prehistoric times. The Coco de Mer palms, which produces the world’s largest seeds, dominates the landscape.
Related: Best Areas to Live in Seychelles
Seychelles is a stunning archipelago of 115 islands floating in the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Africa. The island chain boasts breathtaking landscapes and some of the rarest plant and animal species in the world. Exploring Seychelles is an adventure and history lesson, all rolled into one.
Whether you enjoy water sports or quiet solitude on the beach, these islands offer something for everyone. The Seychelles temperate climate makes it a great year-round destination. If you’re looking for an adventure unlike anything else in the world, consider taking your next vacation in Seychelles.
Related: Fun Facts About Seychelles