With talcum powder sands and azure waters, the Seychelles is the ultimate tropical paradise. An archipelago of 115 islands, most are uninhabited and many are privately owned. Flying between the islands is a popular way to explore the archipelago but, a nicer way to travel, many can be experienced on a day trip by boat.
The Seychelles is divided into two main groups – the Outer Islands and the Inner Islands. Home to the country's capital city and the bulk of its population, most tourist amenities are located within the Inner Islands group. Here, you can hop between the largest islands by public ferry, or visit smaller ones via boat charter, taxi or organised tour.
Ten Inner Islands to visit on a day trip in the Seychelles
Exploring the Inner Islands can really add to your Seychelles experience, whether you're based on one of the main three hubs (Mahé, Praslin and La Digue) or on a private island retreat. From the incredible wildlife of Cousin Island, to the snorkelling at Ile Cocos and the mysterious stories of Moyenne, here are ten Inner Islands you could visit on a day trip.
Great for: tourist activities and everyday life.
The largest island in the Seychelles, 90 per cent of the country's population lives on Mahé. Home to the international airport (SEZ) and the world's smallest capital city, the island has lots going on. The public ferry service takes an hour to get here from Praslin, or 90 minutes from La Digue. Buses and taxis are the best way to get around on the island.
Mahé has stacks of stunning beaches, including beautiful Anse Intendance, and secluded Anse Major in the Morne Seychellois National Park. But while some islands are all about sunbathing and snorkelling, there's so much more to see and do on Mahé. You could join a rum distillery tour, visit the working SeyTé Tea Factory, explore the spice gardens of Le Jardin du Roi, or climb the country's highest peak of Morne Seychellois (905m).
The capital city of Victoria is the Seychelles' busiest hub and is a good place to experience everyday life. Visit the covered market to buy fresh fruit and sarongs, stop-by at the impressive cathedral, enter the Natural History Museum and take a wander through the serene Botanical Gardens.
Great for: beautiful beaches and nature.
Known as the "Garden of Eden," this green island is the second largest in the Seychelles archipelago. More laidback than Mahé but not quite as sleepy as La Digue, it's a popular as both a day trip destination and holiday base. The ferry from La Digue takes 15 minutes, Mahé takes around 60, or you could charter a boat if you're staying on a private island. Praslin is also the hopping-off point for day trips to Curieuse, Grand Soeur and other local islands.
Many say that Praslin has the Seychelles' most beautiful beaches, with Anse Lazio, Anse Georgette and Cote d'Or among the favourites. Its green hills and luxurious forests are ripe for exploring on foot, and the UNESCO-listed Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve harbours endangered birds and rare coco-de-mer trees.
Churches, museums and local shops give you a taste of everyday life, and make it easier to mingle with the locals and experience the island's history. There are some great places to eat too, ranging from ice-cream parlours and Creole buffets, to pizzerias and romantic restaurants.
Great for: Laidback island life.
Around 15 minutes by ferry from Praslin, or around 90 minutes from Mahé, La Digue is the smallest and most laidback of the Seychelles' three main islands. There are hardly any streetlights or main roads here, and most people get about by foot, bike or ox cart.
La Digue's stunning beaches are a big draw. Anse Source D'Argent is the most famous, with its pristine sands and giant boulders, while other top spots include the surf breaks at Petite Anse, the wild backdrop at Grand Anse and the crystal waters at Anse Cocos. Some have snack bars but many are undeveloped, so it's a good idea to stop at a grocery shop and take your own picnic.
Within the island's lush interior, the Veuve Reserve harbours the rare black paradise flycatcher. There are hiking trails to explore with a guide, and the climb to the "Eagle's Nest" high point (333m) gives breathtaking views.
Culture and history add to the island's appeal, with highlights like the Old Plantation House and colonial-era graveyard at L'Union Estate, the historic port and village of La Passe, and Saturday night dancing on the seafront.
Great for: wildlife and conservation.
Cousin Island is one of the Seychelles' top conservation success stories. A former coconut plantation bought by the International Council for the Protection of Birds (ICBP), it became the world's first internationally-owned reserve in 1968. The indigenous forest was restored through award-winning environmental management schemes, helping birds like the "Seychelles Warbler" bounce back from the brink of extinction.
Today, this bio-diverse haven nurtures everything from skinks, geckos and endemic lizards, to giant tortoises. It's one of the most important nesting sites for hawksbill turtles in the western Indian Ocean, with up to 100 individuals laying their eggs here each year.
Open to the public on weekday mornings, you can sail here from Praslin or Cousine islands. Visits are carefully managed through wardens and guided tours.
Grande Soeur and Petite Soeur
Great for: experiencing a private island.
These unspoilt sister islands are two of the best preserved in the Seychelles. Although Grande Soeur is private, a limited number of day-trippers are allowed access on weekdays. They come for the pristine beaches, nesting sea turtles and picture-perfect scenery. Some say the island's west coast beach is the most beautiful in the Seychelles.
The jungle-like interior resembles a scene from Jurassic Park. Down by the shore, you can paddle into the sea and be surrounded by fish, or don a snorkel and mask to swim with parrotfish, pufferfish and angelfish. If you venture beyond the drop-off, look out for sea turtles and reef sharks.
Petite Soeur is smaller and harder to reach by boat, with a rocky coastline surrounded by a reef. The snorkelling is fantastic and, if you make it ashore, be sure to explore the walking trails.
Great for: desert island dreaming.
A pile of granite rocks topped with coconut palms and surrounded by crystalline waters, St Pierre is a quintessential Seychelles islet. Its perfect profile may seem familiar, as it's a favourite shot for Seychelles adverts and posters.
Completely unspoilt, there are no cafes, restaurants or other developments on this uninhabited islet. The waters teem with fish, so it's a great place for snorkelling, with surgeonfish, fusiliers and jacks among the regulars.
Just two miles from Praslin, you can visit via organised day trips, which often combine St Pierre easily with nearby Curieuse.
Great for: giant tortoises and guided walks.
A ten-minute boat trip from Praslin, this bio-reserve makes an ideal day trip for nature fans. An island and marine park, Curieuse is a sanctuary for endemic, with rich red earth, rare black parrots, and a colony of giant Aldabra tortoises. You'll also find the "coco-de-mer" growing here – the biggest nut in the world.
Organised tours and guided nature walks are the best way to discover the island's unique flora and fauna. Historic remains are another highlight, with relics like the Creole colonial "Doctor's House" and the ruins of a leper colony hiding in the trees. Along the coast, the huge cliffs with red and blue archways create the perfect backdrop for a picnic or beach BBQ.
Great for: snorkelling and scuba diving.
With a dazzling coral reef, this protected and uninhabited island is part of the Ile Cocos Marine Park, which was established in 1996. Incredibly beautiful, the island and park grace many-a Seychelles brochure cover. Ile Cocos is just 7km from La Digue, with taxi boats and organised day trips operating regularly from La Digue and Praslin.
Shallow, crystal clear waters make this a top spot for snorkelling and scuba-diving day trips. Sink beneath the surface, and look for everything from parrotfish, puffer fish, eels and eagle rays, to reef sharks, hawksbill turtles and migrating whale sharks. Completely unspoilt, there's no restaurants, cafes or accommodation here.
Great for: scenic hikes and storytelling.
Pirate graves, ancient tombs, buried treasure and the ghost of an eccentric English woman: Moyenne has plenty of tales to tell. Six km east of Mahé, it takes around thirty minutes to get here by boat.
Home to Miss Emma Best and her animals in the early 1900s, the island later became abandoned and overgrown. In the '70s it was bought by the British newspaper editor Brendon Grimshaw, who restored the island to a tropical paradise.
Following Grimshaw's death in 2012, 10-hectare Moyenne became a National Park with more than 100 free-roaming tortoises. Today, day-trippers can meet the giant tortoises, explore three miles of walking trails, or walk around the island (which takes about an hour). Snorkelers have a chance seeing rays and reef sharks, and there's a restaurant here for lunch.
Great for: self-guided exploring.
Four kilometres from Mahé, this undeveloped island is home to a small community of 100 or so residents who sail across to Mahé each day for work. Day-trippers can travel to Cerf by boat taxi, charter or organised tour.
A perfect place to unwind, Cerf has dazzling beaches, a handful of restaurants, a couple of accommodation restaurants, and no main roads. Two jungle trails guide you through the island's interior, past fruit bats, chameleons and giant tortoises. At low tide you can walk all the way around the island on the beach, or wade through the shallows to uninhabited Île Cachée, which sits 60 metres off the southern coast.
Surrounded by coral reef, the snorkelling is fantastic, with a marked trail that guides you to rare black corals. At night, the island's pier is illuminated, creating an aquarium of turtles, rays and tropical fish.
Seychelles, so much to discover
It can be all too tempting to laze around the hotel pool and stick to your local beach but, with just a little bit of effort, The Seychelles will reward you with so much more. There are few places in the world where you can hop so easily from idyllic island to idyllic island, experiencing new delights like giant tortoises, kaleidoscope corals and hidden ruins on each one.
Sailing short distances between the nearest Inner Islands is a wonderful way to travel, while domestic flights can take you further afield or to the more remote Outer Islands. The good news is that, no matter which islands you choose to travel to, the Seychelles never disappoints.