seychelles_oceanThe African paradise island enchants royal couple and visitors from around the world.


Behold Seychelles!  Definitely an island fit for royalty as this is where Prince William and his new wife Kate chose to spend their ten-day honeymoon. The islands offered the royal newlyweds relaxation, seclusion, luxury and romance in addition to beach and water fun.  A tropical paradise of unimaginable beauty, the islands of splendor also captivated America’s legendary songstress Dionne Warwick who was taken in by the mystic of the island the moment she step foot off the plane.  “I have a home in Brazil, . . . but ohh , Seychelles,” says Warwick with  dazzling and twinkling eyes.  “I am in awe of the island’s beauty and tranquility. I love this place.”  



will_and_kateSometimes compared to the Garden of Eden, the luscious terrain, beautiful beaches, and peaceful resorts scattered in different areas around the island make Seychelles the perfect getaway vacation spot.  Add delectable cuisine, upbeat entertainment and friendly people, and you get a sunshine mecca to die for.  It is no wonder that Warwick fell in love with Seychelles during her first visit.  Prince William and Kate first visited Seychelles in 2007 and had the time of their lives.  The islanders reported that Prince William said it was the best holiday he ever had.  So much so that he came back again for his honeymoon.  

Warwick came to Seychelles as guest of the island’s government and tourism board for the inaugural international carnival in its capital of Victoria located on the island of Mahé.  Warwick, the Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) came to spread her message of ending hunger around the world.  On her appointment in 2002 as the Goodwill Ambassador for FAO, Warwick said, “This reaffirms that we all have a place in the world community, and in being honored in such a way . . , I am given the opportunity to make a statement about what needs to be done in the world to combat hunger and poverty.”

Warwick, along with other notables, dignitaries and officials took part in Seychelles’ first multi-national carnival celebration.  The 2011 Seychelles Carnaval International de Victoria was a cultural extravaganza of parades, floats, receptions, gala dinners and all types of entertainment.   Over 60 different nations were invited to take part in this monumental multicultural event.  Carnival-goers and participants from different countries around the world came to experience what the carnival and the islands of Seychelles had to offer.  Warwick spread her humanitarian message that no one in the world should go hungry while in Seychelles through press conferences and guest speeches.

WarwickWarwick, Prince William and Princess Kate are not the only ones who love Seychelles, but the breathtaking vacation destination today is earning respect and recognition from people and places from far and wide.  The number of visitor arrivals peaked last year setting a new record, and this year figures are so far exceeding all expectations.   Having just won the “Best Promising Destination" Award in India, the “Best Overall Travel Experience Award" from Asia and Australasia and the “Most Supportive National Tourist Office Award" for the Middle East, Africa, and Indian Ocean in Dubai, Seychelles  as a tourist destination seems to be unstoppable.  The exquisite islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean are catching the eyes of people all around the world.

And what’s there to love about Seychelles? With a backdrop of lush towering hills, big glacis boulders and splendid natural beauty, Seychelles is also a living museum of natural history, and a sanctuary for some of the rarest species of flora and fauna on earth.  With almost fifty per cent of its landmass set aside as national parks and reserves, Seychelles is home to two U.N.E.S.C.O World Heritage Sites: Aldabra, the world’s largest raised coral atoll and Praslin’s Vallée de Mai, which really was once believed to be the original site of the Garden of Eden. A one-of-a-kind for ecotourism, Seychelles is a top spot to watch birds, giant tortoises in their natural habitat and living world lies just below the beautiful turquoise waters.  Seychelles is also home to the Coco de Mir, a unique type of coconut that has a legendary history and is unique only to the islands here.

steel_drumsMany carnival-goers got to take home a replica of the Coco de Mir that has become a signature item of Seychelles for tourists. During the carnival, visitors also got to attend musical concerts in the evening and experience fun-in-the sun during the day.  The climate of Seychelles is always warm without extremes. All of the islands that make-up Seychelles lie comfortably outside of the cyclone belt making Seychelles’ a year round destination for beach lovers and fun in the sun.  The coral islands are comprised of 1,000 varied species of fish with marine parks where some carnival-goers even got in a little snorkeling.  After beach and carnival fun some visitors ventured inland to do the jungle trails and others just relaxed and enjoy the peacefulness of this utopian island.  

The people of Seychelles is also what help to make the island peace and enjoyable. Warwick and the Royal couple were appreciative of the islanders who were very hospitable and allowed them space. Warwick told the crowd at the opening of the carnival that of all the things there are to love about Seychelles, one of the things I love most is the warm and friendly people. “They make you feel so at home and welcome,” said the legendary singer whose unique vocal style brought her fame during an illustrious career that spans close to 40 years and includes no less than 55 hit singles. The people of Seychelles embraced Warwick  and welcomed her as they did Prince William and Kate, but was still very respectful of their famous visitors and allowed them space and privacy.

missThe Seychellois people are a colorful blend of different races, cultures and religions.  People of African, European and Asian origin have come to Seychelles at different times throughout its history bringing with them their distinct traditions and customs.  All have contributed to the vibrant Seychellois way of life, giving the island a reputation of being a melting pot of cultures. These multicultural influences can be observed throughout the domains of local art, cuisine, music, dance and architecture all over the island.  Warwick, along with others got to experience the Creole culture through music, food and interactions with the Seychellois people.

The Creole music and dance on the islands have their roots in African, Malagasy and European cultures with rhythms traditionally accompanied by simple drums and string instruments. During the carnival, tourists joined in to do the moutya, a popular, erotic dance derived from the days of slavery and can still be observed today, especially during festive celebrations. The islands are known for their Creole cuisine, reflective of its variety of people, featuring the subtleties of French cooking, the exoticism of Indian dishes and the distinct flavors of the Orient. Carnival-goers sampled the signature island cuisine that also included grilled fish and seafood dishes with sauce of crushed chillies, ginger, garlic and coconut milk, along with locally grown fruit like sweet fried bananas.

masqueraderThe Creole culture, friendly people, and now the yearly multinational carnival are proving to be real draws for tourists. The turquoise waters, clean white powdery beaches, along with the exquisite plants and natural habitats of Seychelles continue to attract people from all over the world.   With such a dreamlike setting, it is no wonder that Warwick fell in love with it, and Prince William and Kate made it their choice place for a honeymoon.   But don’t take their words about it. Make plans to go to experience what the island has to offer for your selves.  After one visit I guarantee that you, too, will love Seychelles.

About Seychelles

The Republic of Seychelles comprises 115 islands occupying a land area in the western Indian Ocean just off the east coast of Africa.  Of these 115 islands, 41 constitute the oldest mid-oceanic granite islands on earth.  The granitic islands of the Seychelles archipelago cluster around the main island of Mahé, home to the international airport and the capital, Victoria.  In 2009 the population was 25,000 for Greater Victoria, (which includes the suburbs), out of the Seychelles entire population of 84,000. The principal exports of Victoria are vanilla, coconuts, coconut oil, soap, and guano. Attractions in the city include a clock tower modeled after the  Vauxhall Clock Tower in London, England, the Victoria Botanical Gardens, the Victoria National Museum of History, the Victoria Natural History Museum and the Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market. The Morne Seychellois National Park with its impressive mountain range covers twenty per cent of the Mahé island.

 

SeychellesThe Inner Islands form the cultural and economic hub of the nation and contain the majority of Seychelles’ tourism facilities including its most stunning beaches. Seychelles is a comparatively young nation settled in 1770 by the French who lead a small party of whites, Indians and Africans. The islands remained in French hands until the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo where it was ceded to Britain under the treaty of Paris in 1814. The Seychelles became an independent republic in 1976 after two hundred years of European colonial rule. A socialist one-party state ruled the country from 1977 to 1993 before the subsequent democratic elections.

For over two centuries, the islands have remained a melting pot of different races, traditions and religions with a broad diversity of peoples from the four corners of the earth that has included freed slaves, European settlers, political exiles, adventurers, traders of Arab and Persian origin as well as Chinese and Indians. Practically every nation on earth has been represented in Seychelles’ melting pot of cultures with each one contributing its special influence. Ethnic and cultural diversity remain the mainstays of today's vibrant yet tranquil Creole nation for which harmony is a way of life. Today the Seychellois population of about 87,122 continues to reflect and embrace its multi-ethnic roots.  For more information, visit www.seychelles.travel

 

Photos: Top Left, by Olivier Cochard-Labbe; Top Right, ADT Editor, Kitty Pope with Dione Warwick;