Mahé Island covers an area of 155km² and is one of the best places to visit in Seychelles.
It is the largest of 115 islands that make up Seychelles and has around 80,000 people: some 90% of the country’s total population. Mahe Island is also home to the Seychelles’ capital city, Victoria, as well as the international airport.
It is a verdant, mountainous place with towering granite peaks, up to 905 meters high at Morne Seychellois. Dense cloudforest blanket large parts of the interior, and drops down to a coastline strung with sweeping sandy beaches and picturesque coves.
During your Seychelles tours, you can self-drive here as the distance are relatively short, maps are good, signposting is easy and there is a good network of tarmac roads.
As a direct result of its striking topography, Mahé Island has more rain than the low-lying Seychelles private islands. But this also accounts for its rich vegetation – and a tropical downpour is often a spectacular event.
The history of Mahé Island
Mahé Island is named after Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais. This man was a lieutenant in the French East India Company, established by King Louis XIV to trade in the eastern hemisphere. In 1724, he fought bravely to capture the island.
In 1812, Mahé became a colony of the British, remaining so until 1976, when Seychelles gained independence.
Today, the island accommodates many nationalities – African, European, Indian, Arab and Chinese. Its port services the economy via tuna fishing and canning, but the bulk of its revenue stems from the tourism sector.
Top Things To Do In Mahé
Mahé Island is the most developed and populous island in Seychelles, here there are many activities and places to visit. I can’t write about Mahé without mentioning Victoria, the Seychelles’ capital.
A day on foot is plenty of time to explore one of smallest capital cities in the world. Victoria’s streets are filled with unique and unusual monuments and architecture.
Explore the streets, shops, and cafés of this lively tropical city and appreciate the blend of cultures and old and modern. Here is some of Mahe’s most magnificent views, locations, and activities.
1. Explore the capital of the Seychelles, Victoria
Victoria is the sort of place where many signs are still hand painted and there is chain restaurant, cafés, bars, shops, and markets in sight. This little city is built around a clock tower, which was erected in remembrance of Queen Victoria.
You will just need a couple of hours to explore the streets on foot, where you will find the historic Victoria Courthouse and the 19th-century Immaculate Conception Cathedral, built in a French-colonial style. Arul Mihu Navasakthi Vinayagar, the Seychelles’ lone Hindu temple, is easy to notice, with a vividly painted tower of deities protruding above its low-rise surrounds.
Tucked down near the ferry terminal is a simple, contemporary mosque that serves a tiny Muslim population. There is also a small but well-cared National Museum and opposite, the Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market where seafood, spices and fresh produce are sold.
The Seychelles National Botanical Gardens, located on the outskirts of Victoria, were established in 1901 to test viable crops to assist enhance the Seychellois economy.
This gorgeous garden currently focuses on safeguarding Mahé’s ecosystem, and you may walk around it while looking for the endangered Seychelles blue pigeon.
2. Got To beach, particularly Beau Vallon
Mahe Island has more than 50 beaches. Beau Vallon is one of them. Because of the neighboring luxury hotels and companies providing activities such as Jet Ski rental and parasailing, this beach may be considered a ‘touristy’ beach.
However, it is an excellent beach for getting the buzz of Seychelles life.
With market stalls and fruit vendors lining the edge of Beau Vallon and luxury hotel restaurants and bars opening out onto the sands, it is the ideal spot for resting in tropical paradise, with ease of access to the comforts of home.
3. Go stargazing
Another amazing activity to do while on the island of Mahé is to advantage of the landscape and go stargazing. This is doable on your own; simply hike at night and gaze up!
Also, for the best experience in terms of weather conditions and star positioning, a variety of trips are available. The Seychelles’ night skies are truly stunning thanks to low light pollution, and the moon is often so brilliant on a clear night that you don’t need a torch. This is a terrific nighttime activity, especially after a ‘lazy’ day at the beach.
4. Sample local cuisine at the famous street market Bazar Labrin
There are several great places to eat at Mahé Island, all of which celebrate different cuisines ranging from authentic Indian, Creole, Asian, to Italian and Spanish.
One major activity that is ideal for a lover of hearty home-cooked food is visiting ‘Bazar Labrin’, held every Wednesday on Beau Vallon. Bazar Labrin is perhaps the most famous of Mahé’s street markets, with locals basically moving their home kitchens to a market stall.
The market is liveliest between 4:00pm and 8:30pm, offering dining and dancing with the locals to live music, all with the smell of freshly prepared Creole cuisine delights wafts around.
Enjoy some traditional Creole Cuisine such as banana St Jacques fritters, mango salad, papaya chutney, spicy and flavourful curries, as well as marinated and grilled meats and fish.
With so much variety and tasty cuisine available, you will never go hungry on Mahé.
5. Visit Morne Seychellois National Park
Morne Seychellois National Park takes up around 20% of Mahé Island. This national park encompasses a variety of endemic ecosystems ranging from coastal mangrove forests to the steep-sided peak of Morne Seychellois, the island’s tallest peak at 905m.
A sanctuary for endemic species, you can spot wild vanilla orchids, the Seychelles blue pigeon or the very rare Seychelles white eye.
The Mission Lodge Lookout, which was formerly a school for liberated slaves, is now a national monument offering views of the jungle-covered dips and folds that lead down to the ocean below.
It is possible to drive here, but to access the rest of the park you’re best taking a guided hike along one of the many trails.
6. hike the Anse Major Nature Trail
During your tour of Mahe, you could hike the Anse Major Nature Trail. This short trail takes around 45 minutes and leads you over a granite ridge to Anse Major Beach.
En route, you are treated to views across the Indian Ocean which, against the black of the granite and almost neon-green foliage, looks particularly blue.
The slip of sand itself, flanked by clusters of smooth boulders, is only accessible by foot or small boat. Before you return back along the route, there is time to swim or snorkel at the beach.
7. Visit Sainte Anne Marine Park by catamaran
You can also tour Sainte Anne Marine Park by catamaran on a day’s sail around the Seychelles’ oldest nature reserve. You board the catamaran from a jetty on Mahé.
The park’s six islands are about 5 kilometers away from the coast. The low-lying island is made up of volcanic and granite formations and is encircled by one of the largest seagrass meadows in the Seychelles. While cruising, there will be opportunities to stop and snorkel.
You could spot hawksbill turtles munching on silky blades of seagrass or manta rays floating effortlessly by between April and December.
More than 150 kinds of marine life including steeped parrotfish and oriental sweetlips have been discovered within the coral gardens of Sainte Anne Channel, a renowned snorkeling location.
For a short tour, the catamaran can dock at Moyenne Island. Brendon Grimshaw, a British newspaper editor, previously owned this little slice of Seychelles.
After purchasing the island in the early 1960s, he spent the following 50 years restoring the island’s somewhat desolate nature by planting thousands of trees, reintroducing birds, and nurturing a population of giant tortoises. You may relax on the beach or go swimming before returning to the boat for a freshly cooked lunch and a return trip to Mahé.
Mahé Island Tours and Holidays
If you are interested in tour or holiday vacation on Mahe Island, below is a sample of our suggested Seychelles holidays and beach tours. Fitting into a comprehensive Seychelles holiday tour itinerary or equally ideal as a stand-alone destination, Mahe Island tours and holidays embrace a part of the Seychelles that is known for its luxury beach resorts and welcoming atmosphere.
FAQs About Mahé Island Vacations
1. When is the best time to visit Mahé?
If you plan to snorkel, the best time to visit Mahé Island is October and May, when the trade winds die down as they change direction, creating particularly calm waters. But Seychelles enjoy a year-round warm climate with temperature averaging around 28°C in the daytime. Rainfall is relatively consistent year round, with the occasional tropical shower mid-afternoon.
2. Where To Stay in Mahé?
Mahé Island has a variety of holiday accommodation. Families are sure to love Ephelia Resort with its choice of beaches, host of watersports and world-class spa.
For couples and honeymooners we would recommend the luxurious Four Seasons villas, each with an infinity-edge plunge pool overlooking a pretty bay, Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort and Spa or Banyan Tree Seychelles.
Those on more of a budget holiday can opt for Kempinski Seychelles Resort.
3. How many days should I spend in Mahé?
Four days on Mahé Island is a reasonable amount of time on a holiday in Seychelles. It is the largest island and you may need a whole day to fully drive and explore.
4. How do you get around on Mahe Island?
- By Bus
- By Taxi
- By Ferry
- By Catamaran
- By Bicycle
- On Foot
- By Car
5. What is special about Mahe?
Mahe is know for offering the largest selection of resorts and activities in Seychelles. The west coast, from top to bottom, is one long string of stunning beaches and outstanding accommodation, but there are plenty of secret gems elsewhere.
And wherever you’re based, paradise lies close at hand – a bus or car ride of no more than 20 minutes will bring you to fabulous natural attractions.