The archipelago of Seychelles is a sovereign nation in the Indian Ocean. 115 islands comprise the archipelago that is located about 1,500 km off the coast of mainland East Africa. The country is regarded as a global leader in the field of sustainable tourism. Every tourism project here is scrutinized and reviewed to ensure it adheres to the environmental standards set by law. Thus, the country has managed to maintain its natural environment in a stable form. Seychelles is one of the top countries in the world with the highest percentage of protected areas which is 42.1% of the total land area of the country. The major protected areas of the country are as follows:
7. Curieuse Marine national Park
This marine national park, also founded in 1979, is well-known for its rich collection of flora and fauna including several endemic species. The park includes the Curieuse Island and its surrounding waters. The coco de mer plant that produces the world’s largest nut, is endemic to this island and the Praslin island. Visitors to this national park are offered a variety of activities like exploring the park through the guided nature trails, snorkeling, diving, bird-watching, etc. The park also hosts a mangrove swamp that is accessible to visitors via a boardwalk through the swamp. Giant tortoises are a special attraction on the island. Sea turtles also lay their eggs on the beaches of the park. In the past, the Curieuse Island was used to quarantine leprosy sufferers and the ruins of the leprosarium used to host these sufferers can be seen here even today. Another historical building, the Doctor's House, on the island, has been converted to a National Museum.
6. Morne Seychellois National Park
This national park is located on the largest island of Seychelles, Mahe. The park occupies an area of 3,045 hectares that accounts for over 20% of the total area of the island. The Morne Seychellois features a variety of habitats including tropical forests, mangroves, and high mountains. An extensive network of trails run through the national park. The national park was established with the aim of protecting the island’s biodiversity from human interference. 12 endemic terrestrial birds of Seychelles like the Seychelles scops-owl, Seychelles kestrel, etc., are found in this national park. Experienced hikers can climb to the 3,000 ft tall Morne Seychellois in the national park. The mountain hosts several cultural sites and offers fantastic views of the surrounding landscape.
5. Ile Cocos Marine National Park
This marine park includes 3 small islets and the surrounding waters that offer a great getaway experience for tourists. It is the country’s most popular snorkeling zones. The crystal clear waters of the park and its abundant marine life astound all who visit the park. Tour operators transport visitors to this marine parks from nearby islands via boats.
4. Praslin National Park
The second biggest terrestrial national park of Seychelles is located on the island of Praslin, the second biggest island in the archipelago. The park that was established in 1979 has a total area of 324 hectares and includes a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Vallée de Mai, within its limits. The elevation of the national park ranges from 80 m to 367 m. The ‘Glacis Noire’ Trail in the national park is popular among tourists and ends with a spectacular view of the surrounding sea and its islands. Several varieties of endemic plants grow in the national park. The park also hosts a diversity of fauna including the endemic black parrot.
3. Port Launay Marine National Park
One of the most picturesque natural areas in Seychelles, this marine park includes eight beaches and the luxurious Ephelia Hotel within its boundaries. It is the country’s only marine park that is accessible both by sea and land. Whale shark sightings at this park attract many visitors. Snorkeling is also a favorite activity of the tourists visiting the park.
2. Baie Ternay Marine National Park
This marine park of Seychelles is nestled between the two hills that border the Morne Seychellois National Park. The waters of the park provide shelter to yachts during the monsoon season. No direct coastal roads lead to the marine park. It can be, however, accessed by boat trips along the west coast. Secluded beaches are present in the area which are ideal for snorkeling, sunbathing, swimming, and other water activities. The Baie Ternay Marine Park has an area of 0.80 square km and was set up in 1979. A variety of habitats like mangroves, coral reefs, rocky and sandy shores, sea grass beds, etc., characterize the park. The waters here are abundant in marine life providing opportunities for whale, dolphin, and sea turtle watching.
1. St. Anne Marine National Park
Located only about 5 km from the island of Mahe, this marine national park is a fabulous destination for tourists visiting Seychelles. Founded in 1973, this is the first marine park to be established in the Indian Ocean. Glass-bottomed boat rides on the waters of the park allow visitors to observe the abundant marine fauna in the sea and also enjoy the surrounding spectacular sceneries. Various aquatic activities like swimming, snorkeling, etc., are also offered to tourists visiting the park. The numerous beaches here allow tourists to enjoy a relaxing holiday in the heart of nature. The St. Anne island also hosts several historical sites since it served as the location of the first French settlement in 1770. There are several resorts in the area that offer the perfect vacation packages to tourists seeking a peaceful getaway amidst natural splendor.