* This article first appeared here in Wedding Inspirations 2019
Strewn across the Indian ocean are collections of islands that without any effort, offer some of the sexiest and secluded honeymoon options available. One of these dream archipelagos is the 115-island nation of the Seychelles, a long favourite for honeymooners looking for a memorable getaway. With a mere 5-hour direct flight from Johannesburg, paradise has never been closer. Here are four island options ranging from more conservative to bottomless budgets.
Bord Mer Villas
If you’re desperate for an island honeymoon, but a beautiful wedding has left you with a tight budget, don’t despair. The Seychelles may not be off the cards just yet. Choosing to stay in a comfy bed and breakfast rather than a slick hotel might just be your way in. On both my Seychelles visits I’ve chosen to spend a couple of days at the delightful Bord Mer Villas in Beau Vallon.
Several double story villas in the classic semi-Victorian Seychellois style are set in the tropical gardens: each spaciously appointed with air-con, a kitchen and private veranda. Every morning the cheerful staff arrive with a three-course breakfast, best enjoyed on your veranda overlooking the gardens (while planning the day ahead.)
Food is rather expensive in the Seychelles and accounts for some of the higher costs of the luxury resorts, and so having your own kitchen makes for a suitably affordable stay. Several supermarkets are within walking distance of Bord Mer, just ask the staff to show you the way. After you’ve cooked up a romantic dinner and enjoyed it al fresco on your veranda, take a couple of steps to the beach for a moonlit walk.
Beau Vallon is one of Mahe’s most popular beaches and the Villas are a mere 20m from the beach. From here you’re able to visit several restaurants, sign up for water sports or other adventure activities, or simply soak up the sun for hours on end.
Although Bord Mer might not have all the trappings and impressiveness of a five-star hotel, don’t forget you’re a one-minute walk from one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and that’s an extravagance worth its weight in gold. The good news is that if you are wanting a day or two of luxury, most of the high-end hotels offer day visit options, and for a nominal fee, you can make use of their facilities.
Not too far around the coast of Mahé, the five-star Constance Ephelia is waiting to welcome honeymooners for a luxurious seaside escape. Part of the renowned Constance family of resorts, Ephelia is their proud Seychelle’s offering, sprawled across a magnificent tropical setting.
Impressively, this resort encompasses not only one, but two bays. Port Launay is the first which offers spectacular sunsets and is also the start of the protected Port Launay Marine Park, a known marine hotspot. Anse L’Islette is the second, a little more sheltered and great for exploring via the resort’s canoes. There’s even an onsite zipline if you’re looking for a couple extra thrills.
Ephelia provides an impressive range of accommodation options, including beach, garden or hillside villas. Due to the size of the resort, there are several pool areas scattered about, so you don’t have to walk far to find a space to cool off or relax by a pool with a cocktail. Our favourite spots on the island were the wooden pagodas overlooking the bays. Book in one hand, cocktail in the other, hours were spent in tranquillity absorbing the views.
When it comes to food and drink your options are plentiful. Five bars and five restaurants, each with their own design and culinary concept, wait to delight you with their tantalizing options.
As for wellness, it’s time to rethink your usual spa offering. Constance Ephelia has an entire spa village waiting to assist your detox and relaxation journey. Featuring a dry heat sauna, steam room, thermal pool, jacuzzi, still pool, Kneipp footpath, reflective pool, and yoga pavilion you’ll be well looked after. Oh, and it’s worth noting that it’s the biggest spa complex on the Indian Ocean.
The honeymoon package includes special extras such as sparkling wine, bed decorations, restaurant upgrades, spa treatment discounts, and an additional discount of up to 60% for spouses – a small thank you from Ephelia for choosing to spend your honeymoon with them.
The Four Seasons Desroches Island
If you’re wanting to take the seclusion and privacy up a notch, then why not spend your treasured honeymoon days on one of the Seychelle’s other more remote Islands. Equipped with the knowledge that hospitality legends The Four Seasons owned a private island, I simply knew I had to visit. A chartered plane carries you over the ocean for the 35-minute journey, and every seat is a window seat!
Arriving at The Four Seasons Desroches Island very quickly you realise the best way to describe anything is to prefix it with the word private. From the private airstrip to a private bungalow to your private beach. This is as intimate and remote as it gets.
Special options for honeymooners include romantic dinners on the beach, relaxing couple’s massage at the Spa, private boat trip to neighbouring islands complete with picnic lunches prepared by their chefs or secluded champagne beach picnic. The island features a beautiful lighthouse and we were treated to a private dinner on the top, blissfully gazing around as the sunset slowly transformed the island below us.
The luxury suites all hug the coastline and so reaching the beach is only a few steps through your private garden. Our suite had its own pool, relaxation pagoda adjacent, and then loungers and a hammock to languish away the day in true island-style.
There are no vehicles on the island and because it’s small enough, you can reach anywhere you want on bicycles. Every suite has two of the retro Four Seasons bikes waiting for you – it hardly gets more romantic than this – exploring a remote island by bike winding through palm-lined paths. The island has a breeding colony of the rare Aldabra tortoises and the two-kilometre cycle there is picture-perfect.
Every morning and evening guests are invited to yoga sessions at the spa – a peaceful way to begin or end the day, and private sessions can also be arranged at your villa. We loved the session with the yogi in our garden being reminded to slow down, breathe, and centre ourselves, something not particularly hard when you’re on your own remote island.
Our final honeymoon option is the magnificent MAIA on Mahé island. Be prepared for the redefinition of luxury at a resort that will keep you spellbound from the moment you arrive until the moment you reluctantly have to leave. Each of the 30 private villas are built on a tropical peninsula on this piece of paradise.
The villas are discreetly designed and placed on the hillside, keeping luxury and seclusion as high priorities. The generous use of glass means that even if you’re now enjoying the outdoor spaces, you’ll still have uninterrupted views of your pristine surroundings. Each villa is equipped with a personalized and intuitive butler, available to tend to your every need. Naturally the resort has beautiful dining spaces, but what sets MAIA apart is the Beyond All Inclusive offering.
The dining philosophy is simply Whenever, Whatever, Wherever– and its exactly as it says it is. You can choose to eat what you want, at whatever location on the resort, at whatever time suits you. Pancakes at 02h00 on a moonlit beach… no problem at all. This is a personalised service probably unlike anything you may have experienced before.
Don’t forget that the Seychelles is an underwater haven for a variety of marine life – you only have to step two meters into the water and you’ll be greeted by abundant sea life. MAIA also offers daily excursions to known marine hotspots and provides all the necessary equipment for your ocean adventures.
A visit to MAIA is a thoroughly sensorial experience, where guests are invited to see the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, hear the chorus of tropical birdsong in the early morning or at dusk, smell the delicate jasmine, exotic spices and the light sea breeze, feel revived, relaxed, radiant and feeling fabulous for the ceremony and taste romantic dinners on the beach.
To ensure you experience uninterrupted romance, there are a host of tailored private excursions available, including helicopter trips to remote islands, and much more. Whether its time spent on the dazzlingly beautiful and unspoilt beaches, or gulping up the views from your infinity pool, it’s a sure case of paradise found. Leaving MAIA at the end of your stay might just be the most difficult thing you’ll have to do.
What to Do
If at all, you decide to adventure out the hotel and explore a little more of the island, here are some favourite visitor spots to check out:
- The delicious Takamaka Rumis loved by both locals and foreigners, and visitors can stop by the distillery for a tour, and a nominal R100 to taste your way through their range.
- Victoria is the Seychelles’ tiny capital, with a population of just over 26,000. If time allows for a walk-through, include brief stops at the Market, the Clock Tower and the Hindu temple.
- A short drive or even walk from Victoria, and you’ll find the small but enticing Botanical Gardens. A R100 entrance fee allows you the chance to stroll the tropical gardens, including an Aldabra tortoise breeding colony.
- I’d also recommend a visit to the Tea Plantation, where R35 will get you a tour and a rather rewarding view. I always return with bags of vanilla tea, which cost around R10 and are available from all supermarkets.
- If a hike through a tropical forest to a remote beach sounds appetizing, do add the Anse Major hike to your itinerary. In Beau Vallon, take the bus #20 to Bel Ombre and get off at the last stop. The 5km (approx.) return walk begins there. Take plenty of water, and I’d advise you start the trail early in the morning when it’s cooler and also quieter.
Most of the hotels will help arrange outings and guides for you. Making use of a local tour guide is a great way to visit these spots along with the benefit of a knowledgeable local. The cost including driver, fuel and hotel collections ranges between R2400 and R3400 for a full day. I’ve used Gilly, who is a fount of knowledge and well respected on the island. Contact him directly on +2482816760 or firstname.lastname@example.org.