With stunning white sand beaches and lush tropical forests covering the hills, Praslin is a delight.
Despite being the second biggest island in the Seychelles it has fraction of the population, inhabited by a mere 6,500 people. It is sleepy, laid back and far less developed than neighbouring Mahe, yet still large enough to explore when you tire of your nearest beach.
The beaches on Praslin stand out, with famous names like Anse Lazio and Anse Geogette frequently making top ten lists of best beaches and most beautiful destinations worldwide, and with good reason. Cote D'Or is another great draw too. But Praslin is also the only island where you can enjoy an 18 hole round of golf on a championship course, or discover the amazing Coco De Mer, an exotic plant that lead to the belief the Seychelles were the true Garden of Eden.
It's a great base for day trips to neighbouring islands, too; where you can visit the amazing sea birds on Cousine Island, explore the hills and mangroves and meet giant tortoises in the wild on Curieuse, or go swimming or scuba diving around St Pierre or any one of the fantastic dive sites around the island.
The island has three main settlements - Baie St Anne, where the catamaran docks bringing passengers to and from Mahe and La Digue, Grande Anse on the south coast near the airstrip, and Anse Volbert / Cote D'Or on the north coast. None of these feel much larger than a village, but are handy places to eat or stock up on supplies at the supermarkets. Between these main towns the island is sparsely inhabited, adding to the feeling of being on your own desert island.
The beaches around the island are all dreamlike, picture postcards of white sand and shallow, turquoise seas. That said, the beaches of the south coast are extremely shallow, making swimming off Grande Anse less enjoyable than in Cote D'Or, and from May to October seaweed washes up on the southern shores making the beaches a little less appealing, while this isn't a problem on the north coast.
The beaches on the south east of the island can disappear at high tide, while the north east at Anse La Blague is stunningly beautiful but quite remote - if you stay here you will want your own transport. The Lemuria has a number of beautiful beaches in its grounds to the west, while anywhere between Anse Lazio and Anse Gouvernment on the north coast is an all round winner.
If you're looking for sightseeing, Praslin may not be the place for you - yet for many, that is much of its charm. The beaches here are so gorgeous you'll have trouble rousing yourself and moving on to the next destination, but if you do you're in luck: it's most likely you'll end up on another equally lovely beach.
Just like neighbouring Mahe. the buses on Praslin go everywhere and are a very cheap way of getting around. It's possible to arrange taxis to visit sights but as a rule of thumb the cost of a taxi will be similar to the daily hire of your own hire car, so you may prefer the flexibility which renting your own car offers.
Finding your way around is easy: there is one long U-shaped road that runs from Lemuria / Anse Kerlan in the south west and loops around the coast to Anse Lazio in the north west. There's another road that cuts through the centre of the island past the Valee de Mai, joining Grande Anse and Baie St Anne - despite the hill this is a much faster route than taking the road around the south east of the island which can be very steep and winding between Anse Bois De Rose and the Jetty.
Whatever your budget, Praslin offers a great range of accommodation. Whether you'd prefer a larger luxury resort such as Raffles or Lemuria, an intimate and exclusive hotel with its own private beach, an independent boutique residence or a simple self catering villa with a fantastic view. there is something for everyone. The island is small and accessible enough that it needn't matter where you stay as the beauty of the whole island is within reach.
However, with the exception of the Lemuria and Petite Anse Kerlan in the west, the beaches of the north coast are superior to the south. Many visitors will end up in or around the Anse Volbert / Cote D'Or area, but there are a number of hideaways such as L'Archipel, La Reserve, Chateau Des Feilles, Coco De Mer, Ile Des Palmes and New Emerald Cove should you wish to be more in a more secluded retreat.
Praslin can be reached by boat from Mahe or La Digue, with the catamaran taking approximately 45 minutes from Mahe or 15 from La Digue. The ride to Mahe is scenic but the waters can be quite choppy, so if you are prone to seasickness you may wish to consider the plane instead. The crossing to La Digue is over calmer waters, and the ride is short enough that sickness shouldn't be a problem.
Flights to Praslin airport from Mahe take just fifteen minutes, and if you are flexible with your departure times the cost is only marginally more than the boat. The planes used are tiny 'twin otters', with two propeller engines on a wing raised above the cabin offering excellent views of the sea and islands below. It's a unique experience with up to fifteen passengers squeezed into a tiny craft - hot and steamy but well worth it for the fantastic views.
Praslin airport is situated between Anse Kerlan and Grande Anse, but the longest transfer from the airport isn't likely to take more than 30 minutes. Don't worry about your hotel being too close to the airport - there are only 8-10 flights a day and the noise from the tiny engines is minimal.
If you are flying to Seychelles with Etihad or Air Seychelles it is possible to include a flight to Praslin on your ticket but it will involve changing planes on Mahe.