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Family fun in the Seychelles

Autumn is one of the best times of the year to visit the Seychelles. Think idyllic beaches, plenty of sunshine and gently swaying palms. Carolynne Dear sets sail to explore the hidden islands in this stunning corner of the Indian Ocean.

Autumn is a great time of year to visit the stunning Seychelles (image courtesy Shutterstock).

The islands of the Seychelles are perfect for a family break. Friendly locals, soft sand, crystal clear seas, a unique biodiversity, plenty of resorts with kids clubs and heaps of fresh air activities make for a fantastic holiday destination.

The country benefits from warm summer temperatures all year round, but October and November fall between the two trade winds that hit the islands each year, resulting in calmer seas and the best diving conditions. It's also a quieter time of year as the summer crowds of July and August's high season drift home.

If you're planning on flying in this autumn and want to venture outside of your resort, here are five great days out.

Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, Seychelles

Exploring the stunning Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve.

This UNESCO World Heritage status forest is so impressive that in the nineteenth century, British general Charles George Gordon propagated a myth that it was the biblical Garden of Eden.

The reserve consists of nineteen-and-a-half hectares of palm forest on the tiny island of Praslin. Visitors can see the famous ‘coco de mer’, the largest seed in the plant kingdom and from a palm tree that is believed to have once grown in the depths of the ocean. You might also be able to spot the rare Seychelles black parrot as well as mammals, snakes and reptiles.

Regular ferries ply the waters between Praslin and the main islands of the Seychelles.

Curieuse Marine National Park, Seychelles

Meet one of the Seychelles' most famous residents.

This small island boasts a wealth of biodiversity and has been designated a marine national park since 1979.

Curieuse is home to hundreds of giant tortoises that were introduced in the late 1970s and early 1980s. There’s even a tortoise nursery on the island where hatchlings are nurtured until they turn five years old and are released into the wild.

Curieuse has an interesting history - for a hundred years it was a leper colony and the old doctor’s house built in 1873 is now a national museum housing displays on the Seychelles’ history and its flora and fauna.

Soak up the culture and then enjoy a dive at the coral gardens and Pointe Rouge, or take a fifteen minute boat ride to St Pierre islet with its fantastic snorkel and dive opportunities.

Moyenne Island, Seychelles

Lazy days in the Ste Anne Marine National Park.

Today stunning Moyenne Island is the world’s smallest national park within the Ste Anne Marine National Park off the north coast of Mahé.

But it was once an unkempt brush pile. In the 1960s, Brendon Grimshaw, a newspaper editor from Yorkshire in the United Kingdom, paid the grand total of GBP8,000 for the uninhabited island. He then spent a back-breaking several decades transforming it into the eco paradise that it is today. He hand-planted more than 16,000 trees, including 7,000 mahogany trees, and hacked away the undergrowth to create five kilometres of nature paths. His work has attracted more than 2,000 species of birds to the island and he also took care of 120 giant tortoises.

Moyenne Island now boasts more than two thirds of all endemic plants to the Seychelles. It’s also rumoured to be the resting place of the diamond and ruby encrusted ‘Fiery Cross of Goa’ which was allegedly buried by pirates in the 1700s. Grimshaw was offered millions by investors for the island but he refused and in 2008 it was declared a National Park.

Le Jardin du Roi, Mahé

The heritage Planter's House at Le Jardin du Roi.

Le Jardin du Roi is located two kilometres up in the hills above Anse Royale. The lush spice gardens were created by French spice entrepreneur Pierre Poivre. And yes, you read and translated that correctly - it is likely he was the ‘Peter Piper’ (or Pepper) of the famous English tongue-twister.

Poivre was a one-armed eighteenth century horticulturist, missionary and colonial administrator. In the 1760s, he became the Intendant of the Indian Ocean island of Réunion in Mauritius where he planted the Jardin Botanique des Pamplemousses (named after a nearby grapefruit-growing village), filled with plants from all over the tropics.

But importantly, he managed to smuggle cloves and nutmeg out of the Dutch East India Company-controlled Spice Islands (today part of Indonesia) to cultivate in the French-controlled Seychelles, thereby breaking the Dutch spice monopoly. From the Seychelles, the spices were also introduced into nearby Zanzibar.

Along with the gardens, Le Jardin du Roi also boasts a restaurant and café with great views over the coast and there’s a one-room museum in the planter’s house.

Morne Blanc, Mahé

Soaking up the views on Mahé.

The Morne Blanc hiking trail on Mahé leads you through an old tea plantation and up through lush rainforest until you reach a lookout point with spectacular views over the coast of western Mahé.

The two-kilometre track is accessible year-round and the hike up to the viewpoint perched on a sheer cliff takes around 45 minutes.

The forests are home to many of Seychelles’ endemic bird species, including Seychelles bulbul, Seychelles swiftlet and Seychelles sunbird.

Head up the trail early, though, as mist begins to swirl over the forest from midday, obscuring the views from the top.

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