When Lazare Picault visited the island in 1744, he named it the Island of Palms for its covering of tropical vegetation, and it remains so today The second largest island of the Seychelles consists of 38.8 sq.km/62.7 sq.mi of mostly virgin forest dotted with great exposed rock formations, and is surrounded by a young coral reef which gives shelter to some 900 species of marine life. The highest point is Praslin Island Peak (367m/1,200ft) and there are some 5,000 inhabitants.
Useful tips: There's a small tourist office at the Praslin airport terminal, which provide basic information about the island. It can also help with accommodation bookings. The office is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 2pm and 3.15 to 4pm on Saturday from 8am to noon.
Vallée de Mai
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the valley contains a prehistoric forest that contains 4,000 examples of the giant coco de mer fruit palm (unique to Seychelles), vanilla orchids, palmiste, latanier, splayed traveller's palm and Chinese fans. The trees form an overhead canopy, and large prehistoric boulders are strewn over the forest floor.The valley is home to many species of lizards and rare birds such as the Seychelles bulbul, fruit pigeon and the national bird of Seychelles, the black parrot. A nature trail is marked and rated an Easy hike. It takes from 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on your route.
A nature reserve established in 1968 for the Seychelles warbler and the hawksbill turtle, it is now administered by the International Council for Bird Preservation and the Royal Society for Nature Conservation. Birdwatchers can walk trails near the breeding grounds of a bird population of 500,000. These include brush warblers, magpie robins, white-tailed tropic birds, Seychelles Foxy, the Seychelles Turtle Dove, the White-faced Tropic bird, the Wedge-tailed Shearwater, the beautiful Fairy Tern, noddies, Bridled Terns and the Seychelles Brush Warbler.
Useful tips: The island is located 2 km/1 mi SW of Praslin. The best time to visit is April or May. The boat ride from Grand Anse to Cousin takes about 15 minutes, but the landing sites vary depending on the time of the year. There is no jetty and often visitors have to be ferried from the launch to shore in a Zodiac dinghy. This can be amusing or harrowing, depending on the size of the swells.
A Special Reserve of the Royal Society for Nature Conservation for seabird breeding, Aride is home to 10 breeding species, including Frigate birds, Red-tailed Tropic birds and the world's largest colonies of Lesser Noddy and Roseate Terns.Sightseers will find the highest density of lizards anywhere on earth, as well as several endemic species of flowers. Wright's Gardenia, or bois citron, is unique to this island.
This 3 sq.km/1 sq.mi islet features a Marine National Park that is home to a breeding program for giant tortoises. The ruins of a leprosarium stand on the south shore, and the doctor's house is a preserved national monument. Most of the island is covered with takamaka and casuarina trees, which shade the white sand beaches.
La Pass to Grand Anse Hiking Trail
This trail is rated Easy and can be travelled by foot or by bicycle. It passes French colonial era houses, woodlands and a marsh to reach the Grand Anse beach. The return leads through small hamlets and nesting grounds of the Black Paradise Flycatcher bird.
Nine ha/22.2 ac Marine Park that can be hiked across in 45 minutes. The park contains species of endemic Seychelles flora, including coco de mer, bwa de fer, the dragon tree and Wright's gardenia. Giant land tortoises inhabit the island, and there are snorkelling sites along the shore.
Baie Sainte-Anne, Seychelles
A small village surrounded by tea plantations and coconut groves. The houses have old-fashioned palm thatch roofs, and the harbor docks receive ferries from Mahé and La Digue.
Chevalier Bay (Anse Lazio)
Grande Anse on Praslin, Seychelles
One of the two main settlements on Praslin, this simple village provides visitors with a view of typical undeveloped tropical life. Fishing and small farms are the mainstays.
Rock climbing sites are en route from Baire Ste Anne over the hill to Anse Marie-Louise behind Anse Kerlan road at Pointe Ste Marie. Cliff climbers should go to Anse Possession, Anse Citron, and between Anse Government and Anse Matelot.
This beach is the spot at which the French laid their original "stone of possession" to mark their claim to Seychelles.