Covering 150 square kilometres, Mahe is the largest granitic island of the Seychelles archipelago. With 27 km in length and 8 km in width, Mahe shadows its neighbouring islands in size.
Discovered on 19th November 1742 by Captain Lazare Picault, the island was given its name in honour of Bertrand-Francois Mahe de la Bourdonnais, the French governor of Ile de France (Mauritius) Also sometimes referred to as 'Ile d'Abondance', the island was abundant with rivers, trees for reparation of the ships, fruits and meat (turtles and fish).
The French were quick to colonise Seychelles as another jewel such as this one was truly rare in the Indian Ocean, and in 1771 the first settlement was opened under the name 'L'etablissement du Roi' or in English 'the kings establishment'. 'The stone of Possession' which was placed by Nicholas Morphey to symbolize the possession of Seychelles by the French, can be seen in the National History Museum in Seychelles.
Though being the most densely populated island of the Seychelles archipelago, with some 87,000 people living on Mahe alone, it has kept all of its natural charms intact.
Mahe, and its capital victoria, is the economic and political hub of the Seychelles. The main businesses and Government offices are found in Victoria and this is where the majority of the populace works.
The mountains of Mahe harbor many species of exotic plants of which the most finest and rarest species of trees can be seen on the slopes of Trois Freres and Morne Seychellois, the latter being the highest peak in Seychelles, reaching a height of 905 metres. There the majesty of nature has remained unchanged.
The true face of Mahe cannot be discovered in a hurry, time must be taken to appreciate the full scale of all its attractions and natural beauties. Starting at the heart of Victoria, the Botanical Garden allows visitors to see many of the endemic plants of Seychelles. The 'Coco de Mer', which is mainly found in the 'Vallee de Mai', can be seen in the Botanical Garden. Giant Tortoises of Aldabra can also be seen.
The Natural History Museum, on Independence Avenue in Victoria, is home to an impressive collection of shells, corals and coco de mer, one extraordinary display being the Giant clam shell from Aldabra. The museum is housed in the Carnegie building which dates back to the 1920s.
The Victoria Market (Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market) is the most vibrant and colorful place on the island. Stalls are laden everyday with fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and spices, scents from cinnamon, vanilla, lemons and mangoes fill the air. Moving further down the East coast has even more to offer, long stretches of beach invite the sunbathers while the Craft Village at Anse aux Pins gives visitors a glimpse into the past.
It consists of a number of brightly painted Creole chalets around a colonial plantation house. Having been completely restored, it is now a museum featuring a collection of French, English and colonial period furniture and artefacts.
Moving further down at Au cap, one can stop by La plaine St. Andre Restaurant, a fully restored 18th century colonial house, to savour spicy creole cuisine, all set in a pristine environment that will be sure to tingle all your senses.
Anse Royale or Royal Bay is home to the Seychelles first Spice Garden, the 'Jardin du Roi' or Kings Garden. Found at upper L‘Enfoncement, visitors can discover spice trees, vanilla, bamboos, fruit trees, vegetables, tropical flowers such as the Ylang ylang, as well as birds, fruit bats, reptiles a cinnamon distillery, a tasting area and museum.
Making your way round the southern tip of the island, the resplendent Anse Intendence beckons visitors to its waters, while strong swimmers go for a dip in the cool tropical waters, sunbathers can relax on the powder white sand and soak up the sun.
Going towards the islands interior, lush, dense tropical forests mask the true beauty that is the Seychelles, but a quick visit to the Mission Lodge at Sans Souci will quickly remedy this. The viewpoint offers a breath taking panoramic view of mountains merging with the coastline. The site has changed very little since its opening by Queen Elizabeth on March 20th 1972. A Strong advise is to not forget your camera.
At the end of your journey, finish your afternoon with a swim at Beauvallon Beach, one of the most frequented beaches on Mahe, popular not just with tourists but with locals as well.