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The Secrets of Seychelles

Located 4 degrees south of the Equator and hundreds of miles away from anywhere else, Seychelles was once the perfect hideout for pirates to stash their bounty. Today, Seychelles is known to be the dream destination of honeymooners, even the royal ones. With 115 islands sprinkled across the Indian Ocean, you can be sure to find a secluded spot that’s hidden from view, yet has all the treasures that nature has to offer — clear turquoise waters, dramatic granite cliffs, coral atolls and lush tropical vegetation.

A welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of modern city life, this archipelago holds many of the world’s oldest riches. Formed millions of years ago, when fragments of the Gondwanaland supercontinent were cast adrift, these granitic islands are the only ones to be found mid-ocean.

Left uninhabited until the late 18th century, Seychelles is now home to some of the most primitive flora and fauna. The most exotic of which is the legendary coco de mer. This extremely peculiar fruit, which resembles a woman’s bottom, and even has a male counterpart, suggests perhaps, that this really is the place meant for love birds to get acquainted with their primal instincts.

Lest you think that such an idyllic destination is hard to get to, let’s set the record straight. Getting there is easy. Air Seychelles operates a weekly direct flight from Singapore to the main island, Mahe. Mahe may measure just 27 kilometres by 8 kilometres, but it boasts of a whopping 70 beaches and the splendid Morne Seychellois National Park.

Whether you decide to take a stroll down the white, sandy beach, a walk on the verdant trails or a dip in the crystal clear waters, you’ll quickly understand why this was originally called ‘Abundance Island’. Every nook and cranny is brimming with life. You’ll feel it in the pulse of the popular Beau Vallon, inhale it in the serenity of the scenic Mission Lodge, and swim amongst it in the reefs of the Anse Royale.

Then at the end of the day, head for the Sunset Beach Resort. Watching the sun fall below the horizon, turning the ocean into liquid gold, is sheer intoxication. This makes for a romantic backdrop should you choose to dine on delectable local cuisine at the alfresco Silhouette.

And that’s just the beginning of Seychelles. Mahe is a good base to explore the many islands around. Take your pick from the nearby inner granitic islands like Praslin and La Digue or venture further to the outer coralline islands far removed from civilisation.

But the ultimate in exclusivity lies on Frégate Island Private. With just 16 villas and one presidential suite on three square kilometres of paradise, you’re pretty much living it up with the rich and famous. 120 staff provide the exceptional service to top it all off. If you were ever to be stranded on an island, this is the one you’d pick.

As we approached this highly anticipated segment of our trip, an awe-inspiring sight gripped us. Entranced, we watched as a pristine, rocky island surrounded by glittering waters in the evening sun drew near. Perched on the edge of the cliffs were these quaint villas, soon to be home for the night. By the time we were shown to ours, the sky had turned dark. But we knew we’d awake to a majestic view the next morning. In fact, I could hardly wait to see the beauty that would greet me at my doorstep. The crashing waves and chirping birds, heard only by the lightest sleeper, acted as my alarm clock at dawn, just as Mother Nature had intended. And true enough, I opened the door to see the vast ocean, framed by luxuriant trees just as the sky began to receive its first rays of light. The best part? I got to soak it up in the privacy of our very own infinity pool, jacuzzi and daybed.

This is a haven that’s not just adored by guests; flora and fauna revel in it too, evident from the nesting birds, free-roaming giant tortoises and sprawling tropical vegetation. Overhead, exotic birds like the Magpie Robin, Fairy Tern and Lesser Noddy abound, while countless marine lifeforms lie under your feet, just waiting to be discovered.

The more we got to know Frégate, the more it charmed its way into our hearts. There is the integrated environmental programme, which helped restore and rehabilitate some of the world’s rarest species. There is the luxurious Rock Spa, which concocts their own traditional treatments made with natural ingredients. There are the unique gastronomic experiences, made even more delicious by the island grown produce — breakfast in the Treehouse or a private candlelight dinner on the beach.

There are the seven dazzling beaches, and even a private beach on this private island; at Anse Macquereau you turn a sign to say that it’s occupied when you arrive and then back to ‘vacant’ when you leave.

And there is, of course, a certified private butler appointed to each villa, and ours was sprightly Burhan. His warm smile and gentle demeanour gave us a hint that our stay was going to be immensely enjoyable indeed.

Burhan knew the ins and outs of the island and showed us to its most spectacular spots. He led us on a short hike through the tortoise trail, past the magnificent age-old banyan trees and to a lookout point overlooking Anse Felix. Here, we finally caught sight of the elusive Frégate bird. This elegant bird, with a wingspan of two metres, is known for its impressive flying abilities, and no longer nests on the island. We were lucky to have caught sight of it, but it’s true what they say about this being a shy bird; as soon as we reached for our cameras, it flew away swiftly.

Befitting of the ‘anything, anytime, anywhere’ philosophy of Frégate, Burhan managed to arrange for us, within short notice, to have a Creole dinner at the Plantation House. The Plantation House is really a museum that acts as a second restaurant on the island, but is typically closed during the season when we were there. Dinner, however, turned out to be a pretty magical encounter. We were transported into another world altogether as we tucked into traditional dishes like fisherman’s salad and seafood curry among pirate artefacts and cowrie shells.

After thanking Burhan for the wonderful evening, we stepped out onto the pathway heading back to our villa. Twinkling stars dotted the cloudless sky, bidding us sweet dreams as we retired for the night.

It has been said that treasure from ancient pirates still lies buried somewhere in Seychelles to this day, waiting to be uncovered. With all the gems that abound on this unmatched destination, there is truly wealth to be found around every corner.