One of the smallest countries in the world, the Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands nestled in the Indian Ocean. While each island harnesses a unique personality, they all share breathtaking scenery, gleaming turquoise waters, and a beautiful home for both nature and animals.
The second largest island of the Seychelles, Praslin is home to giant Aldabra tortoises, exquisite beaches, and the rare Coco De Mer seed. Due to the island’s size, traveling with a vehicle is necessary to get around. Many buses stop along the island’s major attractions.
Coco de Mer
The Coco de Mer seed is the largest and heaviest seed in the plant world and is grown naturally exclusively in the Seychelles. Iconic for its unique shape, mythical history and massive size, it can grow up to sixty pounds and is approximately the size of a large watermelon! There are two reserves on Praslin island that grow this incredibly rare seed: Vallée de Mai and Fond Ferdinand.
Vallée de Mai received world heritage status in 1983. The popular national park is considered the “Heart of Praslin,” and is home to over 1,400 legendary Coco de Mer trees. Vallée de Mai is also often described as a “Garden of Eden” due to its mystical nature and incredible beauty. The entry fee of Vallée de Mai costs 350 Seychellois Rupees per person.
Less touristy and more spacious, Fond Ferdinand nature reserve is six times larger than Vallée de Mai. It is home to thousands of indigenous species including the incredible Coco de Mer trees. The entrance fee is also cheaper at 150 Seychellois Rupees per person.
During our guided group tour, we were introduced to some unique spices, beans, fruits and seeds within the park while walking towards the Coco de Mer trees located deeper in the reserve.
Coco de Mer trees can grow to be either male or female. The sex is unknown until approximately twenty-five years of life. The gender of the tree can be easily recognized by its physical characteristics, which closely resemble human reproductive organs. Can you distinguish between the male and female tree from the two photographs below?
The catkins of the male tree grow flowers on it. Birds and lizards then take the pollen and transfer them onto female trees, which creates the Coco de Mer seed. The seeds grow atop of the seventy-foot trees until they ultimately drop to the ground. Fortunately, these trees are partitioned in specific places within both nature reserves, keeping visitors safe from these giant seeds once they fall!
Folklore legend states that during dark, stormy evenings, the male and female trees uproot themselves and lock into a carnal embrace. It is believed that whoever witnesses the “love making” of the trees either go blind or die. The pollination process to this day is still not fully understood, which continues to make the Coco de Mer trees incredibly fascinating and alluring.
Coco de Mer seeds are so rare, law prohibits them from being stolen or removed from the country. However, if the seed is completely hollowed – a measure taken to prevent it being grown in foreign places – and stamped with a certified serial number; Coco de Mer seeds can be sold at very high prices around the shops of Praslin island.
Towards the end of the guided tour in Fond Fernidad, a beautiful view awaits you prior to your descent down the reserve.
Praslin island is known for housing one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Anse Lazio. Carved off into a crescent-like shape, the beach is surrounded by granite boulders and coconut palm trees. The sand is plush and pristine, and the water a stunning turquoise color which makes the entire scene of the beach look like it has been plucked off of a post card.
In front of the beach is a small home for several tortoises, privately owned by a local who lives nearby. While feeding his tortoises some fruit, he told us of a story of how he once saved his tortoises during a harsh rainstorm. Floods swept the tortoises so far away, some of them were found floating in the ocean of Anse Lazio!
The far left of the beach is home to a coral reef filled with colorful, exotic fish. It is an ideal place to swim and snorkel. We found multiple rainbow-fish and a pool of baby squid while snorkeling in this area!
Anse Georgette is considered the second most beautiful beach on Praslin island. It is located near the Lemuria Resort, and the only way to access the beach is to go through the resort. If you are not staying at this particular accommodation, you must notify the Lemuria Resort approximately 24 hours in advance in order to be admitted entry to the beach.
Once you enter the Lemuria property, you must walk thirty minutes through the resort’s beautifully manicured golf course to enter the beach.
The waters of Anse Georgette are calm and beautiful; however, the water gets deep rather quickly.
Praslin island lies about twenty-seven miles from the island of Mahe and is relatively easy to get to by ferry. Fascinating for its flora, beaches and Coco de Mer seed, it is an ideal island to visit if you don’t mind getting around with a vehicle!