by Marco Petruzzelli
The second largest island in the Seychelles archipelago is Praslin, 34 km from Mahé and just 15 minutes' flight.
Covering an area of 44 square kilometres, Praslin is almost completely covered by rainforest and many tourists consider it the most beautiful in the entire Seychelles archipelago.
Although the island boasts many beaches and coves, its most famous is Anse Lazio -- a long stretch of white sand bordered by takamaka trees curving into the distance. From its crystal clear waters rich in extraordinary flora and fauna emerge granite rocks that have been smoothed by the sea.
The island is famous for the Vallée de Mai, a National Park and protected rainforest area listed among the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Many species of endemic plants grow here, though the best known is certainly the Coco de Mer. Unique to the Seychelles, this is a 30 metre tall palm that produces a coconut which bears a remarkable resemblance to the shape of a woman's buttocks.
With approximately 6,000 inhabitants, Praslin is an important hub for tourists and the departure point of various tours. The island of Cousine is a short boat ride away and, with its sanctuary, a favourite destination for bird lovers.
Multilingual guides offer tours of the rich flora and fauna present on Cousine.
The excursion can include a trip to the island of Couriese.
The wonderful beaches of Praslin are within easy reach either by bus or by renting a car from one of the several local tourist operators.
Another enchanting beach on Praslin is Anse Georgette, situated on the north coast of the island.
They only access is across the Lemuria Resort hotel golf course, on the main west coast road. Permission to access the golf course must be obtained from the guardian at the entrance of the resort.
This beach is often deserted and offers decent snorkelling. The currents through this small cove can be fairly strong.
The island offers various kinds of accommodation, from hotels to guesthouses, villas and lodging in private homes.