Mahe

Mahe is green and mountainous - a very dramatic island. The east coast looks out to Cerf, Moyenne and Long Island in the St Anne Marine Park, easily reached on a day boat trip, while from the northern tip, from 3km long Beau Vallon beach the view is of mountainous Silhouette Island.

Head up into the mountains around Sans Souci and you'll find a lush interior with waterfalls, gentle nature trails and more challenging hiking. Drive south and you'll be rewarded with Mahe's real treasure - the most beautiful of the island's beaches. Anse Intendance, one of these, is guarded by the Banyan Tree hotel. It's a glorious beach - some say it is Mahe's finest - the wide white ribbon of sand is strewn with vast boulders and lapped by torquoise ocean. However between June and September many of the southern beaches are off limits for swimming as the currents are just too strong. Even when we visited Intendance in February, on a perfect calm day, big waves were rolling in and swimming was only for the most capable. Petite Anse is another gem, where the Four Seasons is located. We also loved the calm golden beach at Anse Louis on the west coast - perfect for sunset swimming. Anse Soleil is also good for snorkelling when the weather is calm but there is very little shade here. Port Glaud is a good lunch stop - try the lovely Del Place Restaurant with gorgeous views over a wide lagoon, just before the Constance Ephelia Resort. The beach at Constance Ephelia is lovely and there's decent snorkelling from the beach with large coral heads easily accessible in the Port Launay National Marine Park. Much of the coral has suffered from bleaching unfortunately but there was still a decent amount of marine life to observe. The shallow bay is a good place for novice snorkellers to hone their skills. There is parking at the far end of the beach under the trees for those not staying at the resort. If you continue on this road further north you end up at Baie Ternay - the road ends and you can walk 500m or so to the beach - snorkelling is good here only at high tide. On the west coast, down in the southern corner the beach at Anse Royal is a lovely spot to walk and relax.

Victoria is a colourful place with tin roofs and a bustling market.

Mahe has simple guest houses, self catering chalets, resorts and luxury hotels.

Our ideal way to include Mahe in a holiday is to stay a few days and explore with a car before island hopping to Praslin or La Digue, or flying on to one of the private islands.