The Maldives isn’t the only spot for Indian Ocean indulgence.
The Seychelles – a string of 115 tropical islands 1,000 miles east of Tanzania – boasts some of the world’s best beaches with a renowned collection of luxurious getaways.
It’s long been a sun-drenched playground for the rich and famous, so there’s no shortage of villa resorts with 24-hour butlers, private swimming holes, gourmet cuisine and spa treatments alongside arrestingly beautiful beaches.
From family-friendly resorts to hyperexclusive private islands, here’s a guide to eight of the Seychelles’ greatest escapes:
1. MAIA Luxury Resort & Spa
This private peninsula resort, based on the secluded and picturesque Anse Louis, is as exclusive as it gets on the mainland of Mahé.
Only guests of the all-inclusive 30-villa retreat have access to its lush grounds, which includes a beach-level restaurant, swimming pool and bar as well as a stunning open-air Balinese spa.
Most clientele spend most of their stay in spacious thatched beach or hillside villas – each with its own ocean-facing infinity pool, outdoor sunken tub and 24-hour butler/in-room dining service – to make most use of MAIA’s space for ultimate privacy and comfort.
MAIA Luxury Resort & Spa, 5th June Ave, Anse Boileau, Seychelles; +248 4 390 000
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2. North Island
For ultra-luxury there’s North Island, the Seychelles’ preeminent private island where one night’s stay can set you back more than $5,000.
The 11-villa butler-serviced island has hosted many an A-lister – including the Clooneys, the Beckhams and most famously the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – plus other wealthy travelers who seek complete privacy in a “barefoot luxury” setting.
North Island features an intimate cliffside spa, three unspoilt beaches and a chef who cooks whatever you wish (In the mood for lobster? Octopus curry for lunch? No problem). Beyond the exclusive beaches and massive beachfront villas, the eco-conscious resort runs a lauded nature conservancy program, which has led Hawksbill and green turtles to nest once again on its pristine shores.
North Island, Seychelles; +248 4293 110
3. Six Senses Zil Pasyon
The Six Senses brand makes its splashy African debut with Zil Pasyon (“Passion Island” in Creole) in 2016, becoming the country’s “it” resort of the moment. It’s a private island sanctuary of 30 modern villas, each with a generous personal infinity pool and in-villa wine cellar.
“Butlers” are not a thing here; instead, designated Guest Experience Makers cater to guests’ needs 24 hours a day. There are six restaurants and bars, including The Chef’s Kitchen, an exclusive gourmet treat for up to six guests for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Activities include daily yoga, beachside cinema nights and outdoor spa treatments between two enormous boulders, and should guests have a bit of “private island fever,” the more populous La Digue and Praslin islands are just a short boat ride away.
Six Senses Zil Pasyon, Felicite Island, Seychelles; +248 467 1000
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4. Four Seasons Seychelles
The Four Season Seychelles is based along the gorgeous Petite Anse beach in Mahé, with 67 well-appointed villas scattered among a large, lush hill.
Many of the stilted villas along the jungle-covered slopes resemble treehouses – only a lot more palatial – with personal infinity pools, daybed pavilions, indoor and outdoor showers and ample outdoor space. Serious spa-goers will feel at home here, as quality treatments such as the Hilltop Fusion Massage – blending Malaysian, Indian and European techniques – are carried out in private pavilions among the resort’s highest altitudes.
The resort’s westward profile makes for brilliant sunset views, best enjoyed either on a villa’s ocean-facing deck lounger or on the spa’s breathtakingly placed rooftop, overlooking all of Petite Anse and onto the horizon.
Four Seasons Seychelles, Petite Anse, Mahe Island, Seychelles; +248 4 393 000
5. Constance Lemuria
Golf, gastronomy and gorgeous beaches define Constance Lemuria, a sprawled resort on Praslin’s northwest tip.
It boasts the Seychelles’ sole 18-hole championship-ready golf course, where you can channel your Tiger Woods in exotic environs; the famed 13th hole, located on a steep hill, offer splendid views of the jungle and Indian Ocean.
The newly refurbished resort sports over 100 suites and villas along Grande Anse Kerlan. Though this beach and Petite Anse Kerlan hug the resort’s main area, it’s worth the shuttle ride or 15-minute hike to visit Anse Georgette, one of the world’s highest-rated beaches.
Dining options include modern international restaurant Diva, sleek buffet restaurant The Legend (with premium themed dinners), and The Nest’s deck “on the rocks”: a coveted, private dining space for two amongst boulders and stellar beach views.
Constance Lemuria, Anse Kerlan, Praslin, Seychelles; +248 4 281 281
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6. Le Domaine de L’Orangeraie
Family-owned Le Domaine de L’Orangeraie is known as laid-back La Digue’s swishest resort. The Asian-inspired getaway has 63 villas, including the recent introduction of eight Garden Suite Residences fitted in earthy elements such as stone and wood.
Its convenient location next to the La Passe village makes for a brief stroll to Anse Sévère Beach or a brisk journey via bicycle – complimentary for each guest – to the world-famous Anse Source d’Argent.
There’s a spa, two restaurants, a terrace-based bar and a spa, but The Pool Bar is the place to be, with its infinity edge leading towards breathtaking views of Praslin’s peaks.
Le Domaine de L’Orangeraie, Anse Sévère, La Digue, Seychelles; +248 4 299 999
7. Raffles Seychelles
Raffles Seychelles, based in the north along Anse Takamaka, is located minutes from Anse Lazio, one of the best beaches on Earth.
The resort sports 86 villas, each with a private plunge pool and an outdoor pavilion/dining area, and 24-hour butler service is available for the higher-end one- and two-bedroom villas.
All villas come equipped with easels and sketching paper, allowing guests to express their inner Monet or van Gogh with endless inspiration from the beach and ocean views.
Raffles Spa, purported to be the largest spa in the Seychelles, is a true standout which includes 12 treatment pavilions, a sauna and steam pool, a fitness studio and yoga and meditation classes along the beach.
Raffles Seychelles, Anse Takamaka, Baie Sainte Anne, Seychelles; +248 4 296 000
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8. Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa
Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa isn’t based on a private island, but it might as well be. There are only 200 inhabitants on the island on which it is based, Silhouette, which happens to be the Seychelles’ third largest.
Villa options in this tropical getaway accommodate a wider scope of budgets than most others, ranging from the affordable King Garden Villas to the nearly 12,000 square feet Silhouette Estate, said to have the largest private pool in the Seychelles.
It remains a popular choice for families with a state-of-the-art Kids’ Club and babysitting services, and it also offers plenty for the active traveler, including a PADI diving center and varied guided hike excursions around the island’s lush, virgin rainforests.
Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa, La Passe, Silhouette Island, Seychelles; +248 4 293 949
Travis Levius is a globetrotting writer, editor and photographer for the likes of BBC Travel, Business Insider and Forbes Travel Guide. You can follow his adventures on Instagram and his travel/inspiration blog MisterLevius.com.