Make the most out of your gay Seychelles holidays

As I wrote in my introductory Q&A for Mr Hudson I am without question a gay man, married to another gay man, but I do wonder whether I’ve actually taken a gay holiday. One of my favourite places is Palm Springs (with a very high gay population). I’ve been to Barcelona (but never actually made it along the coast to Sitges) and did visit Gran Canaria many years ago, once at Christmas-time. That said, I didn’t visit these places because they were seen to be gay destinations, but instead, they were all beautiful, inspiring destinations with so much going for them all other than just being very gay friendly. We don’t go on holiday to party, but to see new destinations, experience new things and create unique and memorable travel experiences.

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What is very important, however, is that any place we visit is ‘welcoming’ – by this, I mean that there are several countries which, as a gay couple, we’d be very uncomfortable visiting, but I’m a firm believer that we should be able to visit where we like and be accepted for who we are. Though by no means would I say that the Seychelles were a gay destination, it’s an incredibly welcoming country and certainly has the characteristics that I would look for in a luxury holiday, in spades.

Denis Private Island Pool | Photo: The Private Traveller

Getting to the Seychelles

I’ve been a couple of times before; once just for a long weekend as despite the location and distance from the UK (over 5,300 miles in the middle of the Indian Ocean), the islands are easily accessible with daily flights with Qatar Airways via Doha – that trip, we left the UK Thursday afternoon and were in our resort for breakfast on a Friday morning. We then had almost a full day in our resort on Tuesday before flying home overnight and back to the UK in time to go to work as normal. Qatar Airways is a favourite airline and worth checking out if you haven’t already done so, with often seamless onward connections at their state-of-the-art hub in Doha. On our most recent trip, just before Christmas and in-between UK lockdowns and travel bans, we flew direct with British Airways.

British Airways First Class | Photo: The Private Traveller

Photo: Lindsay Lenard

We had to stay in only approved hotels (as per a Government list) and have vouchers provided for each in order to apply and be approved for entry. Having done the process once, it was actually very easy and efficient. I think I had just become used to being able to travel anywhere across the world, mostly visa-free, so Covid has clearly been a wake-up call that free access to the world isn’t a given. We had to provide negative tests before departure and were tested again in our first week away, where we had to remain in the one resort for a quarantine period. Once we were tested again and negative, we were free to travel within the Seychelles, and we made the most of this by visiting three fantastic luxury resorts during our time away.

Raffles Seychelles Beach | Photo: The Private Traveller

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The resort was large with multiple restaurants and bars, different beaches, a huge dual-level pool area, an extremely well-appointed gym & Spa

The Quarantine Week

Our first stop was to Raffles Seychelles, a luxury five-star all-villa resort on the island of Praslin, the second largest after the capital, Mahé. There are 86 villas, all with private pools with either garden or ocean views, from partial to panoramic, all based on how high up you’re located within the resort. There are buggies to take you to/from villas and between the Spa, gym, reception, bars, restaurants etc.

Raffles Seychelles | Photo: The Private Traveller

Although we were free to go anywhere within the resort (unlike some others which applied restrictions on which villas you would be located in, use of only certain restaurants and not using the gym/spa during a quarantine period), it was great to have the privacy of a villa – each had a pool and large sun deck, as well as a covered dining and open-air seating pavilion too. The views were stunning, as was the villa itself with a huge bedroom area (massive king-size bed on a platform area with separate seating area), walk-in wardrobe, office area, then a phenomenal bathroom with twin ‘his and his’ sinks, huge soaking tub (with a wow view), and both inside and outside rainfall showers. The villa came with a yoga mat and an easel/sketch pad, so there were always things to do there, other than just chill out, read, swim or relax with a movie.

The resort was large with multiple restaurants and bars, different beaches, a huge dual-level pool area, an extremely well-appointed gym & Spa, and with lots of paths to either walk or cycle even within the resort itself, at no point during this first week quarantine period did we ever feel trapped.

Raffles Seychelles | Photo: The Private Traveller

Photo: Samanta Santy

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The remoteness only added to the island experience, and all hotel staff were so welcoming; we also weren’t the only same-sex couple – there was a couple of gay dads with their two young children

Next Stop

As well as the main islands of the Seychelles (Mahé, Praslin and La Digue) and some small islands which you can visit for day trips, there are many private islands with just one resort. Once we’d completed our quarantine period at Raffles, our next stop was to the remote barefoot luxury of Denis Private Island. This exclusive resort is located to the north of the country, around 60 miles from the capital of Mahé and only 36 miles from our prior location on Praslin.

Denis Private Island Cottage | Photo: The Private Traveller

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All meals were included, a lot of the produce coming from the on-island farm – despite the location and remoteness, food was amazing

This incredible island had only 25 detached cottages located either right on, or just set back from, the beach. The remoteness only added to the island experience, and all hotel staff were so welcoming; we also weren’t the only same-sex couple – there was a couple of gay dads with their two young children. We were lucky enough to have a Deluxe Beachfront Spa Cottage – there were a luxurious air-conditioned bedroom and lounge area with a separate huge bathroom area open-air on one side to a walled private garden; with both a huge soaking tub and inside shower area as well as an outside bamboo shower. In one corner of the garden was a covered massage pavilion with a proper massage bed, interior fan and sink – no need to go to a Spa for a massage, the therapist would come to you for treatments; the ultimate luxury to not even need to go anywhere!

Denis Private Island | Photo: The Private Traveller

Denis Private Island | Photo: The Private Traveller

Each cottage was given a set of bikes for the duration of your stay (there was one ‘his’ bike and we think a ‘her’ bike with a basket, but it was actually incredibly useful for carrying around snorkelling gear etc. as there were a few other beaches to snorkel from, across the island). There is a full diving centre if that’s your thing, lots of trails across the island for bike rides, jogging or walks, there was a library in the main building (with decent Wi-Fi; which was free) and of course an incredible bar next to a pool with a view and the main restaurant, covered but open air. All meals were included, a lot of the produce coming from the on-island farm – despite the location and remoteness, food was amazing.

Photo: Yannick Bakker

The Last Leg

On previous trips, generally with return flights later in the day, I’ve overlooked Mahé as a place to stay, but with having a reasonably early flight on our last trip, it made sense to leave from a resort there; rather than either trying to get back very early in the morning or just spend the final night at an airport hotel. I’d discounted the Constance Ephelia Resort before in preference to their sister hotel, but wow, was this such a great surprise and their hillside villas rivalled anywhere else we stayed – like a luxurious resort within a resort. The villas (only 10 of them), all with private infinity pools (directly accessible from the bedroom) overlooking the Port Launay National Marine Park, were luxuriously appointed, spacious and had the most fantastic bathrooms with inside and outside showers and, which I absolutely love, his and his sinks. There was a private massage cabana outside with two beds, perfect for in-villa treatments. We loved the privacy of these villas, but there was so much more to do within the resort with an amazing Spa and such an incredible gym, as well as tennis courts and all the watersports you could think of. Having only really thought about Mahé as the place to fly into and out of, I’ve had a complete change of mindset here and realise that this also offers lots of wonderful choices of very high-end places to stay.

Constance Ephelia | Photo: The Private Traveller

Constance Ephelia | Photo: The Private Traveller

Spa Treatments

If you’re like me, an essential part of a vacation is trying out new Spa treatments or enjoying some of the old favourites like a deep-tissue or aromatherapy massage, facials, reflexology, Indian head massage etc. At each resort, albeit very different, my Spa experience was just exceptional – from the luxury of air-conditioned or natural sea breeze open-sided cabanas at Raffles to the open-air garden massage of our spa cottage on Denis Private Island, I loved all the treatments I had. During a spa experience is the time when (if given by a well-trained therapist) I can really chill out and relax. For an overall Spa experience, in terms of facilities and design, the prize had to go to Constance Hotels Ephelia U-Spa.

Constance Ephelia Spa | Photo: The Private Traveller

Getting Around in the Seychelles

The main international airport is on the main island of Mahé and is serviced by many international carriers (although British Airways ceased its route not long after we visited). For island hopping, Air Seychelles offer a shuttle service between Mahé and Praslin, the second-largest island of the archipelago. The flight only takes about 15 minutes, but there can be multiple flights per day, so you’re not short of options. Air Seychelles also operate charter flights inter-islands, but as many of the island resorts are privately owned, you will generally need to organise and book through your resort, as we had to do with Denis Island. The domestic network also includes Bird, Fregate, Desroches and Alphonse Islands.

Although we have used Air Seychelles in the past (and found them very efficient and professional), if you want something a bit more special, then look no further than Zil-Air, the premium provider of luxury helicopters and air-conditioned Vulcan Air 4 or 8 seater aircraft. We’ve used them very successfully before (by helicopter) to get to Constance Lemuria on Praslin and this time to whisk us straight to Raffles Seychelles so that we arrived in perfect time for breakfast – what a way to arrive. We also used their Vulcanair private jets to get us from Praslin to Denis, then back to Mahé before hopping in a helicopter again to Constance Ephelia. This clearly is a more expensive option than scheduled flights, but if there are two (or more) of you travelling, you might find the prices more competitive than you might think, and it’s such a perfect way to get around.

Zil Air | Photo: The Private Traveller

Photo: Oliver Sjostrom

Best Time to Visit the Seychelles

The Seychelles can be a year-round destination – average temperatures remain around the high 20’s (Celsius) all year; rarely ever falling below 20C (about 70 Fahrenheit) during the winter season (June through August) and rising into the 30’s C (90F) in the summer period (December to February). Any time I have visited, we’ve always had excellent weather – on the last trip, which was in the peak summer period, which can sometimes coincide with the wet season, although we did have a little rain, it remained very warm, and the rain didn’t stick around for long. Because of its position in the open ocean (and many of the small islands are relatively flat), it can be hard to predict the weather, but generally, any adverse weather just passes through/over and can be mixed – i.e. raining on one island, so go on a day-trip, and you might well find it’s blissful sunshine elsewhere.

Photo: Vitalii Ustymenko

Curieuse Island

A great day trip is to the island of Curieuse (a former leper colony), a small (non-hotel) island close to the north coast of Praslin. Here you can see the (unique to the Seychelles) coco de mer palms and over 300 of the Aldabra giant tortoise. We were first dropped off by boat (and the scenery is stunning as the island is surrounded by the Curieuse Marine National Park) near the Ranger’s Station, where you can get right up close to these giant creatures. They’re very friendly and don’t bite, but if you’re feeding them with leaves or grasses, just don’t get your fingers too close to their chomping jaws. From here, once we found out more about the coco de mer too, we then walked through the southern part of the island, which is a mangrove swamp (there’s a raised walkway for park visitors). On the other side of an island is a great beach from where you can swim or snorkel, then we were picked up by the boat and whisked back to the hotel.

Curieuse Island | Photo: The Private Traveller

Photo: The Private Traveller

In Summary

I’ve never looked for specifically, but I imagine you won’t find any gay hotels in the Seychelles per se, but what you will find is a great selection of extremely high-quality properties, all offering a diverse experience with friendly service and a great location for a gay honeymoon. If you opt for an all-villa resort, then you’re probably limiting your price range options; or if you go for one of the ultra-luxe top-end resorts like Six Senses Zil Pasyon, Four Seasons, Anantara Maia Seychelles, or Fregate Private Island, then expect to pay handsomely for these.

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The Seychelles are somewhere that I don’t think I’ll ever tire of – there is such a great choice of luxury island options, fantastic weather and amazing scenery, with great facilities and world-class dining

However, there are options that can offer you a more diverse price range but all the facilities of a luxury resort – for example, there are two Constance Hotels in the Seychelles, one on Praslin (Lemuria) and the other on the mainland Mahé (Ephelia). Both five stars, Lemuria (also a Leading Hotel of the World) offers a range of accommodation types from junior and senior suites in small buildings along the beach to pool villas with their own direct beach and garden access and an incredible presidential villa. Constance Ephelia (the much larger of the two) again has everything from garden view rooms in larger buildings to junior & senior suites, family and beach villas with private pools and secluded gardens to the cream of the crop hillside villas (think infinity pools, panoramic views and your own self-drive buggy).

The Seychelles are somewhere that I don’t think I’ll ever tire of – there is such a great choice of luxury island options, fantastic weather and amazing scenery, with great facilities and world-class dining. It’s the perfect choice for gay men if you appreciate a discerning vacation location, and you can always reach out to Mr Hudson Explores to create your perfect Seychelles itinerary.

Seychelles Sunset | Photo: The Private Traveller

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