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How to Visit Vallée de Mai on Praslin + Honest Review

How to Visit Vallée de Mai on Praslin + Honest Review

Olly Gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler for 6 years. I visit every place I write about & share real tips, photos, & advice from my trips.

In the heart of the granitic Seychelles island of Praslin lies an ecological wonder known as the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve.

Vallée de Mai is an incredible palm forest located in Praslin, Seychelles. Its beauty and biodiversity has attracted international renown for centuries and was once described as the true ‘Garden of Eden’ by General Charles Gordon.

Today, it serves as the best example of Seychelles Islands endemic palm forests and is a sanctuary for the endangered coco de mer palm, which produces the largest seed in the world.

Tip: In this guide, I’ll give you an up-to-date rundown of how to visit the one and only Vallée de Mai with photography from my trip to inspire your visit!

Key Points & Things to Know

  • Vallée de Mai Entrance Fee: 450 SCR
  • Timings & Opening Hours: 8 am - 5:30 pm - visits are limited to one hour.
  • The main attraction and reason for the Vallée de Mai's protected status is that it is the best and most abundant reserve for the endemic coco de mer palm.
  • There are a few trails leading through the Nature Reserve including the Circular Path (North and South), Central Path, & Cedar Path
  • There are buses to get to Vallée de Mai but you can also book a guided tour of that also includes a trip to Anse Lazio.
  • Ticket purchases help support the Seychelles' UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including 20% for the Seychelles Islands Foundation Management, 30% for Vallée de Mai and coco de Mer management, and the remainder 50% goes towards the Aldabra Atoll.
Vallée de mai trails on praslin

Where is Vallée de Mai on Praslin?

Vallée de Mai is located right in the heart of Praslin Island in the Seychelles, within the Praslin National Park. Additionally, the entrance is very accessible as it is right off the main road that connects Grand Anse Beach to the eastern side (ferry side).

Map of vallee de mai on praslin island

How to Get to the Reserve

Of course, if you're not already on the island, you'll first need to get to Praslin.

Since the Vallée de Mai is located in the center of the island, getting here will require some public or private transport if you don't have your own car. I booked a whole day tour that included a guided visit to Vallée de Mai and the famous Anse Lazio and transport, including hotel pickup and drop off, was included.

Alternatively, you could arrange a taxi to the Nature Reserve from your hotel in Praslin. There is a parking space on the opposite side of the road from the entrance, where you can occasionally find taxis heading back.

Tip: Taxis are metered in the Seychelles, so the price will depend on the distance from your hotel.

Endemic palm trees praslin island, seychelles

Is there a bus to Vallée de Mai?

While I didn't take the bus, after some research it seems that there is a bus route that you can take. The bus you'll want is this one:

Route 61:  Mont Plaisir - Anse Boudin via Vallée de Mai

The cost is 14 SCR for a bus to Vallee de Mai. Just wait at any bus stop on the route above. Here's a map showing the bus routes between Mont Plaisir and Anse Boudin (via Vallée de Mai).

Bus route vallee de mai seychelles
Map of Praslin: The reserve is located between Baie Sainte Anne and Grande Anse

If you want a professionally guided tour of the Nature Reserve, including information about its history and the diverse range of endemic plant and animal species, then I highly recommend contacting my friend Medina from Laboudolloniana Tours.

She was my private guide during my visit and she is very skilled and knowledgeable.

In fact, her father, Victorin Laboudallon is a highly celebrated Seychellouis naturalist, credited for discovering new plant species and who is also the founder of TRASS, a volunteer initiative aimed at repopulating over 15,000 plants across Praslin every year.

Medina definitely takes after her father and I highly recommend you give her a message for a great experience!

Medina seychelles tour guide

Vallée de Mai Map

Vallee de mai map showing paths and routes for visitors and travellers

My Experience Visiting Vallée de Mai

Vallée de Mai is one of two UNESCO-recognized World Heritage Sites of the Seychelles (the other is Aldabra Atoll). It holds world-acclaim for being the best preservation forest for the endangered Coco de mer palm (Lodoicea), as well as five other palms endemic to the Seychelles. It was given its world heritage status in 1983.

This was an ecological wonder that I've wanted to visit for years!

However, when I arrrived, I didn't know that the site would be so large! It's roughly 19.5 ha in size and is much as it was since prehistoric times. Its natural beauty and opportunity to walk amongst some of the rarest fauna species on the planet make a visit to Vallée de Mai on Praslin one of the must-do things on the island!

Did you know? Vallée de Mai, translates to May Valley in French and is often written as Vallee de Mai in English.

Endemic palm trees praslin island, seychelles

Arriving at the Entrance

Once I arrived, I needed to pay the entrance fee. This has now been increased to 450 SCR per person. Afterwards, the staff granted me access to the site.

At the entrance, there is also a gift shop, a small restaurant, and restrooms.

Facilities at vallée de mai, praslin island
The entrance area and cafe

After paying the fee and entering, I continued on to your left, following the trail heading into Vallee de Mai.

Vallée de mai walking trails on praslin island, the seychelles

Almost immediately I was immersed in a magical tropical palm forest with a dense canopy. At the entrance, there are dried examples of the coco de mer (male and female), as well as a few other Seychelles endemic palm seeds.

Tip: If you didn't opt for taking a guided tour, then I suggest taking the central path and following the circular path north back to the entrance.

Coco de mer male and female
The male and female components of the coco de mer reproductive system

Learning About the Endemic Coco De Mer at Vallée de Mai

The coco de mer, or "nut of the sea" in English, is an endangered palm endemic to Praslin that produces the largest seed in the plant kingdom. It has a unique shape and plays an important role in the island's unique ecosystem.

Coco de mer seychelles

My guide Medina told me all about this unique plant. I learned that its scientific name Lodoicea maldivica, is named so due to a bit of a historical scientific fallacy.

She told me that the coco de mer was first discovered on the islands of the Maldives, over 2,000 kilometres away. However, the palm has never grown in the Maldives, but instead, the coco de mer seed had floated across the ocean!

The interesting thing is that the coco de mer actually sinks, and rests on the bottom of the ocean for several years until the inside withers away and sends the coco de mer floats back up to the surface.

Coco de mer palm tree, praslin island

Since there was no evidence in the Maldives of the seed's plant origin, it was first suspected that it originated from a new species of plant underwater.

There is currently an effort in the local naturalist community to have the scientific name changed to reflect the plant's endemic origin in the Seychelles.

As mentioned, Vallée de Mai is the best place to see a natural coco de mer forests. The coco de mer holds considerable cultural and historic value to the Seychellois people and they are very proud of it.

Coco de mer palm forest, vallée de mai, praslin
Vallee de mai, praslin, the seychelles
Morne blanc viewpoint seychelles

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Seeing More Endemic Species of Vallée de Mai Praslin

There are 5 more endemic plant species found within Vallée de Mai. These include:

  • palmiste
  • thief palm
  • Seychelles stilt palm
  • lattanyen milpat
  • lattanyen oban

Additionally, I found several fruit trees and unique tropical plants among the palms. Below are some photos that I captured of the diverse plant life of this beautiful palm forest.

Vallée de mai plant seeds, seychelles
Coco de mer palm at vallée de mai, seychelles
Jackfruit tree at vallée de mai, praslin, seychelles

Wildlife Species Spotted in the Reserve

Of course, there was also a wide range of wildlife in the reserve. Some of these are only found on Praslin including the Seychelles black parrot, which almost exclusively nests in the dead-standing trunks of the coco de mer palm.

Unfortunately, I didn't get an opportunity to spot the black parrot. However, I've been told that they frequently fly through the nature reserve earlier in the morning.

Other endemic birds, mammals, snails, and reptiles include:

  • Seychelles blue pigeon
  • Seychelles bulbul (look for the loud bird with the funk haircut)
  • The Seychelles green gecko
  • Seychelles bronze geckos (3 different types)
  • Seychelles tree frog

I'm sure you'll have a blast looking for all of the rare animals that call Vallée de Mai home. I sure did. However, some, especially the frogs and bronze geckos are very difficult to spot. I certainly wouldn't have spotted so many without the help of my guide Medina.

Seychelles bulbul bird
Seychelles green gecko
Seychelles palm spider
Seychelles snail

Where to Stay on Praslin Island

Praslin is the second largest of the inner islands and flaunts some incredible hotels and resorts. Being a little sleepier than Mahe, Praslin caters to the more relaxed crowd.

The main area to stay in Praslin is along Cote D'Or Beach. This is the main tourist strip with plenty of hotels and beachside resorts. However, there are many more resort areas and accommodations in Praslin, including near Anse Lazio. Below are my top 3 picks.

Acajou resort, praslin island seychelles

1. Acajou Beach Resort Mid-Range

A 4-star resort right on the doorstep of the white sands of Cote D'Or. I had the pleasure of staying here and it was one of the best resorts I've ever stayed at.

Lemuria resort seychelles

2. Constance Lemuria Luxury

Tucked away between 3 of the best beaches on Praslin, this luxury, 5-star resort is ranked as one of the best honeymoon resorts in the Seychelles with an attached luxury spa center complete with a hot tub & sauna set in a palm and bamboo forest.

Self catering treasure island retreat in the seychelles

3. Treasure Island Retreat Self-Catering

This hotel offers seafront apartments on Anse Kerlan, each complete with king-sized beds and a fully-equipped kitchen, and a furnished terrace or balcony.

Review: Is Vallée de Mai Worth Visiting?

For anyone with a love for nature, biodiversity, or photography, Vallée de Mai provides a uniquely immersive experience. It's arguably one of the "must-visit" sites in Praslin, and I highly recommend everyone to visit to learn about the famous coco de mar plant.

The forests and walking paths are not difficult, and they're not nearly as "wild" as some of the other hikes in the Seychelles. However, for anyone with a love for nature, biodiversity, or photography, Vallée de Mai is definitely worth visiting!

I hope that my photography and this travel guide have inspired you to visit this incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Below you'll find more ideas and travel inspiration for Praslin and the Seychelles islands.

Seychelles accommodation

Plan Where to Stay in the Seychelles

Wondering where to stay in the Seychelles? Don't miss these up-to-date accommodation guides.

Vallée de mai praslin, seychelles
Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure traveler from Australia. I’ve spent the last six years traveling the world full-time, sharing my first-hand experiences & photography in over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. I visit every destination I write about to bring you unique travel itineraries, epic hiking routes, fun tour ideas, travel & photography gear ideas, & interesting places to stay.

I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.