By Bill Warelis
Sure he’s the future King of England and he married his princess. But that doesn’t mean Prince William can’t make mistakes, which he did when he and his bride spent their honeymoon on a private island in the Seychelles, the island nation approximately four degrees south of the equator in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa.
Sure they were alone (except for the many servants I’m certain were available) on one of the most beautiful island nations on earth. However, by all accounts William did not take his princess bride to Praslin, the second largest island in the 115-island archipelago. That means they did not visit Vallée de Mai. That’s a fail!
Vallée de Mai is a nature preserve designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1983 and it is absolutely beautiful. In fact, it’s so beautiful 19th-century British General Charles Gordon is said to have believed that Vallée de Mai was the Garden of Eden of the Bible.
When my wife and I visited not long ago we were stunned first by the lushness, then the stillness, which is, in part, the result of the island having no large ground animals or tree-dwellers, such as monkeys. Then we were stunned by the humidity.
If William and Kate lacked “steamy” on their honeymoon they’d have found it then. It wasn’t unbearable, just a bit of a shock to the system, felt after spending most of the previous days sitting by the beach enjoying the ocean breeze.
Set in the center of the island is the Vallée de Mai, a tropical palm forest. There are six types of palms, but the Coco de Mer is the star. Unique to Praslin, the Coco de Mer has the largest seeds of any plant in the world with fan-shaped leaves that grow to about 19 feet wide and 46 feet long. There’s also interesting and unique wildlife including the rare Seychelles Black Parrot, numerous reptiles and some really big creepy crawly things that our guide took great pleasure in handling and waving at the group. Taking a guided tour then walking the hilly paths within the forest made for a memorable morning.
I first heard about the Seychelles as an up-scale paradise for honeymooners and second-honeymooners while living in the UK during the late 80s. It’s been on the dream destination list for my wife and me ever since, and it did not disappoint when we finally got there.
As the islanders are fond of constantly reminding you, Praslin is a granite island that covers about 15 1/2 square miles. It has uncluttered beaches of white, powdery sand that are ringed by lush forests, and protected by rocks smoothed over the centuries by the clear blue tide. As wonderful as sitting by the ocean sipping a drink was during our visit, the highlight was Vallée de Mai.
I expect it would have been for William and Kate also had they got off their private island and took a tour with us.