If you want a ride that’s not crazily demanding but takes you to some of the most serene areas of Mahé island, this is your ride.
The route meanders down the very quiet West Coast Road from Port Launey past all the top end luxurious hotels and some gorgeous, magazine-worthy beaches like Anse Bazarca.
It then crosses the island using a tough but manageable 100m climb over Les Canelles Road to get to Anse Royale, itself a relatively populated area with a hospital and university. The ride soon leaves the bustle behind and continues a southern loop along very quiet roads, past picture-perfect beaches, reefs and tranquil coves.
Words and photos by John Maskell
Route map and profile
Distance: 59 km
Elevation Gain: 1,040 m
Max Grade: 20 %
All metrics in this guide are approximate
The highlights of this ride are the fairytale beaches and turquoise waters that accompany you for virtually all of the route.
The climb up Les Canelles Road is challenging and affords some decent views.
1. Port Launay to Les Canelles Road: 0-16 KM
This looks like it should be a gentle amble down the quiet west coast, but after only 2.5 kilometres from the Constance Ephelia Hotel, the West Coast Road rather rudely turns inland and climbs a good 120m within a kilometre – beware as this is an average of 12 percent and in the heat and humidity, you’re likely to end up sweaty.
Further on much of this westerly road continues to be undulating (to say the least). The road itself is quiet with lush vegetation, large weathered granite boulders and of course the beautiful sea and occasional beach/cove/lagoon constantly to your right. There are plenty of little convenience shops around all the coast roads, so it’s easy to pick up bottles of cold water and sweets.
Shortly after Anse Boileau, about 12km into the ride, you come to the most expensive hotel on the island: the MAIA luxury resort where each room gets a personal butler and there is even a kids’ spa menu! The resort straddles both Anse Boileau and Anse Louis.
Soon after this, remember to turn left onto Les Canelles Road (at around the 15.5 km mark at Anse La Mouche), about 750 metres past Oscars Beach Bar and Grill.
2. Loop around South Seychelles part 1: Anse La Mouche to Police Bay: 16-30 KM
From Anse La Mouche, Les Canelles Road climbs a manageable 75m in the first kilometre. The road then descends down two kilometres to Anse Royale, known as the Fairytale beach. The beach is just through the trees and it’s a lovely swathe of golden sand. You can see a cross on a rock some 50 metres from the shoreline – there are quite a few Christian crosses like this dotted around Mahé Island as well as occasional grottos to the Virgin Mary.
At Anse Royale turn right heading along the South Coast Road. Around the 22km mark, you pass the aptly named Surfers Beach Restaurant where you can sit outside and admire the rollers gently crashing onto the reef/beach depending on the time of year and wind direction.
At the 25 km mark on the hilltop at Quatre Bornes, the ride turns (left) down a dead-end road called Intendance Road. It takes you down to Police Bay, the most southerly part of the island. The road is made with concrete slabs and is in good condition but it is a little bumpy; some of the downhill sections are surprisingly straight for the Seychelles so some decent speeds can be achieved without mortal fear.
Along Intendance Road is the Banyan Tree Resort with a reputedly beautiful beach you can walk down to, called Anse Intendance. We struggled to find the car park you’re meant to be able to use to gain public access to the beach - this is either our mistake or Banyan Tree trying to make life difficult. Let us know if you’ve managed it!
Once you have got down to Anse Bazarca and Police Bay at the southern tip of the island, the ride back north up to Quatre Bornes is still a good 100m over a little under 4km. In light of this, it might be a good idea to take a break at Anse Bazarca as it is truly stunning and the road is on the beach.
A few points to note:
3. Loop around South Seychelles part 2: Quatre Bornes to Le Canalles Road: 30-44 KM
Head back to the junction with the South Coast Road and turn left back onto the coast road at Quatre Bornes (this is at around the 36 to 37 km mark). There’s a nice, fast descend for around two kilometres towards Takamaka Beach and it is worth taking note of the Takamaka trees that give the beach (and for that matter the area) its name.
Soon after this, at Anse Gaulette / Baie Lazare, on the right hand side (land side of the road) is a café/restaurant called La Gaulette which is highly recommended if you are in need of refreshments.
Alternatively, a few kilometres further on at Baie Lazare there is a petrol station to refill water bottles and, as we have mentioned before, there are a lot of small convenience shops along the coast road.
The road on the left, a hundred metres or so after the petrol station takes you to both the Kempinski and the Four Seasons resorts and is well signposted for once. The public beach Petite Anse at the Four Seasons is reputedly worth a visit and is only a 2-3 km out and back detour, but we could not find a route down to this public beach. We wonder whether we weren't looking properly or whether the Four Seasons has made it “difficult” to get to.
Back on the West Coast Road, it is now only a few kilometres of quiet, relatively flat terrain until you come to the T junction with Les Canelles Road where this loop started.
4. Les Canelles Road back to Constance Ephilia: 44-59 KM
This is the reverse of the first 15 km of the ride, with a succession of small coves, beautiful beaches and small fishing boats bobbing on the emerald green water.
However, this ride has a sting in the tail; a rather sharp 120 m climb around the 54 km just after Grand Anse village. The good news is once you are over this climb it is only a few kilometres back to the hotel lounger and a well-deserved Seybrew beer.
17 kilometres into the ride, Le Jardin du Roi Spice Garden, just off Les Canelles Road, is open from 10 am to 5 pm and sells an abundance of food made from spices from their garden. There’s a small onsite museum and you can get close up to the giant tortoises. The views from here are amazing. However the turning from/ the East Coast end of Les Canelles up to the Jardin du Roi is extremely difficult to find and moreover is really really steep at some 25 to 30 degrees towards the top: so we would not recommend visiting the Jardin du Roi by bike, no matter how famous it is!
At 22 kilometres into the ride, Surfers Beach Restaurant on the east coast is around five kilometres south of Anse Royale, on a beautiful beach with picnic tables on the sand. We’ve heard it does wonderful fish curries as well as all the staples such as coffee and ice cream.
At around 38 kilometres, La Gaulette Restaurant on the West Coast Road near Baie Lazare might be on the wrong side of the road (i.e. land side not beach side), but it comes highly recommended and it does have beautiful views as both the road and the beach are straight in front of the restaurant.
We chose the Constance Ephelia as it is a family friendly resort spread across 296 acres overlooking the Port Launay marine national park on the west side of the Island.
There are full details of this and other accommodation options in our ultimate guide to cycling the Seychelles.
Read our Tips for cycling in the Seychelles before you set out.
The roads tend to be narrow, very bendy and sometimes very steep with deep rain drains on both sides of the road. Take real care, particularly on the mountain roads.
Closer to Victoria there are also occasional telltale rainbow signs of diesel on the roads, so you need to ride the descents VERY carefully.
Be careful swimming in the sea along the south coast between June and September as there are difficult currents: the large red warning signs should not be ignored.
Watch out for patches of sand on the road - like the one photographed below near Anse Bazarca.
John Maskell is a roving reporter whose mission in life is to find the best coffee stop on any given ride.
Found this guide useful?
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- Don't miss our other ride guides on the Seychelles: here's our northern loop and mountain loop or see the related rides section above.
- Check out our ultimate guide to cycling the Seychelles and our tips for riding the Seychelles.
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