View To A Thrill: In the Seychelles with James Bond

In 1958, Ian Fleming was struggling with his latest plot, says Jonathan Thompson. Then he visited these exotic islands...

It was the spring of 1958 when Ian Fleming first set foot on Mahé. The author had come to the Seychelles for an extended holiday: seeking adventure, sunshine and inspiration for his latest James Bond book, to be called For Your Eyes Only.

By all accounts he found it here, at the heart of this beautiful string of islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Basing himself on Mahé - the largest of the 115-strong group and home to the capital, Victoria - Fleming spent some enjoyable and profitable weeks exploring, snorkelling and investigating the pirate legends so prevalent in these parts, and, most importantly, writing.

When For Your Eyes Only was published two years later, the influence of this trip was apparent. Among the five short stories that combine to make up the book was one set entirely in the Seychelles, which Bond, like Fleming, travels to from a rainswept London in the spring: "M had told Bond he was sending him to the Seychelles," wrote Fleming. "'Admiralty are having trouble with their new fleet base in the Maldives. Communists creeping in from Ceylon. Strikes, sabotage - the usual picture. May have to cut their losses and fall back on the Seychelles ... Just go and have a look.' M glanced out of the window at the driving March sleet. 'Don't get sunstroke.'"

Upon arrival, Bond becomes entangled with a sadistic American multi-millionaire called Milton Krest and his attractive but unhappy wife Liz. Fleming reputedly took the couple's surname from a brand of tonic and ginger beer he drank here - just one of a number of touches paying homage to the visit.

During his time on Mahé, Fleming stayed at a hotel on the north-west coast, built on an outcrop just north of the sprawling Beau Vallon beach. That grand old hotel, The Northolme, built before the First World War, has recently undergone a dramatic transformation. One of the first hotels on the islands, it has reopened after being turned into a luxury five-star retreat. The hotel now consists of 40 wooden villas within a mélange of paths, elevations and landscaping, all with stunning views of the Indian Ocean and the striking Silhouette Island a few miles away.

Bond fans will find the rebuilt hotel packed with Fleming associations: not only is the pretty private beach where Fleming swam exactly as it was during his visit, but the new management, Hilton Worldwide Resorts, has paid tribute to the author by dedicating a villa to him.

In a move that will surely make The Northolme the ultimate honeymoon destination for 007 enthusiasts, the oceanfront Ian Fleming Suite comes complete with a king-sized circular bed, Blofeld-style spinning chair and, best of all, the complete library of James Bond DVDs and novels. During my visit, there was even talk of adding an 007-shaped Jacuzzi outside, and a version of Monty Norman's Bond theme to be played every time the toilet door is opened.

Among Fleming's fascinations nearly five decades ago were the pirate tales that are told throughout the Seychelles. Many Seychellois believe there are still huge caches of buried treasure, including what is generally considered to be the greatest missing hoard of them all, that of the 18th-century buccaneer La Buse (The Buzzard). The bloodthirsty French captain, whose real name was Olivier LeVasseur, was captured on Mauritius, but not before he had hidden his treasure somewhere in the Seychelles. Standing before the gallows, legend has it he took out his map, tore it into several pieces and threw it into the baying crowd declaring: "Find my treasure who may." No one has yet, though people still look for it.

While following the treasure trail around Mahé, Fleming hired a car, buying a local driving licence in Victoria for five rupees. There's no need to purchase the extra licence today, but a car is still essential. Although Victoria is the smallest capital in the world, with just one set of traffic lights, Mahé itself is surprisingly large - roughly 150 square kilometres. The only other means of transportation is an infrequent bus service.

The tropical temperatures make this maze of islands and atolls an ideal place to visit - provided you avoid the rainy season from December to February. At times the heat oppressed our hero, who complained: "The temperature was 80 in the shade and the humidity 90, and in the enclosed waters of the lagoon the water was near blood heat."But in spite of it all, Bond managed to frustrate the villain, win the girl, and squeeze in a good deal of snorkelling, fishing and sailing along the way; a perfect trip to the Seychelles.

Elite Vacations (01707 371000; seychelleselite. offers five nights' b&b at the Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort and Spa from £1,729 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights from Heathrow to Mahé with Air Seychelles (airseychelles. com) and private transfers.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?