Talcum powdered beach wrapping topaz waters fringed by lush green hills and big glacis boulders. All this is just a regular scene in Seychelles. Home to one hundred and fifteen coral and granite islands, Seychelles is an ideal beach escape for those who can afford a luxurious privacy. Pristine white sand beaches, palm fringed jungles, azure waters surrounded by majestic granite cliffs, Seychelles is an uninhabited paradise. With countless perfect beaches, Seychelles has undoubtedly the reputation of being exclusive and costly. Beyond the luxurious resorts, Seychelles is home to world’s best preserved tropical habitats. Have a wonderful trip with this travel guide Seychelles.
When to visit Seychelles?
Seychelles has predominantly two seasons: the cool south-east monsoons (May- September) and the hot north-west monsoons (October-April). During the cool monsoons, the skies are cloudy, the breeze is cold, temperatures are lower and the sea is not comfortable for snorkeling and diving. The hot monsoons have high temperatures, clearer skies and occasional rainstorms. While the year-round temperatures are good at 27 to 30 degrees, December and January are the wettest months while humidity is highest from February to May. The perfect months to visit Seychelles are therefore Nov- April to enjoy the best weather. The most expensive and most popular time of visit is July- August and during Christmas and New Years.
Seychelles is a visa-free country meaning that there are no visa requirements for any person wishing to travel to this country. However the passport of the visitor must be valid for at least 6 months and the visitor must have a proof of accommodation before arrival. Visitors without any pre-booked accommodation would be compelled to book one at the airport for the length of their stay before exiting the airport. An initial entry permit is granted for 1 month which can be extended for a maximum of 3 months at a time to a maximum of one year. Although no visa is required for getting into Seychelles, in accordance with the recent guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO), as part of enhanced precautionary measures to prevent the importation of the Ebola virus in Seychelles, the Government of Seychelles has as of 13 March, 2015 revised the list of countries whose citizens require visa prior to arrival in Seychelles to include only those countries with registered cases of the Ebola Virus. Therefore, citizens of only the following countries still require visa to enter Seychelles:Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea-Conakry.
The currency for the islands is Seychelles rupee (SCR). The best conversion rates are at the ATMs, however banks and airports also exchange currency conveniently.
Arriving in Seychelles:
The main international airport, Aeroport de la Pointe Larue, for Seychelles is in Mahe. All flights within the island, arrive and depart from Mahe. From Heathrow there is a direct flight to Mahe via Air Seychelles. Alternatively, Air France flies from Paris and Emirates flies via Dubai. There are tourist information and hotel booking desks at both the terminals and are open at all times. The two terminals are separate by a small walkway and are well connected. Buses operate from 5:30 AM to 7:30 PM and depart for Victoria every 30 minutes. Bus stops are right outside the airport and the journey lasts for 20 minutes costing SRC 4. Alternatively you can also take a taxi to Victoria for SRC 100. Taxi stands are available right outside the airport and are available round the clock. You can also fly to the island via plane or helicopters. Zil Air operates several helicopters and fixed wing services between the International Airport and the other islands of Seychelles. Air Seychelles also operated shuttle flights to Praslin island. Car rentals are available at the airport terminals from Avis, Hertz and Sixt along with some local operators. There are no hotels available at the airport.
Lodging in Seychelles:
On the main islands of Seychelles, you can find hotels in the range of $55-95 per night. If you are booking a resort, typically the prices start at $175 per night.
Dining in Seychelles:
If you steer clear of the restaurant in your hotel or resort, food is relatively cheaper outside. Price ranges from $24-125. Seychellois cuisine depicts the rich cultures of the island. Creole cooking, seafood dishes, coconuts and curries are really popular. Having an abundant supply of fishes, they are cooked in a variety of ways on the island. The most popular seafood offered on the islands are barracuda, octopus, kingfish, shark and squids. The red snapper is also especially popular. If you are fond of beer, you should try the local Seybrew beer which has a similar taste to Bavarian style beer.
Every island in Seychelles is very different from the other. Typically tourists choose a two or three stop holiday during their stay. Inter-state plane transfers are really popular and thrilling for island hopping. Few of the famous islands on Seychelles are-
Praslin Island– It is a 15 min plane hop from Mahe and is most famous for Vallee de Mai which is a world heritage site (open 8 AM to 5.30 PM) and home to coco de mer palm. You can go for excursions, hiking, cruises and bird watching from both Mahe and Praslin. ‘Anse Lazio’ is rated as one of the best beaches by Giorgio Armani with clear turquoise waters, large granite boulders and white sand.
Mahe Island– The largest island of Seychelles which is the home for 65,000 people, has the highest mountain ranges and the world’s smallest capital, Victoria. ‘Anse Major’ is one of Mahe’s best beaches which is accessible only by boat or foot. If you do not want to hike, explore the other 70 beaches on the island which are lined by lush green coconut palms. Beau Vallon is most popular amongst tourists for water sports and swimming.
Fregate Island– Enjoy the beauty of this island with wonderful walks through the primeval jungle and granite outcrops along white sand beaches.
Bird Island– Situated about 60 miles from Mahe, this beautiful island is covered with corals and white sand beaches and is easy to reach via plane.
La Digue Island– Turquoise seas wrapped in white sand beaches is a breathtaking sight. The best beach on the island is the Anse Source D’Argent which is accessible by a bike. Other popular beaches are Petite Anse (great for swimming), La Digue’s west coast, south of La Passe (a reef which is ideal for snorkelling. La Digue also offers a wide variety of other sports including horse riding, diving, boat trips and fishing.
Cousine Island– This island is owned by a South African businessman who restored the flora and fauna of the island by introducing thousands of birds (fairy terns, shearwaters, Seychelles brush warblers, Fodies, sooty terns), endangered magpie robins, four giant tortoises and over two thousand indigenous trees. It is situated 6km from the west coast of Praslin. Most of the parts of this rocky island is not open to visitors.
Things you shouldn’t miss on your trip to Seychelles-
- A ride between ports on inter-island ferry
- The view from a helicopter ride over the islands
- A stroll on Victoria’s public market
- A tour of L’Union Estate and Copra factory, a historic coconut plantation.
Getting around in Seychelles:
Bikes are great for travelling around the island. Typically they can be rented for $10-30 per day. Car is available on the main islands of Mahe and Praslin for $70 per day. High-speed catamaran rides between Mahe and Praslin cost around $70 per person while a ferry schooler between the two would cost roughly $20 but is three times longer. A ferry schooner also runs between Praslin and La Digue for $28. Small boat rides are also available from Mahe to La Digue. Most of the activities cost upwards of $50 depending on what you choose to do. Air Seychelles also runs an inter-island service using Twin Otter planes. All these flights arrive and depart from Mahe. Helicopter Seychelles is also an option for getting around in Seychelles and flies to Denis, Praslin, Fregate, Cousine and Silhouette islands. These transfers are expensive and are not usually a part of travel packages.
Things to do in Seychelles:
Beaches– Seychelles has a lot of virgin beaches which are refreshingly uncrowded. Clear blue skies with clear waters are truly a sight to behold on the island. A hike along the coastline from Beau Vallon and Anse Major takes around two hours and will surely help you find an exclusive beach for yourself. Not to forget the scenery around the hike which is simply breathtaking. Not all beaches are safe for a swim hence do remember to notice the signs of warning at the beaches.
Aldabra Atoll– It is the world’s largest atoll which is around 22 miles in length and encloses a beautiful tidal lagoon. It is the home of the giant land tortoises, tiger sharks and manta rays.
Vallee de Mai– It is a national park and also a world heritage site which is home to an amazing flora and fauna including the world’s largest seed- the coco de mer. The entrance fee for the park is free for locals and for foreigners it’s around 20 Euros.
Water Sports– Seychelles is heaven for people who are interested in water sports. Scuba diving, snorkeling and fishing are extremely popular and are available all around the island. Baie Ternay is extremely popular for these activities and is accessible by glass bottom boat from Beau Vallon beach. Snorkeling is free if you have your own gear and there are many great spots around the small beaches of Glacis, past Mouse island at Anse Royale along the Port Launay reef (near Ephelia Resort). You can spot a wide array of tropical fishes with sea turtles, eagle rays and much more while snorkeling. You can also explore the beauty of the island on a yacht, power boat, sailboat or a catamaran. Windsurfing is especially popular in May and October.
Land Sports– Recreational activities available on the island include golf, tennis, squash, badminton, horseback riding, biking and hiking. A great way to enjoy the scenic beauty of the place is to walk around or rent a bike. Walking is great for smaller island like La Digue and Praslin. It is not advisable to ride bicycles in Mahe as the number of shops for supplies is really limited on the island.
The island are home to a wide variety of birds and rare species of animals. Hence if you are interested in bird watching, head to Cousin’s island which is home to over 300,000 species of birds. You can also find many rare species of birds on Mahe.
Hiking– There are several hiking routes on Mahe and a few on Praslin. You can purchase maps from Seychelles tourism office for descriptions about these routes.
Nightlife– The most popular nightclub, ‘Lovenut’ in Victoria is too good to be missed. It is merely 100 metres from the central taxi station. Other popular clubs on the islands are ‘Tequila Boom’ (at Bel Ombre) and Katiolio (near Anse Royale) which also has an open-air space beside the ocean.
- If you are renting a car, remember that the roads of Mahe are mountainous and narrow with sharp bends. Drunk driving is an issue of the island and needs to be taken care of.
- While returning rented cars, obtain an acknowledgement of no damage to the vehicle.
- Buses are the only means of public transport. They are cheap but infrequent. Taxis are easily available but do negotiate the fare before boarding one as prices for foreigners can be arbitrary.
- Most of Seychelles is trouble free but there have been incidents of people being robbed on the island. Maintain the same level of awareness as you normally would especially in popular places like Beau Vallon and streets of Victoria after dark.
- Souvenirs from Seychelles:
For a stylish souvenir, pick something from Michael Adams, Seychelles most famous artist, gallery at his home at Anse aux Poules Bleues at Mahe. You can also buy batik fabrics, pottery and local handicrafts as souvenirs.
Have you visited Seychelles? Please share your experience in the comments below.