The Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa. It's home to numerous beaches, coral reefs and nature reserves, as well as rare animals such as giant Aldabra tortoises. Mahé, a hub for visiting the other islands, is home to capital Victoria.
With a fabulous variety of marine, plant and insect species, this little archipelago of islands called Seychelles is prettily scattered over the Indian Ocean and justifiably earns the tourist-brochure epithet of ‘paradise on earth’. Tourist infrastructure is very well developed by African standards, the opportunities for outdoor activities, both on land and in the sea are innumerable and the people are friendly and welcoming.
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SEYCHELLES QUICK FACTS
- Capital: Victoria
- Currency: Seychelles rupee (SCR)
- Area: 455 km2
- Population: 96 762 (2018)
- Language: English (official), French (official), Creole (official)
- Religion: Roman Catholic 86.6%, Anglican 6.7%, other Christian 2.5%, other 4.1%
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SEYCHELLES PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
- 5 June, Liberation Day
- 18 June, National Day
- 26 June, Independence Day
- 15 August, Assumption
- 1 November, All Saints’ Day
- 8 December, Immaculate Conception
Also, Good Friday, Easter Saturday, and Corpus Christi.
FESTIVALS IN SEYCHELLES
- Carnaval International de Victoria - The biggest party in the country is usually held in late April. Three days of street parties and various performances, with a costume parade among its highlights.
- FetAfrik - The Seychelles celebrates its African origins with a weekend of music and dance in late May.
- Festival Kreol - Festival of Creole culture during the last week of October. (www.festival-kreol.sc)
BEST TIME TO VISIT SEYCHELLES
The climate of the Seychelles archipelago is strongly influenced by the ocean, especially through changes in monsoonal winds, ocean currents and sea surface temperature patterns, hence a tropical maritime climate. The temperature varies between 25°C and 26°C in July and August, and between 27°C and 28°C in March and April.
- From December to March, the trade winds bring warmer, wetter air streams from the northwest. From June to September the southeast trades usher in cooler, drier weather but the winds whip up the waves and you’ll want to find protected beaches.
- The turnaround periods (April to May and October to November), which are normally calm and windless, are ideal.
- The rainfall varies considerably from island to island and from year to year. Mahé and Silhouette, the most mountainous islands, get the highest rainfall. The Seychelles lies outside the cyclone zone.
The best times to visit Seychelles are April, May, October and November. These months represent the transition times between the hot and humid northwest trade winds (from November through March) and the cooler southeast trade winds that define April through October. A visit during these shoulder months offers more mild conditions ideal for sunbathing, wildlife watching and scuba diving. No matter when you visit, you'll encounter temperatures averaging in the mid to high 20°Cs. By frequenting the islands in the spring and fall, you'll also avoid the heavy tourist crowds that descend on the islands in December, January, July and August when accommodation can be hard to find.
SPORT & ACTIVITIES
HIKING & CYCLING IN SEYCHELLES
The best time for outdoor activities in Seychelles is from May to September. The wet monsoon season leaves paths muddy and slippery.
BEACH OPTIONS IN SEYCHELLES
Seychelles is packed with plenty of stunning beaches and it's always beach season! You might want to avoid the peak tourist months of June to August or the rainiest month of January.
SURFING IN SEYCHELLES
You can enjoy pretty good laid back surf in the Seychelles from April to October. Most waves are fairly small, but you'll get the odd bigger swell from time to time.
KITESURF IN SEYCHELLES
Seychelles has fairly good wind for wind and kitesurfing from May to September with the most consistent winds found from July to September. The most popular spots for kitesurfing are Anse aux Pins on Mahe and Anse Source d'argent on La Digue.
For more details on kite surfing in Seychelles expand this section!
SEYCHELLES TRAVEL COSTS
Is it possible to visit the Seychelles on a tight budget? It's not a cheap travel destination and if you’re on a very tight budget you might struggle with food and accommodation prices. But for around US$ 100 - 120 a day per person you can stay in an apartment, rent a car, beach-hop and hike, eat takeaways and have a few local drinks.
Mahé is definitely the cheapest island as it’s the easiest to get to and the biggest so there’s more competition for accommodation. From Mahé the fast ferry to Praslin takes about an hour and costs around €100 return, or Mahé to La Digue (via Praslin) takes 90 minutes and costs around €120 return.
Apart from fish and a few varieties of fruit and vegetables, everything else has to be imported into the Seychelles so it comes at a premium. For example a basic main course in a restaurant costs around 300 rupees (US$ 14) and at high-end resorts they can be much pricier. A three-course meal with drinks and service charge can easily cost US$ 70 per person.
One bargain in Mahé is at the Beau Vallon’s Wednesday market (4pm–8pm), known as the Bazar Labrin, with freshly cooked dishes like satay, grilled fish and coconut curry. You can also find inexpensive takeaways and food trucks around the islands which cater for locals and serve big portions of Creole food for under 100 rupees (US$ 5).
HOW TO SAVE WHEN VISITING SEYCHELLES
- Buy simple Creole dishes at takeaway outlets or at the market in Victoria. You can also self-cater on the three main islands.
- Catch the cargo ship between Mahé and La Digue instead of getting around by ferry or by plane.
- Get around Mahé and Praslin by public bus.
- Opt for family-run guesthouses or medium-sized, locally owned hotels.
- Look for promotional deals online and on hotel websites directly.
If you plan to self cater and you have some got space in your bag it’s worth bringing a few food basics like tea and coffee to get you started, and stock up on alcohol at duty free before you arrive. It is not allowed to bring any plant or animal products into the Seychelles from abroad, but you can bring in up to two litres of wine and two litres of spirits per person. There are loads of little Indian-run supermarkets around the islands where you can pick up drinks and basic food items. There are also a couple of bigger international supermarkets in Mahé – a Co-op in the Eden Island development and a STC on the outskirts of Victoria. Both sell a lot of imported European products (mainly from France) so aren’t cheap.
SEYCHELLES TRAVEL TIPS
Most visitors fly into the Seychelles’ only international airport, which is located on Mahé. Big hotels provide transport to and from the airport. Taxis from just outside the airport cost from Rs 500 to Beau Vallon. Regular ferries and planes connect Mahé with Praslin.
The best way to get around Seychelles depends on where you're based: Bus service operated by the Seychelles Public Transport Corporation is commendable on both Mahé and Praslin, while visitors to tiny, flat La Digue would benefit most from a bicycle. If you're planning to travel between islands, Seychelles' ferry services are both convenient and reliable. Taxis can also be found on all three of Seychelles' main islands (though less easily on La Digue), and serve as the most convenient way to get from Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) on Mahé's east coast to Victoria and other destinations around the island. You'll find airports on Praslin and several other smaller islands, which are serviced by Air Seychelles and a few other airlines offering inter-island transportation.
SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF SEYCHELLES
The Seychelles islands are often referred to in two separate groups. Most travellers limit their exploration to the 43 Inner Islands, basing themselves on one of the group's three main isles. Mahé is the largest, home to the Seychellois capital, Victoria, as well as the famed Anse Intendance beach. Praslin, the second largest of the primary islands, also boasts several acclaimed shorelines, not to mention Vallée de Mai. And then there's La Digue, a quiet island where bicycles reign supreme and the sands of Anse Source d'Argent beach remain unspoiled. Charter a private yacht further out to sea and you'll likely stumble across one of the 72 Outer Islands, low-lying, sandy cays ruled by wildlife. It doesn't get more remote than that.
The Seychelles are all about the beaches – and they’re the islands’ best bargain. Most beaches are free access, so even those with five-star resorts on are open to the public. You can usually access the beach from the road so you don’t have to walk through hotel grounds. There are some off-road parking areas or otherwise you can park on the side of the road, and buses stop at all main beaches. Strong currents mean some beaches aren’t safe for swimming, or are only safe at certain times of the year, so check signs before taking a dip. (Check the map below for recommended beaches and descriptions).
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SEYCHELLES
- Befriend a giant tortoise on Curieuse Island.
- Splash around in the jewelled waters of Anse Lazio.
- Snorkel with colourful fish and coral off Île Cocos.
- Unwind on blissful Petite Anse.
- Dive White Bank, a site known for its incredibly dense fish life.
- Find the smallest frog on earth while exploring Morne Seychellois National Park.
- Take an unforgettable coastal hike to Anse Marron.
- Live out your stranded-on-a-desert-island fantasy on the secluded Bird Island.
By far the largest and most developed of the Seychelles islands, Mahé (named by the French in honour of the 18th-century governor of Mauritius, Mahé de Labourdonnais) is home to the country’s capital, Victoria, and to about 90% of the Seychelles’ population. It's no wonder that it has excellent vacation and adventure opportunities, from kite-surfing, exploring the mountainous jungle of the interior to diving pristine sites and snorkelling with whale sharks. Or just do nothing at all and flake out on porcelain-sand beaches. Wherever you’re based, paradise lies close at hand – a bus or car ride of no more than 20 minutes will bring you to fabulous natural attractions.
Victoria is the capital of Seychelles and also dubbed as the smallest capital city in the world. The tiny city is located in the northeast of Mahé and wonderfully portrays the pros of a small quiet town. The houses in Victoria are made almost entirely of wood and stone, which shows the culture and heritage of the city. Aside from this, the town is flanked with palms trees that give the ultimate laid-back atmosphere.
Divided into two main centres, there’s much to see in Victoria. One of the two centres is the Clock Tower which in itself is a depiction of Seychelles History. Around the clock tower, several administrative buildings and other famous landmarks are located. The second main centre is the Sir Selwyn Clarke Market which is a must visit due to the colourful local wares sold here, as well as the joyous atmosphere, that makes it a magical place to walk through. The Seychelles International Airport is also located in Victoria which makes it all the more important. Other notable places include the new pier, various museums such as the History Museum, Botanical gardens, the Kenwyn House, Bicentennial Monument, the Bel Air Cemetery and the Arul Mihu Navasakthi Vinayagar Hindu Temple.
Beau Vallon is the main destination on the northwest coast because of its beach and tourist infrastructure, but there’s also some great scenery north, up the coast to Glacis and North Point . With your own wheels, it’s a scenic drive on a narrow road that hugs the coastline, with intermittent, lovely views over secluded coves at the foot of the cliffs. From Northeast Point, you can head down to Victoria via Anse Étoile .
West of Beau Vallon, the coastal road goes past Bel Ombre , which has a few good accommodation options and a little fishing harbour, and ends at Danzil , where La Scala restaurant lies. From there, you can walk to Anse Major.
The west coast of Mahé is exquisite on the eyes. There are one or two sights to aim for, but it’s the beaches and coastal scenery that are the star attractions. Wilder than the east, this is the part of Mahé where green hills tumble past coconut-strewn jungles before sliding gently into translucent waters. There’s only a handful of settlements, including the fishing villages of Anse Boileau , Grande Anse and Port Glaud. If it really is isolation you’re after, continue north on the narrow coastal road to Baie Ternay , which is as far as you can go at present. The west coast is easily accessed from the east coast via several scenic roads that cut through the mountainous interior.
In comparison to the north, the South of Mahé is mostly uninhabited and underdeveloped. While this makes some places inaccessible or difficult to reach, it also gives the south its own silent, island charm that is lacking in the north.
(Loads more location information and points of interest are available in the above map)
A wicked seductress, Praslin has lots of temptations: stylish lodgings, tangled velvet jungle, curving hills dropping down to gin-clear seas, gorgeous stretches of silky sand edged with palm trees and a slow-motion ambience.
The second largest out of 115 islands in Seychelles, Praslin has always been one of the wilder yet laid-back islands, with tropical forests, nature reserves and a host of beaches. This magnificent island has always been a people's favourite, as it manages to fuse the rich culture, as well as wild nature into its island life in the most beautiful place. Praslin is also a great place for the explorers and adventures with trails and treks of all kinds of difficulty. The island also has its own museum and art gallery which further help express the history and culture of Praslin.
The 6500 inhabitants of Praslin are scattered around the coast in a series of small settlements. The most important from a visitor’s perspective are Anse Volbert (also known as Côte d’Or) and Grand Anse. At the southeast tip of the island is Baie Ste Anne, Praslin’s main port.
Praslin has all you need to decompress. But if playing sardines on the strand ceases to do it for you, another world beckons at the Vallée de Mai, one of the most peculiar attractions in the Seychelles. Scuba diving, snorkelling and boat excursions to nearby islands famed for their bird life will also keep you buzzing.
- Anse Volbert in the north is often called the "gold coast" and is famous due to the spectacular beaches and the host of water sports on these beaches which make it a lively area to spend a day in. Between Anse Volbert and Baie St Anne lies the La Blague beach, which is a surprising change from the sometimes crowded Anse Volbert. The beach is almost always empty and makes for a great place to relax and enjoy the scenic views in a tranquil atmosphere.
- Baie St Anne, which mainly hosts the main jetty and essential shops and residential areas, so it is a transportation hub, as well as a cultural and social hub for many. While travelling south from Baie St Anne, you would come across the beautiful Anse Consolation which is yet another notable beach in Praslin and can be visited if time permits.
- Further south is the final settlement of Grand Anse which along with being near the airport, is also a magnificent coast to explore and a starting point for some challenging and fun hikes.
Out of the 115 islands that make this beautiful country, La Digue is the fourth largest in size and third largest in population. However, that is not much as the population of this island is a mere 2000 residents that live mainly in the village of La Passe. This leaves the rest of the island virtually uninhabited which lets the island retain its natural beauty. Despite its lush beauty, La Digue has managed to escape the somewhat rampant tourist development that affects Mahé and Praslin. Sure, it’s certainly not undiscovered, but La Digue has a more laid-back feel than the other main islands, with only a few surfaced roads and virtually no cars – just the odd ox cart. The place is definitely more of a back-to-nature than a jet-set-tourist kind of haven, making it possible to find that deserted anse (bay) where you really feel as though you’ve been stranded in paradise.
Transport to La Digue is absurdly easy. It’s only about 5km from Praslin, and getting by boat from one island to the other is simplicity itself, so you’ve no excuse not to spend a day or two at the very least on this island. If budget a factor, La Digue has a growing number of quaint family guesthouses and self-catering apartments in which to rest your head.
WHAT TO PACK FOR SEYCHELLES
Most products have to be imported, so bring plenty of sunscreen, mosquito repellent and toiletries to avoid high prices of imported goods. If you plan to self cater and you have some got space in your bag it’s worth bringing a few food basics like tea and coffee to get you started, and stock up on alcohol at duty free before you arrive. It is not allowed to bring any plant or animal products into the Seychelles from abroad, but you can bring in up to two litres of wine and two litres of spirits per person.
WHAT TO EAT IN SEYCHELLES
Meat lovers, come prepared: the cuisine of the Seychelles is heavily influenced by the surrounding ocean, with fish appearing as the main ingredient in many dishes. Cultural influences are also distinctive, with a blend of European (mostly French and Italian) and African gastronomic delights. The real beauty of Seychellois cuisine is its freshness and simplicity. After all, what could be better than the fish of the day with rice or the bright flavours of a smoked fish salad?
Fish and rice is the most common combination (pwason ek diri in Creole patois) in the Seychelles - fish is guaranteed to be served ultra-fresh and literally melts in your mouth. You’ll devour bourgeois , capitaine , shark, job , parrotfish, caranx, grouper and tuna, among others. To bring variety, they are cooked in innumerable guises: grilled, steamed, minced, smoked, stewed, salted, baked, wrapped in a banana leaf; the list goes on and on.
You’ll find various types of eateries, from takeaway outlets to refined restaurants serving more elaborate dishes.
Many visitors to the Seychelles opt for packages that include breakfast and dinner at their hotel. If you’d prefer to sample local specialities, enjoy the Seychelles’ many fine eateries, feast on views, and share a beach picnic with the locals, you’ll find that a bed and breakfast will allow you more flexibility.
LGBTQ IN SEYCHELLES
The Seychellois are generally tolerant of gay and lesbian relationships as long as couples don’t flaunt their sexuality, but there is no open gay or lesbian scene in the Seychelles. For gay and lesbian travellers there’s little to worry about. We’ve never heard of any problems arising from same-sex couples sharing rooms during their holidays. That said, open displays of affection between gay or lesbian couples could raise eyebrows.
WHERE TO STAY IN SEYCHELLES
You need proof that you have accommodation booked when you arrive into the airport, so the Seychelles aren’t the sort of place you can wing it and pick up a last-minute bargain. When you’re looking at where to stay in the Seychelles, the luxury options outweigh the budget gems, so if you want to bag the best places try to book as far ahead as you can.
Self-catering options are private homes, villas, residences, studios or apartments that are fully equipped and can be rented by the night. The distinction between self-catering options and guesthouses is slim. Typically, rooms in guesthouses don’t come equipped with a kitchen, and breakfast is usually offered. That said, at most self-catering ventures, breakfast and dinner are available on request. Standards are high – even in the cheapest guesthouse you can expect to get a room with a private bathroom and air-con, as well as a daily cleaning service. Both options are generally excellent value, especially for families or a group of friends. Most cost between €80 and €180. Many offer discounts for extended stays. They also offer good opportunities for cultural immersion; they’re mostly family-run operations and provide much more personal, idiosyncratic experiences than hotels.
Victoria’s range of accommodation is disappointingly slim, especially considering it’s the capital, so it does make sense to stay elsewhere, for instance in nearby Beau Vallon, and visit the town on day trips. Along the East Coast The east coast may not be the sexiest part of the island, but we’ve unearthed a smattering of excellent-value (by Seychellois standards), family-run ventures from where you can easily reach the western coast, by bus or by car.
Demand for accommodation is high in Praslin. To avoid disappointment, particularly in high season, book your accommodation well in advance. Anse Volbert, with its restaurants and other tourist facilities, makes a good base. Grand Anse is busier and less attractive, but less touristy, and there are some decent options within walking distance of the Baie Ste Anne jetty.