Explore The Seychelles
Explore The Seychelles, a group of 115 islands, only a few inhabited, in the Indian Ocean that lie off the coast of East Africa, northeast of Madagascar.
The Seychelles were disputed between France and Great Britain during the age of colonialism, with Britain ending up in control in 1814 after the Napoleonic Wars. The islands achieved independence in 1976; however, free elections did not occur until 1993. The politics of this island group remain in something of a state of flux, although this should not bother the tourist seeking a relaxing beach vacation.
- Outer Seychelles. The Outer Seychelles are coralline and mostly uninhabited. Visitors are rare; travel is via private yacht or remote airstrip on small local planes.
- Inner Seychelles. The vast majority of the Seychelles’ population lives on these granite islands, home to the bulk of the country’s resorts.
- Aldabra Islands
- Amirante Islands
- Alphonse Group
- Farquhar Group
- Southern Coral Group
- Mahé (Sainte Anne Island, Cerf Island, Marnelle Island)
- Praslin (Curieuse Island, Aride Island, Cousin Islands)
- La Digue (Félécite Island, The Sisters, Marie Anne Island)
- Silhouette Island (North Island)
- Inner Corallines (Denis Island, Bird Island)
- Victoria – is the Capital City
- Anse Boileau
- Anse Royale
- Anse Etoile
- Beau Vallon
The only international gateway to the Seychelles is Seychelles International Airport near Victoria.
Driving in Seychelles is on the left side of the road. The roads on Mahe are low-traffic, mountainous, narrow roads, so caution is generally advised. The roads usually have steep drops or low walls on the side instead of curbs, which can make driving on the narrow roads stressful, especially if driving a large vehicle.
Having a car is really a good idea and makes life much simpler. For as little as 100 rupees worth of gas you can see the entire island of Mahe in a couple of days, including stops at beaches and whatever else catches your eye. There is free parking in ‘downtown’ Victoria on Mahe, and if you go with a B&B or self-catering option for accommodations it’s by far the easiest way to pick up groceries. A car will also allow you access to the stores where locals do their regular shopping, and the prices are more reasonable as compared to the small convenience stores along the beaches.
You can only rent on Mahé and Praslin. You can find a small car but keep in mind that renters must be at least 21 years old, have a valid driver’s license, and have at least three years of driving experience. There are several car hire counters outside the arrivals hall at Mahe international airport, which provides a convenient way to compare prices. Prices can be negotiated, with the better rate available for rental periods of 3 consecutive days or more.
Taxis are a popular means of transportation for both short trips and day rental and can be obtained almost anywhere. Taxi prices for non-residents on a relatively long trip, can easily exceed the cost of hiring a small car for a day.
Seychelles is hot and humid, with an average yearly temperature of 29°C, and average sea temperature rarely dropping below 27°C. However, the heat is usually mitigated by refreshing sea breezes, especially by the beaches. The cooler season in Seychelles is during the southeast monsoon season (May to September) and the warmer season is during the northwest monsoon (November to March). April and October are “changeover months” between the two monsoons, when the wind is variable. The northwest monsoon season tends to be warmer with more rain, while the southeast monsoon season is usually drier and cooler.
Languages spoken in the Seychelles are Seychellois Creole, English and French. With the smallest ability in French or English you’ll be able to get around just fine, and a little effort, even a few basic phrases, will assist.
Seychelles is not well-known as culture destination, but those who spend their entire vacation on the beach do miss out on several interesting sights.
- The Arulmigu Navasakti Vinayagar Temple in Victoria is the centre of Hinduism on the islands. The temple is beautifully decorated and the ceremonies of the temple are interesting to see. Visitors are welcome, and discreet photography is allowed. Footwear should be removed and left in the vestibule. Please turn off your phone and avoid loud talking.
- Seychelles Natural History Museum in Victoria is small, inexpensive and interesting. Visitors will learn about the unique nature and geology of the islands.
- The ruined youth village of Cap Ternay is located at the end of a narrow one lane road on Mahe. This quiet and eerily beautiful place is best enjoyed by those who spend a bit of time beforehand reading about the site’s history.
- Vallee de Mai on Praslin is a national park and world heritage site, home to amazing flora and fauna, including the world’s largest seed: the coco de mer. The remote paths far from the entrance are less crowded and offer the best views, but can be rough and steep. Wear sturdy shoes and bring a water bottle. It is also a good idea to start the visit with a guided tour so that you can fully appreciate the unique features of the park.
- Beaches on the Seychelles also good for activities other than swimming and tanning. Especially during low tide one can spot interesting wildlife there. Find a deserted beach and move quietly, and you may be rewarded by sightings of ghost crabs, leaping blennys, flying fish and many other species.
Visit the beaches. Many of the beaches are untouched by man’s influence and are refreshingly un-crowded. They offer clear blue skies and a tranquility you will rarely find. A hike along the coastline from Beau Vallon to Anse Major will take about 1.5-2 hours and your reward will be a small deserted beach that’s fit for a king. The scenery along the hike is breathtaking. Not all beaches are suitable for swimming depending on the time of year, due to the seasonal winds. Do not ignore warning signs indicating that a beach is hazardous for swimming, no matter how it seems to you.
The conditions on the beaches depend on the strength and direction of wind, absence or presence of a protective reef and the tide. One should not worry, however, because Seychelles has beaches in abundance, and if the conditions on one beach are not good, a perfect beach may be only 5 minutes’ drive away.
Aldabra Atoll: The world’s largest coral atoll that stretches about 22 miles east to west and encloses a huge tidal lagoon. Aldabra is the original home of the giant land tortoise and tiger sharks and manta rays can also often be seen here.
Watersports: The warm Indian Ocean waters make Seychelles the perfect place for the water enthusiasts. Explore on board a yacht, power boat, catamaran or sailboat. Windsurfing is also popular and the best time for this activity is usually around May then in October, at the start and end of the trade winds.
Scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing are also extremely popular and can be done almost anywhere in Seychelles. Baie Ternay is superb and easily accessible by glass bottom boat tour from Beau Vallon beach – leave yourself an empty day and walk the beach for a ‘last minute’ booking – great deals can be bartered. Snorkeling (provided you have your own gear – some hotels lend masks, snorkels and fins to guests) is FREE and there are many great spots: off some of the small beaches at Glacis, past Mouse Island at Anse Royale, along the reef at Port Launay (near Ephelia Resort). Often spotted are a wide array of tropical fish, sea turtles, eagle rays and more!
Land Sports: Golf, tennis, squash, badminton, horseback riding, biking and hiking are some of the recreational activities available on the Seychelles Islands. Bike rentals and walking tours are great ways to sightsee and since distances are relatively short and the scenery is beautiful, walking is probably the best way to see the smaller islands (La Digue, Praslin), while walking along the main road can be quite intimidating as the roads are narrow and local cars/busses drive quite quickly. On Mahe it is not advised to ride bicycles, and there are no rental shops within sight. Bird watching is also popular and the islands are home to many of the worlds most treasured and rare species of animals. The best place to do so is Cousin Island which although only 1 km in diameter, is home to more than 300,000 birds, but many unique species can be found at ease on Mahe.
Nightlife: Do not miss most popular Nightclub “Lovenut” in the centre of Victoria, 100 metres walk from central Taxi station. Also entertaining are “Tequila Boom” at (Bel Ombre) and “Katiolio” (near Anse Royale) night clubs. “Katiolio” was one of the first nightclubs to open on Mahe and boats an open-air that is directly beside the ocean.
Hiking. There are several maintained hiking routes on the main island of Mahe and a few on Praslin. The Seychelles tourism office has a few descriptions of the hiking routes with maps available to be purchased.
Seychelles also has numerous markets, art galleries and shops, colonial Creole-style plantation houses, and the main island of Mahé has six museums, a botanical garden, and several national monuments. The market downtown Victoria has a good selection of local produce, and spices for sale that are all grown locally and 100% authentic.
What to buy
The islands’ currency is the Seychelles rupee (SCR). To get the best rates, use credit cards as much as possible, and get your cash from ATMs. However, it is also possible to buy rupees from the airport and from several banks. Credit cards and European debit cards are widely accepted, with the notable exception of gas stations. Petrol must be paid with cash.
The best place for shopping is Victoria, the capital, and more specifically the market at the city centre. There are also a few outlets on the island, Praslin, but few shopping areas on the other islands. Larger hotels have boutiques but shopping in Seychelles is not one of the major attractions.
Small grocery stores, usually run by the Indian community, are found all over the islands. These are, however, not particularly cheap, and have little or no local flavor. If doing self-catering, the large hypermarket at the outskirts of Victoria is an option. The supermarket is boring, but also efficient and inexpensive.
While visiting, be sure to buy the classic and traditional Seychelles souvenir, the coco-de-mer, or the ‘nut of the sea,’ a nut from trees native to the islands in the Seychelles – but this requires an export licence. Other locally made souvenirs, although not as unique, can be purchased like sea shell and pearl jewelry, textiles and straw hats, in addition to needlework & crochet, paintings by local artists and woodwork.
What to eat
Seychellois cuisine has been greatly influenced by the islands’ rich cultures. Creole cooking varied seafood dishes, coconuts and curries are the most popular. The main product of the country, fish, is cooked in a variety of ways. Especially the red snapper is very tasty and well known to visitors.
Cheapest food: Collect coconuts on the beach and learn how to open their terrible cover (not the shell, that’s easy; they have a thick cover of natural fibers; to open it: hit the coconut very strongly many times on the edges, sooner or later the fibres break up).
What to drink
Seychelles offers a fantastic nightlife scene that caters to tourists. The active nightlife is mostly located around the larger hotels and in addition to theatres cinemas and discos, there are numerous fun and trendy restaurants.
If you enjoy a good beer you must try the local Seybrew beer, it tastes similar to a light Bavarian style beer and is a must to get you through those balmy days. You can save yourself a packet buying the beer from stores on the side of the road like the locals do rather than from hotels. Dark Takamaka Rum on the beach under the stars is the best way to end a day on the Seychelles.
Official tourism websites of the Seychelles
For more information please visit the official government website: