Seychelles Travel Guide

There are some destinations in the world you grow up dreaming of one day visiting and for me that place was always to take a holiday in the Seychelles Islands. However, when that moment finally came around I had so many questions. Where are the top beaches in the Seychelles, which are the best hotels in the Seychelles and what are the top things to see and do in the Seychelles.

It’s strange when you think back to your early years and what provoked your thoughts. As a five year old, I was given a wildlife book and from that moment my love of animals and our planet was secured. In it were pictures of strange animals from faraway places like lemurs from Madagascar, Echidna from Australia and beautiful shells and conches from the Seychelles. In those innocent 1970’s days, many young boys like me also had stamp albums and some of the most colourful stamps were those from the Seychelles. They were worth bugger all and I always had too many swaps but these simple possessions and those images ingrained in me a desire that one day I would visit these paradise islands.

In 2019 those dreams were finally realised as I jumped on board an Emirates flight bound for Mahe International Airport in the Seychelles via Dubai.

 

Table of Contents

The Seychelles was discovered by Europeans in the 16th century and over the next couple of centuries had a mix of French and British interest until the 18th century when it became a fully British colony. In 1976 the islands gained their independence from the United Kingdom.

Looking back to before I visited, the most important thing that I feel you need to understand prior to any  Seychelles holidays is that these 115 islands each offer a unique blend of charm and character and are separated into two distinct types.

You have the tropical “inner” islands which are granitic hence those huge boulders in many photos. Then you have the untouched “outer” islands which are the quieter low-lying coral atolls popular for diving and wildlife especially birds. These outer islands are divided into four groups from east to west the Amirantes Group, the Alphonse Group, the Farquhar Group, and the Aldabra Group. 

Most visitors to any Seychelles island will stay on the main inner islands of Mahe, Praslin, or La Digue. Bank balance and time permitting, others may head to the private islands of Denis, Fregate, Desroches and North Island.

I would suggest if you are going for a week then stick to Mahe and take a day’s excursion to either Praslin or La Digue. If you have longer then look to do a Seychelles two or three centre but a little tip. Always make sure your last night before coming home is on Mahe. This is so that in the event of bad weather you are less likely to have issues getting to the international airport in time.

The best Seychelles beaches include activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, surfing and even horse riding on the beach. You can discover the famous Vallee De Mai ancient UNESCO protected forest and marvel at the Coco de Mer the world’s largest and sexiest nut which is shaped like a woman’s buttocks. You can witness incredibly rare birds and giant tortoises while ending your day eating the finest Creole cuisine and drinking delicious local Takamaka rum.

After 45 years of waiting, these paradise islands did not let me down.

 

This map was made with Wanderlog, a travel planner on iOS and Android

Useful Information

Flag

National Flag of the Seychelles

Continent

Capital

Victoria

Time Difference

GMT + 4 Hr

Currency

Seychellois Rupee

(Exchange Rate)

Flight Time

15 hrs 55 from London

Visa

Language

Creole, English & French

Vaccinations

Tourist Office

The Seychelles on Film

Getting Around

Flights
With Seychelles International Airport being on the island of Mahe and in the centre of the archipelago it means those outer islands are further away. This means a short domestic internal flight such as the aircraft pictured rather than a sea transfer. Most international flights into the Seychelles come via major hubs such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Istanbul, and Frankfurt.

Helicopter
Private helicopter flights between the inner islands can be booked with ZilAir.

By Road
Mahe has one main road that circles the island and a couple of roads that cross the mountain region. Driving is on the left so the same as in the UK. Roads are generally narrow and windy but as long as you are a relatively confident driver it’s pretty easy and such an exciting place to explore those off-the-beaten track beaches and trails at your own leisure. Up in the mountains, however, it’s a different story so you need to be brave and confident as some of these roads are hairy, to say the least. Island life hey!!

Car Hire
When arriving at Seychelles Airport I headed straight for the Masons Travel office which was the handling agent looking after my land and inter-island air arrangements. Quite often hiring a car in the Seychelles works out cheaper than getting a taxi so if you want that freedom to explore then renting a car is the way forward. The main international chains such as Hertz, Sixt, and Avis are available.

Taxis
Safe reliable taxis are available on the three main islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue although for the latter its better to hire a bike. Grabbing a taxi from Seychelles International Airport to Victoria on Mahe is easy with a taxi rank at the airport. Taxis are not cheap so make sure you get a price at the time of booking.

Bus
If you plan to use the bus network then perhaps you should invest in a Smart card which means you can tap in and out and not need cash. Buses on Mahe and Praslin are pretty standard, used mainly by the locals, and well-priced.  

Bike
Upon arriving at La Digue you will notice the distinct lack of cars with the main transport being golf buggies belonging to the hotels and guesthouses or the most popular – bikes. La Digue is flat and ideal for cycling so head across from the port to the rental agencies and get down with the locals. I always remember collecting my bike in La Digue as a young lad was sitting on the pavement outside playing reggae music…. its one of those fond little memories that has stayed with me. I guess it was the affirmation that I was a long way from home and I loved it.

Ferries & Catamarans
Cat Cocos provides daily transfers from Mahe to both Praslin and La Digue while the Inter-Island Ferry offers more frequently sailings between Praslin and La Digue.

The ferry crossing from Mahe to Praslin can be a little choppy and a roller coaster of a ride so if you get seasick, pack the pills. There is a top deck for fresh air but keep sitting down and prepared to get wet. The alternative is the more expensive flight using the inter-island carrier Air Seychelles who offers hourly transport lasting 15 minutes between Mahe and Praslin.

The Cat Cocos crossing from Praslin to La Digue is really short so there is no concern.

As a guide here are the crossing times and a map:

Mahe and Praslin: 1 hour 15 minutes
Mahe and La Digue via Praslin: 1 hour 45 minutes
Mahe and La Digue direct: 1 hour 10 minutes
Praslin and La Digue: 15 minutes

 

When To Visit The Seychelles

The Seychelles are in the tropics with a warm climate throughout the year with average temperatures ranging from 26 to 32 degrees.

When is the best month to visit the Seychelles? This is dependent upon what you wish to do while you are there as some visitors go for sunbathing and relaxation, others for diving and snorkeling and others to explore.

Whilst the equatorial location maintains constant weather throughout the year the islands are affected by the south-east and north-west trade winds which between May and October can bring seaweed, particularly to Praslin. I witnessed this on my visit during September in just one isolated area and it was not pleasant. However, that is nature for you and there are plenty of other things you can do.

Rain often comes overnight and can be expected most days making the island lush, green, and thick with vegetation. There is the most rainfall in the months of December to February and unlike Mauritius falls outside of the cyclone area, so violent storms are unlikely.

January in the Seychelles sees daily temperatures between 24 and 30°C. The weather is warm and humid, and rain is common.

Ideal for: swimming

February sees temperatures ranging from 25 – 30°C. Winds are less strong although strong rain is expected most days.

Ideal for: swimming

March temperatures range from 25 – 31°C. The northwest trade winds start to reduce along with the rain levels. Visibility underwater is good for sports.

Ideal for: snorkelling, scuba diving

The north-west trade winds subside in April and with little rain, the daily temperatures of 24-31°C make sunbathing snorkelling, and scuba diving perfect

Ideal for: snorkelling, scuba diving

In May, the temperatures are around 25 – 30°C. Conditions are dry and not so humid making it ideal for holidays.

Ideal for: snorkelling, scuba diving

June is amazing weather with temperatures from 25 – 29°C. The wind are picking up and there is some limited rain.

Ideal for: sunbathing, sailing, surfing, hiking

Temperatures in July range from 24 – 28°C with the south-east trade winds bringing a lot of wind which makes it ideal for active holidays.

Ideal for: sunbathing, sailing, surfing, hiking

In August, the temperatures are cool ranging from 24 – 28°C. The strong wind and low humidity make this month ideal for active holidays

Ideal for: sunbathing, sailing, surfing, hiking

In September, the weather sees little rain and warmer temperatures of 24 – 29°C so perfect for a holiday.

Ideal for: sunbathing, sailing, surfing, hiking

There is wonderful weather in October with temperatures from 24 – 30°C. The south-east trade winds are low so little breeze and great for holidays.

Ideal for: sunbathing, snorkelling, scuba diving

This is summer in the Seychelles with temperatures 24 – 30°C. The weather is hot, there is little wind and the waters are calm and warm.

Ideal for: snorkelling, scuba diving

In December, the temperatures range from 24 – 30°C. There can be strong showers with the waters warm.

Ideal for: swimming

Places To Stay in the Seychelles

The islands of the Seychelles have some of the most exclusive and top hotels in the Indian Ocean. Many are popular for romantic luxury getaways with a choice of superb beachfront properties and facilities. Some are ideal for families with plenty of activities and entertainment to keep the kids happy. One thing to note however is that the all-inclusive market has yet to really take off in the Seychelles which is not a bad thing in my opinion. 

Many visitors to the Seychelles don’t settle for just the island as they wish to explore the diversity of the destination so take an island hopping trip. This is all easy to coordinate with easy, regular, and fast connections on ferries and catamarans.
 

Others look to combine their visit to the Seychelles with a safari in Africa or with Dubai which breaks up the journey and gives you the chance to do some retail therapy!

Check out My Top 10 Seychelles Hotels for more information.

 

Food & Drink

The food and drink of the Seychelles is characterised by various regional influences and with strong use of locally grown produce. The Seychellois Creole cuisine combines Indian, Asian flavours and spices plus some European influence.  

A walk around Victoria market is a feast for the senses and here you will understand that spices such as vanilla, cloves, nutmeg, citronella, patschouli, chilli, ginger and garlic are common in all cooking. Also on show will be island-grown coconuts and cassava, cinnamon and sweet potatoes. 

Fresh fish and seafood are amongst the best in the world given that it lives on their doorstep. Most often it is grilled with tomato or chilli sauce however some varieties are fried or baked. Popular seafood is tuna, bonito, sea bass, red snapper, barracuda, king mackerel, gilthead, lobster, and squid.

Curries are extremely popular with chicken or pork as the main constituent. Rice, vegetables, manioc, potatoes, breadfruit and chutneys are often provided as side dishes. Served in some establishments is fruit bat curry – I tried it and let me just say that it is an acquired taste! Another local speciality is the delicious Tectec soup, made from small mussels.

Desserts are often chocolate, coconut, banana or fresh fruits.  

Around towns, you will often find street vendors selling samosas filled with potatoes, fish, or meat. The restaurants on the main inner islands of the Seychelles offer something for all tastes from around the world with Italian, French, Indian, Chinese, and Creole common.

The most famous restaurant in the Seychelles is the Marie Antoinette on Mahe near Beau Vallon. It is a colonial mansion and legend has it was where Henry Morton Stanley stayed back in the 19th century on his return journey from Africa, where he found Dr Livingstone – I presume!

It is common to drink water with your meals. Seybrew is the local beer and wines are imported from France and South Africa so they are rarely cheap. Tea is very popular and you can take a tour of a tea factory in Mahe. There is a rum distillery in the Seychelles called Takamaka and this is available at almost every hotel, restaurant and bar. Served in a variety of different flavours a trip to the Seychelles would not be complete unless you have sampled the local rum.

Two more of the Seychellois’ favourite beverages are Buka, similar to rum and Kalou a fermented wine with coconut.

Sports & Activities

Scuba Diving
Scuba diving in the Seychelles is superb, particularly in April, October, or November. There are so many excellent locations worth trying such as Shark Bank for barracuda, stingrays, and fan corals, and the Dredger Wreck for giant grouper. For manta rays, you will need to travel as far as  Desroches or Aldabra. There is a great dive school I visited at the Hotel L’Archipel on Praslin which ensures all levels of diver are catered for.

Golf At Constance Lemuria
The Constance Lemuria resort on Praslin has the only 18-hole course in the archipelago. I had a drive around the course in a buggy and it is superb. I particularly liked a couple of holes at the side of the fairway – not golf holes – but those belonging to this pair of huge land crabs. The amazing almost vertical 15th hole provides sensational views of Anse Georgette beach down below.

Surfing
Between April and September surfing is pretty good particularly on Grand Anse Beach on La Digue and Anse Lazio beach on Praslin. Beginners are better off at Carana Beach on Mahé, while experienced surfers rate Anse Lascars on Silhouette. Lessons are available for those staying in Mahe.

Sailing
Chartering a yacht is popular in the Seychelles. You can take a day trip that offers a skipper, snorkeling stops, and picnics You could also take a week-long hire of a luxury catamaran or speedboat.

Fishing
Seychelles holidays offer some incredible fishing locations, particularly between October and November and February to April. There are impressive catches to be had like wahoo, dorado trevally and barracuda common.

Horse Riding on the Beach
For those who love their horses, you can take a one or two-hour ride on an Appaloosa horse through the forest and onto Mahé’s Barbarons beach. All standards are catered for including novices, children and if you are a romantic couple then picnics can also be arranged.

The Top Beaches in The Seychelles

Here are just a handful of some of the best Seychelles beaches. Rest assured there are so many more hidden away and waiting for you to discover.

Anse Soleil, Mahe
The beautiful beach at Anse Soleil provides excellent snorkeling and is a great place to watch the sun setting behind the distant islands. The Anse Soleil Café is a relaxed beachside restaurant servicing local traditional cuisine and refreshing drinks at lunchtime.

Anse Intendance, Mahe
The Banyan Tree hotel is located on the magnificent pristine Anse Intendance beach. During my stay on the islands, I found this beach to be one of the most idyllic and picture-perfect however be warned that swimming is not encouraged due to strong tidal currents.

Port Launay, Mahe
For some of the best snorkeling and swimming head to the Port Launay National Marine Park on the northwest coast of Mahé. The waters are full of marine life and corals and the beach is backed by shaded trees giving some protection from the hot midday sun.

Beau Vallon, Mahe
Possibly the most popular beach in the Seychelles due to its length and the number of restaurants and hotels that line the bay. This is a great place for lunch or dinner and a day relaxing on soft white sands.

Anse Lazio, Praslin
The most famous beach in the Seychelles is Anse Lazio. This white sandy beach has huge granite boulders at either end allowing for fantastic swimming and snorkeling in the middle. The Takamaka trees provide a lovely shade when you need to step out of the sun.

Anse Georgette, Praslin
Located at the Constance Lemuria, Anse Georgette is a remote undeveloped beach with no facilities – just you the sea, and nature. That is what I loved as I headed there very early one morning to see what wildlife may be rocking up at sunrise. Land crabs and palm spiders en route and then more beach-dwelling crabs and birds greeted me. Be aware that currents are very strong so swimming is not advised.

Anse Source d’Argent, La Digue
Located within the L’Union Estate where you have to pay a small entrance fee to access is the Anse Source d’Argent beach is one of the most photographed in the world and my tip is to get there early as leave it too long after breakfast and it will be full of visitors trying to get that shot. The spectacular blue waters, white sands, and imposing granite boulders that are spread along the beach creating small bays are the definition of paradise. Behind the beach are numerous stalls selling souvenirs and some food and drinks outlets selling local cuisine and fresh fruit juices.

Festivals & Events

Seychelles holidays and events focus on the Creole culture. There are many wonderful celebrations throughout the year where tourists can experience local dance, music, sport, religion, and food.

No festivals this month

Seychelles International Carnival of Victoria

This event over three days takes place on Mahé Island to highlight the various cultures that have helped shape the Seychelles. It features float parades as well as hotels putting on various events

Semaine de la Francophonie

Celebrating French culture in mid-March, this week-long party on Mahé Island features art exhibitions, music, song, fashion, and food.

Holy Week

aEaster week is celebrated across the island with street festivals with food stalls, music, and dance of the region.

No festivals this month

Independence Day

June 29 is celebrated throughout the Seychelles as that was when the Seychelles gained independence from the United Kingdowm back in 1976. Expect festivals, fireworks, dancing, music and special events

Round Table Beau Vallon Regatta

The Beau Vallon Regatta takes place in July and August and the resort will be busy. There are yacht races, swimming competitions, and many other water events.

Round Table Beau Vallon Regatta
The Beau Vallon Regatta takes place in July and August and the resort will be busy. There are yacht races, swimming competitions, and many other water events.

La Digue Festival
The Assumption Day (August 15) celebrations in La Digue includes a bicycle tour, the Miss Fun Park pageant, and various sports, dances and competitions, including coconut peeling.

No festivals this month

SUBIOS Underwater Festival
A three-day event in Beau Vallon on the island of Mahe is all about promoting underwater conservation. Many will showcase their underwater films and photographs while alongside this there are boat rides, screenings, a craft bazaar, and competitions.

Creole Festival
In the last week of October on Mahé, Praslin or La Digue there is a six-day foodie event. It celebrates everything Creole, including their arts, crafts, music, dance and food.

No festivals this month

Christmas is celebrated across the island and many of the hotels will put on special events and dinners for guests.

Adventure & Things To Do

The Copolia Trail
There is a well-known hike in the Morne Seychellois National Park called the Copolia Trail. This walk takes in the rich forest and nature including such sights as the pitcher plant. The trail ends at a viewing point at 500 meters above the sea with incredible views across the Indian Ocean and of the neighboring islands of Praslin, La Digue, and the man-made resort island of Eden pictured here.

Climb Morne Seychellois
If you loved the Copolia Trail then you can also continue to the summit Of Morne Seychellois at 905 meters. Take lots of water and wear strong shoes as it’s a long hike taking some 5 hours.

Take a Scenic Helicopter Ride
Scenic helicopter flights range from 15 to 90 minutes with views of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. You will witness the amazing coral reefs and if you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of rays, turtles, or sharks. As well as daytime flights there are also sunset flights available subject to conditions.

Island-hop around Curieuse, Cousin and St Pierre
The islands of Curieuse, Cousin and St Pierre are all close to Praslin making them a perfect island-hopping tour. Curieuse island was a former leper colony so has an interesting, if disturbing past. St Pierre is a nature lover’s dream with great snorkeling. Cousin Island’s nature reserve is a favourite place for the endangered hawksbill turtle.

Tour a Tea Factory, Mahe
The most popular drink in the Seychelles is tea which is odd given that it was only introduced to the island in the 1960s. You can tour a local tea factory somewhere like SeyTe factory on Mahe Island where you can learn about the traditional methods with which they make their tea. Sampling and purchases are possible afterward in the tea tavern and shop.

Visit the capital Victoria, Mahe Island
The capital of Victoria on Mahe island is tiny but that’s why I loved it. I particularly loved wandering around the Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market, where you will discover the fish corner where the local catch of the day is sold. There are numerous stalls selling tropical vegetables and fruits plus souvenir shops and fashion retailers selling the traditional pareo or sarongs.

A number of good restaurants are in town. I enjoyed a lovely meal at Coco Blu with its stylish décor and superb cuisine overlooking the clock tower and the streets of Victoria from up high.  A great spot for people-watching.

The colonial clock tower in the centre of the town acts as a roundabout – how no one as ever knocked it over is beyond belief. It resembles a mini big ben. For culture, you can check out the Hindu Sri Navasakthi Vinayagar Temple and for history the National Museum of History to unwind and take shade on a hot day why not visit the Botanical Gardens.

Wildlife Conservation

Protecting the Seychelles islands wildlife, oceans, forests and general biodiversity is at the forefront of everything the Seychelles do. Here are just some of the many projects that are ongoing throughout the archipelago.

Vallée de Mai
This Unesco-listed prehistoric palm forest on the island of Praslin is the only place in the Seychelles where all six species of palm grow together. A large welcome center with a shop and café greets you before you head through into the forest where you have a choice of guided trails to follow. The star of the plant show is the endemic Coco de Mer palm which is the world’s largest nut. This hot humid forest is a haven for mosquitoes so make sure you come well sprayed. Look out for tree frogs, tiger chameleons, and the black parrot — one of the world’s rarest birds and only found here.

Visit the Tortoises on Aldabra
The distant island of Aldabra is not easy to get to for visitors however if you have the time and know how then what awaits is a remote Unesco-listed four-island atoll on par with the Galapagos as a global biodiversity hotspot. It is home to red-footed boobies, frigatebirds, Aldabra drongo, the giant banded snail and, the largest population of giant tortoises in the world. In the heart of the island is a lagoon where the dugong lives – a large vegetarian marine mammal.

Moyenne – the world’s smallest national park
Brendon Grimshaw was from Yorkshire in the UK and back in the 1960’s he famously purchased the tiny island of Moyenne for just £8,000. Over the following years he planted 16,000 trees, built nature paths, bred Aldabra giant tortoises and hundreds of species of birds before his death in 2012. Today the island has been assigned the status of a national park – in fact the smallest one in the world.

Sustainable Tourism

The Seychelles were the first country in the world to include conservation efforts in their constitution and today over 50% of their land is under conservation restrictions. As a result, the Seychelles is a leader in sustainable tourism.

Efforts are ongoing throughout the archipelago and while this is fantastic it is important that the tourist takes responsibility for their actions when visiting the islands. After all, we are visiting because we want to enjoy their natural treasures.

Diving is a popular activity in the Seychelles. The Green Island Foundation in partnership with Denis Private Island where I stayed has combined tourist activities with studies in the conservation of the endangered Hawksbill Turtle and the Green Turtle. Guests are invited to record sightings, patrol beaches, and even the movement of turtle eggs if they have been laid too close to the water’s edge.

The Alphonse Island Lodge, through work with the Island Conservation Society has set up several initiatives to support conservation through tourism. Guests are invited to attend presentations on the work being carried out which is funded by souvenir sales and contributions by guests.

Fishing is popular with tourists on the islands of Seychelles and at many hotels and resorts those who take an excursion and make a catch, assuming it meets the conservation requirements, are then invited to have that fish prepared by the hotel. By doing this it promotes sustainability by sourcing natural resources in a conscientious manner.

The Four Seasons Seychelles Resort, through partnerships with local environmental organizations, marine educators, and conservation partners are encouraging children as young as four to learn about our oceans. At the Six Sense Zil Pasyon Resort, they work closely with local schools to raise awareness of conservation and environmental protection.

For those of you that have read this blog, it is clear that the Seychelles are a very special group of islands and as guests in this archipelago, we must play our part to protect them. By us, as visitors engaging in these sustainable and eco-friendly practices, I believe the good people of the Seychelles are instilling in each of us an understanding of the issues we face. Hopefully, we will take that with us wherever we travel.

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