The Seychelles is a group of 115 islands located in the Indian Ocean very close to the coast of East Africa, northeast of Madagascar. Even though there are over hundred islands, only a few of them are inhabited. 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. Today, the islands are independent (since 1976). Languages spoken in Seychelles are Seychellois Creole, English and French.
Most of the people live on these inhabited islands Mahe (Sainte Anne Island, Cerf Island, Marnelle Island), Praslin (Curieuse Island, Aride Island, Cousin Islands), La Digue (Felecite Island, The Sisters, Marie Anne Island), Silhouette Island (North Island) and Inner Corallines (Denis Island and Bird Island). The Outer Seychelles is corralline and mostly uninhabited. Visitors are rare; travel is via private yacht or remote airstrip on small local planes.
How to get there
Seychelles has Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) near Victoria where international flights are landing. Also, you can get the islands by boats although the strict controls imposed on cruising yachts in the early 1990s have been gradually lifted and rules and regulations are no longer so complicated. Certain restrictions remain in force, mostly for the sake of environmental protection as most of the islands are surrounded by coral reefs near the surface.
Nearby places to see
The islands are heavenly and the main reason why they are so popular is the beaches. Many of the beaches are untouched by man’s influence and are crowded like at most popular tourist destinations. Hiking along the coastline from Beau Vallon to Anse Major will take about 1.5-2 hours, but here you will get a small deserted beach that isn’t like anything you have seen in your life. Get info whether the beach you are visiting is suitable for swimming (depends on the time of year, the seasonal winds may be dangerous).
Vallee de Mai 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 entrance free.
Aldabra Atoll is the world’s largest coral atoll, almost 35 km. This place is the original home of the giant land tortoise, tiger sharks and manta rays. It isn’t uncommon to see these animals here.
Seychelles is the perfect place for the water sports. The warm water of the Indian Ocean will make any windsurfing, sailing, power boat, catamaran or sailboat pleasant and unique experience. Windsurfing is best in May and October (at the start and end of the trade winds). Scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing are also quite popular and can be done almost anywhere in Seychelles.
Snorkeling is another great activity (you can get your own gear but some hotels also lend masks, snorkels and fins to guests). This activity is free and can be done at some of the small beaches at Glacis, past Mouse Island at Anse Royale, along the reef at Port Launay (near Ephelia Resort). This is the best way to see tropical fish, sea turtles, eagle rays etc. If you aren’t into water sports you can always play golf, tennis, squash, badminton, horseback riding, biking and hiking.
Bike rentals and walking tours are great ways to sight see and since distances are relatively short and the scenery is beautiful, walking is perhaps the best and easiest way to see the smaller islands (La Digue, Praslin). On Mahe it is not advised to ride bicycles, and there are no rental shops. The islands are home to some rare birds, so bird watching is also popular. Cousin Island is home to more than 300,000 birds, but many unique species can be found on Mahe too.
The most popular nightclub “Lovenut” in the centre of Victoria is a must visit. “Tequila Boom” and “Katiolio” are equally good night clubs.
See the islands
Air Seychelles operates multiple daily flights between Mahe and Praslin. This way you can see all 115 islands from above. You can also fly by helicopter with Zil Air which provides flights from most of the inner and outer Seychelles islands.
You can rent a car and fill the tank for about 100 rupees. This way you can see the entire island of Mahe in a couple of hours, including stops at beaches.
Accommodation, shops and restaurants
The Seychelles don’t offer any type of accommodation for backpackers. If you find yourself in a situation to end up there as a backpacker, you will likely be taken to a counter where you will have to book & pay for accommodation. Visitors need to provide details of their accommodation on their landing card ( such as hotel Name, address, phone number), and additionally, being questioned by the immigration officer about their accommodation details.
Most accommodations are pricey and some islands have only one hotel. Book your accommodation before you get there because most of the islands aren’t inhabited and don’t even have any type of hotel or hostel. The most expensive prices are during the main season from December to January and July to August. During Easter the hotels are also full and the prices aren’t affordable.
The best place for shopping is Victoria, the capital, and more specifically the market at the city center. Shopping on the islands isn’t the best feature, because it is very expensive most hotels have their own shops). You can buy a 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.