Imagine clear blue seas, white sandy beaches, palm trees heavy with coconuts, local markets, friendly people and all the sea food you could eat. Sound like paradise right? The Seychelles was even more beautiful than I pictured it and there was so much more to this little cluster of islands than I expected. I was invited along by a family friend for a birthday trip and I happily signed up without really knowing what to expect so I thought I would pass on a few tips to help anyone about to travel to the Seychelles prepare for their trip.
Here are 10 tips for what you should remember when travelling to the Seychelles so you know just what to expect for yourself.
1 – Bring Your Snorkel!
Seriously. I’ve never been anywhere where the snorkelling was so consistently good. Jump on the new full-face snorkel craze and find out just how much to see right off the beach. We spotted cuttlefish, starfish, a couple of stingrays, a multitude of colourful parrotfish and so much more! The beaches may be the main thing to do on the Seychelles but there is a good reason for that. Usually you’ll have your 3 standard types of beaches everywhere you go; the tourist beach that is fairly good but is the easiest and most popular to get to, the stony beach often still in a fairly good location but not as comfortable to sit and relax on and the perfect out of the way beach, the one that has fine sand and calm seas but is usually more of a trek to get to. Not so in the Seychelles. Every beach is a number three beach! Some had rougher seas and some you couldn’t swim on at all but all had lovely stretches of sand, turquoise ocean and absolutely every one had amazing snorkelling.
2 – Dive a Little Deeper
If you’re not satisfied with merely floating around on the surface there are a good few dive centres as well. We went with Kempinski Dive Centre but there was also Blue Sea Divers and several other centre at the main hotels. It is an easy place to dive if you are a beginner as many of the reefs are quite shallow. We were lucky enough to see a turtle but there are also black tipped and white tipped reef sharks and you might be lucky enough to see whale sharks! Apparently the peak time to see them is October but when we went early in the month there hadn’t been any sightings yet. These gentle giants are less scary than they sound (don’t worry, they eat plankton not divers) but their sheer size makes them a sight to see in the wild.
3 – Watch Out For Bats!
They may have a bad reputation for turning into blood sucking monsters but imagine floating in the sea at dusk, the sky a swirl of purple and indigo as black silhouettes glide overhead. During the day you can hear them chattering in the trees or finding a comfortable place to snooze upside-down. The Seychellois
apparently love bats almost as much as I do… just not quite in the same way… Fruit bat is apparently a very tasty dish on the Seychelles. I didn’t see it on any menus when eating out but we stayed for one night in Victoria and the owner of our apartment was stringing up nets in the nearby tree to catch the poor unsuspecting creatures. I’m not sure if he caught any but the BBQ was definitely sizzling and ready to go when we left to find a more conventional dinner.
4 – Beware of the Roads!
If you’ve gone careening down the Bolivian Death Road then you might feel right at home swerving and bouncing along the narrow roads of the Seychelles, otherwise you might want to be wary. Travelling with Irish friends one pointed out that the roads were no narrower than those in Ireland but the difference here is that if you pull over you won’t be crammed into a bush you’ll be tumbling down the rocky drops or deep trenches that line the roads! Buses frequently speed around the island but otherwise if you want to get around hiring a car is your best option – just be careful and watch for the dongas!
5 – It’s Not Cheap
Unless you stay somewhere like the stunning Four Seasons Hotel on Mahe island, travelling the Seychelles won’t break the bank but it’s certainly not the place to go if you are a budget traveller. We kept costs down by staying in a self-catering villa and cooking for ourselves but eating out could quickly rack up your costs. A simple curry dish you might expect to pay between £8-£10 for in the UK could be anywhere between £10-15 on the island. Even buying food from the shops will depend on availability as one day that delicious mango juice you bought for breakfast will be on the shelves and the next time not. The main place your spending money will be disappearing fast though is activities. We spent €150 per person for a trip to the neighbouring islands of Le Dique and Praslin. It was nice to explore different islands and have a break from chilling on beaches (I know, such a hard life) but it was not worth the money. However if you want to do it there is not many other options. Even getting the public ferry over will set you back for between €45-60.
6 – Seychelles Accept Euros
It’s a small point to make but always a handy thing to know. Seychelles have their own currency of Seychelle Rupees but you won’t be able to get hold of these in the UK. There are banks (even Barclays), ATMS and money exchange in Victoria town so it will be easy to get currency once you arrive but if you want a little cash to start you off then Euro is widely accepted and sometimes even preferred over Seychelle Rupee.
7 – Head to Beau Vallon Beach for Watersports
If sunbathing and reading on the beach isn’t enough for you there are plenty of watersports available too. We tried paddle boarding at the Four Seasons hotel, most of which will offer kayaking and paddle boarding but if you’re looking for a bit more head to Beau Vallon Beach on Mahe island. The prices are reasonable (for the Seychelles) and they offer wakeboarding too! Surfing is available as well but the Seychelles isn’t known for its waves so your surf costs may include a ride to a different beach.
8- Try Fresh Fish at the Markets
Near Beau Vallon Beach you’ll find the market. There are some souvineers but the main thing to go for is the food, the best of which being grilled fresh fish. Now I’m not a fish person (other than when I’m in the water myself) but this BBQ snack was delicious! If you’re not feeling fish then there are lots of fruit markets too where I had some tiny juicy mangos and mini sweet bananas. If it’s coconut your craving you’ll be sorted too, we spent half our holiday trying to figure out how to break into the tough husks before the cleaner at our villa showed us how to prize it open with the end of a pick axe before splitting the shell with the back of a cleaver. Don’t worry, the markets sell them ready cracked though!
9- Say Hello to the Local Giants
I thought I would be lucky to see one or two giant tortoises but turns out they are more common than I thought. There are plenty of places to see these lazy creatures stretching their necks and limbs out in the sun. We found some down at the Four Seasons resort on Mahe where they do feedings at 4pm you can join in with, at the botanical gardens in Victoria you can also get involved with a feeding and on La Digue there was a collection of tortoises whose age ranged between 25 to over 100 years old! Though I didn’t go myself I’ve heard there is an island called Curieuse where they roam totally free!
10 – A Final Word of Warning!
You won’t want to leave.