Five Things First Time Travellers To the Seychelles Should Know
- The official currency in the Seychelles is the Seychelles rupee. The island also accepts payments in Euro, US dollars and the British Pound. While most shops will give you a good exchange rate, you'll get the change in the local currency.
- There is a tipping culture in the Seychelles. Most restaurants will already include a 5-10% service charge, but you're more than welcome to tip extra for exceptional service.
- The three official languages spoken are Creole, French and English. You shouldn't have a problem communicating with the locals, and most signs will have an English translation.
- Respect the island's unique fauna and flora. Don't collect seashells, feed the local animals or pick any of the plants. You'll also need a certificate from a licensed retailer if you want to take home the famous Coco de Mer nut.
- The tap water is safe to drink. However, due to it being heavily chlorinated, locals and most visitors don't like the taste. If you want to buy bottled water, it's available from the shops and most hotels will have bottles for their guests.
Best Time To Visit the Seychelles
The best time to visit the Seychelles is from April to May and October to November. These two shoulder seasons see milder weather and are ideal for outdoor activities. Another plus to visiting during these months is that you'll avoid the high season crowds. This means you'll have a better chance finding cheap flights and many of the resorts will also reduce their rates.
Both shoulder seasons are also excellent for diving. There isn't much rain during this time of year, so visibility will be at its best for spotting the diverse marine life.
From July to August, the islands see their first big rush of the year. Travellers from Europe visit the Seychelles during their summer holidays driving up prices for hotels and flights. Another busy season to look out for is December to January. Many travellers from Africa arrive for their end of year holidays, and availability can sometimes be slim pickings.
For both high seasons, you'll need to book well in advance to ensure you miss the rush and get the best possible rates.
Seychelles Cities and Districts
Victoria is the small capital of the Seychelles. It's the country's only seaport and metropolis.
Named after Queen Victoria, the city's top attraction is the Seychelles National Botanical Gardens. It sprawls across 15 acres of land and is full of exotic plants, flying foxes and giant tortoises.
While very few colonial buildings remain, the most prominent is a clock tower. Built in 1903, it is a replica of the Little Ben found in London.
Another must-visit site is the Natural History Museum. It gives a wonderful overview of the Seychelles flora and fauna and displays a handful of historical artefacts.
Located in the south of Mahe, Anse Boileau is a sleepy Seychelles district. It's home to a small population of fisherman and has basic infrastructure such as grocery stores, restaurants and a police station.
While the water at the beach is too shallow for swimming, it's a great spot to witness daily Seychellois life in action. For intrepid explorers, the beach is also the start of the beautiful cross-island Chemin Montagne path.
Beau Vallon is one of the most popular spots to visit on Mahe. The bay is well-known for its excellent diving and snorkelling as well as it's luxurious hotels.
For foodies, Beau Vallon is a must-visit. It's home to a variety of restaurants, including the La Plage. Located right on the beach, it attracts hundreds of hungry travellers who want to sample its delicious Creole cuisine.
Top Attractions in the Seychelles
Ste Anne National Marine Park
In 1972, Ste Anne National Marine Park became the first national park in the Indian Ocean. Made up of six islands, its dazzling turquoise waters are perfect for snorkelling, scuba diving and glass-bottom boat tours.
Home to a large area of seagrass meadows, it's not uncommon to see the endangered green turtles feeding here. The Ste Anne Island is also an important nesting site for these creatures. If you time your visit right, you might even spot the hatchlings make their way into the ocean.
Other interesting places to explore in the park are Round Island and Moyenne Island. Both feature ruins from the early settlers, while the later is known for its pirate graves.
Vallee de Mai National Park
Vallee de Mai National Park is one of the most visited attractions in the Seychelles. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it's one of two places in the entire world where the endemic Coco de Mer palm trees grow.
Nature lovers can choose from three marked trails. Along the way, you'll walk past large prehistoric rocks and a lush forest that has remained untouched for the last 80 years.
Make sure you keep an eye out for rare birds. The Seychelles Bulbul and the critically endangered black parrot all call the valley home.
Curieuse Island is the second largest landmass in the Seychelles. Besides Praslin, it's the only other place in the world where the Coco de Mer grows naturally.
After invading Europeans burnt down much of the island in 1771, the island's giant tortoise population was wiped out. Luckily, the Seychelles government reintroduced the species and now runs a breeding program on the island.
Curieuse was also a leper colony until the early 1960s. Visitors can visit the old hospital which is a beautiful example of Creole colonial architecture. Today, it's a museum and a must-visit if you want to learn about the history and ecology of the island.
La Digue Island
La Digue Island is a haven for beach bums and outdoor sports enthusiasts.
It's home to some of the most iconic beaches, and with no airport, it's one of the more laid-back islands to visit. Instead of cars, you'll find oxcarts and bicycles used as the main modes of transport.
Hikers can enjoy the La Pass to Grand Anse Trail. It winds past French colonial houses, marshlands and ends on the picturesque Grand Anse beach. The more adventurous can try their hand at the island's various rock climbing routes or the pristine dive sites.
The Aldabra Atoll is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It boasts the world's largest raised coral atoll and is home to 200,000 giant tortoises.
Due to its remoteness, the tortoise population has managed to thrive. It's currently five times the size of their relatives in the Galapagos Islands.
The massive tidal lagoon is home to a plethora of marine life. If you go diving, keep an eye out for tiger sharks, manta rays, the coconut crabs and hammerhead sharks.
Other notable wildlife is the Aldabra rail, the only flightless bird in the Indian Ocean; one of only two existing oceanic flamingo populations and the critically endangered hawksbill turtles.
Major International Airports in the Seychelles
- Seychelles International Airport