Seychelles: All you need to know before you go!
September 4, 2019|In Africa, Mahe, Seychelles|By paraphernalia.coShare This
Seychelles, all you need to know before you go!
Welcome to our comprehensive guide to Seychelles.
Here, we share the region’s history & culture, Creole cuisine, national parks, indigenous wildlife, and island-hopping adventures. We’ve done the research so you don’t have to. Simply follow our Seychelles guide for all you need to know before you go.
Our answers to Frequently Asked Questions complete this guide, so be sure to refer to these at the end.
Table of Contents hide Seychelles, all you need to know before you go! Seychelles History Mahé Island, Seychelles #eat #drink Seychelles Rum #explore Art, Culture, Gardens & Markets Hiking Mahé, Seychelles Seychelles Island Hopping Tours and boat charter. Seychelles, Behind the Scenes Seychelles Economy Jj Spirit Foundation Sustainability #stay FAQs Was this guide helpful? Pin it for later.
You’ve seen the marketing. Clear turquoise water, white sandy beaches, swaying palm trees, and technicolour marine life. It looks like paradise, right? Well, that’s because it is!
Imagine eight hours of sunshine daily, an annual average temperature of twenty-seven degrees and sea temperatures twenty-five and above. The average monthly rainfall of 180 mm ensures a lush tropical playground, all year round.
Let’s begin by looking a little deeper at the Seychelles Islands and their history.
Located in the Indian Ocean on a trade route between Africa and Asia, the Seychelles islands were a transit point for Arab traders and the occasional pirate.
A recorded Seychelles Islands sighting by the Portuguese in the 1500s was followed by another in the 1600s by a British East India Company ship’s Captain.
Sightings aside, the Seychelles islands remained uninhabited until 1756 when the French laid claim with a Stone of Possession on Mahé.
When British warships arrived in 1794, the Seychelles French administrator, Jean Baptiste Quéau de Quincy, chose negotiation over resistance. The terms of surrender placed Seychelles settlers in a privileged neutral position allowing landowners to remain and continue life as they knew it, albeit under British rule.
Seychelles gained independence as a Commonwealth Republic in 1976.
Mahé Island, Seychelles
Often quoted as having 115 to 120 islands, the Seychelles Republic Constitution lists 155. The largest of these is Mahé.
Mahé’s population is around 95,000, representing almost 90% of Seychelles total, leaving a large number of islands uninhabited.
Home to Seychelles’ only international airport, Mahé also lays claim to the world’s smallest capital city, Victoria.
Although tiny, Victoria provides all you’ll need for entertainment during your stay. International airline offices and travel agencies, accommodation, restaurants, markets, galleries and museums. Island hopping is easy from Mahé as is driving the island.
Architecture is a mix of French colonial and Seychellois with large open balconies and louvred windows catching sea breezes. Steep thatched rooves capture rainwater and dry quickly.
Steep winding roads weave through the rainforested mountain-lined coast overlooking the town.
In Victoria, a Hindu temple and a mosque are surrounded by Christian churches. 90% of the population subscribe to a mix of Christian faiths, predominantly Roman Catholic.
Both Marine and National parks protect and conserve local wildlife. Giant Aldabra tortoises amble freely on uninhabited islands and enormous nuts from the Coco de Mer palm are found across the islands.
The highest point of Mahé Island is the Morne Seychellois with lower-lying dense rainforests covering the island.
It stands to reason that seafood dominates the Seychelles Creole and Cajun cuisine. Tuna, shellfish and snapper are barbecued, steamed in banana leaves and curried.
Famous is the Seychelles octopus curry. A red curry dominated by ginger and garlic gives the octopus an incredibly unctuous texture. The traditional spicy lobster curry with coconut is rich and totally moreish.
Whole red snapper is stuffed with garlic and ginger then grilled on the BBQ until the outer is so crisp, you can eat the fins, tail, and most of the head.
Snapper is also wrapped in a banana leaf, stuffed again with ginger and garlic then grilled slowly. Served in the leaf, the same ingredients provide a completely different flavour.
There is no shortage of tropical fruits. Mango, papaya, bananas, plantain, and jamalac, a fruit similar to an apple in texture and taste. Most of these are eaten ripe from the tree or green in salads and curries. Shredded green papaya with octopus curry is a particularly vivid memory.
Coconuts are a major staple along with rice. Coconut water, milk, oil, flesh and even the shell are used in Seychelles cuisine.
Where to find authentic Seychelles Cuisine.
Marie Antoinette Restaurant, Victoria Mahé.
Overlooking the Seychelles crystal waters and Victoria’s centre, Marie Antoinette Restaurant is perched on St Louis Hill shrouded by lush greenery.
Awarded National Monument status in 2007, the French colonial house has been lovingly restored and is the perfect location to tuck into some delicious Creole cuisine.
Using local organic ingredients to prepare authentic Seychellois comfort food, diners are presented with an array of speciality dishes.
Expect eggplant fritters, pickled green papaya salad, tuna steak, chicken curry, fish stew, grilled fish and more, all served with rice and intended to share.
Additional dishes may be added with prior notice; lobster, octopus, prawns, and, dare I say it, fruit bat.
Desserts are simple fruit salad, caramelised bananas, a selection of ice creams and sorbets, with the highlight being sweet coconut nougat.
Try to arrive with some daylight remaining to wander the herb, spice and flower garden. The already mentioned views are spectacular and if you can’t make it to Aldabra Atoll for the giant tortoises, there are a couple to greet you at Marie Antoinette.
Marie Antoinette Restaurant is open Mon-Sat 12:00 – 14:30 for Lunch and 18:30 for dinner (last orders 21:00)
Find Marie Antoinette Restaurant as you climb Revolution Road from the Clocktower roundabout in Victoria, Mahé.
Anse Soleil Restaurant, Anse Soleil, Mahé
Take a drive through Morne Seychelles National Park to the western side of Mahé and the pristine beach of Anse Soleil. Surrounded by lush vegetation dotted with coconut palms, this delightful cove is home to a wonderful dining surprise.
Anse Soleil Restaurant, built primarily by local stone and hardwood, is a permanent fixture right on the beach. Settled at your table on the open deck, the full view of lapping waves, coral reefs and typical Seychelles turquoise water is the perfect example of tropical island living.
Offering a menu of tuna steaks, octopus curry, pickled papaya, barbecued fish, and a whole lot more, Anse Soleil is well worth the journey.
Footwear is optional.
The British Navy introduced rum to Seychelles in the mid-1500s. Sugar cane was planted on Mahé in the 1800s, primarily to fill the gap between irregular shipments, but importantly, to produce the liquor locally.
Family post-meal digestive recipes, infusing rum with local herbs and spices, are still common today.
Throughout the Seychelles islands, pirate legends, many based on fact, conjure the image of wooden legs and the obligatory “ho ho ho and a bottle of rum”.
Here’s where you can find genuine Seychelles Rum and other local liquors.
Takamaka Rum distillery
At the historical French colonial estate, La Plaine St André on Mahè, the d’Offay family distils the Seychelles- centric Takamaka Rum.
On this 200-year-old property, a previous cinnamon and patchouli distillery, locally grown organic sugarcane from four Mahé regions is crushed onsite.
Fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled stills followed by distillation through 3 copper & 2 pot stills, and a rectifying column for purity.
Aged for up to 8 years in French and American oak, the barrels are then blended with aged rums, local spices and Seychelles spring water.
Visit La Plaine St André for tours of the estate and distillery, rum tastings, and plantation house restaurant. Reservations are recommended through their website.
St André Restaurant & Bar is open Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 – 22:00.
Guided garden and distillery tours followed by rum tasting cost SR 150 (approx €10) and take place 11:30 and 13:30 Monday to Friday.
La Buse, Seychelles
Renato Longobardi’s liquor production career began as a young man learning from monks at the Vatican. Falling in love with Seychelles, he settled on Mahé in 1993.
With a desire to highlight indigenous produce and capture the pristine nature of Seychelles in every bottle, he created a yeast and methanol-free product using a quality alcohol base that’s been distilled four times.
Dark, spiced and white rum are joined by flavours of the islands, coconut, cinnamon, cacao, lemongrass, vanilla, and mandarin.
Buy duty-free La Buse rum to take home at Seychelles International Airport.
Art, Culture, Gardens & Markets
Art and culture
African, French, Indian, and British influences blend in a distinct Seychelles culture.
Creole music’s drumbeats accompany violin and guitar; ‘Moutya’ is a native dance of the African slaves; ‘Sega’, a group performance where soloists improvise lyrics while the music’s tempo accelerates; and the French country style dancing or contredanse all make up multicultural Seychelles entertainment.
Island life’s colours and clarity are replicated through paintings, often on silk. Coconut shells and the enormous coco de mer nut are decorated and sculpted for souvenirs and Objet d’art.
In particular, Tom Bower’s work replicates the female form using the coco de mer nut.
To see his work, visit Tom Bower Studios at Anse a la Mouche, West Mahé, approximately 20 kilometres from Victoria.
Victoria Market Mahé, Seychelles
There’s no better place than a market for a window into the recipes of local cuisine. Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clark Market or simply Victoria Market is no exception.
In the heart of Victoria, this market may be small but the variety of produce packs a punch.
Seasonal fruit, vegetables, and seafood are seized early by chefs for their daily menus.
Island spices, bright printed sarongs and shirts, and decorated coconut bowls make wonderful gifts for loved ones or yourself.
Open daily from 05:00 (04:00 Sundays only) and closing at 17:00, it’s most lively before midday.
Victoria Botanical Gardens
On the outskirts of Victoria at Mont Fleuri, sits Victoria Botanical Gardens. The two-hectare grounds were established in 1901 primarily for indigenous plant conservation. While many of the spice, fruit and flowering plants are found growing on the Seychelles Islands, some are only seen here in the gardens.
Mature trees and palms surround meandering walkways where fruit bat colonies can be observed nesting.
Environmental education and eco-tourism are at the forefront of the Victoria Botanical Gardens’ mission. The orchid house containing spectacular native orchids is a must-visit and you’ll meet Aldabra tortoises, some over 150 years old.
Open daily 08:00 – 17:00. Entrance fee SCR 100 (Approx €5)
Le Jardin De Roi – Spice Garden
On Mahé’s south-east coast, overlooking the beautiful cove of Anse Royale, visit Le Jardin du Roi – Spice Garden. This 35-hectare property dates back to the French colonial spice trade and features natural rain forest, orchards, and, of course, spices.
A guided (24-hour advance reservation) or self-guided nature walk through hibiscus, ginger, citronella, vanilla and nutmeg primes you for the flavours at the garden café.
Choose à la carte daily or Sunday’s special ‘plantation lunch’ and you’ll experience the garden’s spices traditionally prepared.
Open daily 10:00 – 17:30. Entrance fee €8.00.
Hiking Mahé, Seychelles
The forty square kilometres of Morne Seychelles National Park on Mahé covers about 20% of the island.
The National Park is home to nine hiking trails ranging in difficulty and distance. The trails meander through indigenous plantlife (some carnivorous!), they’re filled with native birdlife, and some open up to spectacular views north, east and west.
Be prepared and pack sunscreen and a sunhat, wear comfortable shoes, and don’t forget your camera.
Les Trois Frères Nature Path
Likely the most popular of the trails, Les Trois Frères, is just 800 metres long and classified easy. Not a flat trail, the height variation of 200 metres keeps it interesting and it’s this trail where carnivorous plant life exists.
Along the way, you’ll reach a small hut and it’s here where Instagrammers catch spectacular views of Victoria and the outlying islands. The path steepens from this point and 30 minutes later you’ll find the sign to Le Niol. Turn right and follow the narrow path for amazing views.
Allow a bit over an hour for this hike.
To get there, follow Sans Souci Road from central Victoria as it climbs to Forestry Station. Walk up the branch road on your right and look carefully for “Trois Frères” on a wooden signpost.
Casse Dent Nature Path
For more enthusiastic hikers, make a day of it and take on Casse Dent. This is a full-day hike of about 7 hours, return. Two-ish hours in should find you at an opening with magnificent views of the island’s west coast.
You’ll pass an old settlement and distillery in ruins before reaching a small waterfall for a well-earned dip. The path separates and rejoins allowing a different route there and back.
Take Sans Souci Road to Port Glaud or Port Launay. On reaching Mission Lodge, keep an eye out for the Casse Dent signpost 400 metres further on.
If you’re using public transport, take the Port Launay via Sans Souci bus #14 from Victoria. The bus stop is very close to the signpost.
Anse Major Nature Path
This coastal path takes in the island’s north before reaching Anse Major on the west coast. A mostly open path, there’s very little protection from the sun but ample open sea views.
The 2 km path is not difficult unless attempted under the midday sun. Cooling off at the lovely Anse Major beach is your reward.
To start, head to Danzil bus terminus by car or aboard Bel Ombre bus #21 from Victoria.
Refer to this map for all 9 Morne Seychelles National Park nature paths.
Seychelles Island Hopping
With all Mahé has to offer, you’d be forgiven for planning an entire stay there, however, with so many other beautiful islands just a boat ride away, it would be a shame not to explore.
45km north-east of Mahé, Praslin measures just under forty square kilometres. Driving Praslin can be achieved in around 2 hours.
On Praslin, visit Vallée de Mai, the UNESCO protected nature reserve. Once referred to as the original Garden of Eden, this primeval forest has six species of palm found nowhere else in the world.
It’s here where the Coco de Mer palm grows. Male and female palms compare startlingly to human anatomy, with females producing the world’s heaviest nuts.
This protected area’s entrance fee is Rs 300 (approx. €20.00)
Beaches on Praslin are pristine with two being particularly picturesque, Anse Lazio and Anse Georgette. Anse Lazio’s undertow can be a trap for the inexperienced. Check with locals for safe swimming and snorkelling areas.
Accommodation on Praslin is varied offering visitors plenty of choice for all budgets.
Check our FAQs for details on Inter-Island Fast Ferry bookings between Mahé, Praslin and La Digue.
Although La Digue is 50 kilometres from Mahé, it’s only 15 minutes from Praslin using the Inter-Island Fast Ferry. The inter-island ferry connects the three islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue daily.
Aldabra tortoises are found on Union Estate on La Digue. Far from their original home on the Aldabra Atoll, they do seem to have made themselves very comfortable. Wander through vanilla and cinnamon plantations or observe coconut oil manufacturing first hand.
Traditional boat building methods are practised on La Digue and, while it’s not unusual to see locals travelling by ox-cart, cycling is a great way to explore this 10 square kilometre island.
Twitchers will be excited to spot the black paradise flycatcher (extremely rare), a couple of rare species of terrapin, the Chinese bittern, cave swiftlet, and waxbill.
La Digue’s main attraction is Source d’ Argent. A beach with massive granite rocks changing colour with the sun’s position.
Waters here are shallow so be prepared and wear rubber-soled shoes or thongs (flip flops) to carefully walk between the coral for glimpses of the large octopus living amongst the rocks.
Although La Digue is a much smaller island, accommodation is still available for all budgets.
Check our FAQs for details on Inter-Island Fast Ferry bookings between Mahé, Praslin and La Digue.
Just 4 kilometres off the coast of Mahé, Cerf Island is the perfect day trip. This 116-hectare island joins Longue, Ronde, Moyenne, Seche, and Ste Anne Islands to constitute the St Anne Marine National Park.
Excellent snorkelling and diving with exquisite beaches, Cerf Island is home to Aldabra tortoises and flying foxes. Lush coconut groves and tropical vegetation complete this idyllic island paradise.
A high standard of accommodation in three hotels offer daily shuttles between Cerf and Mahé.
Day trips are arranged through tours.
Tours and boat charter.
No matter where you stay on Mahé, you won’t be far from a marina which means accessing tours or chartering private and skippered boats is easy.
From scheduled itineraries to customised charters, many companies offer PADI instructed dive courses. Snorkelling equipment, stand up paddleboards, and kayaks are other inclusions.
Silhouette Cruises – Victoria
Coming highly recommended is the 6-vessel fleet of Silhouette Cruises. With 2 schooners, 2 yachts and 2 motor vessels, Sillhouette Cruises boast the only team to have visited every Seychelles island. Find out more by visiting their website.
Seyscapes Yacht Charter – Victoria
Look to Seyscapes Yacht Charter for customised line fishing charters and special occasion day trips. Sunset cruises, multi-day itineraries, and 30 passenger party cruises can be arranged with full board and any personal additions.
Seyscapes vessels are luxurious and prices reflect, but what a magnificent way to see the islands. See if Seyscapes meet your budget here.
Island Hopper Glass Bottom Boat – Victoria
For those not wishing to swim with marine life, you can still observe through a glass-bottom boat tour. Snorkelling equipment is provided if you change your mind, and tours focus on St Anne Marine Park, where turtles, rays, parrotfish, an abundance of coral and seagrasses sweep by beneath you.
There are a number of Glass Bottom Boat tours from Victoria. Do your research and I’m sure you’ll come back to Island Hopper for value and the experience offered.
Visit Island Hopper Glass Bottom Boat’s Facebook page for further information and message them with any enquiries. They typically reply within a couple of hours.
Eden Island Marina
Eden Island Marina is vast and continuing to grow. With more than ten different companies offering everything from day trips, sunset cruises, island hopping, fishing, and diving tours, Eden Island is a one-stop-shop to compare value for your needs.
Sleek yachts, designer catamarans, impressive powerboats, and more are on offer to suit your needs. Accommodating 2 to 12 or more, some are licensed for events of 30 passengers.
Taking a wander around Eden Island’s Boardwalk will present many of these companies with the boats moored outside their door.
Seychelles, Behind the Scenes
Through French and then British rule, agriculture was the main economy of Seychelles. Cinnamon, coconut, sugarcane, vanilla, and tea plantations provided the island’s exports.
Since Seychelles independence, the tourism industry has prospered. While representing almost 75% of the region’s economy, the butterfly effect of the Gulf War hit the tourism industry hard encouraging the government to develop a small manufacturing industry.
Surrounded by the ocean, fishing was a natural choice. Tuna became the fish du jour to be packaged and exported.
Although tourism still represents seventy-odd per cent of the region’s economy, it’s backed up by a sustainable tuna industry.
Jj Spirit Foundation
For some, island life is not all cocktails and sunsets. Local youth with lower socioeconomic backgrounds often miss out on tertiary, even secondary, education reducing opportunities and facing continued hardship.
A group of Seychelles youth saw an answer to this endemic problem and approached the Republic of Seychelles President, James Michel, with their ideas.
Impressed by the group’s ambition, the President had them return with a business proposal and Jj Spirit Foundation was born.
The President, as the patron, supports the foundation’s housing, education, medical, and financial assistance programs. The community is particularly proud of the foundation’s “make a wish come true” for the terminally ill and assistance for the disabled.
As Jj Spirit Foundation expanded, construction of its own building, “Espace”, was completed in 2014. Inside, a library, research centre, and internet café provide space and resources to study for exams, prepare presentations and create CVs.
Not forgetting the arts, Jj Spirit Foundation launched the popular TV program, “Seychelles Has Got Talent” initiating singing, dancing and writing careers.
Jj Spirit Foundation volunteers are trained in addiction counselling and participate in programs at the Wellness Centre in Mahé.
Heroin addiction is prevalent through the Seychelles islands and a complete detox program including medication and other therapies is under development.
With pristine beaches, clear water and exceptional natural beauty, Seychelles is a coveted tourist destination. With tourism as the economy’s main contributor, maintaining the natural beauty and overcrowding is of grave concern.
The Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label displayed by hotels assures peace of mind you’re staying at a “green” hotel.
An assessment of outlying islands’ capacity places limits on tourism numbers the islands can comfortably serve.
Single-use plastic, as with the rest of the world, is the Seychelles fiercest enemy. Beaches in Seychelles are gradually reaching White Flag status and proudly plastic-free.
Naturally, great importance is placed on the sustainability of the tuna export industry balancing the Seychelles economy.
Resorts, retreats, 5-star hotels, and beach bungalows are all available in Seychelles.
Eden Bleu Hotel
Overlooking Eden Island Marina, Eden Bleu Hotel is affiliated with Eden Bleu Marina Residences and Villas, offering a broad range of accommodation options and facilities.
Occupants at Residences and Villas have access to 4 small beaches, while the hotel features a luxurious infinity pool.
Adjacent to Eden Island Marina Mall with restaurants, bars, banks, spas, and a supermarket, Eden Bleu is definitely worth considering when choosing your Seychelles accommodation.
Five minutes drive will have you in Victoria and the airport is just ten minutes in the opposite direction.
The Station Retreat Hotel, Seychelles
Think retreat rather than a hotel when considering The Station. High on Sans Souci Road with magnificent views over Victoria and the outlying islands, The Station focuses on wellbeing.
Yoga is practised daily. Homeopathy, massage, reiki, and natural remedies are all in the mix.
Relax and unwind at the private pool or in the restaurant & bar with views opening to the sea.
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Below you’ll find answers to some Frequently Asked Questions to help plan your Seychelles adventure. Please ask any additional questions in the comments below in case we haven’t covered them here.
How do I travel to Seychelles?
Seychelles introduced an open-air policy about ten years ago making access easy from most parts of the world. All international flights arrive at Seychelles International Airport, Mahé.
From Europe, fly direct with British Airways, Condor, Austrian Airline and Edelweiss.
Africa is serviced by Air Seychelles and Kenya Airways and direct flights arrive from Colombo, Sri Lanka on Sri Lankan Airline.
Seychelles can be reached via a broad network of transiting flights with Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, Ethiopian, Turkish, and Kenya Airlines.
How do I travel to Seychelles Islands?
Seychelles domestic terminal is just a short walk from the international terminal. Forty flights per day are scheduled between Mahé and Praslin, home to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Vallée de Mai.
Chartered island-hopping flights can be arranged through Air Seychelles or Zil Air. Zil Air is a private helicopter service offering luxury transfers and excursions.
Cat Coco and Inter-Island Ferry Service offer daily ferry services between Mahé, Praslin and La Digue departing from the inter-island ferry port in Victoria, Mahé.
How do I get around Mahé, Seychelles?
Get around Mahé either by public bus or by rental car. Taxi prices on the island are high and a rental car is far more cost-effective.
We can recommend using Sunshine Cars rental service. They’ll bring the car to your accommodation and collect it when you’re done. All admin is completed when they drop off. For more information, check this site or email email@example.com.
When driving in Seychelles, stick to the left.
When is the best time to visit Seychelles?
The perfect time to visit Seychelles is from May to September when rainfall and humidity are low.
High rainfall from October to February and the trade winds from November to March deter visitors.
Visiting outside of high season does have its advantages though, fewer tourists and accommodation deals being two very good reasons.
Seychelles weather is actually pretty hard to beat. With average day time temperatures rarely dropping below 24/25C and water temperature around the same, Seychelles is close to being an all-year-round paradise.
What currency should I use in Seychelles?
Seychelles Rupee is the country’s currency but euros are accepted almost everywhere. Price tags show euros, accommodation is quoted in euros, in almost every transaction euros can be used. The only exception may be when shopping in the local market.
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