If paradise had a name, it would be Seychelles. For those planning to visit Seychelles, here is my detailed Seychelles travel guide.
Few places have beaches as pristine and picture perfect as Seychelles, and even fewer have done such a great job at preserving its wildlife, jungles and castaway islands. In Seychelles, exquisite beaches abound, backed by lush hills, swaying palm trees and larger-than-life boulders. Centuries-old giant tortoises roam freely, while elegant birds fly overhead.
Seychelles offers the modern-day Robinson Crusoe experience that many dream of. Having just returned from an amazing Seychelles trip, I’m still in a dreamy state of mind and swaying to the beat of island life.
Seychelles Travel Guide
How to Visit Seychelles
But a Seychelles trip comes with a hefty price tag. It is after all a playground for honeymooners, celebrities and billionaires. Some of the most famous visitors include Prince William and Kate Middleton who honeymooned on the North Island of Seychelles.
It is impossible to visit Seychelles on a backpacker’s budget. But you CAN plan your Seychelles itinerary wisely and choose cheaper accommodation to cut cost down to $80 – $150 per day. In this Seychelles travel guide, I will share how we planned an affordable Seychelles trip and how you can too.
Where are the Seychelles?
Located off East Africa, Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands scattered across the Indian Ocean. Seychelles is home to some of the world’s most remote islands. Many of the islands are uninhabited — some are protected nature serves, while others are home to endemic species like the giant Aldabra tortoises.
Life in Seychelles is very quiet and simple. If you’re looking for all-inclusive resorts, bustling nightlife and a vibrant atmosphere, Seychelles is not for you. For those who enjoy simple island life and a remote middle-of-nowhere sensation, then this is paradise.
People and Language of Seychelles
The official languages of Seychelles are Seselwa, English and French. Seselwa is a French-based creole language, the most commonly spoken language in Seychelles. The country was a British colony for over a century and a half, and English remains the main language in government and business.
The Seychellois people are a mix of African, European, Indian and Chinese descent. And this is reflected in the Seychellois cuisine (scroll down to read more about food).
How Much Does it Cost to Visit Seychelles?
Like I mentioned, Seychelles is an expensive destination, with prices rivaling that of Netherlands (where I live). Accommodation in Seychelles in particular are pricey, with even low quality guesthouses going for $80/night.
The high prices are due to several factors: tourism is controlled to protect the pristine nature of the islands. It’s also a remote island nation and most things need to be imported. But the country has developed economically and has the highest GDP per capita in Africa.
Here is a breakdown of prices in Seychelles (per person):
- Flights to Seychelles — return flights from the US start from $1000
- Ferries in Seychelles — trips go from $15-50 each way
- Hotels in Seychelles — rates for self-catering apartments start from $100/night
- Restaurants in Seychelles — $30-50 for a normal restaurant dinner
- Day tours in Seychelles — a snorkeling trip costs around $100
How to Find Affordable Seychelles Flights
I found an amazing deal online: Amsterdam – Nairobi – Seychelles and return for just under €600 ($670). I learned about the airfare promo on Fly4Free and booked it almost 8 months before our trip.
A quick search shows that flights from New York to Mahe Island, Seychelles, are around $1000 return. Flights from Los Angeles to Mahe are around US$1200 return.
To save on your airfare to Seychelles, I recommend traveling during shoulder season (more details on next section) and flying weekdays instead of weekends.
Best Time to Visit Seychelles
Peak season in Seychelles is during the school holidays, from December to January and from June to August. This is when the prices are higher and you’ll need to book well in advance.
The best time to visit Seychelles is in April and October, when the weather is at its best and prices are lower. We traveled in December (because of our kid’s school schedule) and it was pretty windy but still warm and sunny most of the time.
Rainy season is from January to February, but downpours are usually short. So if you don’t mind risking a shower you can save money on flights and accommodation costs.
How Much Time to Travel Seychelles?
We spent 10 days in Seychelles, and it was perfect amount of time to explore the three most inhabited islands (Mahe, Praslin and La Digue) at a relaxing pace.
You can do the same Seychelles itinerary in 7 days, by reducing a day on each island. It’s absolutely doable as ferries are fast and regular. If you’re tight on time and wonder what is the best island to stay in Seychelles, check out my guide on where to stay in Seychelles.
Most people do the same on their Seychelles trip and explore only the three main islands. If you have more time, I suggest adding Silhouette island to your itinerary. It’s the third largest island in Seychelles but largely inhabited. You can also do day trips to Cousine, Curieuse and St Pierre islands from Praslin.
Our 10-day Seychelles itinerary
- Days 1-3: Mahe island
- Days 4-6: Praslin island
- Days 7-10: La Digue island
*For more details, check out my detailed Seychelles itinerary.
14-day Seychelles itinerary
- Days 1-3: Mahe island
- Days 4-6: Silhouette island
- Days 7-10: Praslin island
- Day 8: Day Trip to Curieuse island
- Day 9: Day Trip to Cousin and St Pierre islands
- Days 10-14: La Digue island
How to Travel around Seychelles
It’s possible to fly between Mahe and Praslin on Air Seychelles, reducing the travel time from 1hr to 15 mins. This might be a good option for those who get seasick easily (ferries can be bumpy) and don’t mind spending more on transport.
A return flight from Mahe to Praslin costs around $150. The planes are usually small, with capacity for 19 passengers.
The most common way to get from one Seychelles island to another is on high-speed ferry. Ferries are comfortable, air-conditioned and punctual. Ferry prices are standard, but Cat Cocos is the most popular ferry service. It offers transportation between Mahe, Praslin, and La Digue.
Note that the ferry ride can be bumpy, depending on the wind and weather conditions. We had a pretty rough journey where many people were sick and vomiting around us (thankfully not us!). But the other two ferry rides were calm and smooth sailing.
Ferry ticket prices are as follow (per person):
- Mahe – Praslin (1 hour): $60
- Praslin – La Digue (15 minutes): $15
- Mahe – La Digue (1.5 hours): $67
If you wish to visit the 3 Seychelles islands, expect to pay $150 in total for a loop. We booked our ferry tickets on Viator as their customer service has always been great. Plus it’s free to cancel up to 2 days before the trip.
By Car Rental
On Mahe and Praslin islands, the best way to get around is by hiring a car. Taxis are expensive (eg. it cost $20 to go from Mahe Airport to a hotel just a 8-minute drive away). Car hire generally costs around US$45-60 a day. Petrol cost us around US$40 for four days of driving.
We booked our car hire on Discover Cars, which has consistently given us the best prices for car rentals. Most hotels and apartments will also help you arrange car rental, but at a higher price. You don’t need an international drivers license to drive here, just your license from home.
You won’t be able to do anything without a car, so trust me, hire a car. Most cars are compact automatic cars, which makes it easy to navigate the narrow roads of Seychelles. The islands are small and there are not that many roads.
By Public Bus
Mahe and Praslin have bus networks that traverse the islands. You’ll notice bus stops practically every few hundred feet. A single bus journey only costs 5-7 rupees ($0.50).
But these buses can be slow and don’t have air-conditioned. Most of them run every 30 minutes, so you’ll need to time your journey properly.
If you don’t want to rent a car and prefer the bus, I recommend booking an airport transfer to your hotel for the start/end of your trip.
La Digue island is so small that most people get around by bike. There are very few vehicles and it’s easy to ride. They even have baby seats for the bikes, and kids’ bikes small enough for 4/5-year-olds. The only option is golf buggy and those cost around $15 for a short 10-minute ride.
Bike rental generally cost around $8 per day. We rented our bikes from a hustler right by the pier upon arrival, which was cheaper than renting at the hotel. But be warned that they might not be reliable.
Apparently bikes on La Digue break down or get stolen/taken often (but the owners usually find them easily). Our bike got stolen and we couldn’t find the guy we rented it from. We ended up renting a new bike and paying for our own transfer to the port.
Where to Stay in Seychelles
Most people who visit Seychelles only focus on the three most-inhabited islands. We stayed on all three islands and drove/rode on almost every road on the islands. I wouldn’t skip any of the 3 islands as each of them has something distinctive.
Self-catering apartments are common in Seychelles and they’re great for families and budget-conscious couples. The average price is still $100/night, but they are cheaper than hotels and are fully equipped with cooking facilities. We bought food from the supermarket and cooked almsot every night to save money.
As the biggest island in Seychelles, Mahe is home to the country’s capital Victoria and around 86% of Seychelles’ population. It’s also where the international airport is located.
The best beaches are on the west coast, and I recommend staying in the southwestern area where there’s least development. Beau Vallon is the main tourist town with most hotels concentrated there. We stayed at Seaside Self Catering and absolutely loved our studio apartment. The lady who runs it is amazing and even bought our daughter a Christmas present!
The second biggest island, Praslin, is the best place to see Seychelles’ endemic coco de mer palm and giant Aldabra tortoises. An hour’s ferry ride away from Mahe, the island is small but packs in a punch when it comes to natural sights.
Again the west coast is less built up and I recommend staying along Grand Anse, a quieter stretch of beach. Cote D’Or on the east coast is the main tourist town and where there are most activities.
La Digue Island
La Digue is without a doubt my favorite island that we visited. Despite being just a 15-minute ferry journey from Praslin, the vast majority of it is untouched by development. La Digue is small enough to cycle all over — there are only a handful of vehicles on the island. There aren’t big scale hotels, only small guesthouses and local restaurants.
I recommend staying on the northern end, which is quieter than the built up area around the jetty (called La Passe). We enjoyed our stay at Patatran Hotel but it was definitely overpriced. The most famous beaches, Grand Anse and Anse Source d’Argent are on the southern end.
- Le Domaine de L’Orangeraie Resort and Spa
- Le Nautique Waterfront Hotel La Digue
- Le Relax Luxury Lodge
Things to Do in Seychelles
Explore the Famous Anse Source d’Argent Beach (La Digue)
Famed for being one of the most photographed beaches on the planet, Anse Source d’Argent is definitely the poster child of Seychelles. It is not just one single beach, but rather a series of coves and beaches framed by giant million-year-old boulders and craning coconut palms. You can’t visit Seychelles without coming here.
It’s immensely fun to walk beneath the craning palms and climb over boulders to find one cove after another. Anse Source d’Argent is privately owned byL’Union Estate, so you’ll need to pay a fee ($15 for a day) to enter. There are restaurants and coconut shacks in the estate, plus art gallery and a giant tortoise pen.
Go on a Glass Kayak Tour (La Digue)
This was by far my favorite experience on our whole Seychelles trip. The glass kayak tour with Crystal Waters Kayak only cost us $38 each ($30 for kids), and we had an absolute blast.
The fun and outgoing guide brought us out to a few points to see coral reefs and manta rays. Then we paddled along Anse Source d’Argent before visiting 3 remote beaches only accessible by the ocean. One of them was the film setting for the 1988 Robinson Crusoe movie, and another had an amazing natural pool perfect for a sunset dip.
The 3-hour tour (ours ran to 4.5 hours) was educational and adventurous, and I highly recommend it to those seeking some active fun. Book online here or through WhatsApp: +248 2747457.
Snorkel off Anse Banane (La Digue)
This wonderfully scenic beach of salt-white sand features shallow water and a lively marine life. It’s great for snorkeling when the tide is up.
There are many other beaches on the northeastern coast, but what sets it apart from others is the beachfront shade offered by casuarina trees. It’s a great place to flop, especially after a meal or beer at the fantastic Chez Jules beachfront restaurant (which serves good food and also has giant tortoise!).
Ride the Waves at Grand Anse (La Digue)
On the southeast coast is La Digue’s longest beach, Grand Anse. It’s ridiculously spectacular, though the bicycle ride there is quite steep. Swimming can be dangerous because of the strong offshore currents, and apart from a massive casuarina tree, there’s not much shade. Walk a few hundred meters to the left of Grand Anse and you’ll find yourself in the quieter Petit Anse, accessible only by foot.
Visit the Veuve Nature Reserve (La Digue)
La Digue is one of the last refuges of the black paradise flycatcher, which locals call the veuve (widow). Veuve Nature Reserve, which has been set aside to protect its natural habitat, is said to shelter over a dozen pairs.
There are several walking trails punctuated with interpretive panels about flora. We did see a few paradise flycatcher (but didn’t get to snap photos).
Hike in Vallée de Mai amidst Coco de Mer Palms (Praslin)
The World Heritage site, Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, is one of only two places in the world where the rare coco de mer palm grows in its natural state (the other being nearby Curieuse Island). It’s also a birding hotspot: watch for the endemic Seychelles bulbul, the lovely blue pigeon, the Seychelles warbler and the endangered black parrot. It’s a real slice of Eden.
There are free guided visits at 9am and 2pm, but we recommend taking a private guide for a 1½- to two-hour guided walk (Rs 1000 per group) through the forest – you’ll miss so much if you go it alone.
See the Giant Aldabra Tortoises on Curieuse Island (near Praslin)
This is one thing we didn’t do as we didn’t feel that we had enough time. But if you have more than 10 days, I definitely recommend doing a day trip to Curieuse island from Praslin.
Curieuse island is a breeding centre for giant Aldabra tortoises. The wardens show visitors around the pens, after which you’re free to explore the rest of the island. You can only visit on an organised boat excursion to the island; the entry fee to the farm is included in that price.
*TIP: You’ll also see quite a few giant tortoises on La Digue (particularly the northern end). They roam freely, but they are owned by the hotels/farms.
Chill at the Scenic Anse Lazio (Praslin)
Anse Lazio, on the northwest tip of the island, often shows up on lists of the world’s most beautiful beaches. The long beach has clear indigo waters with great waves, a thick fringe of palm and takamaka trees, and granite boulders at each extremity.
Go Hiking in Morne Seychellois National Park (Mahe)
In the lush interior of Mahe island lies the Morne Seychellois National Park, home to a series of peaks including the tallest Morne Seychellois mountain (at 2969 ft or 905m).
Take a guided hike through dense forest, coastal mangroves and rugged mountains and you’ll soon find Seychelles is more than just beaches. There are a few hiking trails that lead to waterfalls — with the shortest being the hike to Port Glaud waterfall (even our toddler could do).
Eat at the Night Market in Beau Vallon (Mahe)
Beau Vallon is the main tourist town on the island, and possibly the only spot where you can rent a beach bed (for $23 for a day). I heard that it’s a great spot for swimming, but when we were there, the waves were extremely strong (common from June to Nov).
Every Wednesday evening, there’s a street food market at Beau Vallon that serves up grilled seafood, curry and rice, and cocktails. We missed the market, but we actually found a few street food stands on a Monday afternoon. This is definitely a great spot to try local seafood.
Wander around the Capital City of Victoria (Mahe)
Lauded as one of the world’s smallest capitals, Victoria is a small city dotted with lots of greenery and backed by towering granite mountains. It’s easy to explore on foot in a day.
Some of the interesting sights include the newly revamped National History Museum, the clock tower that was built as a replica of London’s Big Ben, the Cathedral, and Hindu Temple. Also worth visiting is the Botanical Gardens, where you’ll find the famous coco de mer palms and giant Aldabra tortoises.
Visit the Local Market in Victoria (Mahe)
Victoria is nowhere as chaotic as the capital cities in nearby Mauritius or Madagascar, but it’s got a lively atmosphere compared to the rest of the island. The best place to soak it all in is at the Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market. The covered market has everything from fresh seafood (including giant crabs and parrotfish) to exotic spices and traditional paintings.
Day Tours in Seychelles
Beyond the three islands, there are many small Seychelles islands worth visiting on day tours. Many of them like Curieuse island are nature reserves. You can ONLY visited them on organized day tours (you cannot stay overnight), so it’s worthwhile checking out the following trips:
- Curieuse and St Pierre Islands Snorkeling Trip
- Boat Trip to Cousine, Curieuse and St Pierre Islands
- St Anne Marine Park and Moyenne Island Day Tour
- Mahe Island Adventure on a Quad Bike
- Day Trip to Praslin and La Digue from Mahe
What to Eat in Seychelles
Seychellois cuisine, as you can imagine, is centered on fish. Because of its history, the food in Seychelles is influenced by African, French, Indian and Chinese flavors.
Staple foods include seafood and fish dishes, often accompanied with rice. Curry dishes with rice are also a significant aspect of the country’s cuisine.
Traditional Seychellois Food Worth Trying
- Grilled fish — an entire fish cooked on the barbecue
- Goat curry with rice — mild curry made with tender goat chunks, coconut and lots of spices
- All kinds of curry — fish curry, octopus curry, the list goes on…
- Lentils — these are often served with curry and rice
- Fish stew — fish chunks cooked in a flavorful tomato-based sauce
- Ladob — ripe plantain and sweet potatoes (but may also include cassava or breadfruit)
- Shark chutney — finely mashed boiled skinned shark cooked with squeezed bilimbi juice and lime
- Seafood gratin — a French-influenced dish with small seafood chunks baked with melted cheese and cream sauce
Where to Eat in Seychelles
Restaurant meals are expensive in Seychelles — expect to spend around $30-50 per person in a standard restaurant. Most menus have main courses for 300-500 Rupees ($21-36) and cocktails for 150-200 Rupees ($10-15).
Fortunately, there are quite a lot of takeaways where you can choose from ready-made Seychellois food. These usually cost just 50 to 80 rupees ($4-6) and I’ve found them to be consistently good! We also saved money by buying groceries at one of the many Indian-run mini markets. A bag of pasta, can of tuna and tomato sauce cost us around $3.
My Recommended Restaurants in Mahe
- Del Place Bar & Restaurant (pictured) — A high end restaurant with excellent views of the surrounding islets
- Chez Batista — A fixture in the dining scene with good curries
- Marie Antoinette — A famous Seychellois restaurant housed in a colonial building
- Crazy Taste — A simple joint with cheap, traditional dishes and fast food
My Recommended Restaurants in Praslin
- Pirogue Restaurante — Decent prices and excellent food on Cote D’Or beach
- Cafe des Arts (pictured) — A fancy, reputable place to celebrate a special occasion
- Village Take Away — Delicious comfort food at low prices
My Recommended Restaurants in La Digue
- Fish Trap (pictured) — The most upscale restaurant on La Digue with excellent views
- Chez Jules — A wooden shack restaurant with delicious food, cool vibes and a giant tortoise
- Old Pier Cafe — Located inside L’Union Estate with French dishes and beachfront location
- Bikini Bottom — This beachside drink shack is the best place to watch sunset (only serves healthy juices and shakes)
What to Pack for Seychelles
You’ll be spending most of your time in the sea, so definitely get lots of sun-proof gear before you go. I recommend bringing sun-proof swim shirts that can protect your skin while snorkeling. KEEN footwear or normal sandals are also really useful to walk on beaches strewn with seashells or corals, especially on La Digue.
Snorkel mask and fins will come in useful as we didn’t find many places that rent them. We were glad we brought our snorkel masks so we could use them everywhere we went.
Packing List for Seychelles
- SPF 70 Sunscreen
- Mosquito repellent with DEET
- Snorkel mask and fins
- UPF50+ rash guard swim shirt
- Dry bag for snorkeling/kayaking
- Quick-dry towels
- Sun hat that covers the neck
- KEEN covered sandals
- SteriPen to sterilize water
- Dramamine for motion sickness
- GoPro Hero 7 for waterproof photos/videos!
- Quick-dry t-shirts for the hot weather
Practical Tips for Travel to Seychelles
- The water conditions during ferry rides can be rough, remember to bring motion sickness medication. Many people got sick on our ferry (the ferry provides sick bags but not medication).
- Exchange money at the airport or withdraw cash as credit cards not accepted everywhere.
- Some self-catering apartments only accept cash (even if you’d booked online) so be sure to check and prepare beforehand.
- If you’re allergic to seafood, be sure to let the restaurant know as seafood is everywhere here.
- Be prepared for slow WiFi especially in La Digue. Leave your laptop behind and try to unplug. After all, how many times are you going to visit Seychelles, a rare paradise???
- Please do not touch any marine animals that you see. Also make sure you don’t kick or touch the corals when snorkeling. Do NOT even think of bringing home a coral or anything you find on the islands.
- There are lots of animals everywhere, including green lizards, crabs and rare birds. Be conscious and let them have their space and freedom to roam.
Regardless, a trip to Seychelles is a dream come true for beach bums and active travelers who love underwater adventures. I hope you’ve found this Seychelles travel guide to be useful, especially those who plan to visit Seychelles on a budget. Leave a comment below if you have any questions!
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