Seychelles is a cluster of charming islands found in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, off East Africa. While it’s true that the archipelago serves as a tropical, luxury honeymoon hotspot, this island nation also proves that it’s much more than that with its gorgeous landscapes, abundant nature, and rich culture. The waters here show off a sensational spectrum of blues, greens and everything in between. You’ll often find yourself reluctant to get out of the water and leave the beach.
Seychelles is made up of two main groups of over 100 islands in the western Indian Ocean. Its closest neighbors are Kenya, around 1600 kilometers to the west, and Madagascar, which lies about 1100 kilometers south. The inner group of around 40 islands are rocky and mountainous. The second group of outer islands are low-lying and coralline. Most of Seychelles is covered by forest.
In 1976, Seychelles was granted independence from the United Kingdom and became a republic. It has been a member of the Commonwealth ever since.
History of Seychelles
Seychelles was uninhabited prior to being discovered by Europeans early in the 16th century. A lengthy struggle between France and Great Britain for the islands ended in 1814 when they were ceded to the latter. During colonial rule, a plantation-based economy developed that relied on imported labor, primarily from European colonies in Africa. Independence came in 1976. Following a coup d’etat in 1977, the country was a socialist one-party state until adopting a new constitution and holding free elections in 1993. President France-Albert RENE, who had served since 1977, was reelected in 2001 but stepped down in 2004. Vice President James Alix MICHEL took over the presidency and in 2006 was elected to a new five-year term; he was reelected in 2011 and again in 2015. In 2016, James MICHEL resigned and handed over the presidency to his vice-president, Danny FAURE. In 2020, Wavel RAMKALAWAN was elected president, the first time an opposition candidate has won the presidency since independence.
Language of Seychelles
95% of Seychellois speak Seychellois Creole (Seselwa) derived from French. French and English are both also spoken.
People in Seychelles
The vast majority of Seychellois are of African origin. Some, however, have European, Indian or Chinese ancestors. Minority groups are French, Indian, Chinese, and Arabic.
Religion in Seychelles
Catholics: 80%. Anglicans: 8%. Hindu: 2%. Muslims: 1.5%. A very small proportion hold animist beliefs.
Beaches in Seychelles
Some of the best beaches in Seychelles become top reasons for visiting this archipelago. Almost everyone knows that both the surf and turf on the 115 islands are world-class. But that’s not to say all of Seychelles’ beaches were created equally.
You’ll find great diversity in Seychelles, which range from small and secluded romantic coves to long, undeniably beautiful stretches of sand where you can also enjoy a bounty of activities and amenities. We all have a different idea of the perfect beach, but on Seychelles, you’re not likely to be caught short without somewhere to stretch out and catch some rays.
The most beautiful beaches in Seychelles are :
- Anse Volbert, Praslin
- Anse Georgette, Praslin
- Beau Vallon, Mahe
- Petite Anse, Mahe
- Anse Lazio, Praslin
- Anse Forbans, Mahe
- Anse Cocos, La Digue
- Anse Intendance, Mahe
- Anse St. Sauveur, Praslin
- Anse Aux Poules Bleues, Mahe
Most famous things to do in Seychelles
Although it isn’t easy or cheap to make your way to Seychelles, the trip is certainly worth it, and you’ll leave with no regrets. Below are some of the best and most popular things to do around its islands.
- Vallée de Mai on Praslin - An ancient forest filled with Coco de Mer palms.
- Victoria Market - Get a whiff of local life on the islands.
- Victoria - One of the world’s smallest capitals.
- La Digue Island - Home to the stunning Anse Source d’Argent beach.
- Island-hopping boat trip - Pop into Cousin Island, Curieuse Island and St Pierre
- Mahé Island hiking trails - Choose between many gorgeous trails.
- Seychelles beaches - Drive or hike to and from countless gorgeous beaches.
- Giant tortoises - Found on either Curieuse Island or Cousin Island
- Watch baby Hawksbill sea turtles venture into the sea - It's where they lay eggs in broad daylight!.
- Creole takeaway - Order fresh grilled fish and curries from street food stalls.
Check also: Seychelles Travel Guide.
Is Seychelles safe for tourists?
Most visits to Seychelles are trouble-free. However, there have been instances of break-ins, robberies, burglaries, and opportunist thefts against residents, expatriates, and tourists. Crime is generally non-violent, but bags have been snatched, cars were broken into and tourists were robbed while walking at night. So you should take sensible precautions to safeguard yourself and your possessions.
Parked cars, residential accommodation including guest houses and hotels, beaches, and marked and unmarked walking trails may be targeted. Do not take valuables, and walk with organized groups.
You should maintain at least the same level of security awareness as you would in the UK and make sure your living accommodation is secure. Use a hotel safe to store valuables, money, and passports. Do not leave valuables in cars or anywhere on display, and avoid carrying large amounts of cash or wearing eye-catching jewelry.
Accommodation, particularly in isolated areas, should have adequate security, including external security lighting, grilles, and overnight security guards.
Be vigilant and when outside hotel grounds, carry a mobile phone with roaming capability for use in an emergency. It’s worth checking roaming rates with your mobile phone service provider as they can be extremely high.
Take care in isolated areas and also in more popular places like Beau Vallon and the back streets of Victoria, especially after dark.
Check also: Safety and security.
The airlines fly into Seychelles
The main airlines flying into the Seychelles are the national carrier Air Seychelles, along with Air France, Emirates, Etihad, Kenya Airways, Qatar Airways, Sri Lankan Airways and Turkish Airlines. The most direct flights to the Seychelles from London are via Paris with Air France.
Direct Flights From Europe, Middle East & Africa
The Seychelles International Airport is located on the main island of Mahe, Seychelles. There are a number of international airlines providing direct flights to Seychelles from Europe, Asia and Africa.
The country has its own national airline Air Seychelles which also services several routes providing direct access to the islands. Air Seychelles re-started its direct flights from Paris to Seychelles July 2015! This comes after almost two and a half years of absence from the French market.
Joel Morgan, the Seychelles Minister of Foreign Affairs and Transport announced that the national aircraft Air Seychelles will be flying to Paris from Seychelles with the “close collaboration of Air France”.
After having stopped its non-stop flights to Paris in 2011, the aircraft in collaboration with Etihad Airways relaunched a flight to Paris this time stopping over in Abu Dhabi. However the stop over proved to cause a major inconvenience for French travelers, who now account for a large share of all markets visiting the Seychelles.
The announcement of the new direct and non stop flights has been welcomed by tour operators in France, as well as for independent travelers. The direct flights are expected to run three times a week from Paris to Seychelles.
How do you get to the Seychelles from the USA?
To get there, you'll need to start by taking an international flight from the US to Seychelles International Airport on the island of Mahe. From that airport, you may take a bus or taxi to the ferry. Regular ferry service connects Mahe island with Silhouette island.
Buses: Services are infrequent on some routes, tend to be crowded during rush hours, and may require a transfer. On the islands of Mahé and Praslin, buses operate from early morning to early evening. A timetable is available from the bus station in Victoria.
Taxis: Negotiate the fare before beginning your journey. Some taxis are not metered, so confirm with your hotel about the fares you should expect on trips.
Ferry/Water Transport: Most of the inner islands are accessible by boat or ferry; there are also a number of day trips available to tourists. Check that there is sufficient safety equipment including life jackets and ship-to-shore radio. Traveling by ship to the outer islands including the Amirantes, Cosmoledo, and Aldabra groups requires prior approval from the Seychelles Maritime Safety Authority.
See our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the website of Seychelles’ national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety.
Shopping in Seychelles
There aren’t stacks of crafts to buy in Seychelles, but there are some attractive and well-made items worth seeking out, including hats, baskets, blinds and screens – many of which are crafted from coir facts (coconut fibres). Bold and bright textiles and sarongs are for sale, and there are incredible spices from markets and stalls: cinnamon, saffron, cloves, nutmeg, star anise and more. Other popular souvenirs include wooden replicas (plain or painted) of marine species (fish, turtles, lobsters). As for the famous coco de mer – the fruit endemic to the islands of Praslin and Curieuse that’s grown on endangered palm trees – they are difficult to source, but once you’ve found a seller of the giant coconuts, it must be accompanied by a certificate and an export permit, issued by the merchant. Finally, the islands have a thriving arts scene, and behind the gallery, doors are exceptional paintings of marine animals, folklore images and dreamy seascapes.
Food in Seychelles
You’ll always eat well in Seychelles. Across the islands are ultra-luxe restaurants, seaside shacks and colonial-style joints dishing up plates inspired by African, French, Chinese and Indian gastronomy. Rice and freshly caught fish (trevally, tuna, barracuda, marlin) are very popular, cooked up with spices, vegetables, sweet potatoes and bananas. Superb shellfish and octopus are widely available. The locals love to add a few splashes of Creole sauce to their dishes, but beware – it’s super spicy. Chicken, beef and pork are popular, and palm hearts are frequently added to salads. For a classic Seychellois specialty, there’s the kari koko - a spicy fish or chicken curry with coconut milk. Embrace the go-slow service in restaurants; though if you’re in a hurry, grab a takeaway from places dishing up cheap, authentic and delicious Creole cuisine: think curried squid, spicy children and smoked fish salad.
Drink in Seychelles
Tap water is drinkable in principle in Seychelles. However, bottled mineral water is recommended. Sodas and beer (SeyBrew, a popular blonde beer) are easy to find, as are refreshing cups of tea (flavoured with cinnamon or vanilla) and infused with lemongrass. Fruit juices are delicious: from papaya to pineapple, guava to passion fruit. Elsewhere, Coco Love is a liqueur made from coconut milk. Generally, local products are cheaper and just as good (if not better) than imported brands.
The best time to visit Seychelles
The best time to visit Seychelles is between April and May, or October and November, as these are the calmer periods between the two trade winds which hit the island each year. The northwest trade wind blows from November to March and the southeast wind from May to September. These winds cause seaweed to build up on some beaches, so it’s important to consider this when choosing your hotel locations at different times of the year.
The temperature in Seychelles is around 30°C (86°F) all year round, with a mixture of sunshine and tropical showers, and sea breezes that disperse the humidity. However, Seychelles’ positioning, just seven degrees south of the Equator and away from large land masses in the Indian Ocean, makes it very hard to predict the weather or rely on online forecasts.
For more information, Check also: When is the best time to visit the Seychelles?