Seychelles Travel Tips
Keep in Mind...
- Go heavy on the sunscreen The islands of Seychelles sit just a few degrees south of the equator and the sun's rays are strong here. Make sure to apply sunscreen multiple times throughout the day.
- Go easy on the spices Tap water is safe to drink and food here is prepared safely. That said, the spices used in Creole cuisine can upset sensitive stomachs.
- Do not disturb Resist the urge to bring a piece of Seychelles home — it is illegal to collect shells from nature reserves and marine parks, and you must have a permit to remove plant life.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going — and the rest of us conjure our ideal escape, dreaming of a remote island with crowd-free sands, bright blue waters and a tranquil aura. But when you're ready to turn that dream into a reality, set your sights on Seychelles, a cluster of 115 islands peppering the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of Africa. You may have caught sight of the scenery here before: The seemingly endless white beaches, giant boulders and swaying palms are the stuff of postcards, television commercials and desktop backgrounds. And while you're lounging along these famous shorelines, it's likely that the only other life forms you'll encounter will be the islands' colorful birds and humongous tortoises.
The Seychelles islands are often referred to in two separate groups. Most travelers limit their exploration to the 43 Inner Islands, basing themselves on one of the group's three main isles. Mahé is the largest, home to the Seychellois capital, Victoria, as well as the famed Anse Intendance beach. Praslin, the second largest of the primary islands, also boasts several acclaimed shorelines, not to mention the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve. And then there's La Digue, a quiet island where bicycles reign supreme and the sands of Anse Source d'Argent beach remain unspoiled. Charter a private yacht further out to sea and you'll likely stumble across one of the 72 Outer Islands, low-lying, sandy cays ruled by wildlife. It doesn't get more remote than that.
How To Save Money in Seychelles
- Visit in the off seasons Lodging and transport costs soar from May to September and in December and January. If you can plan a trip for April or November, you can save on travel expenses, especially if you plan several months in advance.
- Avoid the resorts Seychelles' big resorts will charge you an arm and a leg for a bed and a meal. You'll save some dough if you bunk down in one of the islands' smaller inns and dine at local restaurants.
- Stay put It's tempting to try to visit more than one of Seychelles' 115 islands, but you'll save on transportation costs by limiting yourself to just one. Many travelers choose to stay on Mahé or Praslin thanks to the islands' convenient bus systems, ample lodging options and numerous free beaches.
Seychelles Culture & Customs
Comprising 115 islands located off the eastern coast of Africa, the Republic of Seychelles (or simply Seychelles) was first settled by the French in 1770, who maintained ownership of the islands until 1814. Following the passage of the Treaty of Paris, Seychelles relinquished to Britain, which governed Seychelles until the archipelago achieved independence in 1976. In their short history as settled territory, the Seychelles islands have welcomed people of varying nationalities — European, of course, but also African and Asian — all of whom have left their imprint on Seychelles' culture.
The island nation recognizes three official languages: English, French and French-based Seselwa Creole. Many Seychellois can also speak Italian or German, meaning there's no shortage of ways to communicate with islanders. You'll also recognize international influences in the islands' art and architecture; houses are reminiscent of Europe's Victorian era, seafood is prepared with hints of Asian and French cuisine, and Creole-style music and dance is infused with European, African and Malagasy melodies and movements.
The price of most services — like hotel stays, taxi rides and meals at restaurants — already includes a 5 to 10 percent tip, although you're welcome to leave more if you wish. The official currency of the Seychelles islands is the Seychellois rupee (SCR), which is equal to about 6 American cents. However, credit cards and major currencies, such as the British pound, the euro and the U.S. dollar are all acceptable forms of payment. If you decide to use the Seychellois rupee throughout your stay, you'll find plenty of establishments that offer currency exchange services. But to avoid being scammed (or charged with a crime), only change your money at banks, hotel cashiers or the exchange bureau at Seychelles International Airport (SEZ). It is illegal to exchange currency with an unlicensed operator.
Other than the occasional faux moneychanger, Seychelles is a relatively safe place to visit, though you should use common sense when it comes to your personal belongings and any late-night walkabouts. The sun actually poses the largest threat to unsuspecting visitors. Because of the Seychelles islands' location just south of the equator, you'll need to prepare yourself for powerful rays. Make sure that you are diligent about applying sunscreen and drinking water. It also doesn't hurt to bring a hat and some shades.
While visiting Seychelles, you should be careful to leave the islands as pristine as you found them. Do not take shells from nature reserves or marine parks and do not disturb the wild flora and fauna.