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Sensational Seychelles

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Fun facts

  • The Seychelles has the strongest passport in Africa. Citizens are able to travel visa-free or receive a visa on arrival in 151 countries. Nationals of virtually all countries can enter Seychelles visa-free.
  • The coco de mer or lodoicea is the world’s largest seed. It is indigenous to Seychelles’ Praslin Island.
  • As well as the world’s largest seed the Seychelles also has the world’s biggest tortoise, the Aldabra giant tortoise.
  • The 47th edition of Miss World was held in the Seychelles in 1997.
  • Prince William and Kate Middleton spent their honeymoon in the Seychelles.

Something for everyone

  • Diverse cultures to be discovered
  • Eye-catching architecture
  • Something for the beach bum, honeymooner and adventure seekers
  • An eco-tourism destination
  • Luxury travel with some budget options

The Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa. The two most popular islands for tourism are Mahé and Praslin. The islands have a humid tropical climate with a consistent temperature of 24 to 32°C. This makes the archipelago a year-round destination for sun and beach lovers.

Victoria, on Mahé Island, is the capital city of the Seychelles. It is one of the smallest capital cities in the world and can be explored in less than a day on foot. The Seychelles has a population of just under 100,000. The official languages are French, English and Seychellois Creole.

There are two distinct geographical regions. The granitic islands, the world’s only oceanic islands of granitic rock and the coralline outer islands. The granitic islands are also the world’s oldest ocean islands with the highest being 914 metres above sea level.

I found the Seychelles a great and unique place to visit. I loved the outdoor activities and was rewarded not only with wonderful sights but also with seeing the outstanding flora and fauna. Meeting different peoples, all welcoming, and enjoying different foods was another highlight of my stay.

The island hosts about 350,000 tourists each year and has a laid back vibe and a general friendliness from the locals

Mixed heritage

Seychelles has no indigenous population as such, the current population is made up of a mixture of Creole, French, African, Chinese, Indian and British people. The majority of the population is of creole descent. Each of these various groups that make up the Seychellois population has its own vibrant culture. The resulting blend has ensured a culture of unique cuisine, art and customs. Seychellois society is quite liberal and is often described as matriarchal.

The local music, unsurprisingly, has diverse influences from mainland Africa, Madagascar and Europe. Local dance styles include moutya (which has roots in the days of slavery), sega and kanmtole. The people’s diversity is also reflected in the Seychellois architecture, food and art.

The colourful and intricately designed Arul Mihu Navasakthi Vinayagar is the only Hindu temple in Seychelles.

Sacred architecture

Most Seychellois are Christian, with 82 percent identifying as Catholics. The Christian population lives in harmony with Muslim, Hindu and Bahá’í.

Of the roughly 98,000 people living in the Seychelles about two percent are Hindu. Hinduism is the second largest religion behind Christianity and is growing.

A number of cathedrals and a mosque dot the island but the most captivating place of worship is the Arul Mihu Navasakthi Vinayagar Temple in Victoria. Built in 1992, it is the only Hindu temple in the Seychelles. It is named after Vinayagar, also known as Ganesha. Vinayagar is believed to be the remover of obstacles and the god of new beginnings. Thrilling religious festivals such as Kovil Sangam and Taippoosam Kavadi take place in Victoria the temple as their backdrop.

Adventure-filled getaway

The Seychelles is the perfect place to vacation for a person who loves the outdoors and discovering wildlife in its natural habitats. Other than the water activities such as yachting and sailing, fishing, scuba diving and surfing, zip lining and hiking are also available to you. One of the best trails for tourists is the Anse Major Trail on Mahé Island. It is an easy to medium level of difficulty and can be enjoyed by large groups or families. It takes about an hour and half to complete and has some of the most beautiful views in the islands. Other trails include the Copolia, Morne Blanc and Casse Dent Trails. Additional attractions include a number of markets, shops, art galleries and colonial plantation houses.

Because the Seychelles is an island nation, seafood is abundant and forms a key part of the local cuisine. The influence of the different cultures is also reflected in the food. Spices, herbs and local fruits are used to great effect. Local delicacies include bat curry (not for the faint-hearted), ladob (a plantain dish), breadfruit, cassava and shark chutney.

Moyenne Island is known for its tortoise population and being one of the world’s smallest national parks.

Tortoise Island”

Moyenne means middle in French and is the name given to the small island that sits between Saint Anne and Long Island. Moyenne Island was purchased in 1962 for £8,000 by Brendon Grimshaw. He was the only (human) inhabitant until his death in 2012. After his death, the island was turned into a national park, one of the world’s smallest.

Moyenne Island National Park is home to over 100 giant tortoises, 16,000 trees (the island famously only had four trees when Grimshaw purchased it) and abundant native birds that flocked from neighbouring islands. Tours of the island are offered to both locals and tourists. A hike around the island takes about 45 minutes. The island has small beaches for visitors to relax on or to take a break from their hike.

Many of the locals believe that there is hidden treasure buried somewhere on the island because pirates would visit there in the 18th century. Next to Grimshaw’s grave, there are two unmarked graves believed to belong to pirates. Grimshaw dug six metres deep into one of the graves but found no treasure.

Seychelles is an ideal location for a luxury holiday but with some clever planning it is possible to visit on a tighter budget.

Price points

The Seychelles may be more suited to luxury travel but there are options available to budget travellers. Keep in mind that many places will charge a local rate and a tourist rate; this applies to food, accommodation and activities. Consider Airbnb and the relatively cheap guesthouses to lower your accommodation costs. Also consider purchasing a package deal as this brings down the overall cost of your island getaway. If on a budget, opt for the bus over taxis which are quite highly priced in comparison. Hang out in spots frequented more by locals than tourists to help lower daily costs.

The estimated average cost per person per day is around US$160. It is worth chatting with a few locals before deciding to try out an activity and discussing the budget-friendly options available to you.

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