The Seychelles Saga: Visiting Praslin & La Digue
Let me preface this post by saying that I LOVE Seychelles and would 100% put it in my top 5 countries that I’ve visited. I can see myself returning there over & over again if my time and finances permitted it. Especially to visit Praslin and La Digue Islands in the future.
There are many reasons why I love this tiny island country and I wrote about them extensively here in my post about my first visit to Seychelles in August 2018. I also discussed why I preferred Seychelles over Maldives in this post. It’s not that I haven’t had a few hiccups in this country; I have. I also recognise that it’s not a cheap destination and not one where you could spend weeks exploring. However I still rate it as a stunning country with incredible landscapes and something to offer every traveler.
You can watch my video here about our time exploring Praslin & La Digue Islands
We stayed at the 5 star luxurious Constance Ephelia Resort on Mahé. This was a major splurge but for the level of service and facilities they have, it was well worth it. I have a behind the scenes of our resort & suite on my Instagram (@expatpanda) in the Seychelles highlight as well as in the video above.
Seychelles is broken up into 3 main islands: Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. There are other smaller ones but these are the main hubs of the country with Mahé being the largest. For more detailed information on Seychelles and it’s history, you’ll need to refer to my earlier post.
Polar and I had this bright idea that we wanted to visit Praslin and La Digue Islands even though we were staying on Mahé. After doing some research we saw that there were two local tour operators offering a visit to both islands in 1 day. I thought, ‘Two islands in 1 day! I didn’t even know that was an option!”. Spoiler alert: It shouldn’t be an option.
When I compared the price of doing the Praslin and La Digue journey ourselves, it was only marginally more expensive doing it with a tour operator and their trip included a lot more. When you’re booking things in Seychelles remember that transportation is not cheap and taxi rides add up. So we had to factor in how we could travel around even if we bought the ferry tickets ourselves. In the end, it seemed less stressful to go through a local company. The reviews on this trip were mixed so we had no idea what to expect.
This post is going to give you a detailed idea of what to expect if you too decide to embark on this escapade.
We booked our tour with Masons Travel before our arrival in Seychelles after doing the research online. After we had landed they sent a representative to confirm the booking at our hotel. We were even able to pay with MasterCard as the man pulled out a card machine from his pocket! Wonders will never cease!
At the time of booking this tour, we paid 180 Euros per person. If we booked the ferry tickets ourselves we would paid 120 euros per person for a round trip to La Digue from Mahe and not had any transportation or food included.
Stop 1: Praslin Island
We were fetched from our hotel by a Mason’s driver at 6am which meant we were up from 04:30 in order to get ready and eat breakfast. It should be illegal to have to wake up earlier on holiday than I do when I am going to work!
After a 35 minute drive to the harbour, we were met by a Mason’s Travel Guide named Janet. She was in charge of the English speakers. In total there were around 14 of us which was not a particularly large group but not too intimate either. We were given our tickets to board the ferry and away we went.
Note: we were not asked to produce ID when we boarded as our tickets were booked under the travel company’s name. If you book your tickets independently, keep some form of ID on you.
In Praslin we met another driver at the jetty and went off for a 15 minute drive to Vallee de Mai to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a nature reserve that is home to the famous Coco de Mer palm tree.. Janet took her time explaining the different elements in the park, taking photos and answering questions. I could’ve spent longer here but that’s just because I like to wander and explore in my own time. The time we had was enough to cover the basics.
We then drove 30 minutes to Anse Lazio beach which is- without a question- one of the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever been to. Stunning smooth rocks frame the soft white sand and the colour of the water is a brilliant tanzanite. Photos don’t do it justice. We had 45 minutes here which we spent taking photos and retrieving my lost sunglasses from the ocean (don’t ask) which definitely was not enough time. I wished we could’ve stayed longer but we had to head back to the jetty to catch the ferry to La Digue.
The reason I’ve included all the driving times is to illustrate that walking around is not an option on Praslin. You will also see it clearly in the video above. So if you do decide to do a day trip, you may want to consider renting a car (provided you’re an experienced international driver with the capability of driving on narrow and steep roads).
Stop 2: La Digue Island
The ferry from Praslin Island to La Digue Island took a smooth 15 minutes. Upon arrival I noticed the contrast to Praslin: with a 10km radius the island is walkable and most people ride bicycles as their primary means of transport. If you were considering a trip to only one of the islands and wanted to save costs on transportation, this would be the place to visit. Although remember if you travel from Mahé to La Digue, you will still have to connect in Praslin and get on to a new boat bound for La Digue. Am I making sense?
In La Digue we had a buffet lunch at a local hotel which we enjoyed. The food was primarily local cuisine with a selection of creole salads as well as some creole curries and grilled fish. The hotel had gorgeous views while we ate.
After which we were taken to the local coconut plantation where we learnt about the importance of the coconut in Seychellois culture and how coconut oil is made. Although we were not pressured to purchase any products, I did feel that this part of the tour was rather drawn out as we toured a plantation house (also the site of a pornography movie…) and there was also an ox that people could take photos with. Not being a fan of any animal exploitation, I felt rather uncomfortable with this part and wish I had known this detail earlier.
I breathed a sigh of relief as we eventually walked to a beach and got to spend a leisurely 2 hours at Anse Source D’Argent which is the world’s most photographed beach. This was probably the highlight of the tour for me as the beach really was stunning with warm water and gentle waves. There were also a lot of fish swimming in the shallow water which I liked because I’m not the world’s best swimmer (thats an understatement of note) but I still like to see marine life.
The two hours we had at the beach were blissful but I have to admit that I was now dying for a nap. Obviously that didn’t happen because we had to make use of some rustic shower facilities before a truck took us back to the port. From there we caught the boat back to Praslin, disembarked, waited 45 minutes for the boat to Mahé, got on the next boat and had a terribly turbulent ride back to Mahé. We were caught in the middle of a storm and let’s just say that I’ve realised that the sea life is not for me!
I also want to mention that it was around 6pm when we boarded the boat to Mahé so I was utterly exhausted from being in the sun all day as well as the afternoon swimming.
So when I say it was a long day visiting Praslin and La Digue, believe me, it was one of the most tiring I’ve had when on holiday.
We eventually reached our hotel at 8pm where we enjoyed a late dinner, hot shower and bedtime.
At this point I want to say that the tour operator was excellent and we got exactly what we paid for. Everything was well structured and we saw highlights of both islands. I understand that timings have to be arranged around the ferry times as those run according to the timetables set by the boat company (there are only two boat companies that do these routes).
But would I do it again? No I would not.
However I’m glad I went so that I could say that answer unequivocally and provide you with my recommendation.
Here’s a list of pros and cons:
You get to see the highlights of both islands in one day.
There is nothing to worry about as the tour company takes care of every arrangement.
The guides were helpful and knowledgeable.
Your time is very rushed and you aren’t able to experience the essence of the islands.
It’s an excessively long day which kids and older people would not be able to manage.
It is rather expensive.
Buy the ferry tickets online and head from Mahé to La Digue for a day trip. Rent a bicycle and roam around this island at your leisure. There are plenty of family run restaurants and hotels where you can grab food. If you want to save money, bring your own sandwiches from Mahé. You can use google maps or just ask the locals to avoid getting lost. Do the return journey to Mahé in the evening.
I believe that Praslin is actually a whole other trip on its own and that you should spend at least 1-2 nights there to make it worth your time.
I hope this post helps you decide how to spend your time in the Seychelles. Don’t worry about where you will find the best views. Honestly any place you go to in the Seychelles is going to be gorgeous. This country offers unparalleled views of lush greenery as well as azure beaches. Rather focus on how you can enjoy your time soaking the sun and the amazing Creole culture!
Have you ever been to the Seychelles? And how do you feel about structured tours versus independent exploring? Let me know in the comments below!
The tours and accommodation mentioned in this post were NOT sponsored or discounted in any way.