The Seychelles: Why the experience in an African paradise justifies the price!
The Seychelles is paradise on earth.
I know that is a bold statement to make but its seriously true. I cried a little as my Air Seychelles plane touched down on this stunning island. Not because I was sad but because I was grateful; if all the hardship I experienced over the past year led me to this heaven, then it was all 100% worth it!! If you are looking for a dream destination then Seychelles is IT. BELIEVE ME. I have traveled to Bali, Zanzibar, the Philippines and Mauritius but nothing has come close to the Seychelles! Not even slightly.
Now its worth me saying that the Seychelles isn’t a cheap destination and it costs a fair bit of money to visit and frolic in this paradise. But I’d like to think that after you read this blog post and see my photos, you’ll think that its worth- at least- a once in a lifetime splurge.
But first up- a quick PPG (Panda’s Progressive Geography) lesson about this small country.
The Republic of Seychelles is an island nation located in the Indian Ocean. It was uninhabited when first discovered by our usual colonisers- the Europeans- in the early 1500s and remained that way for over 150 years. In 1756 the French took formal possession of the islands and named it after a French finance minister. After the Napoleonic wars in 1814, the Seychelles were taken over by the British and in 1903, the islands became a British Crown Colony. The Seychelles finally became an independent country in 1976.
The original French colonists on the previously uninhabited islands, along with their black slaves, were joined in the 19th century by deportees from France. Asians from China, India, and Malaysia arrived later in smaller numbers. Widespread intermarriage has resulted in a population of mixed and diverse descent. Creole, English, and French are recognized as national languages while the national currency of the country is the Seychellois Rupee.
How expensive is the Seychelles exactly?
If you’ve visited Austria, Germany, Ireland or most Western European countries then you already have a fair idea of the prices you will pay for food and transportation because its roughly the same. Unlike those countries however, you will not be able to find a cheap hostel to rest your head so the bulk of your money will be spent on accommodation.
(Note: most of my prices are in Emirati Dirhams since I live and work in Dubai- I tried to convert to US dollars for others but these are just approximate figures).
In this post I will take you through my trip in the Seychelles and show you how you can maximize a few days and plan your budget accordingly.
If you’re flying from South Africa you are looking at flights costing between R6000 to R8000 depending on your airport and airline. If you are flying from the UAE, your flight will cost you between 2000- 3000AED with more direct flights leaving from Abu Dhabi and cheaper ones (through Kenya and Ethiopia) leaving from Dubai. I caught a flight from Nepal via Mumbai to Mahé (the main island of the Seychelles) which cost me 1200AED but included a long layover in Mumbai (Indian visas are free for South African citizens so I never mind spending a cheap night in India in order to save some money).
There are 3 main islands in the Seychelles- Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. The islands are fairly close together so it’s tempting to try and see them all, but travel time and costs add up, so if you only have a few days in the Seychelles it’s best to focus on one island; I chose to stay on and explore Mahé.
Where to stay:
I mentioned accommodation before and I mentioned the expensive cost. What you choose is of course completely up to you and your standards but you do have options. The most affordable options are known as “self-catering” guest houses and apartments which tend to go for about $75-$100/ 280-360AED per night on Booking.com. The Air Bnb options seemed to start around $100 a night and I have to say that some of the properties (in the Eden Island area) looked stunning. If you have a family you can rent a whole house and cook which might make things cheaper. I chose a 4 star hotel in Beau Vallon and it was honestly one of the nicest places I have ever stayed. Click here to check it out. (A full tour is available on my Instagram page under the “Seychelles” highlight). My total cost for 3 nights (including an amazing buffet breakfast) was 2544AED which is around $690. A splurge but it really was gorgeous and came at the end of a very long and arduous trip so I felt it was justified.
This view was literally a few steps away from my room!
Getting around the island:
Once you’ve hit down your accommodation costs in the Seychelles, your next decision will be whether you rent a car or use public transportation.
Truthfully, there are loads of bus stops on Mahé, everyone speaks English and in general, you will find your way where you need to go if you use the bus system. In some cases you’ll have to walk a bit to and from a stop and you may have to put up with non A/C buses but other than that the public transportation seems adequate.
I chose rather, to rent a car as I wanted to maximize my short time on the island and enjoy the freedom of driving especially after a year of not driving on the left side of the road (Former British colony problems). Rental cars on the islands cost about 180 AED/$50 a day (I used Maki Rental Cars). This was not the car I wanted but this was the beast I ended up with:
I LOVED the freedom and flexibility that came with driving around this island as every few kilometers, I stopped to take photos and admire the gorgeous views:
I have to say that driving in the Seychelles is only for the relatively quick learners or experienced drivers- roads are extremely narrow and precarious as they curve and twist along the mountains with large ditches on either side. My car was manual (stick shift) and I would imagine that most rental cars are. I am not saying this to scare you or boast about my driving skills- just want you to be prepared because I know plenty of drivers who would not do well in that terrain. Mahé is small and although I drove from one end of the island to the other over the course of my stay, I only used a quarter tank of petrol.
You could take pre-booked taxis through your hotel but that is a terribly expensive option especially for more than 1-2 trips and I don’t think its worth mentioning.
What to do on the island:
Visit the pristine and stunning free beaches! All beaches are free access, including the ones with five-star resorts on them. So you can beach-hop your way around the islands and join the elite at Anse Soleil at the Four Seasons Hotel as I did.
Or relax in the secluded Police Bay.
Or watch the sunset at Beau Vallon Beach.
The beaches were some of the most dazzling and exquisite beaches I’ve ever stepped foot on during my years of travel. The atmosphere was also supremely laid-back and everywhere you looked was another breathtaking view of clean white sand, turquoise water, thick jungle or pristine rocks.
I did a one day ocean safari tour with Teddy’s Glass Bottomed Boat which took me snorkelling…
To Moyenne Island to meet these old but gentle creatures…
To a private and secluded small beach island…
I have been on a LOT of boat tours from Kenya to Thailand and I can honestly say this experience was amazing. The boat was super clean and kept in fantastic condition. There was a huge emphasis on responsible tourism while snorkeling and the captain was very passionate about ocean conservation.
One of the things that stood out the most was that the guides on the boat were very concerned about safety and if you were not a confident swimmer or a young child, not only did you get a life jacket but one of the guides could accompany you while snorkeling or you could float along with one of their buoys. I think back to the time I was thrown into the roughest ocean in Sri Lanka with no life jacket and no guidance from my so-called ‘snorkeling expert guides’ and I shudder.
The seafood barbecue was also fantastic quality and it included a few beers too if you’re inclined that way. I get nothing from promoting this company, I just want to advertise how good my experience was.
The price of this was 70 euro/$81/300AED per person but I bargained hard as the starting price was 110 euro per person!! (You can bargain with the men on the beach offering the tours not at the hotel which offers tours at a fixed price).
What to eat in the Seychelles?
Cuisine in the Seychelles is almost entirely seafood based with Creole spices. Fish dishes are cooked in several ways, such as steamed, grilled, wrapped in banana leaves, baked, salted and smoked. Curry dishes with rice are also a significant aspect of the country’s cuisine. If you are not a fan of seafood, you can find meat options but these will be more expensive. An average seafood meal at a beach side family-run establishment will set you back between 80-130AED ($22-$37) which is what a meal costs in most restaurants in Dubai too. I should also tell you that they quality of seafood is very high.
Luckily for me, right near my hotel was the Beau Vallon Wednesday market (4pm–8pm), with freshly cooked dishes like satay, grilled fish and coconut curry. A HUGE grilled fish which could easily feed 3-4 people cost 80 AED with rice and salad. Eating at local take away joints and markets can keep the cost of food down.
There are fine dining establishments on the islands but I don’t believe that they’re worth the high prices considering that the quality of food from cheaper places is so high.
I don’t drink alcohol so I can’t comment on the cost of that but remember that other than Seybrew beer and Takamaka rum, every other type of alcohol has to be imported and thus, will be expensive (Just like Dubai!).
Who can visit the Seychelles?
EVERYONE. I am being 100% serious. Every citizen from any country with a passport can visit this paradise. Again- Seychelles is a visa-free country meaning that there are no visa requirements or fees for anyone wishing to travel to this country. The only thing you should have upon arrival is proof of accommodation and a return ticket which you will be asked to show at passport control.
All in all, I don’t need to say any more to convince you of my opinion that a trip to these islands is 100% worth it. I know its expensive, far and generally not number 1 on most people’s lists but to be honest- the best places usually aren’t. There’s an authenticity in the Seychelles that isn’t present in other island destinations. For example, in Zanzibar or Bali, you aren’t eating, swimming or shopping with the locals. The tourism industry is removed from the lives of the local people and its hard to get a sense of daily life there without spending months living there and learning the local language. Whereas in the Seychelles, you are shopping at the local market with the locals, hanging out on the same beaches and eating at the same restaurants no matter where you go. I can appreciate a country where you can be ‘one with the people’. Just go; believe me, you will not regret the experience and you will not regret spending your money and time in paradise.
Is the Seychelles worth a trip on its own?
Most definitely. I would definitely go back in a heartbeat! How do I get a job there??!!
How long should I go for?
A minimum of 3 nights would be ideal.
Should I purchase a SIM card?
While the internet on the island isn’t great, it don’t think it warrants buying a SIM card unless you’re moving there for a month.
Did you apply for a visa beforehand?
No. As I mentioned above, this country can be visited by anyone with a valid passport as long as you have a return ticket and proof of accommodation.