Although I had heard of this country before, I still had to ask myself “Where is Seychelles?”. It turns out that it is an archipelago consisting of one hundred and fifteen (115) islands in the Indian Ocean. Residing off the coast of East Africa, it happens to be the smallest country area wise in Africa.
The Republic of Seychelles has the most pristine beaches [two (2) of the more popular are Beau Vallon and Anse Takamaka) lined with palm trees. Since the country is so remote, you practically have these beaches all to yourselves. The largest of the islands is Mahé, where you will find the majority of the resorts, and it has ninety (90%) percent of the population. It is also where the capital, Victoria, is located. Now let’s go and check this place out.
A Few Basic Facts
The place to go for land and water sports, hiking, and nightlife is most certainly Mahé, but if you are into nature and want to check out the wildlife the place to be is Aldabra Atoll, which is the largest coral atoll. There is plenty of marine life to observe including tiger sharks, manta rays, and giant land tortoises.
Seychelles was actually uninhabited until discovered by the Europeans in the sixteenth (16th) century. The British and French haggled over its possession for quite some time until the British took control in the nineteenth (19th) century.
These three (3) main islands are connected by ferry (Mahe, Praslin, La Digue).
- The country gained independence from Great Britain in 1976
- The country is a republic with a constitutional framework
- The president of the country is Danny Faure
- Initially an agricultural economy it has transformed into a more diversified market-based economy comprised of tourism, the service area, and the public sector. Foreign investment has recently been encouraged. Today it has the highest nominal per capita GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of any African nation.
- The culture is a mix of African, French, and British with some Indian and Chinese influences
- The country is a member of the United Nations
- The population of the country is around one hundred thousand (100,000) people give or take
- The currency is Seychelles rupee (1 USD = 14.33 SCR)
- It has nature reserves with rare animals such as the Aldabra tortoise, as well as the mountain rain forests of Morne Seychelles National Park
- The temperature does not vary much throughout the year although it is humid. The range is from seventy-five (75 F) to eighty-six (86 F) degrees or twenty-four (24 C) to thirty (30C) degrees. Its coolest during July and August and the rainfall varies per island, but the area gets over one hundred (100) inches per year. The most pleasant time of the year is May through November when the trade winds are blowing. The hottest months are March and April.
- Allocating forty-two (42%) percent of its lands for conservation, Seychelles is one of the leaders in the world in protecting endangered species. It is known for protecting its flora and fauna. The national bird, the Seychelles Black Parrot, is protected as well.
- The islands have some of the largest seabird colonies in the world, as well as over one thousand (1000) species of fish
- With no indigenous population, the country is a fusion of cultures and people with many locals considered multiracial with a combination of Asian, European, and African heritage. This has created a modern creole culture.
- The cuisine is a mix of Indian, African, Chinese, and French
- English and French are the official languages as well as Seychelles Creole (which is primarily based upon French)
- The main export is fish and the main agricultural products are coconuts, vanilla, sweet potatoes, and cinnamon
- The main airport is Seychelles International Airport
- The art and music scene is very active here with a variety of writers, sculptors, poets, painters, dancers, and musicians. In 1994 a National Art Gallery was opened. Their music is rooted in Malagasy, African, and European cultures. The music is diverse and a blend of its various cultures.
- The main sport in the country is basketball, and their National Team qualified for the African Games in 2015
- The society is matriarchal with the mother being the dominant person in the household
Some Interesting Things to Do
Here is a short video to get your feet wet prior to jumping in and discovering why this is a great place to visit:
* Enjoy the Cuisine — fish is prepared in several ways and usually accompanied by rice. Curry dishes with rice are quite common. The meals are garnished with fresh flowers, and often include breadfruit, mangoes, and coconut. A dessert consisting of sweet potatoes, breadfruit, plantain, cassava, corossol, and blended and boiled with coconut milk, nutmeg, sugar, and vanilla is called Ladob. Vegetables are an essential part of the meals as well. The fruit is plentiful and often the choice for breakfast. You can get tasty inexpensive meals at numerous Creole takeaway stands (get a box full of rice, green papaya, and seafood). For dinner with live music try the Boardwalk Bar & Grill on Mahe. A little more upscale restaurant would be PK’s Pasquiere Restaurant and Gastropub on Praslin. You will also find a lot of delicious Indian seafood here. Also, the beef rolls sold by vendors in Mahe are outstanding. In fact, take the Street Food Tour and check out all the local food stalls.
* Outdoor Fun – there is so much to do on these islands such as relaxing and sunbathing on the beaches (Anse Lazio Beach is secluded and absolutely gorgeous on Praslin Island and Anse Georgette Beach also on Praslin offers the Mont Plaisir Georgette hiking trail nearby), snorkeling and scuba diving, zip-lining with great views of the forest, fantastic views while playing golf, rock climbing, fishing, and many other things like hiking to take in the sheer beauty of this part of the world. For a really good hike consider the Copolia Trail on Mahe which leads you to a granite summit with incredible views. Also, hiking Anse Marron on La Digue provides quite an adventure as it is a hidden beach that you can find with a little help from the locals, and since it is only accessible by foot it will give you a good workout getting there. Also, on Curieuse Island you can check out the rehabilitation and conservation center and see huge tortoises. They are also found on some of the more remote islands like Aldabra and Cousin. The Ruins of Leprosarium are also located on Curieuse. Aride Island Nature Reserve is the residence of over one million (1,000,000) seabirds comprising ten (10) different species with five (5) indigenous to Seychelles. The best time to visit is November to February to catch sight of all the migratory birds.
* What About a Little Bird watching — Vallee de Mai is a UNESCO World Heritage site and Aride Island Nature Reserve are great for catching a glimpse of the various species of birds.
* What About Mahe — being the largest island this is where the majority of people live. This is also where the main international airport is, and the majority of the resorts. If you are into the party scene this is where you will find the most bars, restaurants, and clubs such as the Tequila Boom. For hiking, there is the Copolia Trail, and Beau Vallon Beach is a great place to swim. You’ll find the most tourists in the northern part of the island, while the southern part is more laid back. Check out Victoria Bazaar which is a busy market filled with fruits, vegetables, and souvenirs at great prices. The morning is best to avoid the rush, it’s cooler, and the seafood is fresher.
* A Little Bit of Island Hopping — with one hundred fifteen (115) gorgeous islands hopping around the various islands is time very well spent. You will get your full of nature’s beauty while you view the natural wonders of Denis, Praslin, Silhouette, and Fregate. The tours explore the biodiversity, mountain ranges, picturesque shores and beaches, and the vegetation. If the pace of the tour is too slow for you to take a helicopter ride over the islands
* Morne National Park — this is a great place for nature lovers to spend some quality time as well as for hiking with many interlinking trails. It is an expansive bio reserve and is really a sight to see with its rich diversity of flora and fauna.
* The Island of Praslin — you will find Anse Lazio Beach here with its brilliant white sand, foamy surf, and not a rock or even coral to be found. You can either hike there or take a bike. It is off the beaten path a bit. The other beach there is Anse Georgette. Some of the beach areas have a rather strong tide, so check with the locals before going in the water unless you are a strong swimmer.
* The Coconut Plantation House — located on La Digue, this ancient building sitting on seven hundred and forty-one (741) acres (300 hectares) is now a national monument displaying the historical and cultural roots of this area. In addition to the plantation house, you can also explore the coconut plantation with its coconut oil mill, tortoise enclosure, cemetery, and Copra house.
* La Digue — this is a very remote and quiet island, and it is easiest to get around by bike, which you can rent. The most frequented beach there is Anse Source d’Argent, and it has pink sand.
* The Art Scene — located in the capital city of Victoria on Mahe the George Camille Gallery features his numerous works.
* The Gem of Moyenne Island — the peacefulness and beauty of this island make it a must-see. Walkthrough the island and take in various fauna and flora, giant turtles, and huge rocks.
* The Kenwyn House — built in the mid-18th century this is a stunning example of French colonial architecture. It is filled with many places to shop including upscale outlets like Jouel.
* La Misere Exotics Garden Center — this is a botanical wonderland with over fifty thousand (50,000) flowers, three hundred (300) plant varieties, and other botanicals.
Since Seychelles is so remote being way out in the Indian Ocean, the locals will be surprised you showed up especially if you are coming from North America. But it is well worth the trip for the many reasons I mentioned above. Plan to spend at least a couple of weeks there to take everything in, and just relax in the beautiful environment.
If you don’t go the costly high-end resort route, such as the Petite Amour on Mahe, you have a great time rather inexpensively. Airbnb can be an ideal choice for accommodations. Since the weather is great year-round, it is best to visit in October/November or April/May when the airfare is least expensive (nearly half what they are in July/August). British Airways has direct flights.
This is such a natural playground filled with outstanding beaches and lagoons, verdant plantations, towering mountains, and majestic ocean water. This really can be a vacation of a lifetime.