The Seychelles

Introduction

The Seychelles archipelago lies in the Indian Ocean 990 miles east of Kenya, an unspoilt tropical paradise of 115 islands with pure white and golden beaches, the clearest of clear blue seas and a warm, relaxing climate.

Two markedly different island groups form the country. The 43 in the first make up the world’s only mid-ocean group based on granite, each mantled with lush vegetation. The second group consists of isolated coral outcrops rising to little more than a few feet above sea level.

Seychelles’ two main islands are Mahé, containing the country’s capital, Victoria, and Praslin, surrounded by secluded beaches and superb coral reefs. Praslin is also where the rare coco-de-mer palm grows – it produces the world’s largest nut – and where many rare birds, including the black parrot and fruit pigeon, have their home. Exquisite black pearls cultivated on the island are produced by black-lip pearl oysters at the only oyster farm in the Indian Ocean.

Mountainous Mahé, with its laid-back charm, has more than sixty secluded, palm-fringed beaches, each offering its own particular activities, including diving and watersports. Lively after dark, the island is known for Berjaya Beau Vallon Beach Resort and Casino, and restaurants with Creole entertainment. Morne Seychellois, the highest peak at the heart of a national park, provides great hiking and stunning scenery.

Owing to its isolation many unique species of flora and fauna have evolved in the Seychelles, including the giant tortoise, gecko, chameleon, fruitbat and black orchid. One atoll, Aldabra – which is the world’s largest – has a third of Seychellois land and is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage site.

Throughout this exotic archipelago, with its African, Chinese, English, French and Indian traditions, the emphasis is firmly on luxury, relaxation and high quality.

Fortunately, the Seychelles insists on just one rule. Enjoy!

The country’s local currency is the Seychelles (SCR) rupee. Money can be exchanged at airport banks, which open for all flight arrivals and departures. Most major credit and debit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are available in Mahé and Praslin. Most hotels, guest houses, restaurants and shops accept traveller’s cheques, which are best in US dollars or pounds sterling.

 

See & Do

There are a number of activities to do and places to visit. Below is just a selection to get you started.

  • Victoria - the smallest capital in the world - is easily covered on foot. Be sure to take in the National Botanical Gardens, the Seychelles Natural History Museum and the National Museum of History. Children will love stepping back in time to the days of the buccaneers. Go by glass-bottom boat to nearby St Anne Marine National Park to see its many species of coral and fish
  • Vallée de Mai - This UNESCO world heritage site on Praslin, the Seychelles’ second-largest island, grows the coco-de-mer palm with its sexually-suggestive double-nut fruit
  • Bird Island - Between May and October millions of sooty terms flock here to breed
  • Aldabra -  No less than 150,000 tortoises, thought to be even more than on the Galapagos Islands, live on the atoll’s 13 islands
  • La Digue - See the Seychelles’ very own black paradise flycatcher, ancient plantation houses, copra factories, and a vanilla plantation. With its superb white beaches, La Digue is a little over three hours by schooner from Mahé and 30 minutes from Praslin
  • Deroches - Sea cliffs, tunnels and caves make this an especially good spot for diving, with clear visibility from September to May. Deroches is also ideal for water skiing, windsurfing, sailing and salt-water fly fishing
  • Cousin - Take pictures of rare species when visiting this nature reserve, including the brush warbler, the Seychelles toc-toc and the fairy tern
  • Boat hire

 

Weather

After the hot and humid north-west trade winds and monsoon rains from November to April, the weather becomes cooler between May and October. This is when the trade winds blow from the south-east and seas become rougher – but temperatures seldom fall below 23°C (73°F).

The average monthly temperatures are:

°C

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Day

29

29

30

30

29

28

27

27

28

29

29

29

Night

23

24

24

24

25

24

23

23

24

23

23

23

 

 

Shopping

Shopping in the Seychelles is wonderfully low key with souvenirs usually found alongside everyday items such as food and clothing – something that can be seen as much in Victoria as in the more remote villages.

Good quality keepsakes and souvenirs to take home include local textiles (batik, for example), basketware (tablemats and hats), and items made from wood (traditional furniture, model boats and ornaments). Other popular gifts and mementos range from paintings and pottery to jewellery and locally-grown tea.

 

Food & Drink

For a taste of authentic Seychelles food, eat where the locals eat. You’ll find the cuisine is invariably excellent and heavily influenced by the sea. For example, a typical menu in a traditional Creole restaurant will have dishes featuring tuna, prawn, squid, shark, grouper and lobster. Fish or meat curry-type dishes, based on coconut milk, turmeric, cumin, coriander seed and other spices, will also be offered.  Common fruits served as part of Creole desserts are papaya (paw-paw), pineapple, passion fruit and guava.

Most Seychelles restaurants aimed at visitors provide both local and international cuisine. On the islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue the many places to eat out range from four-star restaurants to handy roadside stalls.

Fine dining is to be enjoyed not only in hotels but also at Italian and Japanese restaurants. Handy pool-side cafés offer good, simple snacks throughout the day.

Among the Seychelles’ fine restaurants and eating places are the following:

  • Al Mare Restaurant (Creole/international) – Mahé
  • Le Dauphin (Creole/international) – Praslin
  • Au Jardin D’Epices(Creole/international) – Mahé
  • Takamake Restaurant (Creole/international) –Mahé
  • Silhouette Restaurant (Creole/international) – Mahé
  • Le Beach Restaurant (Creole/international) – Praslin
  • Teppanyaki (international) - Mahé
  • Tarosa Restaurant (Creole) – La Digue
  • Le Reduit Restaurant (Creole) –Mahé
  • Bonbon Plume (Creole/international) – Praslin

 

 

Entertainment

Seychelles nightlife often centres on the exciting local camtolet music – and frequently includes dancers. At most hotels evening barbecues and dinner dances are regularly organised.

Theatre is popular in the Seychelles, with productions – in Creole, English and French – well attended. Films at Victoria’s lone cinema also enjoy a good following. Casinos, at the Plantation Club and the Beau Vallon Bay Hotel, always ensure an exciting night out.

Creole Festival week is the last week in October. Then the capital, Victoria, becomes a colourful party town, with music, dancing and dramatic productions.

Some exciting discos to visit are:

  • Katiolo’s, Anse Faure, Mahé
  • Ozone, La Plaine, St Andre, Au Cap, Mahé
  • The Jungle, Grand Anse, Praslin
  • Oxygen, Baie St Anne, Praslin

 

Seychelles’ only cinema, the Deepham, is at Albert Street, Victoria.

 

Excursions

Guided tours of St Anne National Marine Park, covering six islands off the coast of Mahé, take place regularly. The park, an important nesting site for Hawksbill turtles, is a great attraction for nature lovers.

 

Health & Safety

People planning to visit the Seychelles are advised to ask their doctor about inoculation requirements. Vaccinations against tuberculosis and hepatitis B are sometimes recommended.

Although the country’s mains water is usually safe, it may cause stomach upsets. Bottled water can be bought. Milk and dairy products are considered safe, along with fruit and vegetables.

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