Seychelles Travel Guide

Alfie WilsonEd Budds
By Alfie Wilson  - Travel Guide Manager Ed Budds  - Travel Editor 15 Min Read
The most beautiful beach of Seychelles - Anse Source D'Argent

Staggeringly seductive beaches, majestic marine life, and exquisitely distinct island culture lay in wait for explorers setting their sights on Seychelles, a truly unique utopia.

INTRODUCTION


Delicately sprinkled in the crystal-clear equatorial depths of the Indian Ocean, Seychelles is a wondrous marine maze of 115 islands, coming together to forge a beguiling archipelago.

A prehistoric cluster of dense jungle tumbles down to the turquoise sea, which fizzes and foams against bulking granite boulders as smooth as marble and caresses the immaculate sand of the nation’s pristine beaches.

As a country bestowed with a truly unique biodiversity, Seychelles is the only place in the world where the enormous Coco de Mer palm tree grows and, other than the Galapagos, where giant, majestic tortoises roam wild.

Seychelles continues to work tirelessly to preserve its diverse natural habitats, with entire islands set aside as nature reserves, meaning the copious luxury resorts don’t dominate or spoil the landscape, but rather seamlessly integrate into it.

Once visitors have been pampered to their heart’s content in the many world-class spas and soaked up the vitamin “sea”, you can choose to spend days hiking through glorious forests of cinnamon and mahogany, seek out endemic wildlife, or mask up for some unforgettable diving and snorkelling fun.

As if this wasn’t enough, a vibrant Creole culture, forged from a historic mish-mash of pirates, explorers, and settlers of African, European, and Asian descent, hovers deliciously over every facet of the nation. Visitors can dine on spice-infused curries and dance to the irresistible beat of the tam-tam drums beneath velvet night skies peppered with dazzling stars.


TOURISM INSIGHTS : TOURISM SEYCHELLES


Tourism Seychelles, the nation’s tourism department, exists today as a catalyst for sustained tourism growth and development in Seychelles.

As a strategy-focused department, Tourism Seychelles is committed to creating a conducive environment for the development and maintenance of an authentic, dynamic, streamlined, and sustainable tourism industry.

That ongoing mission reflects the importance of tourism to the Seychelles economy and the social well-being of its population. This set of ambitions also delivers value for money and a unique visitor experience through innovation, strategic partnerships, and coordination, providing information, measured communication, and capacity development. We speak to Sherin Francis, Principal Secretary.

Q&A WITH SHERIN FRANCIS, PRINCIPAL SECRETARY, TOURISM SEYCHELLES


Can you talk us through the origins of Tourism Seychelles and its initial vision?

Sherin Francis, Principal Secretary (SF): Tourism in Seychelles dates back to 1972 and the opening of the nation’s first international airport. Before then, a handful of visitors trickled in via the sea. The original tourism strap line was ‘unique by a thousand miles’ and spoke to the largely rustic experience it offered, combined with great authenticity and good old island charm.

What are your organisation’s current goals and how do you plan to achieve them?  

SF: We envision high value, low impact tourism. For this reason, a lot of our programmes focus on the diversification of our products and offerings, especially regarding offering more authentic experiences and ones with greater sustainability.

Currently, Seychelles, under its tourism strap line, ‘another world’, looks to offer an unrivalled experience of raw nature and a unique opportunity to engage with the Creole lifestyle via our rendezvous programme. For Seychelles, the environment and sustainability are extremely important to ensure a superior holiday experience for today and tomorrow. We achieve these goals by interacting with potential clients via our very active digital and social media platforms, along with trade fairs, workshops, and more.

Why, in your opinion, should someone visit Seychelles, and what for you defines the country?

SF: Seychelles is simply another world! With a population of only 100,000 and located off-the-beaten-path, our islands offer a basket of experiences that includes diving and snorkelling, sailing, hiking, world-beating beaching, swimming, health and wellness, adventure sports, golf, gastronomy, and cultural immersion, all from a range of accommodation that includes 5-star opulence, large and small hotels, villas, local guesthouses, and self-catering. Seychelles truly has something for everyone!

As a culturally vibrant nation, what type of travellers does Seychelles typically attract?

SF: Seychelles attracts a broad range of visitors from across the globe, from Europe to the Middle and Far East. Visitors range from the wealthy to those on a budget. From empty nesters to young families and solo travellers, all these varieties are attracted to our land of perpetual summer where harmony is a way of life.

Romantic young couple having picnic on beach, palm trees and crystal clear waters. Generative AI

What does the nation offer in terms of sustainable or eco-friendly travel experiences? Do you have any goals in place regarding this?

SF: Sustainability and eco-travel are important components of our tourism makeup, and we take great pains to nurture them. Some of our smaller islands offer exceptional eco-experiences and it’s crucial to not forget that over 50 percent of our limited landmass is set aside as natural reserves and marine parks. We are conscious of the fact that the newer generation of travellers seeks out these experiences and we are well positioned to provide them with what they are looking for.

What recent trends are currently transforming tourism in Seychelles?

SF: Experience travel has evolved into a large economy, and at present, we also have more and more visitors looking to escape normal life and enjoy a digital detox.

Are you optimistic about the future of the tourism industry in Seychelles, particularly with regards to bouncing back from the COVID-19 pandemic?

SF: Seychelles has a resilient brand that resonates strongly in the tourism world. Obviously, we are not in control of adverse international events such as wars, pandemics, and economic downturns in certain parts of our market, but we remain confident that our brand can deliver and are determined to do so.

Are there any particularly unique experiences or underrated activities that the country has to offer, which are perhaps lesser known?

SF: Seychelles is a land of secrets, and we offer many opportunities to interact with raw nature via our network of walks, trails, and stunning range of marine parks.

Additionally, our Seychelles Creole cuisine is delicious, and foodies will love the experience of dining with their feet in the sand at restaurants dotted about the islands. We offer adventure sports such as zip lining and horseback riding, but you can’t beat a sunset cruise with a cocktail in hand to enjoy the coastline in much the same way as the first explorers of the islands.

Seychelles National Botanical Gardens

SEYCHELLES NATIONAL BOTANICAL GARDENS IN FOCUS


Planted more than a century ago, the vibrant flora housed within the Seychelles National Botanical Gardens provides a stunning pop of colour to any vacation predominantly spent on white sandy beaches.

Stretching out along five vast acres of Mont Fleuri — located on the southern outskirts of Victoria — the botanical gardens offer visitors an up-close look at a plethora of Seychellois wildlife.

In addition to the towering palm, spice, and fruit trees found nestled in the gardens, not to mention the aromatic blooms found in the orchid house, intrepid visitors are bound to come across animals like giant tortoises and members of the garden’s fruit bat colonies.

While enjoying the uniqueness of this hidden natural treasure trove it is highly recommended that you apply generous coatings of bug spray.

The Botanical Gardens can be reached on foot or by car from downtown Victoria; the walk will take roughly 30 minutes. You can visit the site every day from eight in the morning until five in the afternoon, with admission costing 100 Seychellois rupees, which equates to around USD$8.


OUTLOOK RECOMMENDS

Do:


FOR THE ULTIMATE YOGA AND WELLNESS RETREAT…

Paradise Chalets Yoga & Wellness features several luxury chalets that are nestled on the mountainside overlooking the stunning bay of Anse Parnel and its picture-perfect beachfront, which is less than a minute’s walk from your front door. The beautiful array of chalets feature traditional architecture and are furnished with the utmost comfort in mind. No detail has been overlooked, from the stunning vistas down to the crisp, clean linen. The long and beautiful covered terraces offer a cosy respite, perfect for relaxing and enjoying the sunrise while listening to the tropical birds as they chatter away. During your stay, enjoy complimentary morning and evening yoga, either by the beach or on the yoga deck overlooking the beautiful Indian Ocean.

Sleep:


FOR AUTHENTIC ISLAND LIVING WITH RELAXED ELEGANCE…

Raffles Seychelles is located on the north shore of Praslin, the second largest of the 115 islands that make up the Seychelles archipelago. The beautiful resort is a secluded tropical haven for discerning adventure seekers, and a beacon for sustainability in a natural setting of rare wonder.


LANDMARK ATTRACTIONS

Takamaka Rum Distillery


The d’Offay brothers, Richard and Bernard, founded Takamaka 20 years ago and it has since become part of the archipelago’s identity. The distillery on the 18th-century La Plaine St Andre estate produces a handful of tipples blended with local spices and fruit extracts, but by far the most popular are the easy-drinking coconut rum and amber-hued eight-year-old St André aged in American oak barrels. Visitors can enjoy a tour of the distillery and gardens with a tasting workshop available on weekdays.

Climbing Morne Seychellois


Covering a staggering 20 percent of Mahé, Morne Seychellois National Park is home to several endemic species, including the highly elusive Seychelles Scops-owl, and is laced with nature trails. If your hiking boots are craving a tricky challenge, then try trekking to the summit of the 905-metre-high Morne Seychellois. The climb takes around five hours to follow the less-maintained path and often requires cutting through thick undergrowth. Sturdy shoes are essential, and adventurers are advised to take plenty of water.


GETTING THERE AND AROUND


When exploring Seychelles, most travellers wish to visit more than just one of the country’s numerous islands, as each destination features a uniquely vibrant personality and promises fresh experiences. Furthermore, it is essential to meticulously plan your island-hopping transportation and strategise carefully when navigating between islands.

If you plan to explore more than one of Seychelles’ many islands, riding the ferry is your best bet.

Almost all visitors flying to the Seychelles will arrive at Mahé International Airport. Daily ferry connections from Mahé can be caught to the other two main islands of La Digue and Praslin, the latter of which also benefits from an inter-island flight connection courtesy of Air Seychelles. It is advisable to book ferry tickets in advance, as connections can vary and change quickly.

On La Digue, meanwhile, bikes are the transport mode of choice. This tropical biking paradise prides itself on using the bicycle as its main form of travel, and it is very much part of the La Digue way of life. Indeed, there are only 60 cars on this entire island of 3,000 people. Partake in this local tradition by renting bikes to explore the island!

Elsewhere, the Seychelles Public Transport Corporation provides efficient bus services on Mahé and Praslin, two of Seychelles’ three most visited islands. Buses run every day from 5:30am to 8:30pm, with rides costing a reasonable flat rate for the day.

If you plan on using the bus as your primary mode of transportation, it would be wise to consider purchasing a SMART Card, where you can top up your travel balance seamlessly.


VIEW THE SEYCHELLES TRAVEL GUIDE

Read Issue 15 of Outlook Travel Magazine
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By Alfie Wilson Travel Guide Manager
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