The Seychelles

AWESOMENESS!Our relative measure of how cool this place is. COST$ = cheap $$$$$ = resort TRAVEL TIMEEstimate of how long a round trip here from California would take TRAVEL DIFFICULTYHow much effort to get here? "Low" is hop on a plane and the resort picks you up. "High" is hitchiking in a foreign language DIVINGIf there is diving here, how good is it?
GREAT! $$$ 2 days easy ok

The Seychelles are a great example of reality meeting all your expectations. The beaches of this Indian Ocean country are absolutely stunning and beat any photos I've seen in Conde Naste Traveller. So you're on perhaps the most beautiful beaches in the world and what do you see around you? Not much. This isn't Thailand; there are not thousands of tourists to share the beach with. We were alone a few times, but usually there are some people around. Some. A few. It's wonderful. As anywhere, some beaches are more popular than others, like Ans Source d'Argent, which is the subject of most of the postcards and magazine photos of the Seychelles we see. But even there, we managed to capture a large stretch almost to ourselves. Then when you're done with the beach, the islands all have plenty of forests and jungles to hike through. And ... that's about it. Paradise!


The Seychelles are group of 112 islands, split into two groups: an "inner" group of 42 mostly granite islands (including the 3 most populous and touristed) and an "outer" group of coral islands. The Seychelles' unique beauty comes from all the colorful granite boulders poking out of the sea. Toss in the the palm trees, white sand and blue seas and it's just unbeatable in my book.


Mahe is main island, with the capital town of Victoria, the airport and 90% of the country's population. We stayed in Beau Vallon Bay and ignored the vast majority of the island. With that caveat, this was by far my least favorite island I didn't see any reason to stay here versus heading straight to La Digue or Praslin.

La Digue

This is Paradise for me. A 2 hour ferry ride from "bustling" Mahe is the backwoods island of La Digue. It feels like you've stepped back into colonial times when you set foot on shore. A few horse drawn carriages and maybe a truck or two hang out at the port waiting to shuttle the few dozen arriving tourists around. The sandy roads quickly lead to the end of the port shops and into the sounds of the jungle. There are a few hotels and a very dated resort along the water, but the water's edge is largely free of hotels(!)
Most of the guest houses are a few minute walk or bike ride into the rainforest. Bicycles are the main transportation around the island, but aren't at all necessary on such a small slice of land. The beaches here are the most incredible I've ever seen. The dramatic granite formations here steal any remaining breathe you didn't lose to surveying the powdery beaches and palms. The postcard beach of Anse Source d'Argent ('anse' = beach) is visually stunning and better in person than any magazine spread you've seen it in; but for pure beach time Grand Anse and Petit Anse have better sand, fewer people and boogy-boardable wave action.
There are a few markets spread around as well as a handful of restaurants near the port and also in a proper strip of town on the way to Anse Source d'Argent. We found the pizza joint next to the market to be pretty good. While just about everything is linked to tourism, La Digue retains a strong local feel and makes it very easy to forget all your worries.


Praslin is a good compromise of Mahe and La Digue. It is larger than La Digue with real resorts, cars, traffic and yet still maintains the feel of a tropical paradise. We stayed on the north shore on Anse Possession and found it to be a nice location, but the beaches in the area aren't good so we always ended up either at Anse Lazio or the resort strip at Anse volbert. But it's not a bad walk and there are frequent buses when you're not in the mood. Resorty Anse Volbert is busy, but quite nice. There are nearby restaurants, shops and even our favorite diversion, gelato. There's a couple dive shops here to arrange trips with. The diving was fine, but pricey (~$60) and unspectacular. That could change dramatically during whale shark season... The snorkeling on tiny St. Pierre island just off Anse Volbert is very good.
Praslin also has plenty of exploring to do. The Vallee de Mai rainforest park in the middle of the island makes a nice walk, but it's the cocoa de mer palm with the largest nut in the world hanging off it that makes this place special. It's huge. There is a nice hike from the north side of the island across to the resort area on the south side that sports some good views, but also takes you through some true local areas to see what life here is like from those not working in tourism. A twenty minute boat ride off the north shore is Curieuse Island with a giant tortoise refuge.

Practical Matters

Getting There

Flights to the Seychelles are easy from Europe or Singapore. From the US, it's at least one stopover somewhere on the way. It's a long haul compared to Hawaii or Mexico, but well worth it. Once in Mahe, there are multiple ferries and flights daily to Praslin. La Digue has frequent ferry access from Mahe and Praslin.

Staying There

There's the resort route, which your travel agent can tell you about, or you can check the internet for guesthouses and people renting apartments. Male and Praslin are big enough that it makes sense to book ahead or find yourself stranded at the dock/airport wondering what to do next. In Male, we stayed at Choice Villas with kitchen, air conditioning and a very large living space. Our Praslin apartment Villa Anse Possession was also spacious. They were in the process of building several smaller hotel-style rooms in 2007. La Digue is a different story. It's so small and quaint that showing up without reservations is almost fun. It may take a bit of searching, but most of the guesthouses can be arranged via email or a phonecall. We stayed at the family-run Cintronelle Guesthouse.
There aren't necessarily a lot of places to eat, so an apartment with kitchen or at least a refrigerator is really nice alternative to constant guesthouse and resort food. That said, there isn't always a lot of food to buy. On Praslin, we had to wait 2 days for eggs to be restocked and we think we literally cleaned out the bacon stock from the local markets on the entire island. La Digue is a pleasant exception with a handful of reasonable restaurants near the guesthouse area that made life without a kitchen very acceptable.