HOW DO I GET AROUND
How do I get there?
There’s no avoiding it: flights to the Seychelles are pricey, especially since direct routes from European hubs such as Paris and London have been stopped, and all flights now have to route through Doha or Abu Dhabi. ( Air routes are constantly been rearranged, therefore it is very important and necessary to verify this information with any intended carrier).
Emirates (www.emirates.com) and Etihad (www.etihad.com) are the main carriers. Smaller carriers such as Ethiopian Airways (www.ethiopianairways.org.uk) sometimes have cheaper deals: online comparison sites like Skyscanner (www.skyscanner.net) are a good place to start your search. Airfares are usually lower during the rainy season from October to April.
Which islands can I visit?
There are three main islands which are easy and affordable to get to. Mahé is the largest island, home to the international airport and the Seychelles’ capital, Victoria. The main attractions here are trail-walking, snorkelling and swimming.
The second-largest island, Praslin, lies approximately 50km northeast. It has a much quieter vibe compared to Mahé, as well as plenty of glorious stretches of sand such as the sheltered cove of Anse Lazio. The island is also home to the Vallée de Mai nature reserve, a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the few places on the islands where you can see wild coco de mer – the world’s largest coconut, infamous for its resemblance to a pert posterior.
Tiny La Digue is 12km east and is perhaps the classic Seychelles escape, a sleepy island where everyone travels by bike and there are no street lights to obscure the stars. It’s also where you’ll find the most spectacular beaches, such as the lagoon of Anse Source d’Argent and the secluded coves of Grand and Petite Anse.
Reaching the more remote islands is where things start to get expensive. Several islands are accessible as day-trips, including the giant tortoise reserves on Cousin Island and the many small islands of the Ste-Anne Marine Park. Organised excursions with the local snorkelling operators abound, and by asking around you should be able to hire a boat privately and halve the cost.
To give you an idea of costs. The more remote Outer Islands can only be reached by air, and the price-tags here really start to get eye-watering. Many islands are privately owned and occupied by fantastically exclusive resorts – prices on Bird Island start at a minimum of €600 per night, while on Fregate you’ll be lucky to see any change out of €2000.
Cheap eats and a good night's sleep
Alternative To Hotel budget accommodation home stays aim is to make these islands more affordable for independent travellers, which can be a great way of cutting costs. Staying with locals is also the best way to get a feel for the islands.
How Do I Get Around?
Car hire and taxis are expensive, so catching the regular round-island buses on Praslin and Mahé is the cheapest way of getting around. If you’re sticking to the coast, bicycles are another option – and on La Digue, they’re pretty much the only option apart from the island’s taxi service (otherwise known as an ox-cart). Mahé and Praslin are surprisingly hilly, so if you’re venturing inland a scooter may be a better bet – they’re widely available.
The cheapest way to get between the islands is aboard the Cat Cocos ferry service (www.catcocos.com). The ferry from Mahé to Praslin takes an hour, while La Digue is a short half-hour hop from Praslin.
Do I need to speak the local lingo?
The Seychelles is one of the safest places to visit in the Indian Ocean. Locals rely heavily on the tourist economy, so you’ll likely find most people are friendly, welcoming and polite. English and French are both widely spoken, but the lingua franca is Seselwa, a mixed-up Creole language incorporating elements of French, Indian, English and various other dialects.
No visa is required for all nationalities, though all foreigners must have a passport valid for at least 6 months, and must have proof of accommodation bookings before arrival. Visitors without pre booked accommodation are likely to be compelled to book accommodation at the airport for the length of their stay before being allowed to leave the airport. An initial entry permit is granted for 1 month but can be extended for a maximum of 3 months at a time up to a maximum of 1 year in total. See the official travel web-site, but most important, is for you to contact the Consular department for advise.
The only international gateway to the Seychelles is Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) near Victoria.. UPDATE: Air Seychelles has added many many international cities back to it's network. International service is also available from Addis Ababa (Ethiopian Airlines ), Nairobi (Kenya Airways ), Dubai (Emirates ), Abu Dhabi (Etihad ) and Doha (Qatar Airways ), and regular charter services from Frankfurt (Condor ). BUT ALWAYS CHECK WITH THE CARRIERS.
Driving in Seychelles is on the left side of the road. The roads on Mahe are low-traffic, mountainous, narrow roads, so caution is generally advised.
Having a car is really a good idea and makes life much more simple. you can see the entire island of Mahe in a couple of hours, including stops at beaches and whatever else catches your eye. There is free parking in 'downtown' Victoria on Mahe. A car will also allow you access to the stores where locals do their regular shopping, and the prices are more reasonable as compared to the small convenience stores along the beaches.
You can only rent on Mahé and Praslin, but keep in mind that renters must be at least 21 years old, have a valid driver's license, and have at least three years of driving experience. There are several car hire counters outside the arrivals hall at Mahe international airport, which provides a convenient way to compare prices. Prices can be negotiated, with the better rate available for rental periods of 3 consecutive days or more. The 'excess' payable by the customer in the event of a claim, varies depending on the company, so choose carefully and ask the right questions.
Taxis are a popular means of transportation for both short trips and day rental and can be obtained almost anywhere. Taxi prices for non-residents, can easily exceed the cost of hiring a small car for a day.
Seychelles Public Transport Corporation (SPTC) runs daily bus services on the islands of Praslin and Mahe from morning to evening on nearly every available road on the island. The bus usually passes by every 15 minutes.
Although the bus will get you there, the schedules aren't tight and the drivers are a bit bold on the very narrow roads if you're a nervous passenger.