Planning a trip to Seychelles was by no means an easy feat. There wasn’t enough blogs and sites out there with an objective perspective nor were there sufficient visuals of this stunning island. I was confused by 1. Transportation 2. Location 3. Island hopping 4. Attractions 5. Hikes. A series of unfortunate events left me with a precious 3 short days on this amazing island (I had planned to have 6) and while it would have left most reeling (the air fare wasn’t exactly cheap), I have long accepted that unexpected events build an adventure and would maintain a relative state of calm when faced with such adversity (because nothing beats managing painful clients?).
A broken down airplane navigation system, 1 missed flight and 3 flight delays turned my supposed 8 and a half hour flight into a 24 hour one that took me to a total of 4 different airports in 4 countries in 24 hours!!! If that isn’t an adventure I don’t know what is.
I was so pleased that I arrived eventually. So pleased that I immediately checked myself into my hotel in Beau Vallon pumped to begin my hike to Anse Major only to suddenly find myself awake the next morning. Going round the world, checking into 4 different countries on four different timezones caused the insufferable jetlag. It was when I got up that I suddenly felt the despair and slight anger with myself at allowing myself to succumb to the sleep monster.
3 days left on this island! 1 day for a boat trip out to Praslin and La Digue, another to go diving and the last day for me to explore whatever I can – it is not ideal but let’s just make the best out of this situation. I have limited leave and the airline heading back home flies only once every 4 days (!!). If this itinerary wasn’t packed to the brim, I would have wasted my 3 days left on this island. I will be writing in another post how one can go about planning this trip, where to begin, how to see it through and the ideal way to cover Seychelles. Till then, I leave you with a few tips and some amazing visuals of this stunning country.
Set aside a budget you expect to Seychelles, stick to it as much as possible but, have an extra sum of money set aside and tucked away somewhere so that you will not be left high and dry when you do bust your budget (it is not unlikely).
Seychelles is not the cheapest place out there to go for a beach holiday. Akin to Maldives, everything on this amazing island comes at a substantial price to be paid. Activities (save for hiking around the island) are relatively more expensive compared to what one would expect to pay at other beach holidays in Asia or Europe and for a country made up of clustered islands surrounded by the Indian Ocean, you’d expect the abundance of fish to resonate with cheaper seafood in accordance with basic demand and supply but a simple grilled fish would easily cost at least 20 Euros up to 60 Euros (with a salad and no sides) at a normal restaurant!!
To go to a country made up of 115 islands, you’d expect island hopping to be quite the norm for most on the island which is true except, island hopping is not cheap. The island hopping tours cost at least 180 Euros for a full day tour. These include entry a guide and lunch. Alternatively you can choose to take one of the high speed catamarans but its about 60 Euros one way (120 Euros return – without a guide, entry tickets and transport on the island). I will be writing more about cost and expenses in Seychelles in a later post.
2. Hire a car!
Many on the forums write about how it is possible to bus around Seychelles and how the buses run on proper schedules. Thing is, the buses do not run late and the service typically ends around 6 to 7pm on a weekday and at around 5 to 6pm during the weekends.
I tried waiting for the bus twice and after walking a fair distance from my hotel in Beau Vallon to the nearest bus stop on a hot morning and waiting more than half an hour each for the right bus to come along, I ended up with a rented car and it was possibly one of the best things I did on Mahe. The car allowed me to journey to all these places I would never be able to get to without.
3. Go on an island hopping tour!
Each island has something different to offer and it would be such a shame to not explore one of Seychelles’s many islands. It is nice to get out of Mahe and to journey at least to the popular and world famous Anse Lazio beach in Praslin. I was practically squealing with joy whenever I caught sight of a flutter of wings from the hordes of flying fishes that day. The highlight had to be screaming at the captain of the boat to stop when I saw a school of dolphins on one of these boat tours. It was really amazing and I had the best time ever!
I did some math prior to the trip and it appeared to me that an organised boat tour was more cost effective than paying for a return ferry (attractions + transport + food + gear). To pay 120 Euros for a return ferry without a guide, entry tickets and transport on Praslin or La Digue did not make sense to me when another 60 Euros would give me entry into attractions, transport and a creole lunch. Unless you prefer the flexibility of being able to explore the islands at your own time and well, you are willing to spend a little more money (I would have gone for this 2nd option if I had more time), then I would suggest going for one of these tours as it saves you the trouble planning and possibly being stranded on one of the islands.
Most places are closed on Sundays. If you arrive on a Saturday and expect to go on a tour on Sunday, or Monday, it is not going to happen unless you are willing to fork out 800 Euros for a private boat and tour. It would be good to decide on your tours before arriving on the island. I generally found the concierge to be quite indifferent and unenthused about your travel needs. The only exception would be the staff from mason’s travel (they can be found at the arrival hall of the airport and online) who were trying to sell various tours to visitors on the island.
One thing to note would be the startling number of restaurants closed on Sundays. I did not think it was necessary to make a reservation and so I arrived at La Pearle Noir and La Scala after walking from one end of Beau Vallon to the other to find this out the hard way. I ended up paying for a taxi back to the hotel and eating at this amazing pizza (La Fontaine Restaurant & Pizzeria) place nearby (15 minutes walk – possibly amazing because I was tired and famished).
I had planned to do 2 hikes in Seychelles (1. Beau Vallon to Anse Major & 2. Copolia Trail). After my early morning walk to the minimart (10 minutes away) and twice to the bus stop in the sweltering heat. All sense of adventure was suddenly lost on me and I was itching to jump into the sea for a swim rather than to go for a mental 3 – 4 hour hike in the sun.
Thankfully, I ended up with a car that brought me up and down this hilly island and with each slope I passed, I was awash with this gratifying sense of relief that I did good with the car. With the car, I managed to get to the start of the Copolia Trail at record time and I even managed to hike a small part of it till my my air-conditioned car beckoned me back. I am generally happy to be in the sun but the humidity and sweaty armpits was something I could not bear.