The island nation of Seychelles, located off the coast of East Africa in the Indian Ocean, is known for its remarkable beauty and breathtaking beaches. The country's small population and incredible geography and climate makes it one of the most idyllic tourist spots in all of Africa. A British colony until 1977, Seychelles boasts a long and unique history that has been influenced by African, Arab, Asian, and European cultures. Seychelles's capital and largest city, Victoria, is found on the island of Mahé, but the country spans 114 other islands and is practically defined by its ethnic and cultural diversity. As a result it is one of the most interesting and relaxing places on the entire continent to visit.
1. Victoria: A good amount of Seychelles’s history can be found in the capital city of Victoria. Originally settled in the 16th century by French colonists, it has remained a center of business and finance ever since. It has several museums and cathedrals that are definitely worth visiting when on you’re on Mahe Island.
2. Island Hopping: Work with your hotel, a guide, or a travel agency to plan out your itinerary of island hopping; we recommend visiting the heavy hitters, which include Mahe, La Digue, and Praslin. Each of them will leave you breathless.
3. Botanical Garden in Mahe: There are roughly 81 plant species found throughout Seychelles. The Botanical Garden in Mahe is an outstanding representation of the natural beauty of this enchanting country.
4. Shark Bank: Mahe Island offers some of the best deep-water diving anywhere. Not only will you swim with massive and gorgeous tropical fish, but you’ll also spot white tip reef sharks, gray stingrays, and many more creatures.
5. Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve: Located on the island of Praslin, this nature reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has everything you would expect on a tropical island. The flora in particular is truly fascinating: the site is home to the only naturally flourishing coco de mer palm tress, known for producing huge seeds that bear a striking resemblance to parts of the human anatomy.
6. Kopolia Peak: While traveling through the Morne Seychellois National Park’s tropical paradise, hikers can work their way to the base of Kopolia Peak, the scene of a diverse ecosystem that’s home to such flora as the carnivorous pitcher plant (we strongly advise you not to touch any pitcher plants) and stunning orchids.
Seychelles is one of the few places in the world to which you can just pick up and run without worrying about seasonal weather changes. The weather here is fairly stable throughout the year; the temperature typically remains between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (26.6 to 29.4 degrees Celsius.)
The islands experience the most rainfall around the month of January, but it is not heavy and would not require you to change or cancel your trip plans. Because of their proximity to the Indian Ocean, the cyclone season above the water can affect the islands’ weather from December to March, the result being dryer and grayer days. This is nonetheless a peak season for tourism.
Visas: A passport and proof of sufficient funds are needed for entering Seychelles. If you plan to stay for longer than a month, you’ll need a visa.
Transportation: Most major airlines fly to and from Seychelles. Its 115 islands make it a big tourist attraction; island hopping is not only extremely popular but also highly recommended for those who wish to see all that Seychelles has to offer. Coordinate with your hotel or with a travel agency about boat trips and flights between the various islands. Inter-island travel is accomplished mainly via Air Seychelles, Helicopter Seychelles (for chartered and scenic flights), and sea ferries. On the islands, car rentals and efficient bus and taxi services are available.
Mobile Phones: Seychelles has efficient communications networks. High-speed Internet is available, as are several GSM networks. SIM cards may be bought at a low cost.
Seychelles experiences low levels of crime; in 2008 it ranked second on the Ibrahim Index as one of Africa’s safest countries. Still, it is advisable not to swim or go to the beach alone at night; keep your possessions in a safe, and do not walk around with large sums of money in your pocket.
For further details visit the U.S. Department of State’s travel page on Seychelles.
Seychelles is one of the younger countries in Africa. French and other European explorers settled there around the 16th century. The tropical island had an abundance of natural resources, such as sugarcane and coconuts. As the demand for slavery increased, Europeans began sending more and more slaves to Seychelles from other parts of Africa.
Around 1814 the Treaty of Paris placed the country under British rule, and it grew in population from 3,500 to 7,000. In 1835 the British abolished slavery, and Seychelles became a popular destination for freed slaves. The country was also a hot spot for Britain’s exiled prisoners. More than a century later, Seychelles gained its independence from Britain, in 1976, and became a British commonwealth.
Today Seychelles has a population of slightly fewer than 90,000 people, and their diverse origins are reflective of its history. The mixture of inhabitants ranges from freed slaves to political exiles, traders from Asia and Southeast Asia, Europeans, and others. The different ethnicities represented in the country almost make its islands more colorful than its beautiful natural scenery.
1. The official languages are English, Creole, and French. Because this is a major tourist destination, communication and language will probably be of little concern.
2. Seychelles’s currency is the rupee. You can change money at airport and local banks easily and safely. American Express, Diners Club, and Visa are all used in Seychelles. Some places of business do not take credit cards, so plan your cash and credit card allowance accordingly.
3. Make sure that your hotel is an authorized tourism outlet. We recommend checking a travel agency for hotel reviews and contact information.