The Seychelles are one of Africa’s island paradises, consisting of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean in East Africa. The island nation is considered one of the most romantic destinations in the world, having attracted the popular American couple, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and singer Ciara, on a romantic getaway where Wilson proposed to Ciara.

The island’s capital city is Victoria, which is located on the largest island of the archipelago, Mahé. Victoria is home to over 80% of the population (total population of the Seychelles is just over 90,000 people). The second largest island is Praslin, and is home to over 7,000. La Digue is the third largest island, home to over 2,000 people.

The Seychellois population is made up of an eclectic mix of the descendants of freed African slaves, as well as Arab, Indian and Chinese traders, and British and French settlers and seafarers, consisting of diverse cultures and religion. The main languages spoken include English, French, and Creole.

The island nation enjoys warm weather all year round, with temperatures averaging between 27 and 29 degrees Celsius. The best time to visit depends on your desired activities. If you want to enjoy sailing or other wind-based activities, visiting the island is ideal between May and September. If you are an avid scuba diver or snorkeler, visiting between April and October is ideal, as that is when visibility is at its best.

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Arrival

You will arrive at the Seychelles International Airport, which is located 7 miles (11 kilometres) from Victoria on the island of Mahe. Bus services and taxis are available to carry passengers to any point on the island.

Airport facilities include a tourism kiosk, duty-free shopping, banking and currency exchange facilities, ATMs, restaurants and bars, and an executive lounge.

Accommodations

There’s a wide range of accommodations to choose from, including large hotels, guesthouses, island resorts, and budget holiday accommodations. Large hotels include the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles in Mahé and the Raffles Praslin Seychelles in Praslin. Great guesthouses include Bernique Guesthouse in La Digue and Beau Vallon in Mahé. Prices are available upon request.

Places of Interest

The Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market

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It is a must to visit the island’s best market and top tourist attraction, the Sir Selwyn-Clarke Market, also known as Victoria Market. You can buy fresh fruit, vegetables, spices, and fish at the market, as well as shop for souvenirs, art, and clothing. You can also enjoy authentic Seychellois cuisine at the various eateries available.

Seychelles National Botanical Gardens

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Located on the outskirts of Victoria in Mont Fleuri, the Seychelles National Botanical Gardens is home to a wide variety of flora and wildlife, including the Coco Der Mer, which has the biggest nuts in the plant kingdom, the Koko Maron, which grows on the forest floor and is used by locals to make ropes and brooms, and a number of spices and fruit trees.

The signature feature of the gardens is an orchid house, which holds a collection of brightly-coloured orchids including Seychelles’ own native orchids.

The Beach

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Of course, having your skin kissed by the sun and enjoying the warm, turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean is an activity you will do in the Seychelles. Beau Vallon is Mahé’s most popular resort beach that offers diving centres and water sports facilities. Here, there are no strong currents, no rocks or corals underfoot, and a lifeguard service is supplied. During the south-eastern trade winds, you can enjoy extremely calm seas.

For a more secluded beach experience, make sure to visit Carana Beach in Northeastern Mahé. It offers a sandy beach fringed by sculptured granite boulders, and is a popular spot for sunbathing. Waves can be large as there is no reef, making it popular with boogie boarders.

Anse Major is the perfect beach for a picnic and for snorkeling. It can be reached by boat, and if you enjoy hiking, you can a take a tour through the Morne Seychellois National Park to reach the beach.

Seychellois Culture and Cuisine

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Multicultural, colourful, and welcoming are just some of the words used to describe the Seychellois community. The island is a melting pot of different cultures and traditions, and you are sure to enjoy moutia and sega music that is often accompanied by dance while on vacation on the island.

Seychellois cuisine is diverse and tasty, drawing influence from African, British, French, Indian and Chinese cuisines. You’ll be spoilt for choice with fish, crab to octopus and many other tropical fish, and you’ll enjoy many fruit including mangoes, paw paws and starfruit.

Passport and Visa Requirements

All visitors require a passport valid for the duration of their visit, a return or onward ticket, sufficient funds to cover their stay (a minimum of $150 USD per day), and proof of accommodations. Extensions are possible if applied for at least a week before expiry of visitor’s permit. No visas are required. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination.

Money

The Seychelles currency is the Rupee (SCR). Money can be exchanged at banks and the airport on Mahé, or at hotels. Visitors can use their preferred major foreign currency (Euros are the most widely used), or pay by credit card. To change Rupees back into foreign currency on departure requires the official receipt from the initial transaction. ATMs are available at major banks in Victoria and Praslin.

Travel Health

Visitors from areas infected by yellow fever require a yellow fever vaccination when entering the country. Immunization against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and typhoid are recommended. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own medication to avert the risk of traveller’s’ diarrhea, as well as sunblock and insect repellent (especially against mosquito bites during the rainy season), as local supplies can be erratic and costly.

Bottled water is widely available for visitors who prefer not to drink tap water. However, tap water in the country meets WHO standards.

A government hospital and several private clinics can be found in Victoria; however they are limited on the more remote islands. Medical insurance with full evacuation coverage is necessary.

Tipping

Charges for most services include a service charge of between 5% and 10%; therefore, tipping is not obligatory. You are more than welcome to tip extra if you feel that the service received has been exceptional.

Safety

The country is generally safe and no major incidents of violence against foreigners have been reported. Keep general safety precautions such as being vigilant after dark and in isolated areas, and avoid taking valuables to the beach. Women should generally avoid walking alone on isolated beaches.