06 Sep Seychelles Travel Tips + Photos
Seychelles is a far-flung African country that lies in the Indian Ocean. Because it is such a remote place that once there, you feel like you have truly gotten away from it all. Get to know more about Seychelles by clicking here.
Seychelles consists of 155 islands. Which island to choose?
Probably the most important decision you will have to make prior to going is which island to choose. Read on to find out which island to choose. Click here to see my photos of Seychelles.
The most popular islands are:
1) Mahé Island, the largest island of Seychelles. Victoria is the capital city and chances are that you will fly into the international airport here (airport code: SEZ).
2) Praslin Island – this is the island where I spent most of my time. Absolutely stunning! Perfect mix of beautiful beaches, fantastic snorkelling and lesser crowds. Home of Anse Lazio, the most perfect beach I have ever visited, and Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, a UNESCO Heritage Site and only one of 2 places in the world where you’ll find sea coconuts. Click here for Praslin Travel Tips.
3) Curieuse Island is a bio-reserve island which is home to Curieuse Marine National Park where more than 300 Aldabra giant tortoises live. You can hang out with the tortoises, feed them leaves (carefully) and take photos with them. Click here for Curieuse Island Travel Tips. Click here for Curieuse Island Travel Tips.
4) La Digue – it is absolutely beautiful but less ideal for swimming as quite a few beaches have strong currents. Home to the Anse Source d’Argent, the most photographed beach in Seychelles and in the world. However, when went there, there was a lot of seaweed which made unpleasant to swim in. Click here for La Digue Travel Tips.
What I did: After doing a lot of research, I chose Praslin and was very glad about my choice. I did not want to go to Mahe, the largest island because I had heard that it was the most touristy, relatively speaking. I also did not want to go to one of the smaller islands because it was too isolated. Praslin checked off all the boxes:
– It is small enough so getting around the island by car was easy. At the same, not so small that it was isolating.
– The beaches were stunning and not in the least bit crowded
– It also made a good place for day trips to other islands (La Digue and Curieuse Island).
I visited all of the above islands, except for Mahe. I flew in and out of Victoria, the capital of Mahe, but never left the airport to see the rest of the island. The following are highlights of these main islands which may help you in making your decision.
Praslin (pronounced pra-lynn) is Seychelle’s second largest island and inhabited by only 6,500 people. It has a more laid-back and less touristy vibe than Mahe. The entire island is surrounded by gorgeous white sands and turquoise water and is also home to two of the world’s most beautiful beaches: Anse Lazio and Anse Georgette.
What I did: I stayed in Praslin for one week in November and it was paradise. I rented a house 10 minutes away by car from Anse Lazio and would go to this beach often for swimming and snorkelling, both of which were spectacular.
Travel Tip: Snorkelling at Anso Lazio is an absolute MUST. When you are at the beach, facing the ocean, head to the far right-hand side. Along the rocky barriers on the right-hand side is where you can see some spectacular marine life. I saw hundreds of beautiful sea life, including hundreds of colourful fish, eels, a few rays and even a baby lemon shark which came up to shore. There is a spot on the left-hand side of the beach as well, but this side pales in comparison.
Is it safe to snorkel here? Yes, absolutely. Shark attacks are very rare in Praslin. In 2011, there were shark attacks resulting in a fatality but since then, an exclusion net has been put up and thankfully, it has been incident free.
I am not a good swimmer but was able to snorkel at Anso Lazio with no problem. First, you don’t have to swim very far to start seeing the marine life. Second, the beautiful marine life lives near the multiple rocks near the right-hand side of the beach. If you get tired while swimming, you can hop on the rocks and rest.
Travel Tip: Flippers are helpful but not required to snorkel at Anso Lazio. But make sure to get yourself a full-face snorkel. They are far superior to the traditional 2-piece ones.
Travel Tip: Watch out for tradewinds! One thing to watch out for is the trade winds which can cause seaweed to build up in certain parts of the islands. They are harmless but make it unpleasant for swimming and snorkelling and take away from the beauty of Seychelles’s otherwise pristine beaches. This is especially true for Praslin.
Generally speaking, May – September is when seaweed washes up on Praslin’s south coast. Between October – April, seaweed washes up on Praslin’s northwest coast and currents are very strong on Mahe’s northwest coast. Having said that, Praslin and La Digue are quite small islands so you can drive around and find and always find a suitable beach.
Curieuse Island is great for a day trip and I highly recommend it. It is a protected island and as such, there are no hotels or restaurants on the island. The best way to get to Curieuse Island is by arranging a tour through one of the local tour operators in Seychelles. There are plenty of them so you don’t have to pre-book.
Travel Tip: Go and visit the Aldabra giant tortoises! When visiting Curieuse Island, you will disembark at Baie Laraie, which is where Curieuse Marine National Park is. The main attraction at the Marine National Park is the Aldabra giant tortoise. The tortoise population was totally destroyed with the arrival of Europeans who, in 1771, set fire to the island thinking that it would make harvesting the coco de mer nuts easier. You can still see some remnants of the burned area even today.
These days, there are about 500 tortoises on the island: 300 are at the Ranger’s Station in the Marine National Park and 200 in the wild. What I liked about the Marine National Park is that it is a true nature reserve. You’ll find researchers on the island that are there to protect and study the tortoises. The tortoises are allowed to roam free so you can hang with them, feed them branches of leaves and take photos with them. Like the people on Seychelles, the tortoises have a live-and-let-live attitude. They don’t seem bothered by the curious tourists.
Travel Tip: After hanging out with Aldabra giant tortoise at the Marine Park, take the trail from Baie Laraie to Anse St. José beach, which is on the other side of the island. The walk is very interesting, and quite easy, as you amongst thick mangrove forest (the island has eight different species of mangrove trees), red soil which covers a large part of the island (Curieuse Island was once known as Red Island), lost of coco de mer trees (only two places in the world where you can find them naturally, Praslin and Curieuse Island), takamaka trees and plenty of shy, harmless and so-ugly-that-they-are-cute crabs.
If you are lucky, you can also see the Seychelles Black Parrot. Sadly, I did not.
From 1833 until 1965, the island was used as a leper colony. Also of interest on the island is a doctor’s house, built in the 1870s for doctors tending to lepers, which is an example of Creole colonial architecture and now a museum containing information about Curieuse Island’s history. The beach in front of the doctor’s house is where green and hawksbill turtles lay eggs and you can see baby sea turtles between November to December.
La Digue is a small, beautiful island, and like Curieuse Island, worth a day trip. It is also the island where you will find Anse Source D’Argent, the most beautiful looking and one of the most photographed beaches in the world.
Travel Tip: While La Digue is a special place and worth a day trip, I recommend staying at Praslin. A number of reasons for this: La Digue has lots of beaches with very strong currents. Praslin does not. When I went in November, there were too many weeds in beaches at La Digue. The beaches at Praslin were pristine. While beaches at La Digue are definitely stunning to look at it, beaches at Praslin are far superior for swimming and snorkelling. Also, La Digue is a bit too small so you may get bored more easily.
Travel Tip: You can rent a car but because the island is quite small, it is best explored by bicycle. Also, renting a bike in La Digue is quite easy. As soon as you get off the ferry in La Digue, there are a number of places that you can rent a bike from. I won’t recommend getting a bicycle to get around Mahe and Praslin as are they are too big and quite hilly in some areas to do that.
How to get to La Digue:
La Digue is quite well connected by Cat Cocos ferry from most bigger islands. You can also fly to La Digue with Air Seychelles, which is a far more expensive option. I took a Cat Cocos ferry, which was fast, safe and not that costly.