A Guide to Vacationing in the Seychelles Islands

If the Seychelles Islands have always been on your list of places to visit, take these travel tips to heart.

Overhead of the Seychelle Islands

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Situated in the Indian Ocean east of Kenya and north of Madagascar is a 115-island archipelago so beautiful early British explorers thought they had stumbled upon the Garden of Eden. While the Seychelles Islands were reportedly first sighted by Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama in 1502, little — if anything — was known of them prior.

Though remote, the Seychelles Islands attract visitors who come for the ultimate romantic escape — even Kate Middleton and Prince William came here after exchanging vows. After all, there are few places more isolated than this heavenly cluster of islands.

Of course, there's more to the Seychelles Islands than pristine beaches and water so clear you never lose sight of your feet. In addition to unabashed natural beauty and wildlife, the main island of Mahé, where the capital Victoria is located, boasts beautiful 18th- and 19th-century French and British architecture. And that's to say nothing of the incredible seafood and resorts, or the unparalleled beauty of the North Island.

Before you decide to book a full-day flight to reach this island paradise, consider our definitive guide to planning a perfect Seychelles getaway.

Before You Go

Ever since the Seychelles International Airport opened in 1971, tourism has boomed and is now the leading industry in the Seychelles Islands. While United States passport holders are not required to obtain a visa for a visit of up to 90 days and can be granted a visitor permit upon arrival, you must show proof of return transportation, lodging information, and sufficient funds for the duration of your trip.

What to Pack

The Seychelles Islands have a tropical rainforest climate with substantial humidity that is tempered by cooling ocean breezes. Pack plenty of swimwear, loose-fitting clothes, and open-toe footwear, as much of your time here will be spent on the beach. Hiking is also a popular activity, so consider bringing along some sturdy boots. Keep in mind that the rainy season runs from December through February.

Anse Lazio Beach, Seychelles

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What to See

Unsurprisingly, beaches are the main draw for this island nation. And since the Seychelles Islands are so far-flung, many of them are virtually untouched and never very crowded. Particularly famous is Anse Lazio beach on the island of Praslin, which is known for its clear blue waters and native takamaka trees.

Away from the beach, also on Praslin island, is the Vallée de Mai Nature Preserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site. While visiting this thick green jungle, home to primitive plant and animal species that have remained isolated since the islands were formed, try to catch a glimpse of the Seychelles black parrot, found nowhere else on Earth.

Nearby, the island of La Digue is known for its lovely Anse Source d’Argent beach, where you’ll find a shoreline framed by picturesque granite boulders. If you need a break from the beach, the capital city of Victoria, located on the main island of Mahé, is home to incredible architecture, open air markets, museums, and a vibrant nightlife scene.

Banyan Hill Estate, Seychelles
Courtesy of Fregate Island Resort

Where to Stay

While budget-friendly lodging is available in Seychelles Islands, the resorts are plentiful so if this is a special trip, be prepared to splurge. Our favorite places to stay include the Six Senses Zil Pasyon, located on the private island of Félicité — all of its 30 villas face the ocean and feature private plunge pools — and the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles on Petite Anse. Its pitch-perfect bathtub may be reason enough alone to make the trek.

What to Know

The Seychelles Islands were not known to be inhabited until the French began colonizing the area in 1768. Over the years, control of the Seychelles passed between the British and French, until the nation gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1976.

Today, the country remains incredibly multicultural, with most Seychellois tracing their roots back to early French settlers and East Africans who came to the islands later on. There is also a sizable South Indian and Chinese influence on the cultural makeup of the islands. This may be best manifested in the island's cuisine, which is a seafood-heavy homage to the country’s many influences. Specialties include shark chutney — mashed shark seasoned with bilimibi juice — and ladob, a sweet, savory plantain simmered in coconut milk.

How to Get There

Some 300 miles off the coast of mainland Africa, the best way to reach the Seychelles Islands is by plane. Most connecting flights originate from Doha, Dubai, or Nairobi and travel between the islands is typically done on small planes or helicopters. Ferry service between the main islands of Mahé, La Digue, and Praslin is operated by Seychellesbookings.com.

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