A Guide to Vacationing in the Seychelles
Suspended in the Indian Ocean, miles 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 were reportedly first sighted by Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama in 1502, little — if anything — was known of the islands prior.
Though remote, the Seychelles attract visitors who come for the ultimate romantic escape. After all, there are few places more isolated than this heavenly cluster of islands. (Even Kate Middleton and Prince William came here after exchanging vows.)
Of course, there's more to the Seychelles 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 French and British colonial architecture. And that's to say nothing of the incredible seafood and incredible resorts.
Before you book full-day flight, consider our definitive guide to planning a perfect getaway in The Seychelles.
Before You Go
Since the Seychelles International Airport opened in 1971, tourism has boomed, and is now the leading industry in the Seychelles. United States passport holders are not required to obtain a visa for a visit of up to 30 days — however, upon arrival, you must show proof of return transportation, lodging information, and sufficient funds.
What to Pack
The Seychelles has a tropical rainforest climate with substantial humidity that is tempered by cooling ocean breezes. Pack swimwear, loose-fitting clothes, and open-toe footwear, as much of your time will be spent on the beach. Hiking is also a popular activity, so consider bringing sturdy boots. Keep in mind that the rainy season runs from December through February.
What to See
Unsurprisingly, beaches are the main draw for this island nation. And since the islands are so far-flung, many of the beaches are virtually untouched and never very crowded. Particularly famous is the Anse Lazio beach on Praslin island, which is known for its clear blue waters and native takamaka trees.
Away from the beach on Praslin is the Vallée de Mai Nature Preserve. While visiting this thick green jungle, with its primitive plant and animal species that have remained isolated since the islands were formed, try to catch a glimpse of the Seychelles black parrot. It's found nowhere else on Earth.
The island of La Digue is also known for the Anse Source d’Argent beach. Here, you’ll find a shoreline framed by picturesque granite boulders. If you need a break from the beach, the capital city of Victoria, on the island of Mahé, is home to incredible architecture, open air markets, museums, and a vibrant nightlife scene.
Where to Stay
Budget lodging is not so common in Seychelles, so be prepared to splurge. Our favorite places to stay include the Six Senses Zil Pasyon, on the private island of Félicité (all of the 30 villas face the ocean and have private plunge pools) and the Four Seasons on Petite Anse. The pitch-perfect bathtub may be reason enough alone to make the trek.
What to Know
The Seychelles were not known to be inhabited until the French began settling the islands in 1768. Over the years, control of the Seychelles passed between the British and French, until the nation gained 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 of 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 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.