Our fifth trip already. We have been busy making up for lost time!
Welcome to Seychelles - a tropical haven that gave us a reprieve from the ordinary and shoved us straight into the laps of blissful nature.
You know how some people like to spend their beach holiday not moving a muscle? Yeah, we are definitely not those people. In the short time we spent in Seychelles, we did everything from hiking to kayaking to chasing waterfalls.
We woke up in the greenest of rainforests, watched swaying palm trees, walked on whitest of white sands and listened to the rhythmic sounds of waves crashing onto the iconic boulders of Seychelles. There is so much more to this country than it's supremely instagrammable beaches.
This is my guide to some of the more off beat spots we discovered during our short getaway.
Seychelles is one of the top two most vaccinated countries in the world (UAE being number one now yay!), they still have all COVID protocols in place.
1. A Negative PCR test taken 72 hours prior to entering Seychelles
2. A Negative PCR Test taken 72 hours prior to leaving Seychelles
The test costs SYR 3000 for 24 hours turnaround.
3. You will also have to have the Seychelles Travel Authorization form prior to departure - There is a small processing fee, you wait for the approval to be emailed. Carry it with you.
Testing Tip: we got ours done at the Seychelles Medical clinic right above the domestic airport terminal. It was easy to find, the process was fast and efficient - we got our results in 6 hours!
What you will need for testing:
Passport and return flight ticket
Flights, Visa and Immigration
We flew direct with Emirates. NO visa required for Indian passport holders (I believe this is the case for most countries)!
The immigration process was quick and simple though the line was a little long. Don't forget to have your return ticket and confirmed hotel reservation on hand!
On the way back, we used the airport lounge and it was a great place to spend a few hours far away from the airport crowds.
Safety and hygiene
We felt safe the whole time - from finding isolated beaches and hiking trails, it was not very difficult to socially distance. Everyone wears a mask outside the city as well. Temperatures were checked and sanitizers were easily available.
Best time to visit
April, May, June and October, November is best due to the slightly cooler weather.
Language and People
Everyone is helpful and fluent in English.
Travel and Medical Insurance, Currency
Travel Insurance is highly recommended. USD accepted at all resorts. Carry local currency for small purchases.
Island Hopping - how and what are the rules now?
No trip to Seychelles is complete without island hops to most of the most popular islands - Praslin and La Digue. Cat Cocos is your friend. You can go to their website, check the schedules, pay and reserve your tickets. I would suggest you get on this as soon as you know your travel dates - the ferries fill up quick in high season. Also, with the pandemic, they have reduced their fleet.
The most expensive option is to do day tours from Mahe to the islands - though these tours are easily EUR 180 pp all inclusive. Keep in mind that these tours don't run every day, but if you have less time and $$$ to spend, this is the best option. I got in touch with Creole Travel Services. Whatsapp, call or email them with your requirements - they are quick to respond.
We also decided to stay only in Mahe, to save time and because of a new rule that was put in place at the start of June. Due to increasing cases on the main island, guests from Mahe are not allowed to stay in Praslin or La Digue. The rules are constantly updated so be sure to double check this before you travel or decide to stay on multiple islands.
How to get around in Mahe
If you plan to leave your resort and the salty margaritas behind, you have to rent a car to get around Mahe. After a lot of research, we decided to go with Doffay Rental Car. You can easily book online. We just rented an automatic Hyundai i10 - this is what I would recommend you do as well. The roads are windy and can get congested. They were very quick to respond, prices were reasonable and the car was in amazing condition. Highly recommended. I would also suggest picking up the rental car from the airport so it is easy to get to your resort/apartment. The top resorts all charge EUR 80-100 for a one way trip.
Safety for Traveling Solo or as a woman
The country felt extremely safe. Should be no a problem to go solo here.
If you want to budget travel in Seychelles
Traveling with a tight budget to Seychelles? Sounds ironic.. but it can be done (please note that we DID not do this; these are just the things I found during research).
Few small tips to reduce your cost (this is most feasible if you have some time on the islands):
Stay in self catered apartments
Take the public transport (SPTC)- The bus far is SCR 7 for all routes. The buses start operating from 5 30 a.m. It may not be extremely convenient but a good option if you don't mind roughing it out!
Skip the tours - explore all the islands on your own
Find fun free activities to do like hiking, beach hopping or cuddling turtles!
It makes most sense to go for half board at such resorts. Our breakfast and dinner was sorted. The breakfast buffet was massive with fresh bread, homemade jam, hash brown, smoothies, cookies and eggs. There were few vegetarian options on the buffet for dinner but we met with the chef, who was more than thrilled to make us fresh green curry, pasta and pizza every night. They were all fantastic and fresh. Food outside the resort was cheap... and there were even a few good vegetarian restaurants.
Where we stayed
What could be more decadent than checking into a secluded five star property with the sole of intention of leaving your worries behind? With limited time on the island, the hubs was not keen on self catering apartments. We decided to stay at Kempinski Seychelles. This property is located on the Baie Lazare beach on the south end of Mahe. It is 30 minute drive from the airport but we liked that it was far from the city noise.
If your only plan is to laze around at this lush elegant resort, you need not worry. The property also offer a huge variety of water activities and even a giant aldabra corner where you can find these gentle giants resting in the afternoon heat. The staff, service, covid protocols and food were all top of the line.
The room we stayed was basic but had all the amenities had such an amazing view of the sunrise, swaying palm trees and cooing birds every morning. The staff were beyond courteous and made our stay memorable.
Day 1 - drive from airport to Kempinski, sea kayaking
Our flight arrived early in the morning, our rental car was ready for us. We picked up our car and headed straight for the resort. The drive was so amazing with the ocean to one side and mountains on the other. I found the drive to the property to be impressive, we just drove on a private road to reach the entrance of the property.
As soon as we arrived, the staff were ready for us with a lemon iced tea. We completed the check-in formalities and headed for breakfast with heavenly views of the pristine beach. Stomachs full and mind at peace, we decided to explore the property. Every corner was a dream. It was truly time to swap reality for luxury relaxation.
After a power nap, we met the friendly residents and kayak!
If you are an adventure seeker, then there are so many exciting water activities available on the property. We went with Kayaking. Though we waited until late in the afternoon for the waves to die down a little, the sea was still choppy. Kayaking in Seychelles is a fantastic way to get close to the iconic coves; plus it is an eco-friendly activity.
There are many places you can kayak on the island - from Praslin to La Digue. We felt it was easiest to do it on the property. Definitely rent the glass kayak. The water is so pristine, you cannot miss the corals swooshing to the high tides. It was such a refreshing experience and a fabulous way to socially distance in open spaces. We got explore the beautiful mangroves, feel the salty air, and felt one with nature.
For sunset, we went to hike the small peak right inside property. It is a gentle 30-40 minute trail up that opens up to panoramic views of the tropical grounds that surround the property.
Once we reached the top, we had the whole place to ourselves.. just the peaceful seclusion we crave for on every vacation.
You can even choose to do a sunset picnic or a sunrise yoga on the hill top here.
This is one of the unique features of Kempinski and should not be missed.
Day 2 - island hops to La Digue and Praslin
An early start today - we woke up at the crack of dawn to do island hops. We got to the ferry station at around 8 a.m. - well before the tourist crowds descended. The sea was rough even that early in the day. If you tend to get sea sick, make sure to pack medicine. At around 11 a.m. we made it to our first island - welcome to the magical world of La Digue. This island is extremely small, so don't expect to do a lot.. just take your time walking or renting a bike to go around.
Of course, the highlight is also meeting the Giant Aldabra Tortoise of Seychelles. I first set my eyes on giant tortoise in Zanzibar but they aren’t the same kind. These gentle giants are endemic to the Aldabra Atoll in Seychelles (they seemed bigger and way more more friendlier)! Here you will find the largest population of tortoise (yes, even more than Galapagos!)- making it one of the largest ecosystems on our planet dominated by reptiles. THIS has been my biggest discovery about myself in the past few months of traveling - I totally live for these little chances to interact with the amazing creatures of the world. Btw, if you stroke one of these tortoises on the neck they just love it. They will stand up on their front legs, stretch their necks and ask for more.
You will also find other enchanting species like the spider - such a cool experience to hold this guy; just when you think he is going to drop to the ground you will watch them spin a web in microseconds. WOWZA!
After walking around for a bit we finally stumbled onto the calling card of Seychelles. Presenting the most photographed beach in the world - Anse Source d'Argent. Does it live up to the hype? You will have to decide for yourself.
It was a tad touristy for me (though on hindsight it turned out to be far less crowded than I expected it to be)! It was big enough to lose the crowds in between these gigantic boulders.
What I liked most was the pace of life on this almost motor-free island - life moves at the pace of a tortoise. That alone warrants a visit.
After a few hours in La Digue, we got on to the ferry to make our way to Praslin. The water was way calmer this time around but boy was it HOT in the afternoon! Our first stop in Praslin was the Vallee de mai (Valley of May). This must visit destination and a UNESCO world heritage site allows you walk through a mystical palm forest, which is also home to the iconic emblems of Seychelles - the coco de mer nut and one of the rarest flora on the planet.
The paths inside the park are very well marked and there is no way you can get lost. Some of the trees insider there are actually over 200 years old.
No ifs, no buts - just the coco de mer nut that’s shaped like a butt. This rare giant nut is endemic to the island of Seychelles - a treasured cultural and botanical icon of the Seychelles. It is known to produce the largest and heaviest seeds in the world. It has an endangered status because this plant has separate male and female parts that can take almost 50 years to reach maturity. It is often sold for thousands of dollars - even illegally. Conservationists have turned to the islanders to help secure the palm’s future. If you happen to visit the island of Praslin, a trip to Vallee De Mai is a must, you can find out all about this nuts history straight from the locals!
Next up - the best beach in Seychelles (in my opinion) - Anse Lazio. The winding drive up to the beach is well worth the effort - this beach makes it to the top 10 beaches in the world. It is also often compared to the more instafamous beach in La Digue because of it's massive boulders bordered by coconut palm trees that dominate both landscapes, but that is where the comparison ends.
This beach was much bigger that I expected. There was also so much to do here from snorkeling to just laying on the beach working on that tan. You could easily lose the crowds too.
It was easily one of the prettiest beaches we have been to. Try to go after mid day for better pictures but the sea will be more rough.
Day 3 - hiking the Dan Gallas Trail
No trip of ours is complete without doing something off the beaten track. One of the best ways to explore the real Seychelles is on foot and up in the mountains. There are so many trails you can pick from ranging from 1 hour to 8 ours. We decided to go for a more enduring hike - the Dan Gallas.
All of the popular hiking trail can be found inside the Morne National Park, a protected National Park since 1979. You will find endemic plants, insects and birds inside the forest.. lots of sunshine, pure air and a dense forest. The perfect recipe for a memorable natural experience.
This trail is right for you if you're looking for some adventurous trekking. As you climb up the trek, you are greeted by thick woods and granite boulders. There are steps and ladders to help you reach the summit. At the summit, you can have a spectacular birds' eye view of Victoria, Beau Vallon and the Silhouette Island on the other.
Easily makes it one of the most breathtaking hiking trails in Seychelles.
The trail itself is not very strenuous if you are an experienced BUT the path is tricky and dangerous - there were times when there was no visible trail leading up. Be mindful and tread carefully. The last 45 minutes was just climbing over massive boulders. This is also not a circular path - you take the same route back down, though the descent was tougher with slippery sand.
One of the best part of these hikes was not having hordes of tourists behind us and in fact we were the only ones on the trail, which gave us a real feeling of Robinson-Crusoe style isolation -
which is rare on beaches. This is not a very difficult hike but I still recommend you start early so you can get back down by mid day. Pack plenty of water, snacks and sunscreen and set off for the adventure.
We got back to the room for some much needed down time. For sunset, we drove down just a few miles from our resort to the Police Bay beach.