Sublime East African archipelago
The Seychelles scatters 100 castaway islands off the coast of East Africa. They’ve got all the markings of an Indian Ocean archipelago, too – rainbow reefs, green rainforests and vanilla beaches.
The largest island, Mahé, is home to the capital, Victoria. This leafy city serves up the Seychelles National Botanical Gardens (complete with tropical greenhouses and Aldabra giant tortoises) and the 18th-century Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market (pineapple and coconut stalls included).
Mahé is also the stepping stone for any travels on to the other islands. Praslin, a good-sized island to the north-east, wraps silky-soft beaches around a jungle national park. Or catch a boat north-west to the designer hotels and headland viewpoints of Silhouette Island. Then there’s little Félicité Island, where sharp granite creates a dramatic southern coastline.
Any of these islands make a great base for exploring the natural beauty of the Seychelles. The archipelago is famous for its wildlife – particularly the Aldabra giant tortoise, which can weigh up to 250 kilograms and live for 300 years. You could also catch nesting sea turtles, geckos, dolphins and hummingbird-like sunbirds – and that’s just for starters.
That’s because the Seychelles collects national parks like they’re going out of fashion. Almost every island has a patch of protected land – from the six-island-strong Sainte Anne Marine National Park off Mahé, to the coconut palm forests of Vallée de Mei on Praslin.
Félicité Island might feel far-flung, but it’s only just east of Mahé. It’s a newcomer on the Seychelles tourist map, thanks to an up-and-coming luxury beach hotel with eco-friendly credentials.
Mahé might be tucked away from the world geographically – it’s over 1,500 kilometres from the east coast of Africa – but this little island’s arts, culture and activities scene is alive and well.
Most holidaymakers bound for the Seychelles head straight to Praslin – a north-easterly island with a dot-and-dash coastline of sandy beaches and first-growth rainforest.
Silhouette Island is one of the closest islands to Mahé. It lives up to its name, ducking off the radar with just one hotel, a mountain and a halo of bright white beaches.
Direct flights from the UK to the Seychelles take approximately 10 hours. You can also choose to fly via the Middle East.
The Seychelles keeps a steady temperature all year round, with the mercury usually hovering between 24°C and 32°C. April marks the end of the rainy season, warming up in time for May – the sunniest month of the year. July is the coolest month, with temperatures dropping down to a comfortable 24°C. November is the beginning of summer in the Southern Hemisphere, so the temperatures rise and the number of rainy days slowly start to increase.
The Seychelles is completely visa-free. Officials will just hand you a visitor’s permit when you go through customs. Just make sure you have your passport, details of where you’re staying and proof of onward travel (i.e. details of your flights back home).
A 5-10% service tax is added to bills in most hotels, restaurants and bars. Feel free to increase this if the service exceeds your expectations.
English and French are the two most commonly spoken tongues, but Seychelles Creole is the official language.
Make sure your childhood vaccines are up to date. The NHS also recommends getting immunisations for hepatitis A, tetanus and typhoid. You could also consider hepatitis B. Speak to your GP for more information.
The official currency of the Seychelles is the Seychelles rupee (SCR). Occasionally, hotels might accept US dollars.