Our plan to visit Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 odd islands in Indian Ocean off East Africa, was made in a rush. Towards end of September, me and my wife Deepti decided to go on a week long relaxing vacation in October.
We started our planning with Greece, thought about southern Spain for a while, Maldives has always been on my radar. There was Turkey also somewhere in between. At the end of it, we had only about 2 weeks left and exhausted from all the planning we decided to go to a place which is not very far, which has beautiful beaches and which offers Visa on arrival. Seychelles seemed almost perfect.
We collected as much information as we could from the internet and planned our 8D7N trip from 17th to 24th of Oct. We decided to do a bit of island hopping and divided our time in 3 islands – Mahe, Praslin and La-digue. We booked our flight tickets on Air-Seychelles from Mumbai (much cheaper, 33k return flight/person). Also, flight times are such that it maximises your time in Seychelles (you land in Mahe 6:55 in the morning and catch your flight back at 8:45 in the night, so it gives you full 8 days to enjoy). Beach wears were ordered, sunscreens were bought in bulk, international roaming was activated and off we went (calls are way too costly even after topups, hail whatsapp!)
We landed in Mahe on 17th morning and after a slow Immigration process (took almost hour and half), we were left to wait for our ferry to Praslin. We clicked some pictures and then had our breakfast in the only restaurant at Mahe’s Jetty. And that was our first encounter with the ‘expensiveness’ of Seychelles. Pretty ordinary breakfast cost us around 40 Euros.
It takes about an hour of bumpy ferry ride to reach Praslin and depending on weather it might get bumpier still. Another option is to take a 20 mins domestic flight (4.5k) for people who are prone to sea-sickness. We reached Praslin around 1 and checked-in at Coco de Mer resort and spent rest of the day at the resort itself.
The best way to travel in Praslin is to either rent a car or to use the local bus service as taxi is very expensive. Most of the hotels also provide shuttle services to the popular beaches every day. Local bus is a very cheap and comfortable way to travel around Praslin (Good frequency, 5 SCR fixed ticket).
In Praslin, beach to be in is Anse Lazio. Constantly voted in top 10 beaches around the world, it sure is a delight. It is a 20 mins hike from bus-stop to Anse Lazio though hotel shuttle takes you directly to the beach. And boy what a beach it is. Pure white sand and sky blue water. Waves are not so strong here and is perfect for a swim. You will see variety of fishes close to the beach and we even caught a glimpse of sting-ray there (a bit scary to be frank). There are also couple of on-beach restaurants, a perfect place to sip a beer or two. Strongly recommended to spend a day entirely on this beach.
Vallee de Mai
Only bad thing about visiting Anse Lazio first is that everyday you will keep asking yourself whether to go back or try exploring something else. What if the next place is not that good? Next day struggling with this thought we decided to go to Vallee de Mei, UNESCO world heritage site. It is a natural palm forest and home to the famous coco de mer , the largest seed in the plant kingdom. It is a 90 minutes guided tour on foot, and is quite a nice trail in dense palm forest. Coco de mer is one of its own kind and is very similar to us in more ways than one. Female and male trees are separate (you can’t tell which is which till they are 15 yrs old), female trees start bearing fruits from the age of 25 and you have to see male and female fruits to believe it. If you are lucky (and we were), you can also catch a glimpse of famous black parrot.
From Valley de mei we took a bus and went to Cote d’Or beach (Bus stop is just at the beach). It is a long beach with white sands and very calm water. It is free of waves and perfect for swimming pretty much like a huge salty swimming pool. Even people who are scared of sea can stop pretending and actually enjoy water here. Also you will find various restaurants and supermarkets just before you enter the beach. Even on the beach, there is a resort restaurant which serves decent seafood.
Next morning we were transferred to jetty for our journey towards La-Digue, a small bumpy fun ride (15 mins). It is a very small island (10 sq km) and sense of calmness and peace that you get here is unparallelled. People come from Praslin here on a day tour but staying here for few days is the best way to spend your time in Seychelles. Only way to explore this island is on bicycle which you will get at your resort or near the jetty. We stayed at beach house in La-digue Island lodge which is very close to the jetty.
We hired 2 bicycles (100 SCR/day) from our resort and started to explore. We asked one of the locals about where should we go. He revolved his hand in every direction, smiled and said ‘Any’.
‘Any’ for us was Grand Anse beach, about 3 kms ride from our resort. Whole island looks like a huge resort, with beautiful roads, bridges, forest and small shops. Grand Anse beach is a stunning stunning beach. Best beach in Seychelles as far as we are concerned. Beautiful landscape, hilly forest on your back and beautiful turquoise water as you move your gaze towards the sea. Waves are very strong here though and it not suited for swimming. Of course that doesn’t stop people from doing it but it is strongly not recommended. A small restaurant serves basic food and drinks just at the entrance (no food after 3 though, just drinks)
Anse Source D’Argent
Rated as THE most beautiful beach, you have to reach there through Union Park paying 100 SCR per person for a day. On your way to the beach, you can see vanilla plantations and giant tortoises in a barn. Then you park your bicycle and start moving towards the beach. And it is quite a walk through rocks, trees, small stretches of sand, couple of shops selling refreshing drinks. You will even find few caves along the way, tree branches extending upto water, giant granite boulders in the water. Beach is not the best, but overall experience is quite unique. Sea is also not great for swimming, waves being a bit strong. It is also more crowded that any other beach in Seychelles being the top tourist spot. A bit overrated perhaps, but overall landscape makes it worth a visit. Very very picturesque.
There are various places to have food near jetty but one particular joint called Fish Trap is quite good in terms of ambience. Do not expect a fast service at any place in La-digue or in Seychelles for that matter. Everything works at its own sweet speed.
Beach near cemetery in La-digue. Not good for swimming due to corals. Very shallow during low tide and you can walk for hundred of metres inside the sea. Line of trees on one side for good shades. And yes we spotted a turtle there!
There is no direct ferry from La-digue to Mahe. You have to first travel to Praslin and from there catch another ferry for Mahe. Sea was very rough on our way back and few people fell sick. We checked in Le Meredian Fishermens Cove which is on to Beau Vallon/Bel Ombre beach (most popular beach of Mahe). It is a very very long stretch of sand with waters good for swimming (we again spotted sting ray here). There are also series of resorts there so you have many options of food and drinks as well. This is as close as you can get to a commercialized beach in Seychelles.
Nice long beach on southern side of Mahe. We hired a cab to reach there costing us obnoxious 800 SCR! On our way back we took the bus back to Victoria (capital town) and then back to Fishermen’s cove (costing us 20 SCR 🙂 ). Very good beachfor swimming and relaxing. On your way back you can take a pit stop in Victoria (one of the smallest capital city of the world with population of around 30,000), roam around a bit to get a feel, visit the museum if you wish and also see small,small ben!
And with that our trip came to an end. Only change that I would make if asked to do it again will be spending more time in La-digue. Mahe though quite beautiful feels like a letdown after Praslin and La-digue.
- Seychelles is a very very expensive place. Given almost everything is imported, things are very costly.
- Bottle of water might cost anything between 55 to 100 SCR in restaurants and resorts. Buy water from supermarket whenever you can (SCR 12).
- Exchange Euro for SCR at airport. Though you can use Euro everywhere, exchange rate that you get is very random (varied from 12 to 14 SCR)
- Do some research on seaweeds and book resorts which is sea-weed free (different for different seasons).