How to Plan a Trip to the Seychelles

Come for the pristine turquoise beaches. Stay for the granite boulders, bold curries, wild hiking, and warm-hearted people.

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I had my eye on the Seychelles for some time—the archipelago of 115 sun-soaked islands in the Indian Ocean, 1,200 miles off the coast of East Africa. From my native New York, it’s a journey to get there, but from my adopted home in Nairobi, it’s only a three-hour direct flight. And during the pandemic, it ended up being exactly what we needed from a family vacation.

My husband, 1.5-year-old daughter, and I spent almost two weeks exploring the Seychelles’ three main islands. We explored the  beaches with their signature granite boulders and clear warm water. We snorkeled alongside neon tropical fish, a stingray, and a needlefish. We hiked through dense jungles, feeling sweaty and serene. The flavorful curries had me eager to buy fresh spices so I could recreate them at home. We met some of the most generous and relaxed people on the planet. 

And I will always think of Seychelles as the place that unlocked my daughter’s voice: She sat on the shoreline and started confidently telling stories in toddler babble.

The islands’ physical beauty is undeniable; even if you don’t identify as a beach bum, the Seychelles will turn you into one, by showcasing how diverse this biome can be. Beyond the natural attractions, the country exuded a sense of casual peacefulness, which felt like a salve during this time. I could see why most of our fellow tourists—usually from Europe—were visiting the Seychelles for the 3rd, 7th, or even 12th time. 

The country was closed to international visitors for nearly a year, until March 2021; in the meantime, many people lost their jobs and relied on COVID relief from the government. But now, with about 80 percent of the country fully vaccinated and no required quarantine period for visitors, tourism seems to be getting back on its feet. David Germain, regional director of the Seychelles Tourism Board, says the country saw 185,000 visitors in 2021, including 6,000 who visited directly from the United States. (For comparison, the Seychelles had 384,000 visitors in 2019.)


We flew from Nairobi to the biggest island, Mahé, home to the international airport. (Qatar, Emirates, and Etihad all fly from New York to Mahé, usually via Dubai or another Middle Eastern stopover.) The archipelago has three main islands: Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue; many of the others are uninhabited, home to a single resort, or serve as bases for fishing expeditions.

Our trip lasted 12 glorious days, during which we stayed in three guesthouses. We started our trip on the north side of Mahé, in the town of Beau Vallon. After a few days, we took the ferry to La Digue—via a pit stop in Praslin—and spent five days on this three-mile strip of boulder-studded beaches, shallows, and lush hills. We concluded our trip on the south side of Mahé. It was the perfect amount of time to get a taste of the country, while leaving me a wish list of places to explore on my next visit. 

Left: A rare and highly protected coco de mer nut, which has given rise to several legends. Weighing in at over 40 pounds, it is the de facto symbol of the Seychelles. Right: Sunset on Beau Vallon Beach, Mahé’s most popular beach

Where to stay in the Seychelles

Given how vital tourism is for the economy, Seychelles is full of hotels, all-inclusive resorts, and self-catering holiday homes. We opted for the self-catering option throughout our stay: our favorite, Domaine Les Rochers in La Digue, was a family-run garden oasis minutes from the town center. The bungalow we rented felt cozy in the best sense: The bedding was comfortable and stylish, the wraparound porch was perfect for reading when it rained, and the well-appointed kitchen included some ingredients like oil, spices, and fresh fruit. My daughter spent the early mornings chasing the resident cats and chickens. We felt right at home.

For a more upscale stay in La Digue, Domaine l’Orangeraie has dozens of rooms at various price points, an infinity pool, two restaurants, and a full-service spa on a hilltop. In Mahé and Praslin, the Constance Hotels (Ephelia and Lemuria, respectively) offer similar amenities, and on the north side of Mahé, in Beau Vallon, the Savoy and Story resorts are popular hotel options.

Left: The Arulmigu Navasakti Vinayagar Temple is located in the heart of Victoria, the country’s capital. Hinduism is the largest non-Christian religion in the Seychelles. Right: A jungle bar selling coconut water near Anse Major

Things to do in Mahé

Mahé is home to about 90 percent of the Seychelles’ approximately 100,000 residents. It’s the largest island in the archipelago—4 miles wide and 16 miles long—and the most developed. Over the coming days, I’d come to appreciate the shift from Nairobi’s urban craze to Mahé’s island speed, the lilting Creole Seychellois accent, and of course, the tropical weather (most days were in the 80s and sunny, though there were a few rainstorms). We spent our days exploring beaches, hiking, and learning about Seychelles’ culture and history. We ate well. We drank rum. And we made friends along the way.

Best beaches on Mahé

Seychelles beaches have the seemingly requisite pristine white sand and turquoise water, but even more striking are the large granite boulders and secret cove-like settings. All of the country’s beaches are public, even ones accessed through hotels, which made our wish list all the more extensive.

Barrier reefs protect many of Seychelles’ shorelines, which means calm water by the shore—perfect for our beach baby—and ample snorkeling. Our last few days in Mahé were dedicated to beach-hopping, armed with our trusty paper map, the thorough website Snorkel Report, and a book, Seychelles 20 Most Beautiful Beaches

Mahé’s larger beaches offer a unique charm. Fun beach bars and restaurants flank Beau Vallon Beach, likely Mahé’s most famous beach; from here, I witnessed one of the most colorful sunsets of my life, with views of the majestic Silhouette Island. On the other side of the island, the wide expanse of Anse Intendance features large crashing cerulean waves and a mountain backdrop. Great for surfers, less ideal for toddlers.

We enjoyed Port Launay, a half-moon beach close to the five-star resort Constance Ephelia and located within a Marine National Park. Though most of the coral is sadly bleached, the bay is still home to colorful tropical fish and sea turtles. The beach offers silky sand and plenty of shade from indigenous takamaka trees. Anse Soleil is a small, picturesque cove beach on the other side of the island near the Four Seasons Resort (that was harboring a multimillion-dollar yacht when we visited). Anse Gouvernment, Sunset Beach, and Anse Forbans were other favorites—but above all, Anse Major was the star. 

Where to hike on Mahé

On our first full day in Mahé, we did a short, moderately difficult hike to Anse Major. The path alternated between climbing exposed rockface, with views of the azure ocean below, and trekking through a jungle. The trail spat us out onto a tiny beach rimmed by palm trees and boulders. The water was warm, someone had hung up a rope from a palm tree to swing on, and a tiny jungle bar sold fresh coconut water. I felt like I was in a movie. We later learned that the trail continued to two other beaches, that people sometimes grill seafood on the third beach, and that you could also arrive at the beach by boat taxi. But we were so enamored by the secret cove beach that we didn’t venture further. (Tip: Drive on the paved road past the official trailhead to where the trail actually begins, close to the hotel Calm Sorento. That will save you about 20 minutes of walking on pavement each way.)

The winding, mountainous San Souci Road is dotted with trailhead markers. We opted to trek Morne Blanc, a steep out-and-back trail to a great viewpoint, from where we could see half the island, neon blue water, and white paradise flycatchers soaring in the sky. Copolia Trail is another popular, and less intense, trail in this area. The website AllTrails is an exhaustive resource for walking enthusiasts. (Note: I wore normal sneakers and didn’t see a need for hiking shoes. We carried our daughter in a baby carrier for most of these hikes. Bring ample water.)

The lunch spread at Le Jardin du Roi

Where to eat on Mahé

Many people visit the Seychelles, stay in a resort, and leave having only had European-style food. In doing so, travelers will miss the complex, rich flavors of Creole cooking, the casual fun of “takeaway” barbecue joints, and the coconut-forward desserts.

My most memorable meal was at Le Jardin du Roi spice garden, on a hilltop in the center of the island. The set lunch menu—much of which was sourced from the garden—included a few appetizers, such as star fruit marinated in olive oil and breadfruit braised in coconut milk. The main course featured fresh fish, flavorful curries, and tenderly cooked lentils. (You can buy packets of its curry powder before leaving.) Entry to the garden comes with a map, which can serve as a guide around the verdant, untamed property. I saw my first coco de mer tree, a highly protected tree that grows a nut that can weigh over 40 pounds and is shaped like a woman’s bottom, as well as my first aldabra giant tortoise. 

We had another indulgent meal at Del Place, close to Port Launay Marine Park. It features local artwork on the walls and a seafront view (complete with an island to admire!). We loved the melt-in-your-mouth red snapper, fried eggplant, and sweet potato mash. We further treated ourselves to the “dessert degustation,” a tasting menu of six cakes, tarts, and mousses. 

Other restaurants I would recommend on Mahé include Le Perle Noir and La Scala, both upscale Italian restaurants in Beau Vallon; Marie Antoinette, a family-run Creole restaurant; Baobab Pizzeria, a casual pizza eatery with a fabulous view of Beau Vallon Beach; and Kafe Kreol, which offers a mix of cuisines and creative cocktails.

Finally, we had a lovely time at the Takamaka Rum Distillery, a family-run distillery making rum for about 20 years. We toured the medicinal gardens, learned about how rum was produced, and tasted six products—including white, brown, and spiced rums. It was 11 a.m., but the tour guides clearly knew how to start a party anytime. As we sipped the spirits, they gave us recipes for pina coladas, rum raisin ice cream, and mojitos. 

Culture and history of Mahé

My travel style is to see fewer places for a longer time, and use that time to get a sense of what it would be like to live there. For example, I checked out Sir Selwyn Clarke Market, a covered food market in the heart of the country’s capital, Victoria. Built in 1840, the market showcases vendors selling produce, specialty foods like giant cinnamon sticks and vanilla essence, and Seychelles souvenirs. 

I did feel a bit of culture shock in the market as I watched vendors wrap all the produce in plastic bags (Kenya banned plastic bags in 2020). There was far more single-use plastic throughout the country than I anticipated, particularly bags and water bottles, especially considering that the Seychelles are in the middle of the ocean and boast some of the cleanest beaches in the world. According to Germain from the tourism board, the importation of single-use plastics has been banned as of February 2021, and vendors are using up their supplies. There will be a gradual shift to paper bags and glass bottles over the coming years.

Part of the reason the country has such a small population is that humans didn’t settle on the islands until the late 18th century, when French traders realized that the archipelago occupied a strategic location between Mauritius and India. Though the French formally ceded control of the islands to Britain in 1814, the French influence has remained strong until today, in the Creole language and the cuisine. In 1835, slavery was abolished throughout the British empire, and liberated people were able to get jobs on plantations in exchange for food and wages. 

The Seychelles didn’t shy away from discussing its complicated past—in fact, places like Mission Lodge have a statue honoring the children of formerly enslaved people who attended school there. Germain says the country will soon be restarting a program called “A day in the life of a Seychellois,” in which you visit the market and cook a meal together with a local—a chance to better understand Creole identity and history.

The view from the highest point of La Digue, at the summit of Nid d’Aigle, including the neighboring island of Praslin

Things to do in La Digue

What La Digue lacks in size—the island is three miles long and two miles wide—it more than compensates for with relaxed vibes, jungle hikes, and the most breathtaking beaches I’ve ever seen. It’s home to only 3,000 full-time residents and a handful of motorized vehicles, making it somehow feel larger.

We spent almost a week on this spit of land, and I would seriously consider renting a house and staying for a month or two. (Luckily, the island has a small hospital, and the more developed island of Praslin is only 15 minutes away by ferry, in case anything were to go wrong.) I have happy memories of cooking fresh eggs for breakfast, setting out on our bicycles with a loose plan, our daughter giggling when we went fast, and discovering something beautiful every day. 

Beaches and hiking on La Digue

La Digue has what is believed to be the most photographed beach in the world, Anse Source d’Argent, accessed most easily through L’Union Estate. It was the busiest beach we visited on our whole trip, but we were able to find a quiet spot for reading and napping. The atmosphere is surreal, with massive boulders that look golden at sunset. The water was so clear that you could see giant fish swimming by your ankles. We spent several hours here, and I can’t wait to return and admire this beach again. 

We also enjoyed Anse Severe, particularly around sunset—though beware of sea urchins! I wish I had brought water shoes with me. Anse Patates has some of the bluest water I have ever seen, and lots of hidden spots between rocks to lay out a beach towel and read a book. One day, we rode our bicycles to Grand Anse, where the waves were even bigger than the boulders. There are trails from there to sister beaches, but a huge rainstorm had us cycling back to our guesthouse.

We trekked to the highest point on La Digue, Nid d’Aigle, which I would rate as moderate to difficult, as it was steep and slippery in parts. The views made up for the unsure footing: between the viewpoints, we had a 360-degree view of the area, including Praslin and the tiny islets surrounding La Digue. Next time, I’d plan to hike to the beaches Anse Marron and Anse Cocos, though due to the unmarked trails, they are best visited with a guide.

Where to eat on La Digue

My two favorite spots to eat on La Digue were among the more casual: Rey & Josh Cafe Takeaway and Chez Jules. Thinking about Rey & Josh makes me smile: the owners were warm, the chef was clearly passionate about good food, and though the atmosphere was simple, it made people feel comfortable. If you’re lucky, you may even learn about “secret menu” items based on what ingredients the chef was able to find. We enjoyed it so much that we returned for a second meal.

Chez Jules is a classic Creole restaurant, an open-air straw hut located opposite Anse Banane on the northeast part of the island. It had an extensive menu, bold flavors, chile sauce that turned my ears hot, and friendly service.

Other favorites include Mimi’s Café, famous for its coconut cheesecake (though I preferred the coconut ice cream); Belle Vue, which offers a set menu paired with a sunset view halfway up the mountain; and Le Repaire for a more upscale Italian experience.

Anse Lazio on the island of Praslin, captured in the rain

Things to do in Praslin

We didn’t stay overnight in Praslin, but took advantage of the few hours we spent here. We visited the Vallée de Mai, named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. The nature park is home to over 1,400 endangered coco de mer trees, called as such because sailors first thought they grew in undersea forests, as well as the rare black parrot. At Pirogue Restaurant and Bar, we enjoyed grilled fish and Creole-style pasta. 

Next time, I hope to spend some time at Praslin’s famous beaches, including Anse Lazio, which has been called the most beautiful beach in the world, and Anse Georgette

How to travel within the Seychelles

There are two main ways to travel between islands: ferry and airplane. The Cat Cocos Ferry links Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue. It takes about an hour to travel from Mahé to Praslin, and another 15 minutes to La Digue. Alternatively, Air Seychelles offers flights between the islands, as well as to smaller islands across the archipelago (the flight from Mahé to Praslin takes 20 minutes). 

To get a real sense of Mahé and Praslin, I’d recommend renting a car and packing a folding paper map (I know, so retro); Google Maps will work just fine, though. We put stars next to all the beaches and hiking trails we wanted to check out, along with notes from people we met along the way. We cherished the freedom of driving around Mahé’s windy roads and spontaneously stopping at farmers’ markets, beachside cafés, and art galleries. However, if you don’t feel comfortable driving, taxis and public buses are available.

Commuting around La Digue is more fun: The tiny island has few cars, and the best way to get around is by bicycle, which you can rent from a few shops near the ferry. Our daughter loved sitting in the baby seat and zooming down the island’s handful of roads. Alternatively, you can walk or hire a motorized buggy.

For my next visit . . .

I’m already planning my second visit to this unique archipelago. I would spend more time on La Digue. Between the relaxed lifestyle and the wild beaches, the tiny island has a special place in my heart. 

I would plan for a few days in Praslin, which feels somewhere in between Mahé and La Digue in terms of development. I’d explore the Vallée de Mai more thoroughly, snorkel at Anse Lazio, and discover hiking trails. Meanwhile, my husband would certainly go scuba diving, either on Praslin or Mahé. 

I didn’t get to check out one of the country’s resort islands, such as Denis Island, which—according to every person I met who has been—is otherworldly. I’d also spend some time on Seychelles’ less inhabited tracts, such as Silhouette Island and the islets surrounding La Digue.

And I would return to spend time with the warm-hearted people I met. Perhaps I would assist in a beachside barbecue, learn a few steps of the traditional moutya dance (now recognized by UNESCO as “intangible heritage”), and make daiquiris for everyone—with local Takamaka rum, of course. 

Things to know about Seychelles COVID restrictions

Our trip did have a rocky start. International travel is complicated these days, and Seychelles is no exception. Long story short: We didn’t have the required PCR test for our daughter and ended up having to turn around and rebook a flight for two days later. (If you’ve ever been to the airport with a baby, you can appreciate how stressful this was.)

Learn from our experience and have a smoother trip by following these steps: 

  1. Check the Seychelles’ official website for up-to-date travel information.
  2. Vaccination is not required to enter the Seychelles, but all travelers–including infants–must produce a negative PCR test 72 hours prior to departure.
  3. As soon as you have your negative test results, complete the Travel Authorization Form. (There is a rush charge for filling it out last minute, as we learned the hard way.)
  4. Make sure to take plenty of face masks with you–if you’re in public and not wearing one, you could be fined.
  5. Once you arrive in the Seychelles, you can prebook a PCR test at The process was extraordinarily efficient: Two men in hazmat suits showed up at our guesthouse, where we were lounging in bathing suits. We received our negative results and necessary QR codes by email a few hours later. It felt peak 2022.

>>Next: The Best Underwater Cameras, According to Divers

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Seychelles takes back full control of national carrier | News

The government of the Seychelles has recovered full ownership of Air Seychelles following an agreement with Etihad Airways.

The United Arab Emirates flag-carrier had taken a stake in the Indian Ocean airline in 2012 as part of a wider equity investment strategy.

Now, after months of negotiations, the Seychelles government will pay just US$1 to recover the 40 per cent share.

The Middle East-based airline has been looking to divest its foreign airline investments in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a result of the deal, Air Seychelles will now be fully state-owned and plans to restructure its board in June.

Incumbent executives at Air Seychelles, including chief executive Remco Althuis, and Michael Berlouis, chief financial officer, will remain in position until then.

The new board will be led by Nane Nanty as chairperson, with Alan Mason as co-chairman.

Together with relinquishing its stake, Etihad has agreed to cut the debt it is owed by Air Seychelles by 79 per cent.

Air Seychelles owes Etihad debts exceeding $72 million, which both parties have been negotiating to restructure.

After the cut, Air Seychelles will pay $11 million rather than the full $72 million.

The Etihad stake in the Indian Ocean airline was part of a wider plan to take the Abu Dhabi flag-carrier global.

However, years of losses saw architect of the plan, chief executive James Hogan, leave and the gradual dissolution of the strategy.

The network of airline investments led to $7 billion in losses over the five years ending in 2020.

Some of other airline investments collapsed, with airBerlin folding in 2017, followed by Jet Airways, which failed in 2019, and Virgin Australia, which entered administration last year.

Alitalia, however, struggles on in Italy, while Etihad reduced its stake in Air Serbia to 18 per cent from 49 per cent in December.

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Air Seychelles has been implementing a transformation plan since 2018 after seeing substantial losses, mainly from flying long-haul routes, according to chief executive Althuis.

The airline has since abandoned intercontinental markets such as Paris, replaced Airbus A330 planes with smaller A320 jets and focused on its regional network.

Find out more about Althuis’ plans for the future in a Breaking Travel News interview here.

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Story Seychelles celebrates Indian Ocean debut | News

The much-anticipated Story Seychelles has celebrated its successful launch.

The property set to become the flagship resort in the Seychelles, part of Story Hospitality, a dynamic, UAE-based hospitality management company with an innovative approach and singular vision of excellence.

The driving philosophy behind Story Seychelles – an exceptional beachfront resort nestling in a privileged location in the north of Mahé, Seychelles’ principal island – is to create a new alchemy of travel experiences for the discerning traveller and a fresh lens through which to view and savour the rich and varied possibilities of this exciting, tropical island destination.

Story Seychelles’ commitment is to challenge the established norms of the hospitality industry and provide exceptional performance and service within an imaginative and stimulating environment conducive to delivering a truly inspirational hotel stay that will complement the wonders of this legendary destination.

As its name suggests, Story Seychelles is about creating ‘stories’ for its guests – not only to relish, but also to participate in- during their stay.

These will be singular, inspiring stories sparked as much by the bold architecture of the resort itself and its magical melding into its lush environment, as by the curation of empowering, transformational experiences in art, cuisine and the vibrant Seychellois culture designed to define a memorable and personally enriching stay.

Fuelled by a unique set of operating beliefs, Story Seychelles’ objective is, in essence, to inspire its guests by kindling passions and awakening new dreams either through their introduction to new experiences, or to existing experiences but freshly perceived in novel and surprising ways.

Against a backdrop of the all-too-often, bland, and undifferentiated offerings of today’s hospitality industry, Story Seychelles is making a bold, even provocative, statement to a new generation of traveller in search of a bold and exhilarating suite of travel experiences curated by brave new thinking and a willingness to step out of the box and into a world that challenges the way we think and feel about travel and spark inspiration.

Located on spectacular Beau Vallon beach, an icon of tropical delight, the hotel features 100 rooms comprising villas and suites, a reputed spa and no less than seven different dining venues, each with its own signature ambiance and cuisine.

A rare refuge from the hustle and bustle of modern living, this exceptional resort provides its clients with the opportunity to savour an intoxicatingly fresh approach to tropical living, complete with all modern comforts, immersed in a realm of chic décor, sumptuous food and beverages, spacious luxury and the painstaking attention to detail and service which are the hallmark of the Story Hotels & Resorts brand.

An unparalleled collection of well-appointed and exquisitely furnished accommodations, together with additional relaxation and recreational spaces complement perfectly the ubiquitous and gently pulsating Seychelles vibe, while remaining entirely in step with their lush Seychellois surroundings.

The launch of the Story Hotels & Resorts brand in Seychelles promises to usher in a new age of the Intrepid Discoverer – but not this time, as in the past, in search of new continents and their riches; now, rather, seeking a deliciously eclectic mix of new sensations, impressions and experiences that are genuinely lasting and potentially life-changing.

More Information

Find out more about Story Seychelles on the official website.

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Travel latest news: Cyprus and Seychelles confirm reopening dates for Britons

Cyprus will reopen to tourists who have been fully inoculated against Covid-19 from May 1, while the Seychelles has said it welcome all visitors from March 25, irrespective of their vaccination status. 

British holidaymakers are the largest visitor market for Cyprus and it is the first European country to confirm it will waive other restrictions for Britons who have received both doses of an approved vaccine – however, May 17 is the earliest UK travellers will be permitted to take foreign holidays under the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

“We have informed the British government that from May 1 we will facilitate the arrival of British nationals who have been vaccinated … so they can visit Cyprus without a negative test or needing to quarantine,” the country’s deputy tourism minister Savvas Perdios told the Cyprus News Agency.

Sun-starved Britons will also find optimism in the Seychelles announcement that as of March 25 quarantine requirements will be waived for all visitors (except those from South Africa due to the Covid variant first detected there) with a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before departure, the only remaining condition of entry. 

Sylvestre Radegonde, the Seychelles’ minister for foreign affairs and tourism, said on Thursday: “The measures being announced reflect broadly the recommendation of our tourism partners and have been done in full consultation with and the endorsement of our health authorities.”

Scroll down for the latest travel updates.​

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