SEYCHELLES

“Buy experiences, they never fade away”, said some wise guy. And so I bought the most expensive experience of my life, till date.

Yes, Seychelles is expensive and in case you are wondering whether to make it your next holiday destination or not, the words below may help you make a choice.

Seychelles is a 115 island country in the Indian Ocean and only 4 of the 115 islands are actually inhabited. It is an ideal location for honeymooning couples, people looking for some beautiful beaches, some white sand, some sun and water sports. I was in Seychelles in early March, 2015 on my honeymoon and spent 7 nights at the Hilton Northolme Resort and Spa in Glacis,  Seychelles. My review on the hotel can be found here.

Arrival: I arrived at the Seychelles International Airport, Mahe, in the evening and the first thing that hit me was the taxi prices in Mahe. My hotel was approximately 16 kilometers one way and the cheapest taxi I found was 60 Euros for a drop and pick up. I booked my taxi through Green Path Transfers here and would recommend them if you do not find anything less expensive.

Day 1: Sunday:  The world comes to Seychelles for a holiday and Seychelles holidays on a Sunday. It was my first full day and we preferred walking from my resort to the nearby Beau Vallon Beach. Being a Sunday, most of the locals were out on the beach and were enjoying their day off in true Creole spirit. The spirited Seychellois people add to the atmosphere on a Sunday as they are out on the beach with their beers and music. I decided to dive as it was sunny and Blue Sea Divers on Beau Vallon are the best guys to do it with. For 90 Euros, I was able to spend the most peaceful and amazing 40 minutes of my life ever. The experience was surreal. There was a quote written “Life is an Ocean, Just Dive”. I saw more meaning in the words after the 40 minutes.  After soaking the sun for a few more minutes, we had lunch at La Plage Restaurant before heading back to the resort. The restaurant was good and offered a nice view of the beach and the sunset.

Tips from the day:

#1: Do not head out for the city on Sunday as most of the shops and eateries will be closed.

#2: Try to be back at your resort around sunset if you are on foot as there are no streetlights or footpath and due to the     narrow and hilly roads, it is often dangerous walking due to the speeding cars.

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Day 2: Monday: This was our second full day at the island country and we decided to move about like most of Seychelles does, the public transport. Basically, public transport at Mahe is just some old Tata Buses that ferry people from various corners of the island to Victoria which is the central town. We reached Victoria from Glacis in 1 Euro and got down near the Hindu temple in Victoria. Its a bustling place with a lots of shops and eateries. We had lunch at a small Italian restaurant and continued to explore the town on foot. There is enough and more in Victoria e.g. souvenir shops, bars, casino, creole and multi cuisine restaurants, church, parks etc. We strolled along the place for around a 3-4 hours and headed back to our resort through public transport only.

Tips from the day:

#1: Eateries in town and much cheaper and serve wider variety of food than in resorts / fancy restaurants.  

#2: If you drink, carry alcohol from Duty Free as the prices in Seychelles are quite steep.

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Day 3: Tuesday: This was the longest and probably the best day of the entire trip. We opted for an island hopping tour through 7 Degrees South. A tour of La Digue and Praslin islands cost us 420 Euros per person. More details on the tour can be found here. The package includes a guided tour to La Digue and Praslin islands along with Lunch. The tour is very nicely planned and you dont have to worry about a thing as everything is arranged by the travel company.

We were picked up early from our hotel and taken to the inter island ferry station. An hour’s ride on a ferry took us to Praslin island. Some of the views during the sail were breathtaking. Almost immediately, a smaller ferry took us to La Digue which was half an hour away from Praslin. We reached La Digue by 9 am and spent the next 4 hours there. The island cant be described in words. With a population of about 2000, this was the most tranquil place I had ever visited. The beaches were spectacular, the landscape was green and serene and the entire place seemed like a wallpaper. Later during the day, we took a ferry back to Praslin and that is when I had the most amazing lunch of my trip. It was a buffet arranged by the tour company at The Britannia restaurant and the Creole dishes were just amazing. Soon after that we had a tour of the Praslin Nature Reserve which is where we saw the famous “Coco De Mer” seed and tree. Read more on it separately if you want to know why it is so important. Even the Seychelles visa entry stamp is the shape of a Coco De Mer seed. After the Nature Reserve Tour, we headed for the Anse Lazio, considered to be one of the best beaches on the planet. We did not realize the true potential of the beach is it was overcast, however, it was worth it just for the blue waters and white sand. A must see if you step on Praslin. Later, we took the ferry back to Mahe and were transferred back to our hotel. 

Tips from the day

#1: Do not miss the island hopping tour. Its worth every penny you will shell out for it.

#2: If you like snorkeling, always carry your equipment with you. You never know when you may need to dive. 

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Day 4: Wednesday: This had to be one of the most weird days for me on the trip. I did not step out of the hotel the entire day but will remember the day for my life. The beach area of Hilton Northolme, where we were staying is absolutely magnificent. Is has a lot of rocks surrounding it which gives birth to a lot of corals and marine life around it. I was in the water soon after breakfast and I remained submerged for the next 7 hours straight. What did I do ? SNORKEL. The view and diversity of marine life was so spectacular that I never felt like coming out. Head inside the water, I just observed and explored the life below the sea for the entire day. Had it not been for the dire need to feed myself again, I would have surely continued for longer. But the day was surely terrific. 

Tips from the day

#1: Protect your back if you wish to snorkel for long hours by wearing something or applying sun screen. My back was completely sun burnt by the end of 7 hours as it was continuously exposed to the sun.

#2: Test your equipment before you venture deep. You need your snorkeling equipment to function perfectly before you venture deep for long hours.

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Day 5: Thursday: We met a gentleman on Monday while we were strolling in Victoria named Ralph. Ralph owned a travel company and we happened to meet him while inquiring about Victoria. Ralph on that day agreed to take us on an island tour of Mahe which we did on Thursday. In the 5 hour long road trip around Mahe, he took us to many interesting places in Mahe. One of them was the only brewery in Mahe Island. It produced the, locally very famous, Takamaka Rum and Sey Brew beer. We stopped at a remote restaurant on the western part of the island for yet another delightful creole lunch. That was followed by a view of Anse Royale beach. While going back, we stopped at a viewing point on the east of the island which gave us a breathtaking view of the entire Victoria town, the Eden islands, Marine Park, the port and much more. We spent a good half an hour absorbing the view from there. We were dropped back at the resort after that by Ralph. 

Tips from the day

#1: Check for the weather forecast at the exact place where you are going. The weather changes in minutes and is very different at different parts of the island.

#2: Try on having an informed guide. It helps immensely as he / she will have a lot of context / insights / opinions.

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Day 6: Friday: This was another remarkable day as opted for a full day St. Anne Marine Park tour again by our trusted tour operator, 7 Degrees South. The tour started in the morning on a glass bottomed boat that took us to into the sea. We could see the corals and marine life below boat and it was a spectacular sight. We also fed the fish which was more fun than it sounds. We dropped bread crumbs into the sea and there were scores of fish that fought for it. It was a first for me to see hundreds of fish at an arms length from me. The boat then paused at marine life spot and we snorkeled for about an hour. The corals were larger and much more colorful here than I had seen previously. Needless to say, it was very peaceful and beautiful. Next we headed for St. Anne island which is a small island on which tourists come only by the day. We trekked around the island and were met by some tortoise and a couple of spectacular beaches on our way. The tour operator had arranged a grand barbecue buffet by the beach and it felt amazing to have an awesome lunch while the waves washed your feet. We lazed around the beach for a good couple of hours before heading off to Mahe in our glass bottomed boat.  

Tips from the day

#1: Try going for a trek. The biodiversity on the islands is spectacular and not to me missed. There are almost half a dozen famous trails on Mahe that you can opt for. 

#2: Be careful of sea urchins. These black under sea creatures can inflict a lot of pain if you touch them. 

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Day 7: Saturday: We had an evening departure so I spent the entire day at the resort itself doing what I had almost fallen in love by now, Snorkeling. By afternoon we packed our bags with our stuff and a lot more memories and experiences from the wonderful island country. 

My Recommendation: An ideal Seychelles trip, can be of 3-5 days depending on your budget. There is a lot to do on the islands but most of them can be covered in 3-5 days. A few activities that I would strongly urge you to include in your itinerary would be the Praslin and La Digue island tours (1 full day), diving and snorkeling (1 full day), Mahe Island sight seeing and St. Annes’ tour (1 full day). If you wish to stay longer you can go for a trek and involve in some water sports. Also, spending a sunny day relaxing on the beach is also not a bad idea.

Seychelles is a wonderful and welcoming nation that has plenty to offer. A tiny spot in the middle of Indian Ocean, the country can literally mesmerize you with its beaches, greenery, food and people. If life is an ocean, Seychelles surely is your spring board to dive.

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