Regarded as one of the world’s ultimate tropical island paradises, Seychelles is a culturally diverse destination set against the perfect backdrop for those looking for an idyllic escape from everyday life. It is no wonder that this archipelago in the Indian Ocean is such a popular travel destination. Here are 12 reasons why you should visit Seychelles.
In terms of natural beauty, Seychelles is without a doubt, one of the most gorgeous countries I’ve ever visited. The archipelago comprises 115 islands, each with their own special character. White sandy beaches, palm trees, granite boulders and warm turquoise waters come together to create some of the best beaches in the world, which is repeatedly confirmed by leading travel publications. Inland, lush green vegetation and nature reserves dominate much of the landscape and mountains form a picturesque backdrop.
Seychelles is a small country with a total population of approximately 100 000, and even though it does attract many tourists too, finding a secluded beach to relax on, or a quiet nature reserve to hike in is easy. We took a drive in the north of Praslin and the south of Mahe and saw incredible beaches with not a soul in sight – in December. Even the major tourist attractions were not crowded.
And if you want to indulge your inner Robinson Crusoe then you’ll be happy to know that many of the 115 islands that comprise Seychelles are deserted and will give you the solitude you crave.
Seychelles is a year-round holiday destination where the temperature never drops below 26 °C degrees, so anytime is a good time to visit. The rainy season is between December and February, but the showers are usually short-lived.
Seychelles is a visa-free country so there’s no need for lengthy visa applications. All you need is a travel authorization, which you can apply for online within 5 days of your trip at a cost of approximately 10 euros.
There are no Covid-19 specific requirements to enter the country anymore, as the last vaccination requirements were scrapped early in December 2022. Unvaccinated visitors no longer have to show negative test results, and vaccinated tourists no longer need to show proof of vaccination. No other vaccinations are required either.
Luxury takes on a new meaning in Seychelles with stunning resorts and hotels, on the mainlands and on the smaller islands. Here you can have your own private island experience with the beach at your doorstep while staying in a villa with a personal butler at your beck and call. It’s no wonder that Prince William and Princess Kate came here for their honeymoon while the likes of George and Amal Clooney, Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Middle Eastern royalty also come to holiday here.
Creole cuisine is a delicious fusion of French, Indian and African influences, and it has a high emphasis on seafood. Some of the more popular varieties here are the red snapper, blue marlin, tuna and lobster and they are cooked in every imaginable way. We had a Creole buffet at our hotel one evening and I was amazed at how many different varieties of fish dishes there were!
If you’re a water sports enthusiast then the ocean is your playground here. Snorkeling, scuba diving and kayaking are some of the main water sports you can enjoy. They will expose you to the beauty of the Seychelles underwater world as you encounter colourful fish, sea turtles and fascinating coral wonderlands.
I loved how safe Seychelles is. You can walk on the streets, even at night, with your handbag and no one will bother you. Houses don’t have gates or fences and people switch off their lights - even the outside ones - when they go to sleep. Shopkeepers have tills next to open windows which they often leave unattended and don’t get robbed. Our car rental company told us to park our car in the airport public parking lot and leave the doors unlocked and the keys under the mat. Imagine doing that in South Africa!
Unlike some other island destinations where people just experience the resort they stay in, you are not far from the locals in Seychelles. You can shop with them at the same markets, frequent the same beaches, and ride on the same public buses, as we did.
Most Seychellois people we encountered were friendly and all the locals spoke English, as it is one of the three official languages, the others being French and Creole. We would stop random strangers and ask them for directions and they were always happy to assist, often even volunteering additional information. Some of them told us that they come to South Africa for shopping, and one even knew Benoni!
The islands are home to 12 endemic species of birds, some of the biggest and oldest tortoises in the world, and the world’s smallest frog.
The giant Aldabra tortoises live up to 200 years and can weigh up to 350 kg. They can be seen at most hotels and parks in enclosures. However, they also roam free on some islands like Moyenne Island and Curieuse Island where you can see the tiny babies too.
Many of the beaches in Seychelles are nesting grounds for sea turtles, which lay 200 eggs at a time.
The rare Seychelles black parrot, which is the islands’ national bird, is harder to spot but if you’re lucky, you can see it at Vallee de Mai, where you will also find the Coco de Mer, the world’s largest nut.
If you are a really avid twitcher, then head to Bird Island which is home to millions of sea and land birds.
South Africans will be happy to know that Air Seychelles offers direct flights from Johannesburg to Mahe that take 5 hours, making it one of the closest and most affordable island destinations to travel to from South Africa. It is also just under 5 hours from Dubai.
Whatever your reason for visiting is, when you’re sipping a freshly picked coconut topped with a hibiscus flower, on a stunning beach, gazing at some of the most breathtaking vistas in the world, you will be glad you went.
We stayed at these hotels and would recommend all of them.
Constance Lemuria (Praslin)
Constance Ephelia (Mahe)
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