There’s something magical about tropical climes! Something about its turquoise blue waters, white sandy beaches, swaying palm trees, and bright sunny days that gets you into the groove for fun. Seychelles is one such paradise, nestled in the the blue waters of the Indian Ocean, towards the North of Madagascar and at some distance from the Eastern Coast of Africa. The island nation comprises several islands, with Mahe, Praslin and La Digue being the prominent ones that are well connected with each other and the external world. In this travelogue, I’ll be sharing the itinerary of the week long trip we took to bring in the year 2020, and the must-do-things in Seychelles.
Day 1 : Diving In
We boarded an early morning flight to Mahe from Mumbai (there are direct flights from Mumbai and Delhi only to Mahe) and landed at 0830 hrs Seychelles time (Indian time is ahead of Seychelles by 1 hr 30 min). A cab took us to our homestay along the north coast, where after a quick bite and resting up for a bit, we headed out for Beau Vallon Beach on the west coast to dive into its inviting waters. Beau Vallon is the most commercial beach in Seychelles and apart from offering amazing long walks with beautiful sunsets, it has a number of cafes, bars, and shacks that add flavor to its seaside ambience with reggae music, booze and seafood. One can look forward to romantic walks along the beach while enjoying a pint of beer or wine.
Day 2 : Mahe Hustle
This was the most packed day of the trip, so we started early and went straight to North Point Beach to catch the spectacular sunrise (one can even plan for a short run or walk along this long beach) and the waves crashing onto the beachside. The Copolia Trail was next, its 1.4 km trail located near the town of Victoria is an easy climb of 150 m. The endpoint offers an amazing view of the entire eastern coastline, archipelago of islands, and the man-made Eden Islands. We ended up soaking in way too much sun and so we headed back to the Machabee Rock Pool on the north coast to cool off, immersing ourselves in the small man-made rock pool to watch the waves crashing onto the seaside while sipping on beers.
Our next stop was Carana Beach along the north coast, which has some really rough waters crashing onto its shoreline. After jostling with its fierce waves, we took a well deserved afternoon siesta under the shadow of the trees on the beach. In the evening, we moved to Port Lornay on the western coast. It’s a beautiful lagoon with aqua blue calm waters resembling a large natural infinity pool and opens up to the horizon from where one can see the setting sun. To bring the day to a close, we wound it up with a a round of drinks on our sea-view balcony.
Day 3 : Dive 2019
On the last day of 2019, we went sea diving with the Blue Sea Divers at Beau Vallon Beach for our diving slot from 2 pm to 5 pm. The sea here is teeming with marine life, making it one of the most sought-after locales for the sea diving experience. As we plunged into the water, we were transported to another world, the likes of which we had only seen on Nat Geo documentaries. The experience was so enchanting and immersive that we felt like different people when we emerged from the depth of the ocean. Refreshed, rejuvenated, and enlightened, it seemed like all our worries and problems had got left behind at the bottom of the sea before the start of the new year.
Day 4 : New Year, New Destinations
On the first day of the new year, we travelled to Praslin on a Cat Cocos ferry (I booked it prior to my trip, but recommend pre-booking it online). The ferry took about an hour to reach Praslin and after checking into our homestay, we headed for the first destination on our itinerary, the Vallee de Mei. A nature park and UNESCO World Heritage Site, it houses a palm forest and a monocot tree named Coco de Mer (it has the largest seeds in the world for any plant). The next stop was at Anse Lazio, which has one of the most beautiful beaches in Seychelles, followed by Zimbabwe Point located close by for a panoramic view of the Praslin coast. In the evening, we went swimming at Anse Lazio Beach and ended up partying at the beachside resort of Le Duc de Praslin. A lively beachside spot, it has great beer, wine and seafood. With an amazing crowd and great live reggae music playing to the sounds of the waves crashing on the beach, it was the perfect place to be to welcome the new year.
Day 5 : La Digue
After a morning walk and swim along Cote de Or beach, we took a Cat Rose ferry for the island of La Digue (it’s a 20 min ride). La Digue is a small island where life is slow, quite like the Giant Aldabra tortoise. The places to visit here are La Union Estate, home to the Aldabra Giant tortoises (they live for 200 to 250 years); Vanilla plantations; and the serene beach of Anse Source de Argent. For moving around, one can hire bicycles from next to the jetty location (there are no cars on this island). After spending time at Union Estate, we went cycling to Grand Anse Beach. This beach is for surfers (the waves go as high as 4 to 5 m), though I would recommend one restricts the amount of time spent here as there is no shade on the beach. It was fun though we got thrown off by the waves numerous times, and later went cycling around the island before catching the ferry back to Praslin.
Day 6 : Sea Kayaking
The next morning, we went for a round of sea kayaking and hired a two-seater kayak. We headed for St Pierre Beach, where we went along the coastline and then on to one of the private island resorts at some distance in the sea. Post this, we left for Mahe on a boat, and this time we booked a homestay on the western coast. After reaching our homestay and dumping our luggage, we went off to explore more beaches on the west coast, finally coming on to Grand Anse Beach where we spent the evening strolling, followed by a quiet candlelight dinner in our sea-facing balcony.
Day 7 : Sea Snorkeling
It was our last day in Seychelles and we had planned a hike to the Morne Blanc trail, which has a panoramic view of the west coast. However, since rain played spoilsport and we had to cancel the hike, we took an island safari on a glass boat that tours an archipelago of islands along the eastern coast. We boarded from Eden Island near Victoria town and visited St Anne Marine Park, Long Island, Round Island, Ile au Cerf and Ile Moyenne. The tour started with a visit to the marine park where we saw myriad aquatic life forms from the glass bottom of our boat. At this spot, one could jump in with snorkels to witness the marine life floating around. Later, we took a plunge into the ocean with a pair of snorkels to enjoy the experience.
Next up was Long Island where we once again met the Giant Aldabra tortoises, before heading to Round Island from where we actually walked back along the sea bed to Long Island (the water here is waist-deep). After enjoying an amazing meal by the locals, we got into our snorkels to head out on our boats to spot the coral reefs. We saw the corals, including some which had been damaged due to the bleaching effect of global warming. The swim in the ocean came to an end as the day merged into twilight and we returned to the harbor. But before leaving for the airport, we went to the Seychelles viewpoint above Victoria town for one last view of the splendid island nation where we had welcomed 2020, little realising what the year was going to have in store for the world. We managed a quick walking tour through the busy streets of the Victoria market before boarding our flight back home to reunite with our fur baby waiting eagerly for us in Pune.
Things to Do
- Beach-hopping to explore one of the best beaches in the world.
- Sunbathing on the glittering sands of Seychelles beaches.
- Snorkeling along the beaches or at St Anne Marine National Park.
- Scuba diving with Blue Sea Divers.
- Parasailing on Beau Vallon beach at Mahe.
- Kayaking along the beaches and small islets.
- Enjoying cool dips in rock pools along the coast.
- Fishing and Island hopping either by boat or seaplane (as per budget).
- Glass Bottom Boat Tour of Marine Park.
- Hiking along trails on Mahe for bird’s eye view of the island.
- Exploring the Vallée de Mai on Praslin.
- Meeting Giant Aldabra tortoises.
- Sunset cruises and romantic candlelight beachside dinners.
- Eating grilled fish from street shops on Mahe.
- Exploring the local market of Victoria.
- Going back in time with the slow life at La Digue.
Travel Essentials. I would definitely recommend a trip to Seychelles as a destination for all beach lovers and the oceanophiles who are fond of vacationing in coastal locales. There are no major requirements in this easy going tropical destination, however a few travel tips may come in handy:
- Currency: In Seychelles, apart from the local currency, both Dollars and Euros are accepted (Euros are preferred because of more European tourists). The money can be withdrawn from ATMs, which are easily available.
- Commuting: For moving around one can hire a taxi for 40-50 Euros a day. It is advisable to pre-book a taxi online, especially during the peak seasons like New Years’. You just need your driving license to hire a car. They follow a left-hand drive.
- Stay: It’s an expensive country and one can choose as per budget. I opted for Airbnb and it cost me Rs. 4,500 a day.
- Language: People understand and converse in English. Though there is a sizable Indian Tamil community, they speak only English.
- Food: It’s a delightful place for non-vegetarians and seafood lovers with good eating joints all over. For vegetarians, there are restricted options, and one can go for self-cooking or have the veg pizzas or hook on to the few Indian restaurants which serve veg food.
- Communication: You can buy an Airtel sim from outside Mahe airport. The Internet and calls are very costly so use it judiciously. Homestays do offer Wi-Fi at a certain price, which you can utilize if you like.
- Budget: The country is not a budget-friendly one and everything is on the pricey side, right from stay, transport, food, and mobile network. A trip of seven days for two cost me about 2.25 lakhs with all the expenditure included.
Picture Credit : Vibhor Tyagi