In the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Africa are 115 tropical islands called the Seychelles. They are a popular beach holiday destination, and visitors like to travel to several of the islands including the uninhabited ones. The Outer Seychelles are coralline islands and mostly uninhabited. To visit these islands, visitors must travel by private yacht or in small local planes that land on remote air strips.
Getting to the Seychelles
The Inner Seychelles are granite islands and where most of the popular resorts are located. The Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) is near Victoria, the capital of the country. It is possible to reach this airport from:
• Abu Dhabi
Travel controls imposed on yachts have been lifted since the early 1990s, but there are still restrictions for boats arriving. These rules are mainly for environmental concerns to protect the delicate coral reefs that surround the islands.
Island Hopping by Air
Air Seychelles is the airline that flies scheduled or charter flights between the different islands. The scheduled service is between the islands of Mahe and Praslin with approximately 20 flights in each direction every day. It is a 15 minute ride and there is a 20 kg luggage limit with one euro per kilo for excess baggage. There are also flights to Alphonse, Denis, Bird, Desroches, North Islands and Fregate by charter which can be booked directly at the hotel.
There is a helicopter service that is based at the Seychelles International Airport and runs transport flights between Mahe and Praslin or La Digue as well as between Praslin and La Digue. The helicopter service also offers scenic flights and will transfer visitors to different resort islands. These bookings should also be made at the hotel.
Island Hopping by Boat
There are efficient and regular ferry services between Mahe, La Digue and Praslin. To visit the other islands, a charter boat is required. There are package tours that take visitors to other islands too.
From Mahe to Praslin there is the Cat Cocos catamaran that makes two or three return trips every day. The boat departs from Victoria, and the trip takes about 50 minutes. Including check-in time for a flight, the boat trip takes about the same time as the flight and is much cheaper. There is an air conditioned lounge and children under twelve travel for half fare. During the high season it is best to make reservations a day in advance of departure.
From Praslin to La Digue there is a schooner service with about seven departure times between 7 am and 5:15 pm or 5:45 pm on Sunday. From La Digue the departure times are from 7:30 am to 5:45 pm and 6:15 pm on Sunday. The trip takes 30 minutes and is sometimes on choppy water. Often the water sprays the passengers. These trips should be booked in advance at the hotels.
Getting Around the Islands
Bicycles are a good transportation on La Digue and on Praslin. They can be rented at Anse Volbert or through the hotels. Mahe is not recommended for bicycles as it is very hilly and bike rentals are not easy to find. Most people rent cars on Mahe. One advantage to hiring a bicycle is the up close and personal experience with virgin forests, hidden restaurants, artist’s galleries and miles of pristine white sand beaches.
Car rental is the best way for visitors to have the freedom they want while visiting the Seychelles. Mahe and Preslin have fairly good roads, but drivers should be cautious, because some drivers, and especially the bus drivers, tend to take the narrow bends in the roads at high speed. Driving is on the left.
Car-hire companies are plentiful on Mahe and there are also some on Praslin. The prices will more or less be the same everywhere. Cars can be booked through the hotels or through the tourist office in Victoria. There are also many car rental companies at the airport.
Drivers must be over 23 years and have been driving for at least one year. Companies will accept a national license, but it is good to bring an international license if possible.
The bus service on Mahe is extensive and reliable. For visitors who have the time, the bus is the best way to see Mahe. Every trip costs the same no matter how long, and travellers pay the driver as they board. There are good shelters at the bus stops, and the buses as well as the roads are well marked. A bus travels most routes every hour from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm and slightly later when they are going to Victoria.
Praslin also has a reliable bus service that travels from Anse Boudin through Anse Volbert to Mont Plaisir, the Vallee de Mai, Baie Ste Anne, Grand Anse and to the airport. They go in both directions hourly except between Mont Plaisir and Baie St. Anne where they go every half hour. They travel between 6 am to 6:30 pm. The tourist office has timetables.
Taxis offer full or half day tours of Mahe and Praslin. For taxis, visitors should ask the fare before starting the journey and make sure it is a licensed taxi with a TAXI light on the roof of the car. The driver should also have an identification badge. On La Digue, if time is not a consideration, there are ox-carts that will take visitors from the boat jetty to the hotel.
After deciding how best to navigate the land and sea of the Seychelles, visitors can take time to sail around the inner islands where there are easy sailing distances, safe moorings and spectacular natural beauty.
These islands were made for sail boats with scenic bays and romantic coves as well as Anse Lazio one of the most photographed beaches in the world. Sailing the outer islands is true adventure on the open ocean to tropical paradises where few have ever been. There are sailing operators on Mahe and Praslin for day charters with crews or bare boats for a genuine taste of freedom.