Mauritius vs Seychelles: The ultimate comparison from a traveller who's been to both

2019-10-02 08:45 - Gabi Zietsman
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Whether it's for a honeymoon, family holiday or a trip with the squad - South Africans love a jaunt across the Indian Ocean to our visa-free island neighbours.

With Seychelles and Mauritius as the top picks, it can be difficult to choose between the two - at face-value they look the same, but what they offer to tourists are quite different.

WATCH: Which African island is right for you?

I have had the luck to visit both destinations in one year (my second time for Mauritius) and far-loved my stay in Seychelles compared to Mauritius, but it all depends on what you're looking for when booking a trip to a tropical paradise. 

For comparison purposes, in Seychelles I only visited the islands of Mahé and Praslin on a tour of resorts as well as the capital Victoria, whereas in Mauritius I have mostly only seen the southern and western parts of the island and despite having gone twice have still not visited the capital of Port Louis. 

Transport around the islands are similar to each other as well as their Creole traditions, but there are a few key differences. Seychelles is predominantly Catholic and speaks Creole before they speak French, whereas Mauritius is predominantly French-speaking and is made up of various religious identities, with Hinduism following the lead because of the island's Indian roots.

SEE: These are the cheapest months to fly to these African islands from SA 

Here are more comparisons to help you choose the best island destination for you.

Cost

Seychelles is not cheap for South Africans -  the tiny country has very little industry and has to import everything, and because Seychellois have free education and healthcare, the tax on these imports are also quite high. Most resorts also only include breakfast, with no inclusive packages for other meals and drinks.

In Mauritius, while it can be more expensive than South Africa, will have less of an impact on your budget and many resorts are all-inclusive, which means you have more control over what you'll end up spending. Outside of resorts, alcohol (except wine) is also cheaper than Seychelles.

Winner: Mauritius

READ: Tasting 8-year-old rum on a short break to Mauritius 

Mauritius resort sugar beach

Flights

Both Air Seychelles and Air Mauritius have introduced brand-new planes on their direct routes from South Africa - an A320neo for Mahé and an A350 for Mauritius. The biggest difference between the two planes is the entertainment system - the A320neo plays its movies and TV shows through your own device that connects to the WiFi called SeyStream, while the A350 still has the classic in-seat touch-screen. 

Seychelles flights tend to be more expensive than Mauritius, and the SeyStream's buffering can drive you up the wall if being entertained on a medium-length flight is important to you. In terms of your seat space, they are pretty evenly matched so you'll be comfortable with either. 

Winner: Mauritius

WATCH: The most beautiful boat race can be found in Mauritius 

(Traveller24/Gabi Zietsman)

The arrival of Air Mauritius' first A350. (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)

Resorts

While the price of resorts in Seychelles is higher with rare all-inclusive packages, the quality is much higher than Mauritius. The latter tend to go for massive resorts where you're more likely to be a number, whereas Seychelles prides itself on quality over quantity (but they do have a few big ones as well).

I've also had a better experience with staff in Seychelles than in Mauritius, where once I was forced to walk from the other side of a giant Club Med resort with all my bags because I couldn't call for a golf cart because they hadn't bothered to fix the phone I had complained about on the first day.

In Seychelles, their hospitality standards almost have no equal.

Winner: Seychelles

WATCH: Which Seychelles resort is right for you? 

cocktail on beach at hilton resort

A cocktail at the DoubleTree by Hilton Seychelles. (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)

Beaches

Between the two islands, it's not even a competition - Seychelles has routinely topped many a best-beaches-in-the-world list and every one looks like it should be on a postcard. All beaches are also not allowed to be private, thus you could still visit a magical resort beach without having to actually stay at the resort. 

In Mauritius, the ones I've been to are quite generic, with little wow-factor and many are surrounded by resorts that restrict access. 

Winner: Seychelles

READ: The best Seychelles sunset comes with a Creole braai on the beach 

Man walking on a tropical beach

Rum

Rum is a classic island-drink that's prevalent on Indian Ocean islands, and a visit to their distilleries offer up fascinating historical context, as well as 8-year-old rums that just slide off the tongue, warming your throat on its way down.

In Mauritius the popular rum destination is the Rhumerie de Chamarel - a classic sugar plantation that's great for the sophisticated rum drinker, alongside an amazingly delicious fine-dining restaurant. 

On Mahé, Takamaka is a beloved local brand situated on an 18th-century plantation estate in a beautiful house, but its rum is targeted towards the island party culture obsessed with rum cocktails. Their coconut rum with pineapple juice is a must-do drink for beach sunsets. 

Winner: Mauritius

QUICK GUIDE TO MAURITIUS: Visa-free travel for South Africans 

The Rhumerie de Chamarel

Food

Both islands' cuisine is rooted in French fare, but their Creole creations are what will really satiate your appetite. Aromatic curries and banana served in every version imaginable are prevalent in both countries, while both also have a market culture where you can buy fresh produce and fish for when you're self-catering.

Winner: Both

QUICK GUIDE TO SEYCHELLES: Visa-free for South Africans 

red snapper fish at a market in victoria

Nature

A sad point in Mauritius is that there's very little indigenous vegetation left, taken out by plantations that have been growing for centuries. In Seychelles however, due to the small size of its islands, plantations didn't manage to completely supplant the ancient flora that grows there in abundance, where humans build around nature instead of trying to build through it.

Last year, the Seychelles government also pioneered a new deal where they swapped some of their sovereign debt for investment in marine protection, which involves coral reef nurseries that helps nurture and heal corals to be transplanted back into the ocean.

Winner: Seychelles

ALSO SEE: Coral nurseries in Seychelles aim to replenish reefs threatened by climate change

giant aldabra tortoise

An Aldabra giant tortoise at the Takamaka distillery. (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)

Whether you opt for the cheaper option or save up to indulge in natural splendour, and island holiday to either will guarantee relaxation without tiring you out with activities. 

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