Plan your trip to Seychelles with this Quick Guide. (Photo: iStock)
Who wouldn't want to visit the glistening shores of the Seychelles? This island haven floating not far off of the coast of East Africa (about 1 600 km east of Kenya) is known for its warm tropical climate and teal waters.
Since the island region had gained independence in 1976 it has developed from a largely agricultural society to a market-based diversified economy, with agriculture being supplanted by rapidly rising service and public sectors as well as tourism.
Sip-up cocktails and enjoy the richness of indigenous coconuts while soaking up the sun that rarely dips below 24°C or rises above 32°C.
You can unwind, worry-free too since the island has no poisonous or dangerous creatures lurking its shores and shrubs. However, you can still admire and gaze upon the beautiful creatures that do - like the island's various bird species, crustaceans and flora.
Maybe you'll go nuts over their quirky Love Nuts or their unique Jellyfish Tree.
READ: Coral nurseries in Seychelles aim to replenish reefs threatened by climate change
Here's what you need to know if you go:
- Visas: No visa is required for South Africans for up to three months - granted you have a valid passport
- Population: About 95 144 +/- presently
- Flight Route Access: Seychelles offers direct flights between South Africa (only from Johannesburg and Durban) and Seychelles.
- Flight time: About under 5 hours for direct flights and connecting flights range between about 10 hours and 50 hours (depending on the amount of connections and layover time)
SEE: Seychelles: Five top resorts to try
- Currency: Seychelles Rupee (SCR) Current Exchange Rate: R1 = 1.08 SCR
- Medical and health: To avoid illness and dampening your trip experience, be sure to heed the warnings and get the appropriate vaccinations beforehand. All Travellers: Routine Vaccinations (measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot). Most Travellers: Hepatitis A, Typhoid. Some Travellers: Hepatitis B, Rabies, Yellow Fever.
- Religion: Roman Catholicism is the most dominant religion in the region. There are also Anglican and Protestant churches and places of worship. Other religions practiced in the area include: Islam, Hinduism and Baha'ïsm (mostly in the Mahé, Praslin and La Digue communities).
- Time Zone: Seychelles operates on Seychelles Time (SCT) which is UTC+4 - Seychelles is 2 hours ahead of SA.
- Emergencies: Dial 999 - for more emergency numbers: click here.
- Public Transport: Busses are the main form of public transport in Seychelles. Bus services operate throughout the day, from 05h30 to 20h30 and fares cost around 7 SCR for an all day ticket, 15 SCR for aircon services and 10 SCR for night bus services. For more information: click here.
- Useful App to download: Bouzay (the Seychelles version of Uber) for getting around.
- Climate: Seychelles has a tropical climate. The weather is always warm and does not really reach extremes of heat or cold - as it rarely drops below 24°C or rises above 32°C.
- Best time to go: Taking into consideration of the climate and rainy seasons, the best time to go is between April, May, October and November. However, different parts of the year allow for different activities - like bird watching, fishing, diving, snorkelling, sailing etc. For more information: click here.
- Language: English, French and Creole are the official languages. Most Seychellois speak all three with Creole being the most popular and commonly spoken - by about 95% of the population.
CHECK OUT: Seychelles: Why it's good for the soul
Useful phrases to know:
In the main tourist centres Creole is widely spoken. However some locals might prefer to speak in English or French. Learn a few key phrases in Creole to make your stay more enjoyable.
Useful app to download - Duolingo makes learning a new language easy and fun.
- Greeting – Bonzour (Goodmorning - pronounced Bouzoo similar to the French Bonjour but with the change in sound as the 'j' changes to a 'z' sound), Bonswar (Goodnight - pronounced Bosswa), Orevwar (Goodbye)
- Yes - wi
- No - non
- How much is this? - Konbyen sa?
- Please - Silvouple (pronounced Sevooplay)
- Thank you - Mersi
- Sorry - Pardon
- My name is... - Mon apel...
- What is your name? - Ki mannyer ou apele?
- Do you speak English? - Eski ou koz Angle? (Angle - English - pronounced as Anglay)
- What? - Kwa?
- Why? - Akoz?
- Where? - Oli?
- Who? - Lekel?
- When? - Kan?
- Where is the toilet? - Oli toilet?
- Excuse me, where's… - Eskiz mon, oli...
When travelling to Seychelles, make sure you have the following on your packing list:
- A valid passport, arrival ticket, return ticket, adequate funds;
- a camera;
- basic essentials;
- comfortable, lightweight, casual clothes and your beach attire of choice;
- comfortable walking shoes or flip flops / sandals;
- a brimmed hat;
- insect repellent;
- formal / occasional wear (depending on your reason for travel);
- basic toiletries;
- prescription medication;
- sunglasses (and a spare pair);
- a medical kit (for exploration);
- Swiss Army Knife (for exploration);
- a flashlight (for night time exploration);
- video camera and accessories;
- vaccination certificates;
- insurance documents;
- your credit / debit cards;
- sandals or flipflops;
- Seychelles maps - city / town maps and travel guides;
- a notebook, tablet or smartphone.
- As much as the urge to take as many pictures of the beautiful island haven as possible is strong, be sure to ask permission before you begin to snap pictures of houses or people. In some cases, you may be required to offer a tip for those pictures.
- Watch your money - Make sure that, when changing currency you do so in a reputable hotel, foreign exchange bureau or bank.
- If you rent a car - remember to stick to the left side of the road
- The international airport at Mahe island is located approximately 10 kilometres from Victoria, the capital. Many hotels will organise a shuttle for you. Otherwise, you can hitch a ride on a taxi.
- You can pay in dollars, euro or the local rupee. Euros are preferred at most places, but if you pay in rupees you’ll get better rates. All major global credit and debit cards are safe and easy to use at ATMs.
- Vacationers stay at hotels, but there are many people who swap their home cities for the Seychelles for a whole season. An apartment with an ocean view in Victoria costs around $1000 (or about R12660 @R12,66/$ USD) per month – enough to make you swap your rented apartment at home for one on the island, so you can wait out the winter in paradise.
- There's nothing poisonous or dangerous on the islands, which gives visitors a more relaxed and worry free experience on the heavenly island (minus the snake in Eden, of course). The only thing to beware of are the potential concussion that could result from giant coconuts falling from the palms like cannonballs onto the heads of unsuspecting, cocktail-sipping tourists.
- Drinking water - Tap water meets WHO (World Health Organisation) specifications and is safe to drink nation-wide. Because tap water is chlorinated, visitors are advised to drink bottled water. However, there is no imperative to avoid soft drinks, alcoholic drinks and ice. If you are in any way concerned about drinking water, several different brands of bottled water are widely available in shops, restaurants and hotel bars.
Top attractions in Seychelles
This nut has become renowned for its suggestive shape. Without the husk, the nut inside has a rather familiar appearance. Many flock to the Seychelles to admire its unique look. The nuts are much bigger than your standard coconut. They weigh anywhere between 15 - 30 kgs!
This small and secluded crescent of sand is a popular surf haven in Mahé. Its big swells and wild waves make it a surfer's paradise - but swimming can be rough. It also nests turtles along its soft, powdery shores.
Visit the only other place where the coco de mer palm grows naturally. Once known as Île Rouge due to its russet-toned earth, it now houses a breeding programme for free-roaming giant tortoises. Explore the ruins of the leprosarium on the south shore and the 'doctor's house' - a preserved national monument.
Visit Seychelles' largest national park in Mahé. Covering more than 20% of Mahé, it houses the mountain chain named after its highest point: Morne Seychellois. This nature lovers' and hikers' haven has trails that ascend to spectacular vistas - like the moderate Morne Blanc trail.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the world's largest raised coral atoll. The central lagoon houses mushroom-shaped pinnacles (champignons) and tiger sharks and manta rays prowl its shallows. It is also the habitat of 200 000 giant land tortoises - five times as many as the Galapagos.