Thought you couldn’t afford a stylish island getaway? You CAN do Seychelles on a budget and here’s how…
Seychelles is a dream destination for many British people. It’s got beautiful white sandy beaches, year-round sunshine and the kind of scenery you can only experience once in a lifetime, but it costs the earth to go there, right? Well, not really. There are ways you can enjoy it for less, and I’ll get to that very soon.
First though, I have a confession to make: I have been faking it. Faking it as an English person this whole time. I grew up here, I look like you guys and sound like you, but I am not one of you. Sorry. I am a Seychelloise. I was born there, my parents are both from there, and it lives in my head, in my dreams, how I dance when there’s no one to see me, in the way I eat a mango, my crazy superstitions, and the way I make a rum punch. So, while I still go there as a tourist, I also go there knowing that there’s a little bit of my brain, of my heart, that belongs to the Seychelles. So now I’m going to share that little bit with you.
The first thing you should know is that the flights will set you back quite a lot. Expect to pay at least around £600-£700 each on average. There’s no getting around this, you’ll have to swallow it. When you get there, it will be worth it, trust me. What you can save on though is accommodation. Most people opt for a posh hotel, which is great if you have the cash, but if you want to save some pennies, a self-catering cottage or apartment is an ideal option. There are some wonderful options on the island and, in particular, Beau Vallon and Bel Ombre are great areas to be in because there’s a fab beach nearby and lots of amenities for tourists.
Even if you’re not staying in a fancy hotel, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the amenities. In Seychelles all the big hotels have fantastic bars and most have swimming pools. Even if you’re not staying there, you can still head down there for drinks and lunch, and in most cases if you’re buying lunch you can use the pool as well. (I particularly love Raffles and also the Coco De Mer Hotel on Praslin island, and the Savoy on Mahe).
If you’re going self-catering, you can pick up some amazing local food at the weekly Bazaar in Victoria. The fish is as fresh as you like, and you’ll find amazing fruits you’ve probably never seen anywhere else. You might be tempted to visit the big supermarket in town for your food shopping but, unlike in the UK, the supermarket isn’t the cheapest place to buy your food. In Seychelles, local corner shops are where people do their shopping, so do likewise and don’t forget to pick up some gateau piment (chilli cakes) while you’re there, which are super cheap but tasty and make a great snack.
Booze is really expensive in Seychelles generally and there’s no real way to avoid shelling out for it. Beer is quite pricey (unless you go for the local SeyBrew, which is pretty decent) and don’t even bother with wine – the prices are astronomical and it’s all cheap nasty stuff anyway. The only way to drink in Seychelles is to go for rum. There are lots of different types of local rum to be had, but my personal fave is Takamaka Coco rum, which is a coconut infused blend made on the main island. (You can even take a tour of the Takamaka distillery, which is well worth doing as it’s a lot of fun and includes a rum tasting session at the end.)
When it comes to getting around, it’s definitely worth hiring a car for at least some of your trip as there are some beaches that are tucked away and almost inaccessible otherwise. Public transport in Seychelles is almost non-existent. A ride on the infamous Tata bus, while cheap, is notoriously bumpy, and the buses are pretty infrequent. Seychellois drive on the left, so it’s not too different from the UK, although the roads are extremely windy and there are a lot of precipitous drops, so do be careful! On La Digue island there are no cars – the most common way of getting around is by bike, which you can hire close to the ferry jetty.
Most visitors spend the entire holiday on Mahe island but this is a huge mistake because the other islands are so beautiful and there’s so much more to see. Make sure you at least venture out to Praslin and La Digue – they’re less than an hour away and both extremely picturesque. The two main ways to travel there are via the Cat Coco ferry and Air Seychelles mini plane. Cat Coco is cheaper, but it’s worth trying one method there and the other method back because the views are spectacular from the air.
Finally, Seychelles is all about the outdoors. I believe our country has the most unique flora and fauna in the world – you’ll find plants and fruits that you won’t see anywhere else on the planet. While you may not be the hiking type (I know I’m certainly not!) it is worth making the effort because there are some truly gorgeous sights to be seen. Bon voyage!
Where we stayed:
Where we ate:
- Boat House, Beau Vallon: every night is Kreol buffet night at this down to earth eaterie. It’s a little pricey but the food is delicious and authentic and you can eat as much as you like.
- Baobab Pizzeria, Beau Vallon: cheap and cheerful local pizzeria located right on the beach. Ideal for a low-key dinner if you want to eat well on a budget.
- Fish Trap, La Digue: beachside bar with live music, serving a selection of local dishes, as well as burgers and European food. Great cocktails and lovely, friendly service.
- Pirogue, Praslin: Gorgeous local cuisine at affordable prices. Amazing Thali-like dishes combining the best of Seychellois cooking.