Seychelles have long been the paradise of the well-heeled resort tourist, but a government liberalization of the accommodation rules here means that family guesthouses have been opening up on the three main islands, now making this a viable destination for the budget traveler.
Seychelles is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean of some one hundred fifteen islands, some of them tiny and uninhabited. Mahe, the main island, is around one thousand five hundred kilometers from the east coast of Africa. Since its independence from Great Britain in the seventies, tourism has become a major industry for Seychelles. It is very well developed for tourism and the Seychellois take enormous pride in the beauty of their nature. The three main inhabited islands -- and easiest to visit by public ferry -- are Mahe, the largest island, and home to the capital, Victoria; Praslin; and little La Digue.
It has been known for many years as a beach destination, so you'll be hard pressed to find better beaches anywhere in the world. All of the many small and larger bays are kept immaculately clean and all of them are a postcard waiting to be photographed. With clean, clear water; bright yellow sand; the omnipresent overhanging palm trees; and small boats bobbing in the water, it really does look like paradise. Widely regarded as some the best beaches on the Seychelles, and in the world, are Grand Anse, on the west coast of Mahe; Anse Intendance, on the southwest coast of Mahe; Anse Lazio and Anse Georgette, both on the north coast of Praslin Island; Anse Source d'Argent, on the southwest of La Digue; and Grande Anse, on the southeast of La Digue.
Scuba diving is huge in Seychelles. The crystal clear water and almost-pristine coral reefs make Seychelles one of the prime diving destinations in the world. There are about seventy-five different dive sites in the Seychelles and live-aboard options are available to more remote sites. There are also two wreck sites off the north coast of Mahe. Most dive trips can be arranged through dive shops on the west coast of Mahe near Beau Vallon, although there are operators on both Praslin and La Digue, too.
Snorkeling is also very popular, again mostly on the west coast of Mahe, where you can see Hawksbill and green turtles, giant grouper, lion fish, barracuda, swordfish, marlin, octopus, grey and silver-tipped reef sharks, stingray, manta ray, and dugong.
Seychelles' status as an island nation lends itself to being a beach and water destination, there are also hiking trails and some great nature in the interior. Mount Copolia, in Morne Seychellois National Park, has a well-marked trail to the granite summit at five hundred meters, with magnificent views down over the east coast of Mahe. It's a sometimes-quite-steep walk of around two hours, and a public bus passes the trail head. The Anse Major Trail is a relatively easy walk along the coast starting at Danzil and taking about one-and-a-half hours. Morne Seychellois itself is the highest point in the Seychelles at nine hundred meters, and takes a very tough five hours to get to the top. Some parts of the trail are unclear, so it's better tackled with a guide.
Vallee de Mai, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Praslin, is a must for visitors. There are a number of marked trails through the palm forest, none of them too difficult. It is very popular due to the presence of the endemic coco de mer or sea coconut. This is the national plant of Seychelles, and the stamp in your passport on arrival will be an image of the double-coconut shape of this plant.
Seychelles hostels are just about nonexistent, although cheaper family guesthouses are now freely available for budget travelers. Seychelles hostels are still a thing of the future, but advance booking can garner the impecunious traveler some great bargains. The standard of accommodation is extremely high on the three main islands, and the lack of dorm-style hostels in Seychelles shouldn't be a barrier to the backpacker now that cheap flights are available, particularly from mainland Africa.
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