Seychelles, a collection of islands in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa, is known for its pristine beaches. It’s also a popular honeymoon destination and vacation spot for Europeans.
Honestly, Seychelles was not on my bucket list. I didn’t know where it was. I had a friend honeymoon there after her Greek wedding last summer, but that’s all I knew.
So how did I end up there? One of my friends had a flight refund he wanted to sell, but if I wanted to use it, I had to choose my destination quickly as the deadline was approaching. I had to choose from a list of destinations. I had wanted to go to the Canary Islands, but it wasn’t on the list, so I thought, what might be similar? I saw Seychelles, recalled a couple pictures my friend had posted, and thought, why not?
Funny thing is that my friend that was booking the ticket ended up using his refund for something else and got me a better deal through one of his friends who wanted to sell his Emirates miles. I would not have picked Seychelles if it weren’t for the refund, but I’m glad I did!
This blog post will just highlight a few of my favorite moments on the islands. I’ll write another post to review my accommodations and explain some logistics.
As the plane descended, I caught my first glimpse of the water and nearly bounced right out of my seat. It was breathtaking. When we landed, I quickly made my way to the domestic flights and flew to Praslin. The airport was quaint and charming with its open air check in counters.
My flight to Praslin was in a very small plane. It probably carried no more than 15 passengers. I sat in seat 1A directly behind the pilots. I’ve never seen a pilot fly a plane until then. The flight was loud but it wasn’t necessary to fly very high, so I had a lovely view.
After asking some locals, I caught the bus towards my hotel. As it was nearly 5pm when I arrived, I decided to stay in for the night and enjoy the pool. Now, I have to admit that I was feeling a little bitter about being in such a beautiful place alone. That feeling, however, drifted away as I watched the sunset while floating the pool. As the yellows turned to pinks, the green hills became silhouettes, and the moon lit up the sky, I realized how grateful I was to have a week to myself.
Sunday: Vallee de Mai and Anse Lazio
After my first night in the bungalow at Iles des Palmes Hotel Eco Resort, I caught the bus right outside the gates towards Vallee de Mai…or so I thought. I didn’t realize I needed to change buses at the jetty. I realized my mistake rather promptly, but I decided to ride the bus till the end of the line anyway as it is a cheap tour of the coast. As I waited for the correct bus to take me to the nature reserve, I talked to a local woman about the heat as she and her daughter made their way to the beach.
Vallee de Mai is home to the Coco de Mer, a coconut treasured by the Seychelles. It appears in much of their art and jewelry. I, however, giggle every time I see it, so I found no need to wear a pendant baring any resemblance to the Coco de Mer around my neck.
I enjoyed the paths in the nature reserve, the lizards, and the view as I made my way up the northern trail. As I stopped to admire and photograph a lizard, I met a great couple from Dubai, Irmina (Polish) and Alaa (Jordanian). We said our goodbyes at the end of the trail, but then we ended up on the same bus heading towards the beach, Anse Lazio. I was thankful for their company.
Anse Lazio was my first swim in the Indian Ocean. At the end of the bus line, we had to walk a bit up and back down a steep road, but I couldn’t believe the colors when we arrived. The waves were a bit intense for me. The sea knocked me over, stole my hair tie, and filled my suit and hair with sand. I didn’t spend much time in the water, but I enjoyed giving my feet a natural pedicure in the sand.
Before making our way back to our hotels, we had dinner together near the beach. We should have before swimming as the first restaurant that was recommended to me stopped serving food before 4:00pm. We found another place down the road open a little later, which allowed us just enough time to eat before the last bus. I tried the octopus curry that’s famous in Seychelles. Curry, indeed.
Monday: La Digue
I watched a bus pass my hotel at 7:15 thinking that I would have time for breakfast before catching another, but when I asked about the next bus I was told that there was not another bus before my ferry from Praslin to La Digue at 9:00. I was told it was about a 20 minute walk, but I decided to start walking straight away. It took 45 minutes to walk to the jetty, approximately 4+km, I think.
I didn’t intend to start my day with a walk that far in my sandals, so I had to deal with a couple blisters and a lot of sweat before the island fun even began.
Irmina and Alaa were on the same ferry going to and from La Digue, so we were able to spend another day together. They were my life savers offering me a banana and some cereal biscuits after my long walk.
As soon as we got off the boat, we were approached by a man hoping to rent us bikes. His price was 150 SR each, but we were certain we could get a better price. Sure enough, when we hadn’t sealed the deal, another man told us 100 SR each. We hopped on our stylish rides and began our journey.
We rode into the park, explored the plantation, admired the large tortoises, and made our way to the beach. We took pictures on the rocks and swam, swam, swam. Unfortunately, the arch of my right foot started to cramp, so I got out of the water, but I could have stayed in that spot all day.
We rode up to the top point of the island looking for a good spot for Alaa to snorkle. While the water looked a bit wild for my taste, Alaa said the snorkling was great. Deep, but great.
Next we stopped for lunch. All three of us ordered fish, as one does in Seychelles.
After lunch we rode around trying to find another good snorkling spot as shown on the map. We missed it twice, then thought it might be the beach marked off as private, so we decided to go back to the beach in the park. We had time to swim for about thirty minutes before we needed to return to the dock. The visibility was terrible in the afternoon, so if all days are the same, I definitely recommend exploring that part of the island in the morning.
When we returned to Praslin, we said our goodbyes at the bus stop. Cheers to you, Irmina and Alaa! I’m so thankful that we were able to meet!
Until about noon, the winds blew and the rain poured. I opened the windows of my bungalow and enjoyed the relief from the heat that the storm provided. I spent the entire morning writing in my journal. The red crabs outside also seemed extra busy digging their tunnels in the rain.
When the rain seemed to settle, I changed into my suit and made my way towards Anse La Blague. It was a steep, VERY humid walk. There were only two other people at the beach. After a quick swim, I just laid on towel admiring the specks of red in the sand and all the white sand crabs busy at work.
I stopped for lunch back at the resort since the skies were looking questionable again. I had planned to visit Zimbabwe, the lookout point near Anse Lazio, but decided against it due to the weather. It only drizzled rain, so I felt a bit of remorse, but it was also nice to just enjoy the pool.
Wednesday: Praslin to Mahe
Wednesday started with an early taxi to the jetty for my 7:30 ferry to Mahe. The taxis in Seychelles are the most expensive I’ve ever seen. It cost about 20-30 euros to go from my resort to the jetty, about 4 km. Since the buses don’t run often in the morning and stop in the early evening, sometimes a taxi is your only choice. Lucky for you future travelers, they are now required, as of May 2016, to have meters in all taxis. May not solve the excessive prices, but it might help.
The ferries are also expensive (for foreigners), but what can you do…
Much like Tuesday, the clouds looked questionable as I boarded the ferry to Mahe. Most of the journey was comfortable, but at some point, some rain did catch up with us.
[That sure looks like trouble, doesn’t it?]
After docking, I walked to the bus terminal and got on a bus heading towards St Louis. The driver didn’t know where my apartment was (Morel’s Apartments. Awesome place!). We had passed it, drove all the way up a mountain, turned around, and I spotted it on the way down while looking backwards. I settled in, the skies cried again, and then I walked down into Victoria to explore the market.
That evening I went to the Wednesday night market (happens every week) on the Beau Vallon beach. There were little tents selling locally made jewelry, vanilla tea, and ALL the food. I poked around, swam until the sun set, ate the most amazing BBQ fish… And then… Music Teacher Heaven appeared. The locals lit a fire, danced, and sang Creole music. It’s moments like that that I treasure most while traveling.
Thursday: Last Day in Mahe
At the night market in Beau Vallon, I bought a couple pieces of jewelry, so on Thursday I went to one of the vendor’s shops to find some matching earrings. Afterwards, I strolled through the botanical gardens before catching a bus to the Mission Lodge viewpoint. Getting there was no trouble, and despite the clouds, the view was lovely. Getting home, however, was eventful. I sat outside the entrance for over an hour without a bus passing through. After all the visitors had driven away, I finally decided to hitch hike my way back to St Louis. Having never hitch hiked before, I was very anxious, but I really didn’t want to be stuck on the mountain any longer, especially if it was going to get dark any time soon.
Note: If you plan to go inland, or think you will need to hire a taxi more than once a day, it is worth renting a car.
I decided I wanted one last swim at Beau Vallon before leaving Seychelles. That evening was the longest I had splashed in the ocean the entire week. I also watched the sunset until the very last moment. My heart was full of gratitude. I’d never EVER in my life seen a sunset like this:
I ate dinner that night at the Boat House where they have a great buffet every night at about 7:00, maybe 7:30pm. I’d recommend it, for sure!
Friday: Mahe to Istanbul
Friday was the beginning of Seychelles’ annual Carnival. I’m so disappointed that I didn’t think to look up the dates before booking my tickets. I missed the entire celebration because my journey back to Istanbul began early Friday morning. When I go back to Seychelles, I won’t miss it.
And when I go back, I will take more time. I will spend at least one night on La Digue, maybe longer. I will rent a car on Mahe to explore all the winding roads and beaches at my own pace. I will make sure every accommodation has air conditioning, and I will eat more fish!