One hundred and fifteen islands basking in the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles are paradise. The sun beats down - temperatures range between 24 and 32 degrees - the beaches are icing-sugar soft and the waters are turquoise, clear and teeming with marine life.
Of the 115 islands, Mahé, Praslin and La Digue are the main islands, the ones most travellers booking cheap flights to the Seychelles visit. Other islands with accommodation include Bird Island, Cerf, Chauve Souris, Cousine, Denis Island, Silhouette and Ste. Anne.
The islands without accommodation, which include Anonyme, Aride, Conception and Moyenne, are popular for day trips, snorkelling, diving and wild-life watching.
The Seychelles boast the Vallée de Mai on Praslin, once thought to be the Garden of Eden, where the suggestively shaped Coco-de-mer nut grows, and Aldabra, the world’s largest raised coral atoll, home to the world's largest population of giant tortoises.
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The climate is tropical with temperatures ranging between 24 and 29 degrees. Humidity levels are high. Seasons are constant except for the monsoon months. The southeast monsoon season lasts from May to September and brings cooler temperatures while the northwest monsoon spans October to March.
When to fly to Seychelles
The Seychelles is a four-season destination without a clearly defined "high" or "low" season.
The school holidays - June/July to August - and autumn/winter months - September to January - are popular times on the islands.
Between the trade winds, April and October are great months for swimming, diving and snorkelling. Water temperatures can reach up to 30 degrees and visibility is about 30 metres. The Festival Kreol (week-long celebrations of Creole traditions) is held in March and October.
Other festivals include the Seychelles Sailing Cup in January and the International Fishing Competition in March.
The best times to seek cheap flights to the Seychelles for bird-watching are April (the breeding season), May to September (when the Sooty Terns nest) and October (for migration). Fishing is good from October to April.
Getting around Seychelles
The Seychelles are composed of 115 islands, but there are nine principal islands, including Mahe (capital is Victoria), Praslin and La Digue. From Mahe, there are domestic Seychelles flights to all the other islands. Air Seychelles flies from Mahe to Praslin more than 20 times per day. There are also flights to La Digue. Other inter-island flights service Bird Island, Denis Island, Desroches Island and Alphonse Island.
There is a helicopter service between Mahe and Silhouette, Fregate and North Island.
Cat Coco links Mahe with Praslin by catamaran twice a day. Crossings take an hour. Inter-Island Ferries runs frequent boat services between Praslin and La Digue. La Belle Seraphina, a schooner, sails between Mahe and La Digue.
The Seychelles Public Transport Corporation runs a bus service on Mahe and Praslin. Services start at about 6am and end at 7pm, although there are some night services.
Car rental is possible on Mahe and Praslin. The major car-rental companies include Hertz and Sixt Rent A Car and there are local companies here too. Drive on the left! There are bus services, but these can be infrequent. Bicycles or ox-taxi are ways of getting around La Digue. The smaller islands can be explored on foot.
Seychelles insider information
- Bird Island, the most northerly island, is the only place where the Hawksbill turtles lay their eggs in daylight. Peak hatching season is between January and March. If you want to see hatchlings, set aside three or more days. One of the most fascinating sights is the baby turtles leaving their nest and crawling towards the sea. Green turtles nest mostly at night. Bird Island has the largest remaining population of nesting Green Turtles in the Seychelles’ inner islands. The island is also the home of Esmeralda, the world’s oldest giant tortoise.
- Coral reef diving is popular due to the variety of sea life - more than 900 types of fish and more than 100 species of coral – and great visibility. Most resorts offer dive packages. SUBIOS, the annual underwater film and image festival, takes place in March.
- For culture vultures, Mahe, Victoria, the capital, has the National Museum of History, in the National Library. The Botanical Gardens is on the outskirts of the city and has 75 unique plant species as well as some ancient tortoises (up to 150 years old) and an orchid house. The Victoria Clock tower, known as Lorloz, is a replica of the clock that stood near Victoria Station. It was ordered by a past governor as a memorial to Queen Victoria. Beau Vallon beach is very popular with locals and tourists alike.
- On Praslin, Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve (Unesco World Heritage site) has the remains of a natural palm forest and is home to about 4,000 coco de mer. This seed – the largest in the plant kingdom – comes from a palm tree, but was once believed to grow in the sea. It is shaped suggestively like a woman’s bottom, and was believed to be the fruit of the tree of knowledge and a powerful aphrodisiac.