Located two hours by boat from Mahé, Cousin was purchased by the International Union for the Protection of Birds in 1968 and declared a bird sanctuary. It is home to the rare and protected Fairy Tern, the Toc-Toc Bird and the Reed Warbler, among others. The best time to visit is May or April when around a quarter of a million birds nest here. Visiting the island is only possible for groups. It lasts one to two hours and is organized by local travel agencies, usually in connection with a trip to several islands.
Silhouette has a population of around 200 and can be seen from Beau Vallon Beach on Mahé. A traditional wooden plantation house can be visited here.
Denis: A five to seven hour boat trip or 30 minute flight from Mahé, the island of Denis lies on the edge of the continental shelf. Many deep-sea anglers are drawn here, and sailfish are caught here from October to December. Seabirds have left a thick layer of guano over the years that encourages lush vegetation. Minimum stay two days.
Desroches is the largest island in the Amirantes archipelago and is 193 km (an hour’s flight) southwest of Mahé. The coral reef surrounding the island keeps the coastal waters calm, making it ideal for all water sports. Although the island has only recently been developed as a holiday destination, it is already possible to rent speedboats and equipment for water skiing, windsurfing, sailing, fishing and diving.
Diving is a special pleasure here, the underwater landscape with its caves and countless species of fish is fascinating. Diving courses are also offered. The water is at its clearest from September to May. There are 20 cottages for accommodation among coconut palms and casuarina trees.
Flora and fauna
Thanks to the extraordinary history of these remote islands, Seychelles has plants that thrive nowhere else on this planet. 81 rare plant species are the descendants of the lush tropical forest that covered the islands before the relatively late arrival of humans (200 years ago). The Coco de Mer palm tree growing on Praslin in the Vallée de Mai is unique and particularly noteworthy. The peculiar shape of their seed pods is particularly striking – they are the largest found in nature. Among the numerous species of orchids one finds vanilla, which was cultivated a lot in the past to obtain vanilla essence. Most Rare plant species can also be admired in the Victoria Botanical Gardens. The Seychelles also have a great attraction for bird watchers. Millions of terns nest on some of the islands – among them the most graceful seabirds of all, the fairy terns. Aride is home to the world’s largest colonies of pink terns and other tropical birds. There are only 30 pairs of paradise flycatchers left on La Digue Island. The Seychelles thrush is unique to Frégate, the wasa parrot is unique to Praslin, and the melodious Seychelles warbler is unique to Cousin and Aride.
La Digue is a three to three and a half hour boat trip from Mahé or half an hour by plane. There are hardly any cars here and the ox cart is still the main means of transport. Bikes can also be hired to tour majestic old plantation houses such as Château St. Cloud, vanilla plantations, copra farms and glorious beaches.
Frégate is a 15-minute flight from Mahé. The frigate bird and other rare bird species are at home here. Thérèse Island is famous for its thermal springs and turtle colony.
Curieuse is overgrown with thick scrub and large Takamaka trees and is about 3 km long. The island is a sanctuary for giant tortoises introduced from Aldabra. Visits can be organized from Praslin.
Mahé: The majority of the population lives on this Seychelles’ largest island, which is surrounded by coral reefs. Here are the capital Victoria, the international airport, the port and most of the hotels. On Mahé, visitors can expect around 70 beaches with fine, white powder sand and lush vegetation.
Excursions can be made by glass bottom boat from Victoria to nearby Ste. Anne Marine National Park, which includes the islands of Ste. Anne, Cerf, Long, Round and Moyenne. A tour by bus to the market and the botanical garden is also interesting
and to the colonial-style mansions that look dignified even in the state of decay. It continues through the old vanilla and cinnamon plantations and again and again through the omnipresent jungle. At the highest point of the island is Morne Seychellois National Park. The National Museum in Victoria provides information about the history, music and folklore of the Seychelles.
Praslin: The second largest island is two to three hours by boat or 15 minutes by plane from Mahé (there are 20 scheduled flights per day). The island is famous for the Vallée de Mai, home of the coco de mer palm with the huge, impressively shaped Seychelles nut. Regular tours to the smaller islands such as Cousin, Aride, Curieuse and La Digue are offered.
Located two hours from Mahé, Aride is the northernmost of the granitic islands and home to a huge colony of seabirds. The island is open to visitors from October to the end of April.
Bird: Located a six to eight hour boat ride or 30 minute flight from Mahé, it is known for the millions of seabirds including the black sooty tern that breed here between May and September. The island lies on the edge of the continental shelf (the seabed here drops to 2000 m depth), which makes it a favorite destination for fishermen.
Batik fabrics, wickerwork (including baskets, placemats and hats), carving and carpentry, ceramics, paintings and vanilla. Shop Hours: The larger shops in Victoria are open Mon-Fri 8am-5pm and Sat 8am-12pm. Some shops are closed between 12pm and 1pm.
The local Kamtole music is very lively and is often accompanied by dancers. For evening entertainment, there are frequent theatrical performances (Creole, French and English) and there are cinemas in Victoria and casinos at the Beau Vallon Bay Hotel and the Plantation Club.
Seychelles Creole cuisine combines French, African, Chinese, Indian and English influences. Local specialties include Kat-Kat Banana, Coconut Curry, Chatini Requin, Bourgeois Grillé, Tectec Soup, Bouillon Bréde, Chauve-Souris (fruit bats), Cari Bernique, Salade de Palmiste (made from palm hearts, also known as Millionaire’s Salad) and La Daube ( made from breadfruit, yam, cassava and bananas). Breadfruit is prepared similarly to potatoes (mashed, fried, baked, etc.) but is slightly sweeter in taste. The tomato is romantically referred to as the pomme d’amour. Lobster, squid, fruit bats, pork and chicken are used more often than beef and lamb, which have to be imported. There are also Chinese and Italian restaurants on Mahé. Some of the big hotels have their own bakeries, and the smaller guesthouses mostly have home-baked bread. In the restaurants, table service is generally used. Groups of four or more should book in advance, particularly on Round, Cerf and La Réserve restaurants on Praslin. Beverages: There is a wide range of wine, spirits and other alcoholic beverages. Seybrew, a German style beer, is brewed here. The same company also makes dark beer and soft drinks. The local tea is very popular (see shopping tips). Alcohol is sold in shops Mon-Fri 2pm-6pm and Sat 8am-12pm and 2pm-6pm. Pubs open from 11.30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Is prohibited in the Seychelles.
82.3% Catholic, plus 6.4% Anglican and other.
Social Rules of Conduct
Social etiquette: Life on the islands is simple and undemanding, and tourism is being carefully developed to preserve the Seychelles’ original charm. Hospitality is very important, visitors are often invited to private homes. Hosts appreciate a gift. Clothing: Casual clothing is acceptable everywhere, smarter clothing is rarely worn. However, bathing suits belong on the beach. Tipping: 5-10% of the bill or fare is customary and should be given in hotels, restaurants, when dealing with taxi drivers, hotel porters, etc.
Best travel time
Monsoon rains reach the islands mostly between November and April along with the trade winds from the northwest. This muggy season is followed by cooler weather and rougher seas when the trade winds blow from the south-east from May to October — though temperatures rarely drop below 24°C.
Area (sq km)
98,347 (Source: homosociety)
Population density (per square km)
Population statistics year
Main emergency number