Seychelles comprises of 115 islands occupying a land area of 455 km². It represents an archipelago of legendary beauty scattered across the Indian Ocean between four and ten degrees south of the equator. The Inner Island group of the 115 Seychelles Islands consists of 41 of the oldest mid-oceanic granitic islands and 2 coralline islands. However, the Outer Island group is only low-lying coral atolls and reef islands and is 72 in numbers. (In all there are 43 Inner Islands of which 4 1 are granitic & 2 coralline plus another 72 coralline Outer Islands).
The granitic islands of the Seychelles archipelago cluster around the main island of Mahé, home to the Seychelles International Airport, the commercial Port and the capital, Victoria, and its satellites islands Praslin and La Digue. The coralline Outer Islands are divided into five groups: the Amirantes group lying 230km distant from Mahé, the Southern Coral Group, Alphonse Group, Farquhar Group and finally the Aldabra Group, some 1150km from Mahé.
Seychelles’ enviable climate is always warm and without extremes. In this tropical haven the temperature seldom drops below 24°C or rises above 32°C. All but the remotest southern islands lie comfortably outside the cyclone belt making Seychelles’ a truly wonderful year round destination for sun worshippers and beach lovers.
During the north-west trade winds that visit between the months of October and March, the sea is generally calm and the weather warm and humid, with average winds of 8-12 knots.
In January and February the islands receive their life-giving rains, rejuvenating the rivers and streams and teasing the vibrant foliage into rainbows of color.
The months between May and September bring drier, cooler weather, and livelier seas – particularly on south-eastern coasts – and winds of 10-20 knots.
The Inner Islands which are mostly granitic, cluster mainly around the principal islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, forming the cultural and economic hub of Seychelles as well as the centre of its tourism industry. Together they are home to the majority of Seychelles’ accommodation facilities as well as the archipelagoes’ entire population.
The Outer Islands are those situated beyond the Seychelles plateau. They comprise of 72 low-lying sand cays and atolls lying anywhere between 230km and 1150km from Mahé. Less visited than their granitic cousins due to their relative remoteness, these pristine miniature worlds, some little more than sand spits or lonely rocky outcrops, offer untouched habitats for many species of wildlife.
Only two islands among the Outer Island groups, namely Alphonse and Desroches currently offer accommodation facilities. They boast of luxuriously appointed lodges as well as unparalleled opportunities for sailing, fishing and diving in places where few have gone before.
Seychelles is a comparatively young nation which can trace its first settlement History of Seychelles back to 1770 when the islands were first settled by the French, leading a small party of whites, Indians and Africans. The islands remained in French hands until the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, evolving from humble beginnings to attain a population of 3,500 by the time Seychelles was ceded to Britain under the treaty of Paris in 1814.
During this period Seychelles came to know the enlightened policies of administrators such as Pierre Poivre, the brilliant politicking of Governor Queau de Quinssy and, of course, the terrible repercussions of the French Revolution.
Under the British, Seychelles achieved a population of some 7,000 by the year 1825. Important estates were established during this time producing coconut, food crops, cotton and sugar cane. During this period Seychelles also saw the establishment of Victoria as her capital, the exile of numerous and colorful troublemakers from the Empire, the devastation caused by the famous Avalanche of 1862 and the economic repercussions of the abolition of slavery.
Seychelles achieved independence from Britain in 1976 and became a republic within the commonwealth. On the 4th December 1991, following a period of single party rule by the government of Mr. France Albert René, he announced the return of a multiparty system of government. In 1993, the first multiparty presidential and legislative elections were held under a new constitution in which President René was victorious. President René also won the 1998 and 2003 elections before transferring the Presidency to James Alix Michel in June 2004.
There are three official languages in Seychelles: Creole (a lilting, French-based patois), English and French. Some Seychellois also speak fluent Italian or German.
Irrespective of the nationality of the visitor and his or her family members, there are NO VISA requirements to enter Seychelles. However, the following documents must be shown in order to obtain immigration clearance at the Seychelles International Airport:
A passport valid on the date of entry to and exit from Seychelles.
Return or onward ticket
Proof of accommodation; including contact details
Sufficient funds for the duration of the stay
Presentation of all of the above documents will grant you a Visitor’s Permit that will be issued upon arrival by the Seychelles Department of Immigration.
The Visitor’s Permit is initially valid for the period of visit of up to one month. It can be extended for a period of up to three months from the date of issue and capable of further extensions for successive periods not exceeding three months at a time to a maximum period of twelve months, provided that the person still meets the criteria of a bona fide visitor.
The visitor’s permit is issued free of charge for the first three months after which there is a fee for extension covering each period of three months or any part thereof.
There is NO risk of contracting malaria, yellow fever, cholera or other common tropical diseases in Seychelles.
No vaccinations are required except in the case of yellow fever where a vaccination is required for travelers over 1 year of age who have come from, or passed through a partly or wholly infected area within the preceding 6 days.
Infected areas include certain parts of northern and central South America and Central Africa. (South Africa is not considered as an infected area.)
Persons traveling to Seychelles via Nairobi, Kenya and who remain in transit in Kenya, do not require a vaccination against yellow fever.
Money & Banking
The local currency is the Seychelles Rupee (SCR) which is divided into 100 cents. Coins come in 5, 10, 25 cents, and 1, 5 and 10 Rupee denominations. Notes come in 25, 50, 100 and 500 Rupee denominations.
Exchange rates are featured on the Central Bank of Seychelles website and are available at all banks.
Banking hours are generally Monday-Friday 0800hrs-1400hrs, and Saturday 0800hrs-1100hrs. All banks process traveler’s cheques and foreign exchange transactions. Passports are required for visitors’ transactions and nominal commissions may be charged. ATM facilities exist at major banks on Mahé, Praslin and La Digue and at the airport on Mahé and Praslin. Please note that these provide cash in local currency.
Visitors can pay for all their excursions, board and lodging and all other services provided by hotels, guesthouses and self-catering establishments in local currency, major international currency notes (mainly USD and Euro), or by credit card. Other services payable in foreign exchange include: car hire, diving, boat charter, ferry or air transportation, excursions, entrance fees (to reserves, marine parks, etc.) and restaurants not forming part of a hotel. Costs for taxis may be settled using either foreign or local currency. Other incidental purchases are payable in local currency.
Exchanging foreign currency into Seychelles Rupees can be done at banks, authorised money dealers or with the hotel cashiers.
Credit cards are widely accepted throughout Seychelles. If you require Rupees, you can exchange what you want when you want.
Re-exchanging back Seychelles Rupees into foreign currency on your departure from Seychelles can be very easily done at any bank or authorised dealer anywhere on the islands including also at the Seychelles International airport.
Seychelles enjoys a low level of crime. Nevertheless, it is still advisable to take some routine precautions to ensure your personal safety and that of your possessions.
Walking alone on isolated beaches, swimming alone or leaving yachts unlocked at their moorings is not advisable. It is also not recommended to carry large sums of money or valuables on your person, to leave them unguarded in your room or in the boot of your car or to advertise the fact that you possess them.
Most accommodation establishments offer room or reception safes to secure valuables and visitors are advised to take advantage of this service.
What To Pack
Light clothing suitable for Seychelles’ warm tropical climate is recommended and visitors should prepare themselves for the relatively hot, humid atmosphere and plenty of sun.
Bring hats, sunglasses and adequate UV protection – SPF30+ is advisable. It is important to remember that even on an overcast day the tropical sun is still strong and able to cause unpleasant sunburn. Wearing a t-shirt for the first swim or snorkel is a good idea.
A camera is an absolute must! Do ensure to bring along memory cards with plenty of space for your memorable pictures and videos together with spare batteries.
Casual eveningwear (long trousers for men), together with appropriate footwear, is necessary for dining out and for gaining entrance to casinos and most hotels.
Sturdy walking shoes are recommended if you intend to take guided walk and trail excursions.
Visitors suffering from a specific medical conditions should be sure to bring an adequate stock of the appropriate medication along as well as their preferred brand of sun cream, mosquito repellent etc.