Travel Guides: Seychelles
The breathtakingly beautiful Seychelles islands are surely the most romantic destination there is. They cast a siren-like spell over everyone who experiences its crystalline turquoise sea washing the pristine coral reefs and the powdery beaches that encircle the vast granite pinnacles which emerge from the verdant green rainforest. The islands stretch like an array of jewels across nearly one million square kilometres of the Indian Ocean east of Kenya, and even have their own unique suggestively shaped fruit, the famous 'coco de mer' double coconut, to emphasise their seductive charms. Only a few of the 115 islands are inhabited, most of the local population (known as Seychellois) being gathered on the main island, Mahé, around the capital city of Victoria.
The Seychellois are an eclectic mix of freed African slaves, Arab, Indian and Chinese traders, and British and French settlers and seafarers who go about their business speaking a Creole patois. The multi-party democratic Republic was once a thriving pirate's haven but today it serves as a refuge for sunseekers, honeymooners and nature lovers who congregate in the top quality hotels and resorts on the main island shores. Whether you come to dive among the more than 800 species of fish in the island waters, marvel at flocks of colourful birds flitting among rare jungle trees, soak up the equatorial sun on silver sands or to cement your marriage vows, the Seychelles archipelago will impress as being just about as close to paradise as it is possible to get on earth.
Seychelles is constantly hot and humid, with an average annual temperature of 84°F (29°C), and the average sea temperature is the same, seldom dropping below 81°F (27°C). The heat is usually tempered by sea breezes. The islands lie outside of the hurricane belt, so storms are rare, but tropical rains fall during January and February. It is easy to escape the showers, though, because it can be sunny on one side of an island while it rains on the other.
The Seychelles currency is the Rupee (SCR), divided into 100 cents. The country's foreign exchange regulations require visitors to pay for all services provided by hotels, guesthouses and self-catering enterprises, as well as things like car hire, entrance fees to parks and reserves, scuba diving and boat charter, in major foreign currency notes (Euros are the most widely used) or by credit card. Taxis and restaurant bills (not connected to hotels) are payable in foreign or Seychelles Rupees. Rupees can only be used in local shops, markets, and bars. Credit cards are widely welcomed throughout the Seychelles. Money can be exchanged at banks and the airport on Mahé, or at hotels, and banks process travellers cheques. To change Rupees back into foreign currency on departure requires the official receipt from the initial transaction. ATMs are available at major banks on Mahé, Praslin and La Digue.
No foreigners require a visa to enter Seychelles. A one-month visitor's permit is issued on arrival and may be extended on application for up to 12 months. All visitors do, however, require a passport valid for the duration of their visit, return or onward ticket, sufficient funds to cover their stay (a minimum of USD 150 per day), and proof of accommodation. Extensions are possible if applied for at least a week before expiry of visitor's permit. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Entry Requirements & Embassy Consulates
Irish citizens require a passport valid at least for the length of their stay and will be issued with a visitor's permit on arrival, valid for a month. (See note, below.)
British citizens need a passport valid for the duration of their stay, and will be issued with a visitor's permit on arrival, valid for one month. (See note, below.)
British High Commission, Victoria: +248 283 666.
Canadians require a passport valid at least for the length of their stay and will be issued with a visitor's permit on arrival, valid for a month. (See note, below.)
Canadian High Commission, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (also responsible for Seychelles): +255 22 216 3300.
United States citizens require a passport valid at least for the length of their stay and will be issued with a visitor's permit on arrival, valid for a month. (See note, below.)
United States Consulate, Port Louis, Mauritius (also responsible for Seychelles): +230 202 4400.
New Zealanders require a passport valid for at least the length of their stay and will be issued with a visitor's permit on arrival, valid for a month. (See note, below.)
South Africans must have a passport valid at least for the duration of their stay and will be issued with a visitor's permit on arrival, valid for a month. (See note, below.)
South African Commission, Port Louis, Mauritius (also responsible for Seychelles): +230 212 6925.
Australians need a passport valid at least for the length of their stay and will be issued with a visitor's permit on arrival, valid for a month. (See note, below.)
Australian High Commission, Port Louis, Mauritius (also responsible for Seychelles): +230 202 0160.
Health regulations in the Seychelles require that travellers from areas infected by yellow fever have a vaccination certificate. Immunisation against hepatitis A and typhoid are highly recommended. Visitors are advised to bring their own medication to avert the risk of travellers' diarrhoea, as well as sun block and insect repellent, local supplies being erratic and costly. During the rainy season in particular visitors should take precautions against mosquito bites due to the risk of dengue fever and the Chikungunya virus spread by bites. There is a risk of leptospirosis, and walking barefoot should be avoided on roads and paths. Tap water meets WHO standards, but most visitors prefer to drink bottled water, which is widely available. Fruit and vegetables should be washed and peeled, and meat well cooked, before being eaten. Medical facilities on the islands are limited, but there is a government hospital in Victoria and some private clinics. Medical insurance with full evacuation cover is necessary.
Safety is not generally an issue in the Seychelles; violent crime is unlikely and most visits are trouble-free. There have been some incidents of theft and assault, but these are targeted mainly at residents. Visitors should be vigilant, particularly after dark in Victoria and in isolated areas. Avoid taking valuables to the beach, where they could be pilfered by petty thieves. Women should avoid walking alone on isolated beaches.
In the Seychelles, business is conducted relatively informally. Men and women are not required to wear formal suits although a smart appearance is advised. Business is usually conducted in English or French. Business hours are generally 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday.
The international dialling code for Seychelles is +248. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). Direct lines to most countries are available at most hotels. There is excellent GSM 900/1800 coverage for mobile telephones, and most hotels offer a postal service, email and Internet connection. There are Internet cafes in Victoria.
Travellers to the Seychelles over 18 years do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 225g of tobacco; 1 litre of spirits/wine; a reasonable amount of perfume for personal use. Prohibited items include drugs, narcotics, firearms and spear-fishing equipment. It is forbidden to export unprocessed coco de mer, shells, fish and live tortoises. A permit is required for processed coco de mer.