455.3 sq km (176 sq miles).
201.4 per sq km.
Head of state:
President James Michel since 2004.
Head of government:
President James Michel since 2004.
240 volts AC, 50Hz. British-style plugs with three square pins are standard.
Clichéd or not, the Seychelles are about as close to paradise as you can get: once you’ve felt the sand between your toes here, beach holidays will never be the same again.
Made up of 115 topical islands in all, the Seychelles archipelago is a destination where white, sandy beaches are as pure as the driven snow; where frothy turquoise waters harbour colourful coral reefs and bountiful marine life; where secret coves allow you to have your very own Robinson Crusoe moment with only birds and tortoises for company.
Mahé may be the biggest – and the busiest – of the islands, but it has its fair share of secluded bays, which are accessible only by yacht, motorboat or on foot. Together with its sisters Praslin and La Digue, it attracts the lion’s share of tourists.
More adventurous travellers, on the other hand, may prefer to take a flying boat to more remote islands such as Fregate or Bird Island and enjoy secluded beaches all to themselves. These islands are especially popular with birdwatchers and nature lovers, due to their abundance of wildlife.
The absence of people on many of the islands means that rare plant life has thrived on this Indian Ocean archipelago. Tropical life abounds below the waves, too. This is best viewed by going scuba diving or snorkelling, experiences which are made all the more memorable here thanks to the crystalline seas.
It’s not all about nature, though. The Seychelles are a veritable melting pot of cultures: its inhabitants descend from African, Asian and European immigrants, who have brought their customs and traditions with them to the islands. This heady mix is particularly pleasing on the palate thanks to the archipelago’s fabulous fusion food.
The Seychelles is a seductive destination all right, and one that’s guaranteed to whet your appetite for a return trip – assuming your bank balance can handle it.
Last updated: 19 October 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Most visits to Seychelles are trouble free, but tourists have been robbed. Crime levels are rising, with an increase in both targeted burglaries and opportunist thefts against residents and tourists. The inability of the authorities to catch and prosecute offenders is a concern.
You should maintain at least the same level of security awareness as you would in the UK and make sure your living accommodation is secure. Don’t carry large amounts of cash or wear eye-catching jewellery. Use a hotel safe to store valuables, money and passports. Don’t leave valuables in cars or anywhere on display.
Accommodation, particularly in isolated areas, should have adequate security, including external security lighting, grilles and overnight security guards.
Be vigilant and when outside hotels grounds always carry a mobile phone with roaming capability for use in emergency.
Take care in isolated areas and also in more popular places like Beau Vallon and the back streets of Victoria, especially after dark. Beaches, parked cars and both residential and tourist accommodation are favourite targets for thieves.
People trekking on marked and unmarked trails have been robbed, including at knife point. Leave valuables securely in a safe and stay within large, organised groups. Take particular care if you’re alone
Mahé is mountainous, and roads are narrow and winding, often with sheer drops and hairpin bends. Safety barriers are rare. Take care when driving and avoid remote roads, particularly at night. Drink-driving is a problem, so be particularly aware of other road users who may behave erratically. When returning hired vehicles, obtain an acknowledgement that the vehicle has not been damaged during the period of hire. Third party insurance is compulsory, and comprehensive insurance is also available locally. UK driving licences are valid for up to three months.
Buses are the only means of public transport. They are cheap but infrequent on some routes. Taxis are good but you should negotiate the fare before beginning your journey as prices for foreigners can be totally arbitrary.
Despite an overall reduction in 2013, piracy remains a significant threat in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean and the last few months of 2013 saw an upswing in pirate activity with a number of (unsuccessful) attacks. These have occurred as far as 1,000 nautical miles from the coast of Somalia and often within the Seychelles Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Sailing vessels are particularly vulnerable. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all but essential travel by yacht and leisure craft on the high seas (more than 12 nautical miles from the shore) in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and part of the Indian Ocean. This includes activities within the Seychelles EEZ beyond 12 miles of the inner granitic islands. Travel by air to these islands is not affected. See Piracy in the Indian Ocean page.
On 23 October 2009, two British nationals were taken hostage while sailing in the Indian Ocean. They were approximately 60 nautical miles from the Seychelles’ main island of Mahé. They were released on 14 November 2010.
Most of the inner island resorts are accessible by ferry; there are also a number of day trips available to tourists. Although accidents are rare, and the major catamaran ferries to Praslin and La Digue are very well run, there were two serious accidents within the last year on smaller ferries, one of which involved one fatality and serious injury. You should exercise due caution and always check that briefings are given and safety instructions and life jackets are provided.
Take care when swimming or snorkelling, even on organised excursions, particularly with children or the elderly; drownings occur. There are strong currents offshore, and seasonal changes in sea conditions mean there are strong currents on beaches at different times; these may not be immediately apparent. Safety information is often missing from beaches, but this should not be interpreted as a sign they are benign.
Beaches that offer safe swimming during the south east monsoon (May to -September) may not be safe during the north east monsoon (November to -March). Seek local advice and stay within your depth. Dangerous rip currents can occur off the popular Beau Vallon beach when the sea is rough.
Although shark attacks are extremely rare, there were two fatal incidents (one involving a British national) off Anse Lazio on the island of Praslin in 2011. A temporary ban on swimming at certain locations on Praslin imposed after these attacks was lifted by the Seychelles Maritime Safety Authority in February 2012 following the introduction of Life Guard services at Anse Lazio and Cote D’Or on the island of Praslin.