Affordable Seychelles: what to do and where to stay

Posted on 15 October 2015

Everyone thinks Seychelles – pricey! But what if we found you some perfect insider secrets that meant you could start planning your holiday to one of the gods’ most gorgeous islands? Recent Seychelles local Lynette Botha gives us the low-down.

Also see: our latest Seychelles travel packages

 

Anse Royale beach in the Seychelles.

Anse Royale beach in the Seychelles.

 

Which is the best Seychelles island?

Lynette says

If you’re planning your first trip to the Seychelles islands, then Mahé is your destination. It may be the largest and most inhabited island in the Seychelles, but this does not mean it’s crowded – quite the opposite. It is also the cultural and culinary hub of the archipelago, and offers so much more than just unspoilt beaches.

 

Where to stay on Mahé

Lynette recommends

  • Berjaya Resort, Beau Vallon
  • Casuarina Hill Villa, Bel Ombre
  • Castaway Fishing Lodge, Anse Aux Pins
  • Maison Soleil, Baie Lazare

 

1. Berjaya Resort, Beau Vallon

Located in the north of Mahé, right on the shore of Beau Vallon, one of Seychelles’ most popular beaches, is Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Resort & Casino. With three restaurants and three bars, a swimming pool, a mini-gym and a range of outdoor and indoor activities, it’s the perfect base from which to explore Mahé. The north is the core of Seychelles, and if you really want to immerse yourself in all that island life has to offer, this is the area from which to explore.
 

Berjaya Resort furnishings are minimal and blend in with the natural landscape.

Berjaya Resort furnishings are minimal and blend in with the natural landscape.

 

The accommodation

Varying from the basic standard room all the way up to the royal suite, each unit has air conditioning, tea- and coffee- making facilities, a shower and TV, and views of the beach, the gardens or the pool area. Decor is minimal, but modern and comfortable.
 

Poolside at Berjaya Resort.

Poolside at Berjaya Resort.


Rates: From R1600 per room B&B (two people sharing); you can get further reduced rates if you book and confirm 60 days prior to your arrival.

Contact: Tel +2484287287, berjayahotel.com

 

Things to do in Beau Vallon

You’re on the northwest coast – this means there’s no shortage of things to do. Just three kilometres away from the capital, Victoria, you can visit the charming Seychelles National History Museum and take the children to the fun park, Paradis des Enfants – a huge, free outdoor play-park with slides, swings and jungle gyms, as well as a games room and merry-go-round-type rides for an additional fee. Pirates Arms Restaurant is a landmark place to eat on the island (don’t expect gourmet, but a great burger and fries, definitely).

 

Beau Vallon beach is just over a kilometre in length, ideal for a sunset stroll.

Beau Vallon beach is just over a kilometre in length, ideal for a sunset stroll.


For authentic Italian gelato head to La Dolce Vita in upper Victoria and if you’re after some local designer threads, glamorous Kankan on Independence Avenue (referred to as ‘Main Street’) is a must. A visit to Mahé is incomplete without a trip to Victoria Market for the biggest selection of fresh tropical fruit and vegetables, spices, fish (caught every morning) and interesting curios. Every Wednesday, from 5pm, there is a local night market on Beau Vallon beach offering great Creole cuisine – fish, chicken satay, stir-fries and fresh, hot banana chips – plus handmade items and local soaps as well as curios.

 

Victoria Market in Mahé is buzzing with locals and tourists hustling for bargains on everything from fresh tuna and local spices to sarongs and curios.

Open from 5:30 to 17:00 on weekdays and until noon on Saturday, Victoria Market in Mahé is buzzing with locals and tourists hustling for bargains on everything from fresh tuna and local spices to sarongs and curios.

 

2. Casuarina Hill Villa, Bel Ombre

The road to Casuarina Hill is a long, winding, narrow one, which may induce a few heart palpitations along the way (due to sharp hairpin bends and interesting local driving antics), but once you arrive you’ll know it was worth it.

 

Casuarina Hill Villa.

Casuarina Hill Villa.

 

The accommodation

A two-storey, two-bedroom house built by the owner, Casuarina Hill Villa is a fully equipped self-catering spot, great for a holiday with family or a group of friends. The en-suite loft bedroom can easily accommodate two adults and two young children (on an extra bed, which is provided if requested) and a camp cot is also available. The downstairs bedroom has a double bed and there’s a separate bathroom. The lounge and kitchen are both spacious, and satellite TV can be connected for an extra fee. The back garden has a small eating area and a braai and the kitchen is fully equipped.

Owners Patrick and Lizel Tirant stay in a house just below the villa and are there to assist with anything you need. Patrick will collect you from the airport or arrange car hire (or both); they are happy to answer any questions and suggest places to eat, visit and avoid. The pool, located a few steps away from the villa property, is huge with the most amazing views into a lush green valley – the idyllic place to while away sunny days. A daily cleaning service is included.

Rates: From R1600 (four adults and two children under 12).

Contact: Tel +2482540092, [email protected]

 

Things to do in Bel Ombre

You will need to hire a car if you stay at Casuarina Hill for more than a few days. Car rentals are from R450 to R600 a day but the longer you hire one, the easier it is to negotiate a better rate. Bel Ombre is about three kilometres from Victoria; and a 10-minute drive down the steep hill will lead you to Beau Vallon beach. The Seychelles National Botanical Gardens is about 15 minutes away, but for a better botanic outing, head to La Misere Exotics Garden Centre, at the top of La Misere pass. Newly opened, these gardens offer a more curated look at some of Seychelles’ most beautiful plants and flowers. Husband and wife, Eddie and Anna Westergreen own and run the place and are passionate about what they do. Entrance is about R110 for adults and free for children under 12.

A leisurely stroll around the well signposted gardens will take about 45 minutes to an hour. Carry on up the pass and down into Barbarons, and there you’ll find Veranda Café, open daily for lunch (except Wed- nesdays), offering great light salads, pastas and local curries, the freshest squeezed juices and the most delicious banana cake. Owner Jenny Baldwin will open the restaurant at night just for you – and at no additional cost, with at least 24 hours’ notice.

 

3. Castaway Fishing Lodge, Anse Aux Pins

A 15-minute drive from Seychelles International Airport, heading south, is where you’ll find Castaway Fishing Lodge. It’s located directly off the main road, although you’d never guess it once you’re on the property, as it’s secluded and quiet.

 

Castaway Fishing Lodge, Seychelles.

Castaway Fishing Lodge, Seychelles.

 

The accommodation

Made up of various self-catering apartments and one five-bedroomed villa with a pool, there are accommodation options for couples, families and groups. Each unit is fully equipped for a self-catering stay and tastefully furnished in neutral colours, wood and natural elements. Bruce and Caroline Horner own and manage the establishment, and with their own house at the base of the property, they are always available if needed. Free WiFi is available in certain areas of the property and a daily cleaning service is included.

Rates: From R915 (two people sharing).

Contact: Tel +2482717777, castawayseychelles.com

 

Things to do in Anse Aux Pins

Castaway is set in a great location; five minutes away is La Plaine St Andre, home of Takamaka Bay Rum Distillery, where you can do a tour as well as sample the local rum, which is available all over the island (the Takamaka Coco Rum is the best – think Malibu).
 

Eden Island Marina.

Eden Island Marina.


You can also have lunch or dinner at the restaurant, which will set you back between R200 to R350 per person. A short drive north lies Eden Island (known as mini South Africa), a tiny but very luxe version of the V&A Waterfront, this marina is home to the only mall on the island. It also has its own hotel, residential properties and casino. To the south of Castaway is Anse Royale, one of the most beautiful beaches on Mahé and a tourist hotspot – the ideal place to snorkel; Kaz Kreole Restaurant & Beach Club, located on the beach, is also nearby and offers up pretty much everything from pizza and pasta, to seafood, curries, salads and more. You will also find the international deli/ supermarket, ISPC Fresh, in this area – this is the ‘Woolies’ of Seychelles and if you’re willing to spend a little extra, this is a place to do holiday food shopping.

 

4. Maison Soleil, Baie Lazare

Owned by local artist Andrew Gee, Maison Soleil has famous neighbours on either side – Four Seasons Resort Seychelles and Kempinski Seychelles Resort. Located down a quiet, leafy side road and within walking distance to Petite Anse beach (through rugged terrain), it’s a great base from which to explore the more cultural side of Mahé, with art galleries, souvenir shops and a museum nearby, such as Lazare Souvenir Museum and Gallery.

 

The Jasmine suite at Maison Soleil.

The Jasmine suite at Maison Soleil.

 

The accommodation

Each of the three self-catering units has a fully equipped kitchen, air conditioning and general amenities needed for a stay. There is an enclosed parking area as well as free WiFi on the property, and it’s close to Anse Soleil Art Studio. The cook can whip up a trad- itional Creole dinner with enough prior notice, or better still a fresh fish barbeque.

Rates: From R1400 (two people sharing). Book for six nights and get the seventh night free.

Contact: Tel +2482712677, maisonsoleil.info

 

Things to do in Baie Lazare

A rental car is a must while staying down south, as there is so much to see and do. First of all, head to Baie Lazare beach; despite being one of the more popular beaches on Mahé, it’s almost always deserted. The water is clear and warm with hardly any coral – and the waves are great for body surfing.

Lazare Souvenir Museum and Gallery offers a trip down memory lane, thanks to owner Joseph Larue’s great collecting skills. There’s everything from old spectacles, gramophones and typewriters to LPs, antique coins and even an old electricity receipt dating back decades. The walls are adorned with local art for sale. There is no entrance fee, but a donation is welcome. Enjoy a meal at Sound Garden Bar and Grill, the most well-priced restaurant you’ll find in the area and the shaded outdoor tables are the perfect spot to relax for a few hours with a couple of Seybrews (the local beer).

 

The La Misere Exotics Garden Centre.

The La Misere Exotics Garden Centre.

 

Plan you trip to the Seychelles

 

Getting there

Air Seychelles flies directly to Mahé from Johannesburg three times a week; flight days vary due to seasons, as do flight costs. Flights can start from as little as R5 500 return depending when you book.

 

Car hire

Victoria Car Hire is the most affordable on Mahé and will negotiate lower rates for longer stays. From R450 per day. Tel +2484376314.

 

Best time to visit the Seychelles

The weather is warm all year round, even during the rainy season in January and February. While there are heavy downpours during this period, rain never lasts more than a few hours and the temperature is still beautifully balmy. April/May and October/November are the best times for snorkelling and diving, as visibility is good – reaching up to 30 metres at times. The prime time for surfing (yes, Mahé has waves!) is between May and September.

 

Money matters

The euro and US dollar are widely accepted, as are MasterCard and Visa. While it is possible to visit the Seychelles on a budget, it is not a cheap destination – everything (everything!) is imported, which means this is not a shopping holiday. If you want to shop, fly with Emirates and stopover in Dubai before or after your visit.

 

Need to know

Bring along lots of sun cream and mosquito repellent, adaptors (British three-pin plugs are standard here), books and magazines (reading material is hard to come by), medication, batteries and a sense of adventure. It’s best not to drink the local water – bottled water is sold everywhere.

 

Daily life, Seychelles.

Daily life, Seychelles.


 

Things to do in the Seychelles

  • Take a photo at the Clock Tower in Victoria.
  • Book a one-hour SUP with iSurf in Baie Lazare; watch the sea life swim beneath you and take in heavenly surrounds. Tel +2482543069
  • Grab a bite at newly renovated Surfers Beach Restaurant in Bougainville. Laze in a hammock, go for a dip in the sea or simply let your toes sink into the soft white sand while you wait for your meal; drinks are pricey, but meals are good value and the location is idyllic. Tel +2482783703
  • Drink fresh coconuts as often as possible, get addicted to the local banana chips (not to be confused with the dried banana we’re used to) and take as many photos as is humanly possible – this is paradise after all.
  • Visit the hilltop spa at The Four Seasons Resort Seychelles – even if it’s just for a manicure or foot massage, and take in one of the best views in all of Mahé. Tel +2484393000
  • Head to Marie Antoinette Restaurant in Victoria for Creole cuisine. Don’t forget to pin your business card to the wall, along with the thousands of other travellers before you. Tel +2484266222
  • Visit Le Jardin du Roi spice garden, the home of exotic plants, plenty of birdlife, giant tortoises and of course, a plethora of spices. It can take about two hours to walk around the well- maintained gardens, after which you can enjoy lunch at the restaurant, which serves great Creole fare, using the locally grown spices. Tel +2484371313
  • If you have the time and extra money, a boat trip to one of the neighbouring islands is really worth it; Praslin, La Digue and Cerf are popular day trips. From R1600 per person return. Book via Cat Cocos.

 

Mahé’s very own Big Ben.

Mahé’s very own Big Ben.

 

Why you should book well in advance

  1. Most hotels and resorts offer special packages or stay-three- nights-get-one-free-type deals.
  2. Self-catering and small hotels are also usually flexible with per day pricing the longer you stay.
  3. Booking in advance and paying a 50 per cent deposit may get you a reduced fee with some establishments.
  4. To avoid crowds and price hikes, don’t book over the European summer holidays.

 
 

This article first appeared in the July 2015 issue of Getaway magazine.

Get this issue →

All prices were correct at time of publication, but are subject to change at each establishment’s discretion. Please check with them before travelling.

 






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