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How to visit the Seychelles on a budget

Can you visit the Seychelles on a budget?

The Seychelles – just the name conjures up images of golden sandy beaches, palm trees, turquoise waters, sunset cocktails and five-star beachside resorts. The islands are a luxurious enclave for honeymooners, celebrities and billionaires. So when I found a flight to South Africa with a stopover in the Seychelles along the way, I couldn’t resist – the only problem was that my travel style’s more budget-luxury than five-star. But I was determined to see if it was possible to visit the Seychelles without spending a fortune. And although it’s never going to be an ultra-cheap destination, it turns out that sticking to a budget isn’t impossible in the Seychelles, even when you’re following in the sandy footprints of A-listers and royalty.

Anse Soliel beach in the Seychelles

Coconut palms at Anse Soleil

Trip planning

There are 115 different islands in the Seychelles, but most are uninhabited so it comes down to a choice between the three main islands as to where to stay – Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. Mahé is largest and home to the Seychelles’ capital Victoria and the international airport. Praslin is smaller and accessible by plane or ferry, and from there you can get the ferry on to La Digue – the smallest, quietest and arguably prettiest island. The islands are fairly close together so it’s tempting to try and see them all, but travel time and costs add up, so if you only have a few days in the Seychelles it’s best to focus on one island. Accommodation prices tend to be lower the longer you stay, so you can save money by not moving around too much.

Mahé is the cheapest island as it’s the easiest to get to and the biggest so there’s more competition. As we only had a four-day stopover we stuck to Mahé, but if you have a week you can easily hop between islands and try a couple of different locations. From Mahé the fast ferry to Praslin takes about an hour and costs around €100 return, or Mahé to La Digue (via Praslin) takes 90 minutes and costs around €125 return. Peak season is from December–January and June–August, when you’ll pay higher prices and need to book well in advance. Rainy season is from January–February, but it’s still warm and downpours are usually short. So if you don’t mind risking a shower you can save money on flights and accommodation.

The currency in the Seychelles is the rupee (SCR or Seychellois Rupee), with around 16 rupees to the Pound and 14 to the Euro/US Dollar. Most things have to be imported to the islands, so it’s a good idea to bring plenty of sun cream, mosquito repellent and toiletries to avoid the high imported prices.

Beau Vallon beach in Mahé Seychelles

Boat on the beach at Beau Vallon

Accommodation

When you arrive into the airport, you need proof that you have accommodation booked, so it’s not the sort of place you can wing it and pick up a last-minute bargain. Luxury options far outweigh the budget gems, so if you want to bag the best places you need to book as far ahead as you can. Hotels tend to be expensive, so instead look out for family-run guesthouses or self-catering options like chalets, bungalows and villas. Expect to pay between £70 and £150 a night, depending on the location and facilities.

We stayed in the one of the two Fler Payanke apartments on the east coast of Mahé through AirBnB. They’re set on a hill overlooking Anse Royale bay, within walking distance of a beach, bus stop and a few shops and places to eat. Our apartment was a big studio with a balcony and kitchen which cost £85 a night for two (including the AirBnB fees). Other good AirBnB options I had on my shortlist were this studio in the far north of Mahé (£80 a night, sleeps two) and this villa on the west coast (£102 a night, sleeps three). (P.S If you’re new to AirBnB you can get £30 credit towards your first stay by signing up with this link).

Anse Royale beach in the Seychelles

Our ‘local’ beach, Anse Royale

Getting around

La Digue is so small that, other than a few taxis, most people get around by bike or ox cart. Mahé and Praslin are bigger so a hire car is the easiest way to get out and explore. Car hire costs around £34 a day. Most are small automatic cars, which are a bit slow but nimble on the windy mountain roads. Petrol costs fluctuate but we paid around 170 rupees per 10 litres of fuel on Mahé – spending a total of 370 rupees (£22) over four days of car hire, and we covered pretty much every road on the island in that time.

If you don’t want to hire a car, then the best option is the public buses (the mountain roads are a bit hard going for cycling and walking can be a bit hairy as there aren’t a lot of pavements). The buses cover over 40 different routes on Mahé and Praslin – we spotted them even on the smallest beach roads. They use old blue Tata minibuses and the driving can be a bit crazy so hold on tightly around the mountain road hairpin bends! A single fare costs 5 rupees (30p) and it’s easy to spot bus stops as they’re painted on the road.

Roads in Mahé, Seychelles

On the road in Mahé

Things to do

The Seychelles are all about the beaches – and they’re the islands’ best bargain. All beaches are free access, so even the ones with five-star resorts are open to the public. So you can beach-hop your way around the islands and join the jet set from the Banyan Tree resort at Anse Intendance, the MAIA resort at Anse Louis or the Four Seasons at Petite Anse. You can usually access the beach from the road so you don’t have to walk through the hotel grounds. Sometimes there are parking areas or otherwise you can just park on the side of the road, and buses stop at all main beaches. Strong currents mean that some beaches aren’t safe for swimming, or are only safe at certain times of the year, so check local signs before taking a dip.

Away from the beaches there are a few other free or cheap things to do on the islands. There are hikes along the coast or through the mountainous area in the centre of Mahé. Among the most popular walks are the coast path from Beau Vallon to the secluded beach at Anse Major (two hours return) or the steep climb up to Morne Blanc with amazing views over Morne Seychellois National Park (two hours return).

If the weather’s not so good you can visit the Botanic Gardens (100 rupees/£6), Natural History museum (15 rupees/£1) and Hindu temple in the capital Victoria. Mahé is also home to the Takamaka rum distillery which runs tours and tastings at 11.30am and 1.30pm, Monday–Friday (250 rupees/£15). And if you do want to splash out (excuse the pun), you can take a snorkelling trip or a boat out to an uninhabited island (from £42 half day/€72 full day) or spot whale sharks if you’re there between August and October (£120).

Beaches in Mahé Seychelles

Beaches at Anse Takamaka and Beau Vallon on Mahé

Food and drink

Apart from fish and a few varieties of local fruit and veg, everything else has to be imported into the Seychelles so it comes at a premium price. This means a main course in a standard restaurant costs around 250 rupees (£15) and high-end resorts can be much higher. Add in a couple of drinks and the service charge and you’re looking at at least £50 for a meal for two. One bargain in Mahé though is Beau Vallon’s Wednesday market (4pm–8pm), with freshly cooked dishes like satay, grilled fish and coconut curry.

Self-catering helps keep the prices down – and even if you eat out in the evenings it’s worth grabbing supplies for a lunchtime picnic. In Victoria the covered market is open every day except Sunday and sells local fruit and veg, spices and fresh fish – you’ll also see fish sold along the roadside. There are also lots of little Indian supermarkets where you can pick up drinks and a few basic food items. Or there are a couple of bigger international supermarkets in Mahé – a Co-op in the Eden Island development and a big STC on the outskirts of Victoria. Both sell a lot of imported European products (mainly from France).

If you’ve got space in your bag it’s worth bringing a few food basics like pasta, cereal bars, tea and coffee to get you started, and stock up on alcohol at duty free before you arrive. You can’t bring plant or animal products into the country, but you can bring up to two litres of wine and two litres of spirits per person. Seybrew beer and Takamaka rum are both produced on the islands so prices are lower – you’ll pay around 35 rupees (£2) for a 0.5 litre Seybrew in a local shop versus 160 rupees (£10) for a beach bar cocktail.

Takamaka Rum Distillery, Mahé Seychelles

Takamaka rum at the distillery

The verdict

So, can you visit the Seychelles on a budget? Well sort of! If you’re on a really tight budget then you’ll struggle with the food and accommodation prices. But for around £80 a day per person you can stay in an apartment, rent a car, spend your days beach-hopping and hiking, cook most of your own food and have a few local drinks. It’s very easy to spend a lot more though, so it’s a destination where you need to always keep one eye on the budget – but it’s worth it for a taste of Indian Ocean paradise.

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Can you visit the Seychelles on a budget?

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35 Comments

  • Reply
    aeparker81
    January 4, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    It looks like it is possible! I can imagine this appeals for people spending longer on the islands too – a few fancy nights but also some privacy and quiet time self catering too, we often find that mix works well and prices well!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 4, 2017 at 9:23 pm

      That’s a great idea – I’m a bit fan of the budget trip with a bit of luxury thrown in (though tend to do it more in cheaper places where you can get somewhere really special for your money!).

  • Reply
    flyfinn1
    January 4, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    Brilliant about your Seychelles experience

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 4, 2017 at 9:23 pm

      Thanks so much!

  • Reply
    Travel Candy
    January 4, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    Another wonderfully detailed post by you lovely Luce. Very useful info – and your pics are incredible, as always.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 4, 2017 at 9:25 pm

      Thanks so much lovely! I struggled to find much info when I was planning the trip so wanted to go and check out as many things as possible while I was there so I could write it up (all those beach days were clearly a hardship!).

  • Reply
    Noelle
    January 4, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    This is great – I had no idea the Seychelles could be done at a fairly reasonable price!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 4, 2017 at 10:04 pm

      It wasn’t the easiest budget trip (I had to pretend I’d forgotten the exchange rate to properly enjoy my pina colada on the beach!) but definitely worth it.

  • Reply
    Urska - Slovenian Girl Abroad
    January 5, 2017 at 11:32 am

    I’ve stayed at Fler Payanke apartment too! 🙂 I agree with you! It’s not the cheapest destination on the planet, but if you plan your trip well in advance and keep an eye on your budget, you can travel to Seychelles for reasonable price.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 5, 2017 at 6:01 pm

      How funny! It’s a lovely spot – I spent lots of evenings on the balcony there (we had some cracking thunderstorms and sat and watched the lightening over the ocean).

  • Reply
    hvarcegovac
    January 5, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    Seychelles are a great destination. They can definitely be done on the cheap if you want to. One of the things that very few people forget about is Couch Surfing. This is one of the things that few people try there…

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 5, 2017 at 6:00 pm

      Couchsurfing is a great idea if you’re on a tight budget – especially for solo travellers as it can get expensive booking apartments on your own.

  • Reply
    alison abbott
    January 5, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    I’m so happy to read your post. The Seychelles are one of the spots I’m considering for a big anniversary we have next year and I want to surprise my husband. All I was seeing was $$$$ so it’s good to hear you can have an experience there without breaking the bank! Thanks.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 5, 2017 at 5:58 pm

      What great timing! It would be a lovely spot for an anniversary – especially one of the smaller islands. Hope the post comes in useful.

  • Reply
    raastha
    January 6, 2017 at 7:21 am

    I really love you soo much for this post. There is enough information for a budget traveler. I have already bookmarked it. amazing photos.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 9, 2017 at 1:04 pm

      You’re very welcome! Hope it comes in useful.

  • Reply
    javealife
    January 6, 2017 at 11:03 am

    looks just astonishingly beautiful , maybe one day

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 9, 2017 at 1:04 pm

      Hope you get to see it for yourself one day!

  • Reply
    Sara Dobak
    January 7, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    This is one of the things I love so much about your posts, Lucy – the thoughtful tips and advice. I’d never looked into how much of the produce in the Seychelles is imported, so your suggestions on bringing your own basics are very handy – being pragmatic brings the seemingly unattainable destinations within reach!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 9, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      Thanks Sara, I didn’t know a lot about the Seychelles really until we booked the trip so needed to do a bit of research and thought it might come in handy to other people too!

  • Reply
    Jaillan Yehia
    January 7, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    I love your attitude, it’s exactly what I would do, in fact I think we both consider it a challenge when something like this comes up to prove that it can be done – especially when it is a free stopover it’s impossible to refuse! I’m not surprised that self-catering plays a big role in keeping the budget down too.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 9, 2017 at 1:00 pm

      I’m such a big self-catering fan as you have so many more options (plus I can’t eat gluten so it’s good to have a back up if I struggle finding somewhere with something I can eat!).

  • Reply
    Emma Hart | Paper Planes and Caramel Waffles
    January 7, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    What a great and useful post Lucy! Definitely one I’ll be keeping bookmarked if I ever go to the Seychelles which hopefully I will because it sounds like my perfect destination. Beautiful beaches and rum? Yes please!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 9, 2017 at 12:57 pm

      Thanks Emma – if you like rum and beaches you will definitely like the Seychelles!

  • Reply
    Suzanne Jones
    January 7, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    Stopovers are such a good idea! I love that you made what could have been a very expensive four days fit nicely into your budget. Heaps of useful info here and as always I love your photography.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 9, 2017 at 12:56 pm

      Thanks, I had some pretty good subjects to photograph! Stopovers are so good to add an extra trip in, I’ll definitely keep my eye out for future possibilities.

  • Reply
    Kathryn Burrington
    January 7, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    Brilliant post Lucy. Lovely photos and I would never have thought of AirBnB in the Seychelles. Such a good idea if you are on a budget, especially as it means you don’t have to eat out all the time. Now I just need to see if my airmiles can get me there!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 9, 2017 at 12:52 pm

      Thank you! I’m finding AirBnB more and more useful for the less expected places as they get more listings added and the choice goes up. Being able to cook some of your own food really helps stick to a budget.

  • Reply
    Marlies
    January 7, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    Seychelles looks amazing! I think £80 a day isn’t that bad.
    Thanks for the tips! 🙂

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 9, 2017 at 12:51 pm

      Thanks – we did keep a close eye on our spending but were pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t a complete mission impossible!

  • Reply
    MummyTravels
    January 8, 2017 at 7:54 am

    I had never thought of AirBNB in somewhere like the Seychelles – that is such a great way to see the islands. I think I’d always assumed it was 5* only too. Great tips about the food as well and at £80 per day, I suspect your 4 days was still less than one night in a hotel!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 9, 2017 at 12:51 pm

      I saw someone do a similar thing with AirBnB in the Maldives and it was a really good way to make a pricey destination more affordable (I dread to think what the resort prices are like!).

  • Reply
    Agness of eTramping
    January 9, 2017 at 8:38 am

    Oh my I fell in love with this place just looking at the pictures. Never thought that it is possible to get some budget trip here, but will surely try. Thank you Lucy for this wonderful info.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 9, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      You’re very welcome – it is a stunning place, hope you get to visit someday!

  • Reply
    Urska - Slovenian Girl Abroad
    January 9, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    Oh yes, the balcony was great. 🙂 We didn’t have any thunderstorms to watch, but we still enjoyed the views. 🙂

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