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Things to do in Mahé, Seychelles: A one-day Mahé highlights road trip

Discover the best of the Seychelles’ largest island on this one-day road trip itinerary featuring the best things to do in Mahé, including stunning beaches, mountain viewpoints and rum distilleries.

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Things to do in Mahé, Seychelles: A one-day  Mahé highlights road trip

The Indian Ocean islands of the Seychelles aren’t the most obvious road trip destination. They’re more of a ‘find a gorgeous beach, lay on a lounger and read a book with a fruity cocktail’ type of place. But there’s more to the islands than just sand and sunshine.

Mahé is the biggest and most varied of the islands, and is where most visitors arrive. Whether you’re on a Seychelles stopover or flying into Mahé before heading on to neighbouring Praslin or La Digue, it’s worth getting out and exploring the island. So here’s my one-day Seychelles road trip itinerary featuring the best things to do in Mahé.

Anse Parnel beach in the Seychelles
Anse Parnel

The route covers 92km. It takes around three hours to drive straight through. But with over 20 beaches, viewpoints and a rum distillery on the way, you can easily fill a day.

Public transport is limited in Mahé, particularly if you’re short on time and want to get off the main roads. So a car is the easiest way to get around. But if you can’t or don’t want to drive in the Seychelles, you can join in a guided tour* of the south of the island instead – or hire a car and driver* for the day and create your own customised tour.

Mahé Seychelles map

Map of things to do in Mahé, Seychelles: A one-day  Mahé highlights road trip
Mahé highlights road trip map

Tips for driving in the Seychelles

Drive on the left: The number one thing to remember if you’re driving in the Seychelles is that you drive on the left-hand side of the road, like you do in the UK and Australia.

Book your hire car in advance: There’s a limited number of hire cars available in Mahé so it’s a good idea to book in advance, particularly if you want to hire an automatic rather than a manual vehicle. Car hire costs around €50 a day. You need to be over 21 to hire a car in the Seychelles and can use your driving licence from your home country.

Avoid rush hour in Victoria: Traffic around Victoria can be slow going as roads get clogged up in the morning and afternoons, so avoid driving in the area between Victoria and the airport between 7am–9am and 3.30pm–5pm if you can.

Glacis Beach in the north of Mahe Seychelles
Glacis Beach

Road quality varies: There’s a well-maintained main road which runs around the edge of the island south of Victoria. But other roads are a lot narrower and more basic. And once you head into the mountains they’re steep and winding too, with with hairpin turns and steep drop offs on one side, often with no barriers. So take it slowly.

Beware of buses: Seychelles bus drivers definitely do not take things slowly! So watch out for overtaking buses (sometimes it’s easiest to pull in when you can to let traffic pass) and for buses straying into the middle of the road when they go around corners. Other potential hazards on the road are pedestrians, as there aren’t many pavements, and animals.

Roads in Mahé, Seychelles
On the road in Mahé

Avoid driving at night: There’s no street lighting outside the main towns, so it’s advisable to avoid driving after dark if you can, especially up in the mountains.

Parking: The only place with paid parking is in Victoria, where there’s a big car park near the sports stadium (see on map) – you can pay at the shop across the street. Otherwise there are dirt parking areas or parking along the roadside near the beaches (though try to avoid parking under coconut trees unless you want to risk a dented roof!).

Boats and palm trees on Anse Takamaka beach
Anse Takamaka beach

One-day Mahé highlights road trip itinerary


Start your tour of the best things to do in Mahé in Victoria. It’s the Seychelles’ capital and home to a third of the country’s population, but is still Africa’s smallest capital city.

The Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market is one of the city’s most popular attractions. This colourful covered market is extra busy early in the mornings, with fishermen selling their catch as well as fruit and vegetable stalls, aromatic spices, crafts and souvenirs.

The city’s Victoria Clocktower looks like a mini Big Ben, but is actually a replica of the clock on Vauxhall Bridge in London, which was brought over in 1903 when the Seychelles became a British colony. You can learn about 300 years of local history at the National Museum of History. And there’s also the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, a colourful Hindu temple and Botanical Gardens with spice grove and mini rainforest.

Victoria Clocktower in Victoria on Mahé island in the Seychelles
The Victoria Clocktower

The east coast

Heading southeast from Mahé you pass through the most built-up area of the island, past the airport and the Eden Island development – a man-made island with luxury apartment and villas. But when you get beyond that, things start to get a lot more relaxed.

Sixteen kilometres (25 minutes’ drive) south of Victoria you’ll find the Takamaka rum distillery. There’s also the Domaine de Val des Près Craft Village just before you get there. This old plantation house is now a museum and has kiosks selling traditional crafts like batik clothing, jewellery, paintings and wooden sailboats made from coconut.

Takamaka Rum Distillery, Seychelles
The Takamaka Rum Distillery

The distillery is part of a 200-year-old estate which originally produced coconut oil and distilled cinnamon and patchouli. The former plantation house has been restored to its former glory and is now a restaurant and a base for the distillery.

If you visit at 11am, 1pm or 3pm you can take a free guided tour. Otherwise you can take a walk around their museum, medicinal garden and historic ruins. There’s also a Rum Shack where you can try a cocktail and a shop to stock up on rums to take away.

Bottles of Takamaka rum
Takamaka rum

Further on down the coast a line of beaches run from Anse Royale through Anse Bougainville and Anse Parnel to Anse Forbans. The beaches here aren’t the island’s best – they’re narrow and sometimes get seaweed washed up – but this is judging them by Seychelles standards, with golden sand, palm trees and turquoise waters as standard.

One beach worth a stop is the little bay at the far north of Anse Royale (2.5km south of the distillery). It’s separated from the main beach by a pile of perfectly positioned granite boulders that could have come straight from a Seychelles holiday brochure.

Anse Parnel a little further south is a quiet spot, with a gently sloping beach that’s good for swimming and snorkelling, and some lovely views up the coast to Anse Royale.

Anse Royale beach in Mahé island in the Seychelles
Postcard perfection at the north end of Anse Royale

The west coast

Mahé gets narrower towards the south of the island, so if you head inland from Anse Forbans you’ll reach the west coast in about 10 minutes. This side of the island is quieter and has a wilder feel, with beaches backed with green jungle-covered hills.

There’s a string of beautiful beaches running up the coast so you can take your pick – or try out a few. They’re mostly set away from the main road so you’ll need to detour and take one of the narrow winding roads down to reach them, with parking on the roadside.

Anse Takamaka beach on a Mahé road trip
Anse Takamaka

At the south is Anse Intendance. This has the (currently closed) Banyan Tree Seychelles resort at one end of the beach, but the rest of it is usually quiet, with just a small beach bar. There’s no coral reef offshore so the water here gets deep quickly, and it can be too dangerous to swim between May to September – though it is a popular surfing spot.

Next is Anse Takamaka, which gets its name from the takamaka trees along the edge of the beach. This beach is shallower and good for snorkelling – though you need to bring your own kit. There’s a beachside bar and restaurant called Chez Batista (complete with a pen of giant tortoises) – reviews are mixed though so we just called in for a drink.

Anse Soliel beach in the Seychelles
Anse Soleil

Anse Soleil is a popular cove down a steep road. There’s a beach café called The Deck who serve a mix of Asian dishes and local seafood (or fruit bat if you’re feeling adventurous). Just to the south is Petite Anse (also known as Anse La Liberté). You can only access the beach through the Four Seasons Hotel* but don’t have to be staying there.

And further north is Anse Louis, another wide, empty stretch of sand which has the Anantara Maia Seychelles* resort at one end. It’s also a fairly sheltered sandy beach that’s popular with surfers. And you can find shops in nearby Anse Boileau.

Golden sands at Anse Louis beach in the Seychelles
Anse Louis

The mountains

From Anse Louis, it’s 11km (17 minutes’ drive) north to the turning onto the Sans Souci road, which lies on the edge of Port Glaud. The road runs across the Morne Seychellois National Park, which covers a fifth of Mahé’s land area and includes a mix of landscapes ranging from coastal mangrove forests to mountain peaks shrouded in thick jungle.

The drive across to the other side of the island is only 16km, but allow plenty of time as the road zigzags its way uphill through steep hairpin bends, so it’s not long until you start getting panoramic views down to the coast that’ll make you want to stop.

Views over Morne Seychellois National Park
Views over Morne Seychellois National Park

There are a few places to stop along the way, including the SeyTe tea factory, a working tea plantation where you can take a short factory tour, have a cup of tea in their café and pick up teas to take home. There’s also Mission Lodge, a ruined missionary school which was built in the 1870s and has spectacular views from the road’s highest point.

You also pass the starting point for two of Mahé’s best hikes, both of which have fantastic views. There’s the trail to the peak of Morne Blanc which starts near the tea factory and takes around an hour each way. And the rocky route up to the Trois Frères cliffs which takes two hours to the cliffs and back, plus an extra hour to reach the summit.

On the way back down towards Victoria, there are more panoramic views out over Eden Island and along the coast. Then once you get back to the outskirts of Victoria, follow the signposts towards North Point rather than heading into the city itself.

Tropical flowers in the Seychelles
Seychelles flowers

The far north

This road takes you on an anticlockwise loop around the most northerly part of the island. The beaches on the east side of the peninsula have rougher seas than elsewhere but are often empty, like Anse Nord d’Est with its abandoned hotel development at one end.

The road hugs the cliff edge as it runs around Northeast and North Points, with glimpses down to hidden coves tucked away beneath you. And there are more beaches along the west side of the peninsula, including Glacis Beach, where you can see fishermen’s huts and colourful fishing boats, with views out towards neighbouring Silhouette Island.

Anse Nord d'Est beach in Mahé Seychelles
Empty Anse Nord d’Est

Beau Vallon

Finish your Mahé highlights road trip in Beau Vallon before heading back to Victoria. Beau Vallon is Mahé’s most popular beach, but that doesn’t mean its packed with sunloungers and high-rises. This long curving beach has plenty of space and shady palm trees.

The clear, shallow waters make it popular with families, and it’s a good place for snorkelling and watersports like kayaking, paddleboarding, windsurfing and jet skiing.

Boat on the beach at Beau Vallon
Boat on the beach at Beau Vallon

There are usually vendors selling fresh coconuts and local fruit at the end of the beach. Or if you’re there on a Wednesday you can pick up curries or grilled fish at the evening market. Otherwise the Boathouse is a good option for dinner, with an open-sided restaurant which lets the breeze in and a nightly Creole buffet with 20 different local dishes.

Then all you need is a cocktail on the beach to finish a perfect Mahé Seychelles road trip.

Cocktails on Beau Vallon beach, one of the best things to do in Mahé Seychelles
Cocktails in Beau Vallon

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Discover the best of the Seychelles’ largest island on this one-day road trip itinerary featuring the best things to do in Mahé, including stunning beaches, mountain viewpoints and rum distilleries | Things to do in Mahe Seychelles | Mahe road trip | Seychelles road trip | What to do in Mahé SeychellesDiscover the best of the Seychelles’ largest island on this one-day road trip itinerary featuring the best things to do in Mahé, including stunning beaches, mountain viewpoints and rum distilleries | Things to do in Mahe Seychelles | Mahe road trip | Seychelles road trip | What to do in Mahé Seychelles

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Ahmed Afrose

Thursday 20th of May 2021

Super useful and accurate.We had a day after checking out of the hotel. We found your blog and followed most of it and enjoyed the day. Great and useful blog. What a gorgeous little place. Thank you.