After our incredible stays on islands such as the ones in French Polynesia or Ko Tao in Thailand, we were very tempted to visit new paradisiac islands. What could be better than an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, located exactly in between two destinations?
This is the reason why we chose to stop in the Seychelles, halfway between India and Zimbabwe. We visited the three main islands of this small country: Mahé, Praslin and La Digue.
We started our stay on the island of Mahé, where the international airport is located.
What to do in Victoria, the Seychelles’ capital city?
The small capital of the Seychelles is worth a visit. Here is what we visited in Victoria:
- Victoria Market (for food and souvenirs)
- the old colonial building, Old Supreme Court (to learn more about the history)
- the Camion Hall shop (for shopping and finding souvenirs)
We liked to see the diversity in the religions. We visited the following religious places:
- The St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral
- the Hindu temple of Arul Mihu Navasakthi Vinayagar
- the Victoria Mosque
Beaches on Mahé island
We toured the island to discover the famous beaches, reputedly heavenly, of the Seychelles. The coconut palms, the fine sand, the turquoise water… We were really impressed!
Cap Ternay, Bay of Ternay and Port Launay
Access by car to the bay of Ternay is difficult, but the beach is very pretty. With our masks and snorkels we were able to observe corals and some rays, but the visibility was not very good when we went there.
The atmosphere on Port Launay beach, with many locals present, was very friendly.
The large beach of Beau Vallon is a must for locals and visitors. It is sometimes called “the most beautiful beach in the Seychelles”.
The beaches in the south of Mahé: Anse Intendance, Anse Takamaka and Anse Soleil
In the south, it is not possible to swim. Indeed, the waves are too powerful, but the natural beauty is worth the detour. We went to Anse Intendance, Anse Takamaka and Anse Soleil.
In the end, there is no need to go to a specific point, because the road runs along beautiful beaches all the way. You just have to stop where your heart tells you to.
Day trip to Sainte-Anne Marine Park
To discover the Sainte-Anne Marine Park, we went on a tour by boat. We visited the Ronde Island, ate a barbecue and observed giant tortoises on Cerf Island and snorkeled at the Caché Island. Too bad for the snorkeling, the visibility wasn’t good.
The landscapes discovered during this tour were magical, however we were disappointed by the organisation. We also wanted to visit the Moyenne Island for the giant turtles in the wild and the pirate tombs. We had paid more to be in the tour including it, and in the end our tour operator made a mistake and put us in the wrong boat. You have to be very careful when leaving the port. We had to fight to be refunded the difference we had paid (which we eventually got back at the airport when we left).
Hike the Copolia trail
The Copolia trail is one of the most popular on the island of Mahé. It takes about an hour to climb, upon arrival there is a magnificent view of Victoria and the Sainte-Anne Marine Park. The end of the hike is a bit tricky to find, don’t miss the ladder that will take you to the top. We used the Maps.me app, very useful with the offline maps and the good geolocation accuracy.
Mission Lodge Viewpoint
The Mission Lodge lookout offers a magnificent view of the northern part of the island. It is located just below the summit of the Sans Soucis mountain.
We tried to visit to the Tea Factory at the same time, but it was closed on Saturday and the path next to it wasn’t usable.
Takamaka Rum Distillery
Although not rum fans, we wanted to visit a distillery on the island and went to the Takamaka distillery. Pay attention to the times of the guided tours, which only happens twice a day.
Transport on the island of Mahé
We hired a car for our entire stay on the island of Mahé. For this, we went through a local company Charme. We picked up our car at the airport and were able to return it to the ferry at the end of our stay on the island. It was absolutely ideal for our ferry departure for the island of Praslin. We appreciated the service and the quality of our car.
Accommodation on the island of Mahé
For our stay on Mahé, we chose to rent a very small apartment at Oceanic View Apartments. It had a kitchen, which saved us money on the expensive restaurants. This accommodation, affordable for our budget, was located inland. But that wasn’t a problem thanks to the rental car. It was clean and comfortable.
Ferry to Praslin Island
We appreciated being able to return our car directly to the Mahé ferry. From there, we embarked for Praslin with the Cat Cocos company. The crossing takes about an hour, we were lucky with the weather.
The beaches on Praslin Island
We couldn’t miss Anse Lazio beach, reputed to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world! The beach is indeed very pretty, the turquoise water, the fine sand, the magnificent palm trees and the impressive granite rocks make it a postcard landscape. It is possible to snorkel there.
Anse Georgette is another must-see beach in the Seychelles, and one of the few still intact without any building or infrastructure. The beach is surrounded by the magnificent mountains forming the landscape of the island.
On the other hand, the access to the beach is now restricted since the hotel group Constance Lemuria Resort Spa & Golf took possession of it. It is a pity, because it used to be a corner of paradise for the locals… Now, the beach is only accessible by water or with permission from the hotel. The number of visitors is limited, and you must ask your accommodation to call to request the authorization for you.
However, there are tricks to avoid this. By hiking from Anse Lazio or the bus terminus, you can arrive without permission. Doing the hike this way will give you the satisfaction of ending up at the beach. It takes about 1h30. There are also other trails for wonderful hikes in the surrounding mountains!
Anse Georgette offers shaded spots and the possibility of snorkeling.
Fond Ferdinand Nature Reserve
We chose to visit the Fond Ferdinand nature reserve, rather than the more touristic Vallée de Mai nature reserve. It was recommended to us by the locals and the entry was more affordable. A very good alternative.
The visit must be done with a guide, in the morning. We appreciated the explanations, were able to observe the famous Coco de mer palm trees and enjoy a magnificent view of Baie Sainte-Anne. The visit took us about 2h-2h30 and access is easy by bus.
Trip to the Curieuse and Saint-Pierre islands
For our boat tour around Praslin, we chose the company Angel Tours whose departures on Grand Anse beach were close to our accommodation. The day started with a visit to Curieuse Island: with a short guided walk among the giant tortoises, a visit to the doctor’s house (which is a museum on the former leprosy colony established on the island) and a barbecue.
We were supposed to snorkel near the Saint-Pierre Island but, the conditions being bad, we did it off Praslin. The views on Praslin Island from the boat were stunning.
Accommodation on Praslin Island
For our few days on the island of Praslin, we stayed in an aparthotel at the Tourterelle Holiday Home. It is well located on the island for getting around on foot and by bus. We appreciated the pickup and drink on arrival.
We were very happy to have a functional kitchen, traveling to the Seychelles on a budget was very difficult, so we ate mainly in our small apartment. There was also the option of walking to the village stand offering take-out food.
Transport on Praslin Island
We used public buses a lot to get around the island of Praslin. Beware, however, we had a nasty surprise trying to get back to the ferry to leave the island. Buses don’t take travelers with suitcases (or just big backpacks like us). We think it’s to encourage tourists to take taxis! Fortunately, we quickly found a solution by hitchhiking, and were driven there for a small payment.
This wasn’t our only experience hitchhiking on the island, it’s still a very effective method on small islands where most cars are going in the same direction as you around the island.
La Digue Island
Our favorite island of the three visited during our stay in the Seychelles! We would like to point out many tourists go there for just a day, and we think it is a shame. In our opinion, you should plan at least two days.
Admittedly, there may be fewer activities to do. But if you want to rest, enjoy the atmosphere and the beaches, you won’t feel like you’ve wasted your few days there. We had a hard time leaving!
Scuba diving on La Digue Island, in the Seychelles
In regards to the cost of a stay in the Seychelles, and the prices of diving trips, we limited ourselves to a single dive. We therefore chose to do it from La Digue with Trek Divers.
We appreciated the friendly team and the good equipment. You have to book in advance in high season, it was the only dive center to make departures from La Digue in August 2019. There was a lot to see, but the sea was very rough and the visibility reduced. We were still able to observe rays, turtles, white tip sharks and octopus around rock formations. Sadly, still no whale shark despite it being the perfect season (luckily our wish came true in Egypt).
In general, we have to say that the seabed was a disappointment for us in the Seychelles. In addition to often having bad conditions with low visibility and strong waves and currents, the corals seemed very damaged to us. They were bleached and in poor condition, this would be sadly due to global warming. We also saw fewer marine life than in Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, Polynesia, Zanzibar or Egypt.
Transport on La Digue Island
To get to the island, same as between Mahé and Praslin, we took another ferry between La Digue and Praslin. It is a nice 15 minute ride.
To leave the island and the archipelago, we took a longer ferry (1h 45) between La Digue and Mahé. It was a less pleasant crossing with the rough sea. We then had a transfer between the ferry and the airport to fly to our next destination on the African continent.
Getting around the island by bike
One of the particularities, very appreciable, of this small island of the archipelago is that there are very few motorized vehicles. We highly recommend renting bikes to tour the island! We loved it.
La Digue beaches
Anse Source d’Argent
Anse Source d’Argent is the prettiest beach, in our opinion, but also the most popular. On the spot, it is idyllic, a magnificent landscape! Plan to arrive early and at low tide, if possible. Access is not free, passing by the Union Estate farm is a nice walk before arriving on this dream beach.
Grand Anse and Petite Anse beaches
The beaches to the east of La Digue Island, such as Grand Anse, are wilder. Very beautiful, but swimming is impossible. We particularly liked the Robinson Crusoe vibe of Petite Anse, with shaded corners made from palm leaves.
Anse Fourmis, Anse Cocos, art gallery and restaurant
We thought Anse Cocos was accessible from the other side of the island. It turns out that the road stops at Anse Fourmis and we did not find the way to reach Anse Cocos (although indicated in Maps.me). Please let us know in the comments if you were able to access it.
The walk is still very nice, and less popular with tourists. We visited George Camille‘s art gallery and had lunch at restaurant Chez Jules (which was expensive, but with a nice atmosphere).
Accommodation on La Digue Island
On the island of La Digue, we opted for a very well located guest house, near the ferry: Kot Babi. We appreciated the calm of our room in this pretty house and its beautiful garden, as well as the proximity to restaurants.
Where to eat on La Digue Island
As there was no kitchen in this accommodation, it is on La Digue that we have eaten out the most. Here are our best experiences:
- Pancakes at Rey & Josh Cafe Takeaway
- Takeaway meals at Mi Mum’s takeaway (it is always possible to eat on site in the takeaway stands with tables and chairs arranged around)
- Octopus curry (a local specialty) from the Tarosa restaurant (we tasted several, this one was our favorite and one of the best value for money)
- The crab from the Fish Trap (delicious, but very expensive)
Dream beach destinations for a honeymoon
A question we are asked a lot is the best destination for a honeymoon (as we’ve been to a lot of classic honeymoon spots) . The answers deserve an entire article on the subject, because it really depends on expectations. For some, it will be a safari in Africa (which can be combined in Tanzania with the island of Zanzibar and its beautiful beaches), a dip in Alaska, Mayan temples in Central America or a trek on a volcano in New Zealand.
Here are our thoughts on the destinations if you are looking for dream beaches and relaxation:
Seychelles or Mauritius?
These are two very popular destinations for honeymoons, relatively close in the Indian Ocean (with the Maldives which we did not visit). We personally preferred Mauritius. The beaches of the Seychelles are more like postcards, but those of Mauritius are also worth a visit. We found it easier to visit Mauritius, because everything is accessible even without having a budget for a very luxurious trip. It is also undeniable that there was a lot more to do in Mauritius in terms of cultural visits, hikes… Finally, a significant point for us, the cuisine was more varied, interesting and delicious!
To conclude, as Mauritius is much more financially accessible, you can really have more fun on all points, accommodation, activities, restaurants… On the other hand, the island is more chaotic at first glance (less developed infrastructures, dogs running around freely, waste on the beaches…).
French Polynesia: our preferred place around the world
French Polynesia is our favorite destination of our world tour. We believe no one can go wrong by going there on their honeymoon. On the other hand, from Europe, the journey is very long! It’s a trip that, for us, requires more time on site and therefore perhaps a higher budget. If you are interested, read our tips for traveling on a budget in Polynesia.
The best value for money: the islands of Southeast Asia
For us, if you want a luxurious experience for this exceptional trip without destroying your savings, the best alternative is the islands of Southeast Asia. As long as you have enough time, you can combine dream beaches on islands with cultural visits inland. There are many options in Cambodia, Laos, Vietman, the Philippines, Malaysia… Here is what we were able to do:
Ko Tao in Thailand
We experienced a stay at Ko Tao in Thailand. The beaches there were absolutely beautiful. Above all, to explore the seabed: the water was warmer, the sea calmer, the corals and marine life more interesting than in the Seychelles. Even during our backpacking trip on a budget, we were able to stay in nice hotels. Finally, the food in Thailand is just amazing!
Bali and Java in Indonesia
Indonesia is also a wonderful country for a honeymoon. On site, the activities are diverse, everything is very affordable and the locals are lovely. Combining the islands of Bali and Java, as we did, allows you to discover very different atmospheres and get away from the tourist trails. Be warned though, it won’t be as relaxing a trip as you might expect from the pictures in the travel brochures. On site, there is a lot of commotion, noise and chaos! We found Ko Tao to be more relaxing.
Our mixed opinion on the Seychelles
From our stay in the Seychelles, we drew a controversial conclusion (as you may have noticed in our advice for a honeymoon destination). Maybe it seemed overpriced compared to other places we visited. You should also know that this is one of the few places on our trip where we fell ill (a virus probably brought with us from India), this may have also tarnished our feelings on the spot.
Finally, we think that we may have had too high expectations seeing all the photos of this place which seemed to us to be like heaven on earth before going.
We found that of all our world tour, this was the least easy destination to approach on a tight budget. Everything is geared towards luxury tourism and tourists cannot live like locals. It was very difficult for us to find affordable accommodation, to do a lot of activities, to eat without breaking the bank… Even to get around, as we could see on Praslin with the absurd impossibility of taking the bus with a backpack or suitcase. We did not manage to live an authentic experience, far from the tourist paths.
Weather and sea
The weather, which was not in our favour, also played on our feelings! We were there in August: the sea was often rough, the visibility poor and the sea water not incredibly warm (compared to other destinations, we sometimes had trouble jumping into the water).
Marine and terrestrial fauna
Unfortunately, as explained in our paragraph on diving, the state of the seabed was disappointing during our visit. Another point about wildlife, important for an arachnophobe like Clémentine, there were a lot of spiders outside! Not only while hiking, but also in the streets of the villages, suspended between the electric poles for example.
On the other hand, we were delighted to come across giant tortoises in the wild! The Seychelles giant tortoise is the largest land tortoise, slightly larger than the Galapagos tortoise. They are fascinating animals, they can weigh up to 300 kilos and live for more than 150 years! This vulnerable species now lives on the very dry and uninhabited coral atoll of Aldabra. Various groups have been introduced to the other islands to help their preservation.
Very important point for us, the food was not very varied. We were won over by the octopus curry and the fresh fish, but the rest didn’t seem exceptional.
Finally, we found the administration to be very complicated and extremely slow. It’s to be expected on small islands, but we had a lot of trouble changing our money, receiving a package in the post office and seeing a doctor there.