Visiting the Seychelles on a Budget

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This was our first big trip outside of Botswana! So why did we choose to go to the Seychelles? Even before we knew for sure we were moving to Botswana, we had planned to take a trip for our 1 year wedding anniversary. Since we got married on a tropical island – each year we decided that we wanted to visit a new tropical island to celebrate our marriage. There are plenty of options for amazing islands we have yet to visit, but our main goal was to do a dive trip so that narrowed the choices. We also knew we couldn’t afford to pay for a hotel and diving so we needed to pick a place that had a starwood property so we could use our points for accommodation – this narrowed the list even further. Then I combed through flights and found an amazing deal to fly to the Seychelles so it was a no brainer (cheaper than a flight to Maun in Botswana)!

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We flew into Mahe island – the largest and most populated island of the Seychelles. Since it was Easter week – the Le Meridian Hotel we were going to stay at was all booked the first 3 nights so we stayed on the south side of the island in a guesthouse – the cheapest option for accommodation I could find on the whole island! I thought it would be more of a bed and breakfast but we were quite surprised to be literally staying in a private home. The house was situated up in the hills above the village of Anse Royal. It was a unique and interesting experience. The wife and grandmother would cook us local food for dinner and we would eat together with the family and other guests.  We had a lovely room with balcony and a nice view down through a lush canopy of trees to the beach – however – it was pretty isolated so we mainly dove and came home to rest/sleep while we stayed there.

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We dove with Diving Seychelles Center. They were awesome! We got picked up by the owner every morning – he was a dutch guy who married a local woman and had been living there for 25 years. It was great to hear about his experiences on the island. Diving in the Seychelles was a lot different than what we expected. You hear about it being one of the top diving sites in the world so we definitely had some expectations. We had no idea there really isn’t any coral! The majority of the Seychelles are granite islands – which is what makes them so unique. They are made of the oldest and hardest granite in the world. There are a number of small coral islands that belong the Seychelles group but they are uninhabited and very isolated – only accessible by a multi-day boat trip. The dive sites on the southern end of Mahe are all very close to the shore. It was a 15 minute max ride until we were in the water. The underwater environment was made up of giant slabs of rock – some jagged, some piled up to create caverns underneath, and some with overlying coral growths. It almost looked like an underwater mountain range. Our first impression was – YIKES there is no coral! Coral has been so intimately tied to everything we think of as “good” in diving. When we didn’t see it we jumped to thinking – oh no this is not going to be as good as we expected! But after a few dives – we realized there was so much to see here! We saw sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, schools of rays, reef sharks, octopi, barracuda, morays, batfish, humpheaded parrotfish, napoleon wrasses and tons of other fish. They were really easy dives, with little current, amazing visibility and beautiful beaches surface to. It was not our favorite place we have dove but we are happy we checked it out. Great to broaden our diving experiences beyond coral reefs!

After 3 days diving on the south side, we then moved to Beau Vallon Bay at the very north tip of the island to stay at Le Meridian Fisherman’s Cove. After the initial nights in budget accommodation – we were blown away by how nice it was here!!  We were upgraded to a beach front suite for our anniversary which was beautiful. Beau Vallon is definitely the most touristy area of the Seychelles. It is a picturesque long stretch of beach in a large bay that is dotted with a hotels.  The Le Meridian is a smaller hotel which is nice because you don’t have to walk very far from your room to get anywhere. We had planned to dive for our remaining 5 days at Le Meridian but the weather turned and the long range dives we had planned were cancelled. We tried to dive for one day and the sea was so rough that the boats couldn’t make it out of the bay – so we decided the rest of our time was better spent relaxing! Something we don’t often do on vacations!

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We spent on day driving around the whole perimeter of the island. There are endless beaches and coves back to back – and most are totally empty. This is what we were most impressed about with the Seychelles. Since it is so beautiful, we assumed it would be filled with throngs of tourists but that was not the case. There are tourists for sure, but if you drive outside of the main hotel areas – you will easily find a place to spend the day bothered by no one.

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We spent one day island hopping to Praslin and La Digue Islands. I definitely wish we had spent at least one night on La Digue. It is very touristy but most people just do a day trips. Until recently the island only had a few small hotels and only foot or horse and buggy transport. Now there are a few cars and they are adding more and more hotels. The beaches here are breath-taking and very unique. The granite boulders that line the beach are incredibly picturesque. Even sitting there staring at the beach from the water – I felt as if I was looking at a painting. It was so unreal!

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We really enjoyed our time in the Seychelles because we spent a lot of it diving. However, if we hadn’t dove, I think we would have been really bored. There overall isn’t much to occupy your time for more than 3-4 days. And everything is so expensive that it really it crazy to spend your time just lounging at your hotel for more than 4 days. We know islands tend to be pricey but we didn’t know the extent of it! Food was the biggest problem – for a pretty standard low quality meal you would be spending $50 minimum for 2 people. If you want anything high quality you are looking at $100-200 –even for lighter meals like breakfast and lunch! It is basically the same prices you would see in the Maldives. So based on the fact that there is not a whole lot to do aside from checking out the beaches, we wouldn’t recommend this as a destination for anyone unless you are a really big diver or are living on this side of the world and can get a cheap flight for a quick trip. Or you can afford to do a boat trip through the whole Seychelles archipelago – that would be the way to do it! Otherwise, I think you would be happier with choosing  a cheaper and equally beautiful island like Bali (or an equally expensive one with more to do like the Maldives or French Polynesia).

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