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Way out in the Indian Ocean, a thousand miles from Africa, is a group of islands, some coral, some granite, all impossibly gorgeous and ringed by reefs. The beautiful Seychelles islands unspoilt sandy beaches, all freely accessible to locals and visitors, are considered to be among the best on the planet, are edged by water so vividly turquoise, it’s almost fluorescent. Shapely pink granite rock formations dot the shoreline.
And Seychelles is just as spectacular under water. Venture offshore and get nose-to-nose with fascinating and friendly marine life. On land, the hillsides squawk with colourful bird life, cinnamon grows wild, as does the coco-de-mer, an extraordinary nut that can grow to over 20kg. Add to this heady mixture a friendly, welcoming people and a cuisine steeped in Creole culture, then top it off with that laid-back pace of life that most of us can only dream of!
Each island is slightly different to its neighbours, but remember that there are actually 115 in all, with romantic names like Curieuse, Silhouette, Cousin, Cousine, Cerf, Anonyme or even Eden, some of them with links to 17th century pirates! They resemble a string of pearls, with some so tiny that they are mere dots of beauty in the ocean. Seychelles is perfect for island hopping and we recommend you to include at least 2 or 3 in your stay. We’d love to help you create your dream holiday.
The Seychellois are an eclectic mix of freed African slaves, Arab, Indian and Chinese traders, and British and French settlers and seafarers who go about their business speaking a Creole patois. The multi-party democratic Republic was once a thriving pirate's haven but today it serves as a refuge for sunseekers, honeymooners and nature lovers who congregate in the top quality hotels and resorts on the main island shores.
Whether you come to dive among the more than 800 species of fish in the island waters, marvel at flocks of colourful birds flitting among rare jungle trees, soak up the equatorial sun on silver sands or to cement your marriage vows, the Seychelles archipelago will impress as being just about as close to paradise as it is possible to get on earth.
In the Seychelles, business is conducted relatively informally. Men and women are not required to wear formal suits although a smart appearance is advised. Business is usually conducted in English or French. Business hours are generally 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday.
Seychelles is constantly hot and humid, with an average annual temperature of 84°F (29°C), and the average sea temperature is the same, seldom dropping below 81°F (27°C). The heat is usually tempered by sea breezes. The islands lie outside of the hurricane belt, so storms are rare, but tropical rains fall during January and February. It is easy to escape the showers, though, because it can be sunny on one side of an island while it rains on the other.
The international dialling code for Seychelles is +248. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). Direct lines to most countries are available at most hotels. There is excellent GSM 900/1800 coverage for mobile telephones, and most hotels offer a postal service, email and Internet connection. There are Internet cafes in Victoria.
Homosexuality is illegal. Topless bathing is accepted on many, but not all, beaches but nudism is unacceptable. Wearing camouflage clothing is prohibited.
Travellers to the Seychelles over 18 years do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 225g of tobacco; 1 litre of spirits/wine; a reasonable amount of perfume for personal use. Prohibited items include drugs, narcotics, firearms and spear-fishing equipment. It is forbidden to export unprocessed coco de mer, shells, fish and live tortoises. A permit is required for processed coco de mer.
Electrical current is 220-240 volts AC, 50 Hz. Plugs are of the English type, with three square pins.
Health regulations in the Seychelles require that travellers from areas infected by yellow fever have a vaccination certificate. Immunisation against hepatitis A and typhoid are highly recommended. Visitors are advised to bring their own medication to avert the risk of travellers' diarrhoea, as well as sun block and insect repellent, local supplies being erratic and costly. During the rainy season in particular visitors should take precautions against mosquito bites due to the risk of dengue fever and the Chikungunya virus spread by bites.
There is a risk of leptospirosis, and walking barefoot should be avoided on roads and paths. Tap water meets WHO standards, but most visitors prefer to drink bottled water, which is widely available. Fruit and vegetables should be washed and peeled, and meat well cooked, before being eaten. Medical facilities on the islands are limited, but there is a government hospital in Victoria and some private clinics. Medical insurance with full evacuation cover is necessary.
Creole, English and French are all spoken in the Seychelles.
The Seychelles currency is the Rupee (SCR), divided into 100 cents. The country's foreign exchange regulations require visitors to pay for all services provided by hotels, guesthouses and self-catering enterprises, as well as things like car hire, entrance fees to parks and reserves, scuba diving and boat charter, in major foreign currency notes (Euros are the most widely used) or by credit card. Taxis and restaurant bills (not connected to hotels) are payable in foreign or Seychelles Rupees.
Rupees can only be used in local shops, markets, and bars. Credit cards are widely welcomed throughout the Seychelles. Money can be exchanged at banks and the airport on Mahé, or at hotels, and banks process travellers cheques. To change Rupees back into foreign currency on departure requires the official receipt from the initial transaction. ATMs are available at major banks on Mahé, Praslin and La Digue.
No foreigners require a visa to enter Seychelles. A one-month visitor's permit is issued on arrival and may be extended on application for up to 12 months. All visitors do, however, require a passport valid for the duration of their visit, return or onward ticket, sufficient funds to cover their stay (a minimum of USD 150 per day), and proof of accommodation.
Extensions are possible if applied for at least a week before expiry of visitor's permit. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Safety is not generally an issue in the Seychelles; violent crime is unlikely and most visits are trouble-free. There have been some incidents of theft and assault, but these are targeted mainly at residents. Visitors should be vigilant, particularly after dark in Victoria and in isolated areas. Avoid taking valuables to the beach, where they could be pilfered by petty thieves. Women should avoid walking alone on isolated beaches.
Local time is GMT +4.
Charges for most services include a service charge of between 5 and 10%, so tipping is therefore not obligatory. If service has been exceptional a small tip on top of that would be warmly welcomed.