I haven’t traveled the world yet, but I’ve begun; and I’ve met enough people who have been in enough places to know that no place in the world is ‘too expensive’ to explore, at least for a brief period. When I announced I was going to Seychelles, the single-most frequently asked question went something like – “How rich are you?” I don’t blame them! Seychelles has been made famous as a luxury & honeymoon destination. Thus, one of my many missions on this trip was to figure out if it was possible to travel to Seychelles on a budget, and here is what I learned. This post breaks down each major expense bit by bit, including a downloadable ‘How to Travel to Seychelles on a Budget Expense List’, which you can access at the end of this post.
Disclaimer: Before I start talking about how to go about planning & budgeting your trip to Seychelles, let me begin by saying I botched it up head-on [Read: Seychelles Immigration – A Backpacker’s Nightmare]; but what good is your friendly travel blogger if he won’t make mistakes you can learn from, eh? So here goes nothing ?
Before we get to the finances, let’s cover some of the basics:
What, Where & When Should I Travel to Seychelles?
I was mildly surprised at people asking me where Seychelles was! I mean, sure it isn’t as famous as Mauritius, but hazard a guess muchachos? Mature Me reigned in Pompous Me with the prompt reminder that I also knew of this paradise only because my favorite travel blogger wrote about it several years ago! So for the sake of other similar mortals, Seychelles is a nation of 115 islands that lie in the Indian Ocean off the east-African coast.
The islands are classified as Inner & Outer Island groups. Most of the Outer Islands are uninhabited, and although you can visit many of these (provided you have a pocket as deep as the Grand Canyon), for the sake of this ‘budget’ trip, we will focus on the inner and more commonly visited islands. Mahe, Praslin & La Digue are three of the largest and more visited islands. The island nation as previously mentioned is renowned for its pristine beaches, its unparalleled marine life and its notoriety as a honeymoon destination. The seas around the islands are some of the clearest waters in the world and make for the best diving, snorkeling as well as surfing spots.
The Best Time to Travel to Seychelles
The great news is that Seychelles falls outside of the cyclone belt, which makes it a year-long destination. The best time to travel to Seychelles could totally depend upon what you seek from your visit. Many come here to quench their undying love for the seas; and while snorkeling, diving spots remain open more or less throughout the year, the waters are generally clearer in the sun and murkier in the rain. Same goes with the beach enthusiasts – they aren’t as much fun on stormy, cloudy days, no? Me? I’m an OCG. I travel mostly to live like a local, so for me it doesn’t matter so much that most of my days in Seychelles was a game of hide and seek between sun and cloud.
Now that we’re done with this travel magazine-esque behavior, let’s move on to the real deal – the budgeting!
How Much Does Budget Accommodation in Seychelles Cost?
Let me be honest here. This is the trickiest part of your Seychelles trip. There’s budget accommodation in Seychelles, available all over. Anything starting at $15-20. Most of these though, will be unregistered, unlicensed guesthouses and B&Bs.
There’s a two-fold problem with these. Firstly, check with your travel insurance if they cover such accommodation options (not a hassle unless you loose any of your stuff, but it’s better to be safe than worry). and most importantly, Seychelles immigration doesn’t recognize most of these options and they are extremely anal about your living situation before signing off on your tourist permit. If you do not have a (confirmed) legit accommodation booking, they will FORCE you to make a booking at another place on their list – which will inevitably be more expensive than your standard ‘budget accommodation in Seychelles’. You will also get into their bad books, which are frankly never a good idea.
The best thing to do is that you insist on a letter of invitation from your host if you’re staying at one of these smaller budget accommodations in Seychelles or from some other local you know through your networks (cue CouchSurfing). If not, don’t take the risk – there’s licensed accommodation available for $50 or so, which looks like a pretty big jump, but isn’t completely unreasonable if you consider the pain you will have to deal with at immigration.
Where did I stay when I traveled to Seychelles? Read below!
Nella’s House in Baie Lazare, Anse Gaulette ($20/N)
Le Chateau Blue, Anse aux Pins ($70/N)
Mera’s House on La Digue Island ($35/N)
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How to Get Around When You Travel to Seychelles?
Mahe has an amazing public-transport system. The bus fare is SCR 5 (<$0.5) irrespective if you travel 1 KM or 20. The bus service is reliable and well-connected and will get you to most places easily. Word of caution though, to me the bus routes were a little confusing. Even after a week of bus travel, I'd ask people which was the next bus/the fastest route to any given destination, but I suppose there's only so much 'local' you can become in 20 days, yeah?
Car Rentals are available starting 35 Euros a day. Another word of caution, the roads in Mahe are narrow, mountainous and in some cases downward steep. Opt for a car rental only if you’re certain you can handle it. Take the bus for a couple of days and then decide if you’re up to it.
Cabs are hideously expensive. An airport pick-up can cost anywhere from SCR 200 to SCR 1000 and depending upon how desperate your situation is, a cabbie may even charge you SCR 400 for a 14 minute drive (happened to me once). If I were you, I’d forget about the cabs altogether. Even the car rental makes more sense than the cabs.
Island Hopping in Seychelles
There aren’t too many options with inter-island transport between Mahe-Praslin-La Digue. The Cat Cocos and Inter-Island Ferry operate multiple times a day. You can find the schedule here – . They will cost you about a 100 Euros for a return fare to Praslin and an additional 30 for La Digue (if you book online). Shit expensive for our kind, I know; but there’s hardly any other options. Rumor has it there’s private unauthorized boats that will take you across the channel for as little as 10-15 Euros, but given how most of my gambles on this trip had gone so far, I didn’t feel like chancing it whatsoever. The official ferries take an hour from Mahe to Praslin and a further 15 mins to La Digue. The private ones take about 3-4 hours depending upon the weather. So weigh up the consequences and make your pick accordingly.
Food & Alcohol
Food and Alcohol is inexplicably expensive in Seychelles. A single main course will not cost you anywhere below SCR 200 in any restaurant. A pint of Seybrew/Guinness could cost anywhere from SCR 40 to SCR 85. As you can guess, for the major part of my stay in Seychelles, I was living off fish & chips and other road-side stalls. If you’re careful, you can get away with 3 meals a day and a beer (bought at the supermarket) and stay within 150 SCR a day. Save up your budget for meals at really special places that are worth the money. If you’re staying with a local host, ask if they are willing to prepare a meal for you – they usually will, for an added cost. I’ve had some real shitty meals here for 200 sometimes 300 SCR and wondered why I even bothered.
Day Trips & Activities in Seychelles
Seychelles is an island archipelago. There’s a massive variety of things to be explored on different islands. For starters, the life and people themselves are so surprisingly different just between the three main islands of Mahe, Praslin & La Digue, that I’d recommend anybody who comes to Seychelles to make it a point to spend some time on each.
A couple of nights at Praslin & La Digue each should be enough, but I can promise a longer stay will not disappoint either. Then there’s Coco, Felicite, Curieuse & St. Anne, which are not really inhabited but make for brilliant day-trips. Each of these islands has unique natural habitats and species of flora & fauna both under and over the water.
There are many tour operators in Seychelles that offer preset & customized day-trips throughout the islands. On this trip I’ve personally worked with Mason’s Travel – you can read about my experiences with them here [Read: Reef Safari in St. Anne Marine Park] .
There’s also 7o south and Creole Travel Services that provide exceptional services. Each trip is individually priced, but expect to spend between 800 to 3000 SCR per trip depending upon what it involves. If you’re a diving enthusiast, I’d recommend you check out Blue Tip Divers. They had some really fascinating diving trips, including ‘shipwreck dives’ which I particularly found very enticing. I had however, neither the budget for this, nor am I qualified to swim, let alone dive. So maybe some other time. From a cost POV, this could set you back anywhere from 2500 to 4000 SCR.
So that’s a wrap, guys! I hope you found this article useful on how to plan your budget travel to Seychelles! This was still very early in my career as a vagabond and a travel writer and I learned a lot of hard lessons from this one. I hope I was able to help you be more prepared for your trip to Seychelles! As mentioned, don’t forget to enter your email below to receive a free copy of my “How to Travel to Seychelles on a Budget” Expense Sheet!