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The beautiful Seychelles islands are regularly credited as one of the most romantic destinations in the world. The Seychelles casts a siren-like spell over travellers, with crystalline turquoise waters, pristine coral reefs, and powdery beaches that encircle vast granite pinnacles and verdant rainforest.
The islands stretch like an array of jewels across nearly one million square kilometres of the Indian Ocean east of Kenya, and even have their own suggestively shaped fruit, the famous 'coco de mer' double coconut, to emphasise the country's seductive charms. Only a few of the 115 islands are inhabited, with most of the local population (known as Seychellois) gathered on the main island, Mahé, around the capital city of Victoria.
The Seychellois population comprises an eclectic mix of the descendants 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 sun-seekers, honeymooners and nature lovers who congregate in the top quality hotels and resorts on the shores of the main islands.
Whether you come to soak up the equatorial sun on silver sands, dive among more than 800 species of fish in the island waters, marvel at flocks of colourful birds flitting between rare jungle trees, or to cement your marriage vows, you will find the Seychelles archipelago to be paradise on Earth. Although primarily enjoyed as a luxury destination, there is an increasing drive to develop the budget tourism options on the islands, opening the doors of paradise to travellers who may previously only have dreamed of a holiday on these exotic shores.
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 major 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.
999 (Police and Rescue Services); 151 (Medical Emergency).
Creole, English and French are all spoken in the Seychelles.
Travellers to the Seychelles over 18 years do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; two litres of spirits and two litres of wine; 200ml of perfume or eau de toilette. Prohibited items include drugs, narcotics, firearms, spear-fishing equipment, and camouflage clothing. 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, 50Hz. Plugs are of the British type, with three flat pins.
Seychelles is constantly hot and humid, with an average annual temperature of 84°F (29°C), and a similar average sea temperature, which seldom drops below 81°F (27°C). The heat is usually pleasantly 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 Seychelles are a glorious holiday destination at any time of year, but the best time to visit depends on the desired activities. For instance, it is slightly windier between May and September, making this the ideal time to visit for those wanting to sail or enjoy other wind-based sports; whereas the best time of year for scuba diving and snorkelling is April and May or October and November, when the visibility is at its best.
No foreigners require a visa to enter Seychelles. A visitor's permit, valid for a maximum of three months, 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, a 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.
United States citizens require a passport valid at least for the length of their stay and will be issued with a visitor's permit on arrival, valid for three months.
British citizens need a passport valid for the duration of their stay, and will be issued with a visitor's permit on arrival, valid for three months.
Canadians require a passport valid at least for the length of their stay and will be issued with a visitor's permit on arrival, valid for three months.
Australians need a passport valid for the length of their stay and will be issued with a visitor's permit on arrival, valid for three months.
South Africans must have a passport valid for the duration of their stay and will be issued with a visitor's permit on arrival, valid for three months.
Irish citizens require a passport valid for the length of their stay and will be issued with a visitor's permit on arrival, valid for three months.
New Zealanders require a passport valid for the length of their stay and will be issued with a visitor's permit on arrival, valid for three months.
Health regulations in the Seychelles require that travellers from areas infected by yellow fever have a vaccination certificate. Immunisation against hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid are recommended. Visitors are advised to bring their own medication to avert the risk of travellers' diarrhoea, as well as sun block and insect repellent, as local supplies can be 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 (although these diseases are rare in Seychelles). Tap water meets WHO standards, but most visitors prefer to drink bottled water, which is widely available. Medical facilities on the more remote islands are limited or non-existent, but visitors will find a government hospital and several private clinics in Victoria. Medical insurance with full evacuation cover is necessary.
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.
Emergency Phone Number
999 (Police and Rescue Services); 151 (Medical Emergency).
* For current safety alerts, please visit Foreign travel advice - GOV.UK or Travel.State.Gov
The Seychelles currency is the Rupee (SCR), divided into 100 cents. Visitors can now pay in SCR and are no longer obligated to pay for all services in major foreign currency notes, but are entitled to use their preferred major foreign currency as well (Euros are the most widely used), or to pay by credit card. It is important to note that it is illegal to exchange foreign currency for Rupees at unofficial outlets, or with individuals, so make sure to get change in the currency used to purchase goods or services. Credit cards are widely welcomed throughout the Seychelles. Money can be exchanged at banks and the airport on Mahé, or at hotels. To change Rupees back into foreign currency on departure requires the official receipt from the initial transaction. ATMs are available at major banks in Victoria and Praslin.
Exchange RateNot available.
Embassies of Seychelles
Seychelles Embassy, New York, United States: +1 212 972 1785.
Seychelles Consulate, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0) 20 7730 2046.
Seychelles Consulate, Montreal, Canada: +1 514 284 9329
Consulate General of the Republic of Seychelles, Melbourne, Australia: +61 (3) 9796 9412.
Seychelles Consulate, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 348 0270.
Consulate of the Republic of Seychelles, Dublin, Ireland: +353 87 66 22 675
Foreign Embassies in Seychelles
United States Consulate, Port Louis, Mauritius (also responsible for Seychelles): +230 202 4400.
British High Commission, Victoria: +248 428 3666.
Canadian High Commission, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (also responsible for Seychelles): +255 22 216 3300.
Australian High Commission, Port Louis, Mauritius (also responsible for Seychelles): +230 202 0160.
South African Commission, Port Louis, Mauritius (also responsible for Seychelles): +230 212 6925.
Nudism is unacceptable, and topless bathing is not tolerated on many, but not all, beaches. Punishments for drug offences can be severe.
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.
Charges for most services include a service charge of between five and 10 percent, therefore tipping is not obligatory. If service has been exceptional, a small tip on top of this is warmly welcomed.
Public Holidays in Seychelles
Almost half of the total land area of the Seychelles is protected and most of its islands are designated marine sanctuaries, which goes some way to explaining why the archipelago is so pristinely well preserved. Naturally, Seychelles is a dream destination for aquatic pursuits like diving, snorkelling, sailing and fishing, but visitors will also find that the virgin jungles and granite peaks provide a playground for hikers, bird-watchers and rock climbers.
The islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue are the most developed for tourists, with many luxury hotels, some cultural attractions, and myriad activities on offer. Here travellers will find stunning beaches, the Morne Seychellois National Park, and the UNESCO-listed Vallee de Mai.
Keen fishermen should head to Desroche Island, Alphonse Island and Farquhar Atoll, while surfers will love Anse Intendance. Some of the best islands for birders include the aptly named Bird Island, the Aride Island Nature Reserve and Cousin Island. Nature lovers will also relish the wildlife on Curieuse Island, Silhouette Island, and the UNESCO-listed Aldabra Atoll, to name just a few.
Map of Seychelles
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