One week in Mahe | Seychelles
It is hot. It is sticky. It is 3 degrees off the equator. It is the stuff tropical island imaginings are made of. It is the Seychelles. White sandy beaches, palm trees and topaz coloured waters are what you expect to see while doing absolutely nothing in this tropical island paradise. But if you think doing nothing in Mahe will satisfy, you are dead wrong. Around every bend, there are discoveries to be made. Experience to be had.
Our good intention of taking a ‘real break’ and doing nothing, quickly transformed into 8 days of epic adventures. These were our favourite things about the country where you’ll find the world’s largest seed (coco de mer) and where fruit bat soup is a national dish…
What To Pack
Frankly, as little as possible. Tourists and locals alike roam the streets in breezy cover-ups over swimwear. The temperature and humidity is high and everything sticks. Comfortable, open shoes are a must have. Aim for natural breathable materials.
Slather on sunscreen before leaving your room, and remember a sun hat and sunglasses. Keep in mind that this island is remote, and many things (especially luxury brands) are quite scarce and sometimes not available at all. Most of your basic household and cosmetic supplies can be found at the STC Bois De Rose Hypermarket.
The must haves are:
- Sun hat
- Water shoes- the coast is quite rocky and we used our diving boots every day
- Loose fitting, natural fibre, breathable clothing works best
- If you have long hair- something to tie it back with.
- Travel poncho for frequent showers: The rain is literally bathwater falling from the sky, and doesn’t cool you down at all. I’m not sure if packing big umbrellas and rain coats are worth the weight.
- Beach sarong- doubles as a towel, cover up and a little shading
- Hiking shoes or sandals if you plan on hiking some of the trails with breathtaking views of the island
How To Get There
By air. You’ll fly into Mahe, Seychelles (Airport code SEZ). There are one or two local flights between the islands, with very restrictive luggage restraints. You can also charter ferries or private house boats and yachts to see surrounding islands. The Seychelles are quite remote, and although there is a port in Mahe, I’m not aware of any commercial cruise liners regularly operating in that region of the Indian ocean. Smaller vessels can easily travel to between the islands.
What to Eat
Local or Seychellois Creole cuisine is infused with flavours from Africa, China, France and India.
- You must have octopus curry
- If you’re feeling adventurous, have baked fruit bat or fruit bat curry (also called flying fox)
- Fish curry
- Fresh local seafood
- Local tropical fruit
- At Anse Royale, visit Kaz Kreole. Here we feasted on the best octopus curry on Mahe. Also try their fish curry- soft coconut flavours and freshly caught fish
- For a more refined dining experience, you must visit the Takamaka distillery (Anse Royale). The gardens are beautifully kept, and with all its old school charm, the space is magnificent . Well worth a visit.
- Del Place on the West Coast lets you step into the water from their sunset-cocktail-deck, and the food isn’t half bad either.
- Baobab in Beau Vallon is a local hit for Pizza and Pasta
What To Drink
- Takamaka rum (they also make a coconut rum which is great for fruity cocktails)
- The local beer is Seybrew
- Wines are mostly South African and French- and rosé is most often served
- At night markets you will find coconut/ palm wine served at room temperature because ice causes it to split (memo to self: This is for the brave).
- Citronella or lemongrass tea
What to See & Do
Victoria: The smallest capital in the world
Here you’ll find a market with the freshest seafood, fruits, vegetables and spices the island has to offer. It is not the clinical markets you would typically opt for in developed countries, but the product is fresh- if you arrive early enough, you’ll see the fisherman bring in the catch of the day.
The market is easily found when looking for the Tempio hindu- across the street from the market. This temple is often found when searching for images of Mahe. This colourful temple is open to the public, and you can wander through the ornate interior in just 5 minutes. Keep in mind that you need to leave your footwear at the door.
Down the road, the Seychelles National Botanical Gardens makes for a breathtaking walk beneath the massive trees. Here you would also see the coco de mer tree- it has the largest seed in the world. These seeds resemble a bum, and can measure up to 50cm in diameter. Take note- these can be bought as a keepsake, but they are expensive and must be labelled for export purposes. The Botanical gardens also has a pen where Aldabra giant tortoises can be viewed.
East Coast Road
From here you head South, toward Anse Royal for a spot of lunch at Kaz Kreole. Kaz Kreole serves a variety of local dishes right on the beach. Sit outside, with your toes in the sand, and watch the fishermen on their boats, while young children frolic on the beach. 3 km North of Kaz, is Takamaka distillery. Their restaurant, La Plaine St André serves beautiful cuisine on the grande porch of their plantation style venue. Here you can sample and buy Takamaka Rum, and tour the very compact distillery. PS. The cocktails here are interesting and amazing.
South Coast Road
From South Coast Road, you can turn to the furthest southern point on the island. The Southern edge of the island is different to the other coast lines in that the water is darker and more tumultuous. You cannot swim here, and the coast is littered with jagged rocks.
West Coast Road
On this side of the island hides the luxury resorts, and some of the best beaches you’ll find. It is sparsely populated, and considerably more private than the East coast. Small eateries, stores, galleries and hidden spots are to be found around every unsuspecting bend.
Heading North on West Coast Road, turn towards the Four Seasons and then take the Anse Soleil road. This is one of my favourite beaches. Secluded and quiet. Great snorkeling and swimming all rolled into one. Another plus point is the restaurant / beach bar that serves casual dishes and drinks. The seafood curry dish was closer to a crab-stick curry, but the fish and chips looked great. They also serve baked fruit bat. Just like that. On a plate.
Head North on West Coast Road, and you will find a coastline with ample beaches and secluded resorts. West Coast Road becomes Port Launay Road after the last turnoff to the East of the island. The first of many stops on Port Launay Road is Cafe Del Place. From the outside deck of this eatery you can jump into the aquamarine coloured waters during high tide, or enjoy the smallest little private beach during low tide. Residents of the island opposite Del Place, literally swam over for lunch during our visit.
Next stop, is the beach of Constance Ophelia. Under the large trees you’ll find day beds tended by Ophelia’s polite staff. The small bay has quiet waters and a white sandy beach. A multitude of vendors sell tours and charters from the parking area.
Follow the narrow windy road to the Baie Ternay National Marine Park. This ultra secluded beach is the gateway to swimming with the sea turtles who come to snack on the sea grass. Diving and snorkeling charters float beyond the coral reef, just shy of a kilometre out.
North Coast Road
Glacis is the residential area of the island. Many quiet beaches (not all for swimming) line this part of the coast, and snorkeling opportunities are rife- we even spotted some surfers here. Visit the Kreolfleurage Perfumery- the 4 fragrances made from local ingredients are a great reminder to take home. On the far north, visit Bliss hotel for sunset cocktails, or relax on their quiet beach. Their name accurately describes the tranquil space they created- Bliss completely stole our hearts from the moment we set foot inside.
On the west side of the Island, North Coast Road, brings you to Beau Vallon. High density resorts, pack tourists by the square inch, competing for beach front real estate. Although the long white swimming beach has space for everyone, we avoided this cheesy tourist-trap. That said, we enjoyed the local fare at the Wednesday night market.
Crossing over from East Coast Road to West Coast Road, using any of the 5 routes on the island is quite the adventure. Follow the winding roads through dense tropical forests to see glimpses of beautiful ocean vistas, large rock formations and massive trees that filters the light.
The Best beaches:
Most of the beaches are rocky in the break. If you plan to stay on the beach, or snorkel, anywhere will do. It is also good to know that all beaches are public property, and that you cannot be refused access by law.
- Anse Soleil
- Cap Ternay
- The beach at Constance Ophelia Resort
- Anse Intendance
- The secret beach at Lllot beach chalets, on the far North end of the island, on the West coast.
- Beau Vallon Beach is a long white sandy strip. The ‘resort strip’ tourist-beach, if that is your thing.
If ever you visit the Seychelles islands, we hope you enjoy the warm water and laid back atmosphere as much as we did.