Seychelles: Culture, History, & Things to Do on Mahe Island!

The following is a guest post by Elizabeth Wanderlust of Digital Travel Guru.

Seychelles a stunning tropical island located in the Indian Ocean, which lies 1000 miles of the East Coast of Africa. Mahe is Seychelles capital and biggest island. Seychelles has a total of approx 115 islands. The current population of Seychelles is approximately 90,000 on the island of Mahe that boasts wonderful tropical white sand beaches, with breathtaking jungle clad mountains as well as numerous island hopping adventures.

I booked a car for my two-week trip here and went exploring every day from sunrise to sunset. With over 60, yes, 60 beaches on this island, you won’t struggle to find a secluded one to call it your own to enjoy.

The island does not stop at just beaches. There are a host of other attractions and places to see. Today, Seychelles is also well known as a world-class honeymoon destination, endless tropical beaches, fishing, bird watching, sailing and scuba diving.

The great thing with Seychelles is that it has a FREE visa on arrival for all tourists. However, you need to show a return ticket and accommodation booking at the immigration counter before you gain entry which you might be asked for.

History of Seychelles

  • Seychelles was charted by the Portuguese and visited by Asians, the French were the first to officially colonize the Seychelles, in the mid-1700’s. They took control in 1756 at a time when piracy was very common. The islands were named after the then French finance minister, Jean Moreau de Sé
  • The Seychelles prospered better under the British, who came into the country between the 17th and 18th century, during the days of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. The 1814 Treaty of Paris saw the ceding of the Seychelles to Britain and it became a crown colony separate from Mauritius in 1903.
  • The British made changes on the islands economically, with the establishing of coconut, sugar cane, and tea plantations. Cinnamon and vanilla are also exported from the island.
  • The Seychelles was granted independence from Britain in 1976, and has been a free country since just the early 1990s and remains within the Commonwealth.

Culture

The locals are known as Seychellois and their ancestors are a combination of, West Indian Creole, Asian traders, and a mix of British and French settlers. The official language is Creole. The island inhabitants through the centuries have developed their own music that features lots of drumming, dance, and dress, which are best seen during one of the main festivals, such as the Creole Festival.

Arts and crafts are prominent, too, with painted silk fabrics popular items to see in the galleries or souvenir shops. Jewelry and gifts here are crafted from coconut shells as well as pottery items and sea shells.

 

Below are 10 things to do & see on Mahe Island by car:

Car Rental Cost Per Day: £30 to £35 including insurance.

Taxi’s: Are extremely expensive so if you want to explore the island it will cost up to £30 for just one trip.

Tours: With a private driver will cost you from £130 for 1/2 a day tour and up to £175 for a full day tour.

Buses: The Island has buses, if you’re on a budget, or do not drive, are very cheap and reliable.

1. Botanical Garden

Located in Mont Fleuri, on the outskirts of Victoria, the Botanical Garden is one of Seychelles’ oldest National Monuments, dating back more than a century. The gardens are huge and have a wide collection of mature, exotic and endemic plants within the five acres of landscaped and beautifully maintained tropical gardens.

The garden is home to palms and a wide variety of spice and fruit trees most of which can only be seen in this garden. An added attraction is the population of giant tortoises from Aldabra, some of which are over 150 years old.

If you are lucky you may see fruit bat colonies in the taller trees overhead. The latest additions to the gardens is an orchid house which holds a collection of brightly coloured orchids including Seychelles’ own native orchids. A great and relaxing place to have a picnic. There is an entrance fee cost of apron £5.50 per person.

2. Takamaka Beach

Anse Takamaka is a beautiful, picturesque bay in the southwest of Mahé. Here, visitors can enjoy pristine sand and incredible turquoise water, as well as the stunning Takamaka trees that give the beach its name. Anse Takamaka is also a snorkeling paradise. We spent the day here chilling, swimming, snorkeling and had a beach picnic and there’s lots of space to park your car.

3. Victoria: Can be explored on foot

Some of the main attractions are:

  • Clock Tower
  • Seychelles National Museum
  • National Library and Art Gallery
  • Le Jardin Du Roi Spice Garden
  • Tea Factory
  • Bel Air Cemetery
  • The Arul Mihu Navasakthi Vinayagar, Temple is the only Hindu temple in the Seychelles.
  • Market’s selling crafts, food, and souvenirs

A great place to spend 1/2 the day exploring, there are lots of restaurants and small local cafes in the area and good parking.

The famous Intendance beach in southern Mahé offers half a mile of powder white sand and huge breakers. There is no reef so the waves are much larger than most of the other beaches around the island, making it more suitable for surfing rather than swimming at most times.

During the southeast trade winds the waves can reach fearsome heights, but in the northwest trade wind season, the sea is calmer. We did not swim in this beach as the waves were huge, however, it’s a great place to chill out and have a beach cocktail.

5. Mount Morne

Mahé has a mountain called Morne Seychellois that is over 900 meters high and located in the Morne Seychellois Park. The Morne Seychellois National Park offers many different day hiking trails, where the enigmatic, central part of the park is virtually deserted and can only be reached by walking trails.

Some of the most popular are:

  • Danzil to Anse Major following the rocky coastline
  • Glacis to Anse Etoile (buses are available from the Anse Etoile end point)
  • Victoria/Beau Vallon passing through the historical section of Victoria
  • Tea Factory to Morne Blanc (a fantastic walk through the beautiful foliage of the Morne Seychellois National Park)
  • La Reserve and Brulee containing one of Mahé’s best remaining palm forests with five of the six unique Seychelles palms present along the walk

6. Creole Cruise

Marie-Antoinette Restaurant is one of the best places on Mahé to enjoy authentic and delicious Seychellois comfort food prepared in the traditional way using local organic ingredients. The atmosphere is warm and relaxed and food reasonably priced, it is one of the most famous restaurants on the island with the locals, and tourists.

7. Anse-Major

Anse Major is a beach bordering the preserved Morne Seychellois National Park on the northern coast of Mahe, Seychelles in the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of Africa. To get to the beach you must either hike the nature trail along steep granite slopes or hire a boat from the near by Beau-Vallon Bay. We were lucky to be staying 5 minutes from here and we went to this beach once by local boat and once by hiking.

8. Takamaka Rum Distillery

On this popular tour, you learn the story behind the island’s main distillery and about the rum-making procedure. The tour runs for between 30 and 45 minutes and concludes with a tasting and an opportunity to purchase bottles of rum. There is also a forest walk and a small stand of sugar cane. It has a great restaurant and bar on site. We bought 3 bottles of local rum which was approx. £8.00 per bottle.

9. Eden Island

The exclusive Eden Island development is located just off Mahé and is home to a number of luxurious villas, maisons, and apartments. The development also boasts a marina with private moorings for each residence on the island. Eden Island is also well equipped with secluded beaches, restaurants, bars, swimming pools, a gymnasium, child-friendly play areas and a world-class shopping centre. We sat and looked at the luxury boats and yachts in the marine worth millions of pounds, whilst having a cold cocktail. This is a luxury spot and drinks and food here are expensive. You can park at the shopping centre and walk around.

10. Anse-Royale

Anse Royale is one of the most popular beaches on Mahé, located on the southeast coast of the island. The small town that lies next to the beach shares the name “Anse Royale”, and contains numerous different facilities, including a petrol station, hospital, banks, the Seychelles University, and a number of different accommodations. This is a great beach for windsurfing and swimming. The village has numerous places to eat and shop and can be visited by foot. Transport options in this area are good.

 

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