The Venice of the tropics, the Seychelles consists of 115 small islands clustered together. 41 of the islands making up this archipelago are the oldest mid-oceanic granite islands on the planet. Unique natural beauty, turquoise seas and sandy beaches attract holidaymakers to this unique and stunning location year after year. Situated just off the east coast of Africa, the islands unsurprisingly boast blissful temperatures. The untouched surroundings have led to local authorities setting aside 50% of the location as natural, protected reserves. The Seychelles boast a unique cultural heritage as the location has been controlled by both England and France, thus creating a unique culinary scene and architectural surroundings.
The most common languages are Creole, English and French. Some useful Creole phrases include Bonzour (Hello), Mersi (Thank you) and Mon pa konpran (I don’t understand). The French influence over this language is clear and therefore those with some knowledge of French should not be completely lost. However, English is widely spoken so visitors should not be concerned about communication.
The national currency is the Seychelles Rupee. In September 2006 one euro was nearly seven rupees, one dollar was approximately 5.4 rupees and one pound was just over 10 rupees. The rupee consists of one hundred cents, and there are multiple coins and notes.
The beautiful weather experienced by the Seychelles is just one of the features of this island which keeps attracting tourists. The temperature rarely drops below 24°C, but neither does the island force visitors to bear unbearable degrees of heat. Only January and February experience rain; peak months for sun worshippers are May to September. Visitors hoping to leave with the perfect sun tan will not be disappointed. The best months for diving are April/May and October/November where visibility is at its peak.
The beautiful oceans surrounding the island determine the popularity of water sports in the area. Indeed, when not relaxing on the beach, holidaymakers seem to preoccupy themselves with one of the many activities on offer. Sailing allows visitors to appreciate the unique structure of the location from the perfect standpoint. Coral bays and lagoons can all be appreciated in a sailing tour of the island, and many companies also offer cruises and scuba diving lessons. All will enjoy the beautiful beach views, but those hoping to explore the deeps of the ocean will not be disappointed. The marine life inhabiting the area is breathtaking and the clear waters complete the perfect, idyllic surroundings. Fishing is also popular; the vast collection of species in the surrounding area determines the Seychelles place as one of the most incredible spots for this sport in the world.
Victoria is a beautiful city which boasts many attractive sights and enjoyable spots. The Botanical Gardens is home to a fantastic collection, which is unsurprising considering the vast displays of floral beauty across the island. Also worth visiting are the Victoria National History Museum and the city clock tower which is a tribute to the English counterpart on the Vauxhall Bridge in London. The Creole Festival is an annual event which welcomes Creole people from all around the globe each October. Here, the Creole culture, heritage and lifestyle are celebrated through displays featuring dance, arts, music and locally produced, authentic Creole cuisine. The interesting mix of cultures within the Seychelles is honoured and all are invited to experience the diverse and exciting atmosphere people from all across the world bring to this special event. The Seychelles Art Festival usually occurs from the 28th April to the 1st May. Local artistic talents are celebrated, as well as traditional forms of music and dance. FetAfrik occurs on 25 May and honours the influence of African culture over the island.
No trip to the Seychelles is complete without picking up a few unique treasures from the local markets and stores. Treasures include jewellery made from mother of pearl and sea shells, as well as pieces of needlework. Local paintings are the perfect gift for someone back home, as are pieces constructed from bamboo. The best spot for shopping is the capital city, Victoria, which boasts many shops and a delightful market. Tourists should avoid purchasing items made from turtle shell, which is an endangered species and will therefore be confiscated upon re-entering the UK.
Most of the best nightlife can be found at the larger hotels, which have extensive bars and dance floors. The Seychelles are proud of their musical heritage; visitors will enjoy sampling the unique, vibrant local music scene. A speciality is Camtolet music, sure to provide the perfect soundtrack to a blissful evening. Victoria is home to many cinemas, theatres and casinos, for those looking to take a break from the beach.
Traffic drives on the left hand side of the road in the Seychelles and roads are usually well maintained, although occasionally narrow and winding. Speed limits range from 25 to 50 miles per hour and street lighting can be sparse. All are required to wear seat belts, although there are no laws regarding child safety seats.
Food and Drink
Unsurprisingly, considering its vicinity to the sea, the Seychelle’s most popular dish is fish, which is cooked and served in a multitude of forms. Red snapper and parrot fish in particular are local favourites. The mix of cultural influences on the islands has led to a vast mix of different cuisines; French and English flavours, as well as other popular dishes such as curry and African delicacies permeate the island’s menus. Curry is a current favourite, although visitors should be prepared for the Seychellois’ love of spice. Local produce such as vegetables and fruit excite each dish. A vast array of restaurants, especially in Victoria, make it easy for each visitor to sample the delicious cuisine. There are a multitude of drinks on offer; Seybrew is a favourite with the locals.