Seychelles - exploring Mahe on a budget

Planning My Trip to the Seychelles: Exploring Mahé on a Budget

Sara Provenzano

Sara Provenzano is the Contributing Editor at Global Storybook (Italy).
You can read more about Sara here.

In this installment about my trip to the Seychelles, I will share with you my recommendations about different tour operators, how to get around the island of Mahé, while saving a ton of money, and other useful things.  But first… let’s talk about the local cuisine!  Mmm.

Where To Eat

Seychelles’ cuisine combines together different savoury ingredients with delicate subtlety, introduced and cultivated over the time.

The local recipes have evolved through interactions with some new cultures and various cooking styles, from French to Chinese, from African to Indian.  This helped to produce a unique and atypical cuisine, Creole Cuisine, which represents the ethnic diversity of this country today.

The recipes are mainly based around fish and white rice, usually accompanied by red lentils, salads and chutney.  Different spices are an important ingredient of Seychelles cuisine, from cinnamon to cardamom, ginger, citronella cumin and others.

In Beau Vallon there is a wide range of restaurants where you can taste the original, local Creole Cuisine.  As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, Seychelles are rather expensive, which means going out every night to one of those restaurants will cost you around 40-50 Euro per person.

So what is the best way to experience the Creole cuisine without spending a lot of money?  Try the take- away option!

Tropical Fruit

Tropical Fruit

Walking in Beau Vallon Beach and in the town, you will discover that even the same expensive restaurants have this option during lunch or even dinner time.  So you can have the same dish at around 10 Euro and you can eat it while admiring the beautiful sunset at the beach, or comfortably seated in your own room.

Another alternative is to go to the night market that takes place in the Beau Vallon Promenade, along the beach side, every Wednesday and the last Saturday of a month, where you will find the Creole cuisine and its spices all in one place.  You can taste barbeque fish or meat, with local sweets, and fresh fruits shakes, and even buy some local souvenirs to take home with you.

And this is how we managed to enjoy all the local food without spending a ton of money!

We had a very good and full breakfast in the morning, that kept us full right until the evening meal, that we enjoyed in the night market or the pizzeria in our hotel, which actually served a very good pizza with some tasty salads and fish.

Of course, like on any holiday, last night is always special and so we decided to enjoy our final dinner in a very nice place splurging some of our “saved” money (around 60 Euro for a 3 course dinner with a cocktail).

While walking along the beach we stopped by one resort, located right next to ours.  A 5 star luxury resort, The H Resort, beautifully surrounded by wild vegetation; rooms with a private pool overlooking the beach, and an amazing lagoon… I was instantly convinced that this was just the right place!

The H Resort - Beau Vallon

The H Resort – Beau Vallon

This hotel also has a wide range of restaurants where you can enjoy your dinner, and while thinking about the different possibilities, I ended up to selecting the Trader Vic’s.

Overlooking a beautiful lagoon, behind an imposing entrance door, there opens an exotic style restaurant decorated with a Hawaiian-Polynesian touch and live Cuban music playing there during the evening time.  The menu offers a different range of dishes from various parts of the World like the Mediterranean, Middle East, Asia, and Japan.

Trader Vic’s is an iconic brand, which is 80 years strong, home to the original Mai Tai® Cocktail, setting the world standard for tropical sophistication with its international cuisine, exotic cocktails, authentic decor and live Latin music of Ambar (Cuban band).

We chose the Lobster Mango Salad to which I have added some palm heart, which I simply love!  As a main course, we selected the tuna barbecue steak served with with tropical salsa, ratatouille, rice and steamed garlic sauce…  Simply divine!

Finally, for the dessert we chose the Vic Cheese Cake with mango cream, and a Baba with rum and strawberries.  All washed down with a non-alcoholic cocktail for me, the “Coral Reef” – mixed with mango, strawberry and coconut cream and 2 cocktails for my boyfriend: Trader Vic Grog” (dark rum, pineapple and passion fruit) and their signature cocktail, Sey Horse”, served in a seahorse shape glass (with rum and passion fruit).

We enjoyed our last evening, which was full of fun and good food, in modern, stylish and vibrant environment!

Exploring The Islands

Having just 8 days to discover the beauty of these islands, I decided to be based in Mahé, in Beau Vallon, and then make some daily excursions to visit the various islands of Mahè, La Digue and Praslin.

There are several tour operators on the island that offer almost the same services with high levels of quality and standards but, alas, at very high prices.

And, well, this is actually the most important cost, that you will have to splurge on, after the flights.  The choice for the tours is very limited and prices are quite fixed since there is just one boat company that connects Mahé to Praslin and La Digue, unless you decide to take a fisherman boat… which is something I will not recommend because the sea is not very calm, most of the times.

Full day excursions to La Digue and Praslin have an average cost of 150 Euros per person, without lunch.  For a private tour it can cost around 500 Euros.

Mahé Tour costs around 65 – 70 Euros per person with a group tour, where you visit just some of the amazing places of the island, or 250 Euros per person for a private tour, lunch not included, where you are more free to visit any places you wish.

You can even decide to go on your own to La Digue and Praslin but, adding up all the different costs, you will probably end up at the same price, plus you have to consider the time spent on organizing your own itinerary, researching the timings, etc.

Planning My Trip To The Seychelles: Choosing The Right Hotel

By the way, you can easily do your own excursion on the Mahé island – by renting a car or by using one of  the local busses.

Mahé has one main road that takes you to all of the main points of interest, but it is an up and down street that goes from hill tops with curves straight to the coast streets.  Also, the drive is on the left side (like in UK) so it could be quite difficult if you are not used to it.

Local busses leave from the main bus stops in Victoria and go around the entire island at specific time schedules, but you need to be careful because there are no names and/or timings on the bus stops along the way.

So make sure to ask the driver at what time another bus will come to take you home – or you might end up waiting for a long time, under the hot sun… which is not very pleasant!

Most importantly – you will save a lot of money when taking a local bus, as a one way ticket costs 5 Rupies which is about 35 Euro cents, while renting a car will cost approximately 60 Euros per day, depending on a car, plus you need to leave a cash deposit of… 1000 Euros!

Local Busses

Local Busses

As to the taxis – they are rather expensive.  A drive from the airport to Beau Vallon, about 20 km – 25 minutes driving time, costs around 600 Rupies, which is about 40 Euros!  Therefore doing an entire day tour will cost you a lot, well unless you have some great bargaining skills.

I decided to plan my daily excursions to La Digue and Praslin with  7° South, a young and local tour operator company,  recognized today as the most dynamic agency in Seychelles, that offers a wide range of tailor-made excursions around this unique destination.

They had their own desk in the lobby of our hotel.  The staff was very helpful in suggesting the right days to visit one of the other islands because, at some days there are cruise ships with hundreds of tourists, and believe me when I say that this could ruin your holidays.  Imagine having loads of people around on the beaches that normally are almost… deserts!

I also met one elderly, funny and pleasant gentleman walking along the beach, offering different excursions in Mahé like a boat tour, a Marine Park tour, and your own private tour of the island.  His name was Philippe Bannan.  You will not miss him!  You can trust him, he his a very good man, who took us on a private tour of the island for just 75 Euros per person, offering a very nice and tasteful lunch and letting us enjoy all, and I mean – all of the beaches in Mahé.

So what are you waiting for – start planning your next trip to this magical destination!

P.S. In the next few posts I will share my experience on each of these 3 amazing islands!

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