Getting there & around
Good news: if you’ve got time, you don’t really need to rent a car to visit the islands.
An extensive bus service operates throughout Mahé. Destinations and routes are usually marked on the front of the bus. There is a flat rate of Rs 3 whatever the length of journey; pay the driver as you board. Bus stops have signs and shelters and there are also markings on the road.
Timetables and maps of each route are posted at the terminus in Victoria, where you can also pick up photocopied timetables at the information office (518339; 8am-4pm Mon-Fri). All parts of the island are serviced. There’s a bus roughly each hour on most routes from around 6am until 7pm (slightly later heading into Victoria).
Praslin also boasts an efficient bus service. The basic route is from Anse Boudin to Mont Plaisir via Anse Volbert, Baie Ste Anne, Vallée de Mai, Grand Anse and the airport. Buses run in each direction every hour (every half-hour between Baie St Anne and Mont Plaisir) from 6am to 6.30pm. Anse Consolation and Anse La Blague are also serviced. For Anse Lazio, get off at Anse Boudin and walk to the beach (about 15 minutes). Timetables are available at the two tourist offices. There is a flat fare of Rs 3.
The Seychelles International Airport (384400), about 8km south of Victoria, is the only international airport in the Seychelles.
Air Seychelles (381000; www.airseychelles.net) takes care of all interisland flights, whether scheduled or charter. The only scheduled services are between Mahé and Praslin, with around 20 flights per day in each direction. The fare for the 15-minute hop is €61 (€122 return). The luggage limit is only 20kg (€1 per kilo for excess luggage). Air Seychelles also flies to Alphonse, Bird, Denis, Desroches, Frégate and North Islands, but on a charter basis – these flights are handled directly by the hotel on the island.
Note that Mahé is the only hub for flights within the Seychelles.
Helicopter Seychelles (385858; www.helicopterseychelles.com), based at Seychelles International Airport, operates shuttle flights between Mahé and Praslin (€174 per person one way), Mahé and La Digue (€174), and Praslin and La Digue (€87). It also offers transfers to resort islands (bookings should be made through the hotel) and scenic flights.
If you want to be controller of your own destiny, your best bet is to rent a car. Most of the road network on Mahé and Praslin is sealed and in good shape. More of a worry are the narrow bends and the speed at which some drivers, especially bus drivers, take them.
Drive on the left, and beware of drivers with fast cars and drowsy brains – especially late on Friday and Saturday nights. The speed limit is supposed to be 40kmh in built-up areas, 65kmh outside towns and 80kmh on the dual carriageway between Victoria and the airport. On Praslin the limit is 40kmh throughout the island.
There are any number of car-hire companies on Mahé and quite a few on Praslin, but little to choose between them as regards prices. The cheapest you’re likely to get on Mahé is around €50 a day for a small hatchback (slightly less for longer periods). Rates on Praslin are about €10 to €15 more expensive. The tourist office in Victoria has a list of car rental outlets, or you can book through your hotel or guesthouse. The major companies also have offices at the airport. Note that payment must be made in hard currency (preferably euros).
Drivers must be over 23 years old and have held a driving licence for at least a year. Though it’s wise to bring an international driver’s licence, most companies accept a national licence.
The Cat Cocos catamaran (324843, 324844; www.catcocos.com) makes two to three return trips daily between Mahé and Praslin. Departing from Victoria, the journey takes about 50 minutes (not that much longer than the plane, if you include check-in time) and the fare is €40 one way (€45 in the upper, air-con lounge); children under twelve pay half fare. In high season, it’s advisable to book your ticket at least a day in advance with the ferry company or through a travel agent.
Want to get off the beaten trail? Not afraid of seasickness? The schooner La Belle Seraphina (234254, 511345) is for you. This cargo boat runs between Mahé and La Digue from Monday to Friday and carries passengers if there is room. If you don’t mind a bit of discomfort it’s a fun and cheap way to travel. The boat generally departs around 11.30am from Mahé, and around 5am from La Digue, but check when making the booking. The three-hour crossing costs just €15/7 per adult/child.
The Inter-Island Ferry Co (232329) operates a schooner service between Praslin and La Digue. There are about seven departures daily between 7am and 5.15pm (5.45pm on Sunday) from Praslin and between 7.30am and 5.45pm (6.15pm on Sunday) from La Digue. The 30-minute trip can be a rocky one, sometimes spraying unsuspecting passengers with water. There are plans to add a faster and more comfortable catamaran service in the near future.
The one-way/return fare is €10/20 per adult and €5/10 per child under eight. It’s a good idea to book ahead – most hotels will do this for you.
Bicycles are the principal form of transport on La Digue. On Praslin you can rent bikes at Anse Volbert or through your accommodation. Mahé is a bit hilly for casual cyclists and most visitors rent cars, so bike hire is hard to find there.