The Seychelles on a shoestring

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This archipelago of 115 glittering islands is known more for its luxury resorts than its shoestring potential. But it is possible to experience The Seychelles’ paradisiacal beaches, laidback local life and extraordinary national parks for a pittance; Lonely Planet Traveller magazine shows you how.

The view from Cerf Island past Round Island and across the channel to Ste-Anne. Photo by Justin Foulkes

Can I visit the Seychelles on a budget?

The islands are synonymous with luxurious hotels, but you don’t need to remortgage the house to visit. There is a growing number of affordable places to stay, particularly on Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. These range from self-catering properties to family-run guesthouses offering a more intimate experience. One example is Devon Residence on Mahe’s east coast, a cluster of hillside villas with perks such as free airport transfers and budget car hire (devon.sc). All accommodation is registered by the Ministry of Tourism, ensuring a minimum standard of service and facilities.

Away from the major hotels, there’s a host of cheaper options for eating out, from shore-edge restaurants where diners can feel the sand between their toes to stalls offering Creole staples such as grilled fish and chicken curry.

Related article: The Seychelles for independent travellers

Regular and mostly affordable ferry services run between Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. If you don’t mind a bit of discomfort, the cargo boat La Belle Seraphina is a great budget option linking Mahe and La Digue.

 Coconuts accessorised with hibiscus flowers. Photo by Justin Foulkes

Can I organise a trip myself?

Travel to the Seychelles is safe and easy. The tourism infrastructure is robust and a good level of English is spoken. Outside the busy high season (which runs from December to January and June to August), it’s not necessary to book ahead, meaning that, if you have the flexibility, you can follow your nose, making use of the inter-island ferries and bus services to get around while also looking to take advantage of cut-price  accommodation.

How do I cut costs?

Ultimately, the cheapest option may prove to be to stay in just the one location, as many hotels and guesthouses lower rates the longer you’re there. Island-hopping will, of course, edge up costs due to multiple travel fares. It helps to travel off-season, as prices are generally discounted and there’s more chance of grabbing a bargain. Temperatures on the coast rarely drop below 24˚C, so you won’t have to put up with cold weather whenever you go.

The Morne Seychellois National Park covers more than a fifth of Mahé island. Photo by Justin Foulkes

How much will I spend on activities?

Lounging on a beach or going for a swim in the Indian Ocean cost nothing; indicative costs for more strenuous activities include:

Snorkelling: full-day excursions from the bay of Beau Vallon in Mahe to Baie Ternay at the northwestern tip of the island can be organised from US$128, including a barbecue lunch and snorkelling gear. Otherwise, hire snorkelling kit from one of the many dive centres or from your hotel (around US$15 per day) and explore independently.

Trekking: half-day guided walks in the jungle-clad hills of Mahe’s Morne Seychellois National Park are available from US$45, including lunch and transport (naturetourguide.net).

George, an Aldabra giant tortoise – the species comes from the Seychelles’ remote Aldabra Islands. Photo by Justin Foulkes