Bargaining

Bargaining is not a part of life in the Seychelles; the price quoted is the price you are expected to pay. However, haggling over the price of goods (but not food) is OK in markets.

Climate

The seasons in the Seychelles are defined by the trade winds. These bring warmer, wetter airstreams from the northwest from October to April. From May to September the southeast trades usher in cooler, drier weather but the winds whip up the waves and you'll want to find protected beaches. The turnaround periods (April to May and October to November) are normally calm and windless.

The rain generally comes in sudden, heavy bursts. Mahé and Silhouette, the most mountainous islands, get the highest rainfall. January is the wettest month by far, and July and August the driest. Temperatures range between 24°C and 32°C throughout the year.

Although the Seychelles lies outside the cyclone zone, cyclone activity elsewhere in the Indian Ocean can still bring unseasonably grey, windy weather between December and March.

Dangers & Annoyances

  • Beaches in the Seychelles are beauties but some change dramatically with the seasons. They can be tranquil and flat as a lake at certain times of the year, then savage with incredible surf and mean rip currents at other periods. Most beaches are not supervised.
  • If you hire a car, don't leave anything valuable in it. If you must do so, hide everything well out of sight. Wherever possible, park in a secure car park or at least somewhere busy.
  • Never leave your valuables unattended on the beach.
  • When sunbathing or walking around a coconut grove, beware of falling coconuts – they can cause severe head injuries.

Electricity

The Seychelles uses 220V, 50Hz AC; plugs in general use have square pins and three points.

Embassies & Consulates

Countries with diplomatic representation in the Seychelles include the following:

British High Commission

French Embassy

German Honorary Consulate

Emergency & Important Numbers

The Seychelles' country code248
International access code00
Ambulance151
Police999
Fire999

Entry & Exit Formalities

Entering the Seychelles is usually hassle-free, with no visas required for many nationalities. Customs searches are generally quick and easy if they occur at all.

Visas

Visas are not required for most Western nationals for stays of up to three months.

More Information

  • Nationals of most Western countries don't need a visa to enter the Seychelles, just a valid passport.
  • Initial entry is granted for the period of visit (with a maximum of three months) and proof of a planned and paid-for departure is required. Immigration officers will also require that you mention the name, address and phone number of the place where you are staying in the Seychelles; they may even ask for proof of a hotel (or other accommodation) booking.

Customs Regulations

  • The following items can be brought into the Seychelles duty-free: 400 cigarettes, 2L of strong liquor, 2L of wine and 200mL of eau de toilette.
  • Anything over the limit must be declared on arrival. There are restrictions on importing plants and animals, for which import permits are required.
  • A special permit is required to export coco de mer, and a certificate must be obtained from the seller.

Etiquette

Although largely informal in their everyday dealings, Seychellois do observe some (unspoken) rules of etiquette.

  • Greetings Shake hands with men and women when meeting for the first time and when saying goodbye.
  • Clothing Although beachwear is fine for the beaches, you will cause offence and may invite pestering if you dress in skimpy clothing elsewhere. Nude bathing is forbidden.
  • Island time Impatience will get you nowhere in the Seychelles, where time flows with the tides.
  • Photographing people Always respect the wish of locals. Ask permission to photograph if a candid shot can't be made and don't insist or snap a picture anyway if permission is denied.

LGBT Travellers

The Seychellois are generally tolerant of gay and lesbian relationships as long as couples don't flaunt their sexuality, but there is no open gay or lesbian scene in the Seychelles.

For gay and lesbian travellers, there’s little to worry about. We’ve never heard of any problems arising from same-sex couples sharing rooms during their holidays. That said, open displays of affection could raise eyebrows.

Insurance

A travel-insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems is a good idea. Some policies specifically exclude dangerous activities, which can include scuba diving, motorcycling and even hiking. Always check the small print and make sure that the policy covers ambulances or an emergency flight home. If you plan on diving, we strongly recommend purchasing dive-specific insurance with DAN (www.diversalertnetwork.org).

Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.

Checking insurance quotes…

Internet Access

  • There are a couple of internet cafes in Victoria. Outside the capital, internet cafes are harder to find.
  • Many midrange and all top-end hotels offer wi-fi, as do self-catering establishments and some restaurants and cafes; in many cases wi-fi access is restricted to public areas and is not free of charge.
  • In our listings, establishments with wireless are identified with a [W] icon.
  • If you will be in the Seychelles for a while, consider buying a USB stick (dongle) from local mobile provider Cable & Wireless, which you can then load with airtime and plug into your laptop.
  • Connection is still fairly slow by Western standards.

Maps

There's a frustrating lack of decent maps of the archipelago. The best map of the island is the satellite imagery on Google Earth. You can also pick up the Map of Seychelles, a tourist map of the three main islands that's available at the tourist offices on Mahé, Praslin and La Digue.

Media

  • Newspapers Key newspapers include the government-controlled daily Seychelles Nation (www.nation.sc) and the daily Today in Seychelles (www.today.sc).
  • TV Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (www.sbc.com) broadcasts in English, French and Creole. BBC World, France 24 and CNN are available on satellite.
  • Radio SBC runs the main radio station and 24-hour music station, Paradise FM. BBC World Service and Radio France International (RFI) available in Mahé.

Money

ATMs on Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. Credit cards widely accepted.

Exchange Rates

AustraliaA$1Rs 10.61
CanadaC$1Rs 10.72
euro zone€1Rs 15.51
Japan¥100Rs 12.63
New ZealandNZ$1Rs 9.51
UKUK£1Rs 19.53
USAUS$1Rs 13.75

For current exchange rates see www.xe.com.

More Information

  • The unit of currency is the Seychelles rupee (Rs), which is divided into 100 cents (¢). Bank notes come in denominations of Rs 10, Rs 25, Rs 50, Rs 100 and Rs 500; there are coins of Rs 1, Rs 5, 1¢, 5¢, 10¢ and 25¢.
  • Euros are the best currency to carry. Prices for most tourist services, including accommodation, excursions, diving, car hire and transport, are quoted in euros and can be paid in euros (and less frequently in US dollars), either in cash or by credit card. But you can also pay in rupees. In restaurants, prices are quoted in rupees but you can also pay in euros.
  • The four main banks are Barclays Bank, Seychelles Savings Bank, Nouvobanq and Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB). They have branches on Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. You'll also find numerous money changers. There's no commission for changing cash. Don't lose time shopping around; rates are almost the same everywhere.
  • ATMs, which accept major international cards, are at the airport and at all the major banks in Victoria. You'll also find ATMs at Beau Vallon and Anse Royale on Mahé and on Praslin and La Digue. Remember, however, that bank fees, sometimes significant ones, can apply; check with your home bank before setting out for the Seychelles.
  • Major credit cards, including Visa and MasterCard, are accepted in most hotels, restaurants and tourist shops. Many guesthouses will still expect payment in cash. A few places add on an extra fee, typically 3%, to the bill to cover ‘bank charges’.

Tipping

Tipping is not generally practised in the Seychelles and is never an obligation. Top-end hotels and restaurants sometimes add a service charge of about 10% to 15% to the bill.

Opening Hours

Banks Usually 8.30am–2pm Monday to Friday, and to 11am Saturday.

Government offices 8am–4pm or 5pm Monday to Friday.

Restaurants 11am–2pm or 3pm and 6pm–9pm daily.

Shops and businesses Typically 8am–5pm Monday to Friday, and to noon Saturday.

Post

The postal service in the Seychelles is generally quick and reliable. Mail to Europe, the US and Australia takes about a week. You'll find post offices in major towns.

Public Holidays

New Year 1 and 2 January

Good Friday March/April

Easter Day March/April

Labour Day 1 May

Liberation Day 5 June

Corpus Christi 10 June

National Day 18 June

Independence Day 29 June

Assumption 15 August

All Saints' Day 1 November

Immaculate Conception 8 December

Christmas Day 25 December

Smoking

  • Smoking Prohibited in indoor public places, at workplaces and on public transport; allowed in outdoor restaurants, on beaches and in some hotel rooms.

Taxes & Refunds

A sales tax is levied on most goods and services, but it's included in the prices quoted. It's not possible for visitors to claim a refund of sales tax paid on goods.

Telephone

  • The telephone system is efficient and reliable.
  • Telephone cards are available from Cable & Wireless. Local calls within and between the main islands, as well as international calls, cost around Rs 4 per minute.
  • When phoning the Seychelles from abroad, you’ll need to dial the international code for the Seychelles (248), followed by the seven-digit local number.
  • There are no area codes.
  • Calling abroad from the Seychelles, dial 00 for international access, then the country code, area code and local number.

Mobile Phones

GSM network through Cable & Wireless and Airtel; international roaming and local SIM cards available.

More Information

  • Many foreign mobile services have coverage in the Seychelles, but roaming fees are high.
  • There is mobile reception on Mahé, Praslin, La Digue, North Island, Frégate Island and Silhouette Island.
  • If you have a GSM phone and it has been 'unlocked', you can use a local SIM card (Rs 50) purchased from either Cable & Wireless or Airtel. When buying a SIM card you'll need to bring along your passport.
  • Recharge cards are widely available, or you can top up your credit by phone or online.
  • For an idea of international rates, calls to North America, Australia and the UK with Cable & Wireless cost roughly Rs 10 per minute.

Time

The Seychelles is on GMT plus four hours. When it’s noon in Victoria, it’s 8am in London, 9am in Paris, 3am in New York and 6pm in Sydney. The Seychelles does not operate a system of daylight saving; being equatorial, its sunset and sunrise times vary only slightly throughout the year.

Toilets

  • All toilets in the Seychelles are of the sit-down variety.
  • There are no public toilet facilities, but you can use the toilets in hotels or restaurants.

Tourist Information

The very well-organised Seychelles Tourism Bureau (www.seychelles.travel) is the only tourist information body in the Seychelles. The head office is in Victoria. It has two offices on Praslin and one office on La Digue.

Travel with Children

  • The Seychelles is a very child- and family-friendly place.
  • Most hotels cater for all age groups, offering babysitting services, kids' clubs and activities especially for teenagers.
  • While children will happily spend all day splashing around in the lagoon, boat trips around the islands should also appeal.
  • Communing with giant tortoises is a sure-fire hit and visiting some of the nature reserves can be fun.
  • Finding special foods and other baby products can be difficult, especially outside Victoria, so you might want to bring your favourite items with you.

Accessible Travel

Most luxury hotels conform to international standards for disabled access, and it's usually possible to hire an assistant if you want to take an excursion. Apart from that, special facilities for travellers with disabilities are few and far between in the Seychelles, and no beach is equipped with wheelchair access.

Volunteering

Want to get involved in turtle tagging, whale-shark monitoring or researching certain animal species? Nature Seychelles, Seychelles Island Foundation and Marine Conservation Society Seychelles all have volunteer programs.

Weights & Measures

The Seychelles uses the metric system.

Women Travellers

Generally speaking, women travellers should have few problems getting around solo in the Seychelles. As in any country, however, women should use their common sense when going to isolated stretches of beach and inland areas alone.

Work

There are few work opportunities in the Seychelles for travellers. Possible exceptions include jobs in the hotel industry (mostly at management level) and jobs for experienced divers at one of the country's dive centres.

If you are looking for work, you will need to contact prospective employers directly and they should be able to advise on the necessary visa requirements.