Existing Member?

Stumbling Along After a few years or travelling and then a couple years of settling down in Sweden, I'm back on the road. 7 mths or maybe forever, in South Africa, the Seychelles, India, Nepal, SE Asia...

Paradise in the Seychelles on a Budget

SEYCHELLES | Wednesday, 12 February 2014 | Views [4857] | Comments [4]

Grand Anse

Grand Anse

The Seychelles have always been a dream for us. As a diver, I imagined clear blue water, 28 degrees, 30 meters visibility and full of fish and colorful coral. For Mikko, the dream began after seeing a documentary on the Seychelles showing a mosquito free, spider free, snake free paradise with pristine beaches, beautiful women and great seafood (I will take this time to note that there are indeed mosquitoes and GIANT spiders, so not sure which documentary he watched). But, the island paradise was always just a dream because of expensive flights, ridiculously priced hotels and restaurants and expensive diving....or so we thought.

When we started planning this trip, we decided on India and South East Asia because they were warm, beautiful, have extremely different cultures than our own and, most importantly, they were CHEAP! Some of the cheapest countries in the world. Our budget was limited, so we wanted to be in places where our money would stretch, but we could still afford to do what we want, stay in decent hostels/hotels and eat, eat, eat, eat.

Then, we stumbled on a cheap flight from Johannesburg to Delhi with Air Seychelles via the Seychelles. The flight was one of the cheapest, but the layover was only a few hours. We searched instead for a multi-destination flight with a 4-day layover in the Seychelles and found one for only $85/€62 more. That would make the total cost for the flight from Johannesburg to Victoria, Seychelles to Delhi, $480/€350. But, there was still the problem of accommodation. We searched hostelworld and booking.com, but the cheapest places we found were a couple of guesthouses for $137/€100 a night. Then we searched airbnb and couchsurfing and were pleasantly surprised. On couchsurfing, we found a local woman, Julienne Alphonse, who rented out a large room with bathroom, kitchen and balcony for $68/€50 a night including breakfast and home-cooked dinner. We did some more research and found out that buses around the main island of Mahe cost about $0.40/€0.30. Diving would be a bit more expensive, but more on that later.

The Accommodation

We landed in the evening, and Julienne was waiting at the airport  to take us back to her place, which was only a 5 minute drive away up the mountain. Her house was big and beautiful with a view of the mountainside and over Mahe's main city, Victoria. She shared the house with her family, which quickly became our family too: Robert, her husband; Savio, her 21 yr old son; Camilia, Savio's girlfriend; Alisa, her 11 yr old daughter; Tanya, her 8 yr old niece; Sean, her 6 yr old son; Zarah her adorable 3 yr old daughter; cats, kittens, dogs, roosters and even some giant tortoises. The house was huge, all the kids had their own room, the animals were kept in the back yard and our apartment was upstairs, so it never felt cramped. The room was clean, had two double beds, a bathroom with shower and hot water and a little kitchenette. It was almost as big as our apartment back in Stockholm, haha. And, the view from the balcony was great.

The best part though was not the food (a different creole dish every night, and she made sure that we tasted all the local fish, including Octopus and shark, picked every local fruit possible so we could try them all, and had a cold glass of freshly made juice waiting for us every evening when we came home), but the family. Julienne has the biggest heart of anyone I've met. Her principle concern is that you feel at home and have a good time. During our 4 days (which turned into 11 days), she took us on a tour of the northern half of the island for the cost of a tank of gas, and took us out with her family to the night market in Victoria, the Sunday Market in Baie Lazare, clubbing in Victoria and would have done more if her kids didn't come down with the flu :(.

The Weather

Since this was not our main destination, we didn't have much flexibility regarding the dates. We arrived at the tail end of wet season, which lasts from December until about the middle of March/April.  Lucky us, when we arrived, the island was hit with 3 days of torrential downpour. There were mudslides, flooding and hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to houses, agriculture, etc. Now, keep in mind that we booked 4 days in paradise. So, as soon as we realized that it was going to rain during the whole duration of the stay, we checked how much it would be to change our flights. After some checking by Eithad Airways' (partner with Air Seychelles) customer service rep, they found us a flight leaving one week later for a change fee of only $60/€44. A small price considering we'd come all the way to our dream paradise for diving and beaches and couldn't enjoy either. So that's how 4 days in paradise became 11.

On the fourth day, the weather cleared, the sun came out and stayed out until we left (when the winds were picking up and the clouds started rolling in). In short, if you come in the rainy season, it may rain. Rain in the Seychelles sucks since there isn't anything to do. On the plus side, when you stay with a  family like we did, you can hang out around the house, watch movies, play with the kids, enjoy some local Seybrew beer and still have a great time! And rain or shine the temperature year round is between 27C and 33C with a water temperature of about 28-30C, and low season means beaches all to your self.

The Islands and Beaches

If you want to stay on a budget, I would suggest staying on Mahe. The other islands are said to be even more beautiful and in high season they might have slightly less tourists, but food and accommodation is more expensive and ferries are between $68/€50 and $90/€65 each way.

There is plenty to do on Mahe and the beaches are some of the best in the world. Every beach we went to was clean with white sand and blue water. They were rimmed with palm trees and ranged from 100 meters to several kilometers wide.

Most of the island is covered by mountains filled with thick tropical rainforest. Tropical fruits like starfruit, papaya, guava, mango, breadfruit and a million other fruits I'd never heard of hang from the branches of every tree. The flat part of Mahe is very narrow around the edges of the island and in some places non-existent. In other places, they have built extensions to the island using sand and soil from the ocean floor to add more space for houses and roads. There are the main roads that go around the island and a few, well-placed, winding mountain passes that provide shortcuts when you need to get from east to west or vice versa.

We had some beaches to ourselves, and there were a few tourists on the other beaches, but only a handful. The most crowded beach was Beau Vallon. This is the main tourist beach and home to most of the dive shops and water sports. The beach is beautiful and has lots of restaurants and bars along the way, but is filled with resort-type tourists too lazy to explore the rest of the island.

One of the best beaches we went to was Anse Royale. It has a barrier reef a few hundred meters offshore, so the water on the beach is flat as glass, crystal clear and varies from clear turquoise to ice blue to sapphire. It's a favorite for locals, easily reached by bus and has a couple nice restaurants, ATMs and some small shops.

Also great was Anse Grande. The current makes it dangerous for swimming, but it's fine to wade in and play in the waves. This is also easily reached by bus, but there are no restaurants and just a little shop on the road. But this is perfect to buy some water, beer and snacks for a picnic. We were all alone on this almost one kilometer long beach.

My favorite beach was Anse Soleil. You take the bus to Quatre Bornes, and then walk about a half an hour (20 minutes of which are uphill) to get to the beach. But the walk is on a paved road through the jungle, you can pick low-hanging fruits to nourish you along the way, and the road is dotted with colorful wildflowers and cute little houses and artisan shops. When you get to the beach, you find a great restaurant (a bit pricey, but they all are), and a small but clean crescent shaped beach, with clear water and lots of palm trees for shade.

Also worth doing is the trek from Bel Ombre to Anse Major. The walk from the bus to the beginning of the trail is about 30  minutes. But,  Julienne decided to pack up Zarah and come along, so we took the car. The trail is fairly easy and is half jungle, half open views of the ocean. These are some of the best views of the island. The walk is a little hairy at times, and you realize that one small step would send you sliding down the rock and plopping into the ocean a couple hundred meters below. That said, for about 85% of the hike Miss Zarah decided to walk by herself (she's been coming on this hike since she was 1 1/2 yrs old). She climbed up and down the rocks like a pro, only accepting Julienne's help when she was forced to on the steeper or less protected bits. There are only moderate inclines, and a well trodden path of dirt or stones making this hike good for anyone from age 3 to 70. The hike takes a total of about an hour. Despite its name, Anse Major is quite small. But the rain water from the mountains makes a great freshwater lagoon to swim in if the sea is to rough. It also makes a great kiddy pool.

There are dozens of other beaches we didn't visit, but on our tour with Julienne around the island and from the window of the buses, we saw them all. And, I can say that they are all amazing. Most places have a couple great beaches, but in Mahe, all the beaches are perfect. So, just hop on a  bus and pick a different one to visit every day. But many of the beaches don't have restaurants, so bring water and snacks though there is usually a little shop nearby.

Diving

The diving in the Seychelles is known to be some of the best in the world. They work hard to protect their reef and its biodiversity and have several protected Marine Parks. You can see everything from the small to the large.

We  booked our first dive with Big Blue Divers in Beau Vallon, since they were one of the cheapest and offered a 10% discount in the tourist guide you're given upon arrival at the airport. We did one dive in the afternoon at a site called the Aquarium. The visibility was poor due to the recent storm, but the fish life was incredible. We saw lionfish, pipefish, angelfish, morays, parrotfish and a nudibranch. The fish were swarming in the hundreds. It definitely lived up to its name. The cost including all equipment was $68/€50.

Timing the second day of diving was a bit tricky. We wanted to wait a few days for the visibility to clear up, but get the dive in before the next storm came. We checked every weather site available and decided to play it safe and dive a few days later. On our walk back from the first dive center we passed another center called Ocean Dreams. We decided to pop in and check the prices, and they were the only shop on the island to offer a discount for a 2-tank dive: $116/ €85. Even better, they were going to The Lighthouse, which we'd heard was the best dive site on the island.

We did a 2-tank dive to Kap Mantoopa and then The Lighthouse - two of the best dives of my life. The visibility was a bit better, 20 meter or so, and on the first dive we saw 4 white-tipped reef sharks, eagle rays and thousands of tropical fish. On the second dive, we saw octopuses, barracuda, a turtle and a group of 8 eagle rays. The reef was in great shape, and there were fish everywhere! And, it turns out we picked the right day, since it became a bit windy and cloudy the following day and stayed that way for the rest of our trip.

Budget

Like most places, the Seychelles can be as expensive or as cheap as you make it. It helps to find a cheap flight and have a look at couchsurfing and airbnb for cheap accommodation. Many will include breakfast and dinner, and if not, get one with a kitchen as restaurants are expensive. Just send me a message if you want Julienne's email address. There's a discount if you are only one person staying with her.

To save on food, cook at home, stay somewhere where food is included or eat at local take-aways where food costs about $4/€3. But, be careful because most close at 14:30. Food in the supermarket is cheap and so is beer and wine (both of which are insanely expensive at restaurants and bars).

Taxis are also expensive, so use the buses. They go everywhere, but unfortunately you usually have to switch buses in Victoria. When you arrive, get a good map and a bus schedule at the bus station's office. It only costs a few cents and will save you a lot of hassle as some buses don't run often and most buses stop running at 18:00.

In total, we spent for 2 people (excluding flights and diving):

12 nights accommodation with breakfast and dinner = $821/€600

Food (including a couple lunches at restaurants and a night out on the town), transportation, etc = $510/€372

Total cost per person per day: $55/€40.50

Not bad! Of course, this is about double our budget for the rest of the trip, but it was worth the splurge.

Tags: beaches, budget, diving, islands, seychelles, tips

 

Comments

1

hey!

i just read you article about your trip to Seychellen!
i think i read it 5 times, wow amazing !

so... i just wanted to ask if you have an E-Mail adress of Julienne Alphonse.
I would like to contact her there is still a room for rent.
do you have any contact informations!

Kind regards from Austria


Thorsten rabe

  Thorsten Jan 28, 2015 8:23 PM

2

Hey!

Her email is [email protected] I just spoke with her and she is still taking people. Try and find her on Facebook at Julienne Madeleine.

Have fun in the Seychelles!!!

  tnj4884 Jan 30, 2015 12:59 AM

3

Hey,
I have been trying to plan a visit to Seychelles and was almost about to give up as all information insisted on how expensive it is,its for luxury travellers etc I am more of a budget traveler and coming across your write up is very much welcome..Highly highly appreciated.There is hope,let me see if I can make it also happen.Cheers

  CECI Jan 4, 2016 1:57 AM

4

Hey, I found a madelienne julienne om couchsurfing.com and am discussing accomodations as we speak - i am wondering if she is the same person ( because she is not giving me much details on things and i am a single mother travelling with two small kids )

  Nina May 4, 2019 4:26 PM

Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.


 

 

Travel Answers about Seychelles

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.