The Seychelles Archipelago occupies 400,000 square km (150,000 square miles) of the Indian Ocean northeast of Madagascar and contains 115 islands and islets. These fall into two groups of markedly different appearance, stemming from their distinct geologies:
Granitic: A dense cluster of 42 islands, unique in being the only mid-ocean group in the world with a granite rock formation. Their lush green vegetation is tropical in character, with a profusion of coconut palms, bananas, mangoes, yams, breadfruit and other tropical fruit. Indigenous forest exists on the higher slopes, where cinnamon and tea are planted. All, including the second largest, Praslin, are less than 65km (40 miles) from Mahé.
Coralline: Isolated coral outcrops speckling a vast area of the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the granitic group. They rise only a few feet above sea level but are covered with rich and dense vegetation due to fertilization by copious amounts of guano. There is no permanent population. Aldabra, the largest atoll in the world, contains one-third of all Seychellois land and is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. The largest island in either group is Mahé, lying 4•S of the equator. It is 27km (17 miles) long by 8km (5 miles) wide and contains Victoria, the capital and main port. Mahé is typical of the granitic islands, being mountainous and covered with jungle vegetation. Its highest point, indeed the highest point in the Seychelles, is Morne Seychellois (905m/2970ft). The isolated nature of the Seychelles has given rise to the evolution of many unique species of flora and fauna, including the coco-de-mer palm and unique varieties of orchid, giant tortoise, gecko, chameleon and ‘flying fox’ (fruitbat). National parks and reserves have been set up to protect this heritage. The Seychellois are born out of a mixture of French and British landowners, freed African slaves and a small number of Indian and Chinese immigrants, creating a unique culture. The population is estimated to be 80,000 with approximately 165.9 people per square km.
All visitors require valid passports. Visas are not required. A visitor’s permit, valid initially for 4 weeks, is issued on arrival, subject to possession of a return or onward ticket, booked accommodation and sufficient funds to cover the duration of your stay; alternatively a deposit may be made by ‘security’ bond in lieu. The pass may be renewed for up to 3 months for a fee of S Rs200. Note: Please check with your nearest Seychelles Consulate for up to date information for other than US citizens. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required by all visitors arriving within 6 days of departing from or passing through affected areas.
The local currency unit is the Seychelles Rupee (S Re: singular; S Rs: plural) equal to 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of S Rs100, 50, 25 and 10. Coins are in denominations of S Rs5 and denominations of S Rs100, 50, 25 and 10. Coins are in denominations of S Rs5 and 1, and 25, 10, 5 and 1 cents. A number of gold and silver coins are also minted. Exchange facilities are available at the airport banks, which are open for all flight departures and arrivals. The following banks have branches in the Seychelles and will exchange travelers checks and foreign currency: Barclay’s Bank International Limited, Bank of Baroda, Banque Française Commerciale, Development Bank of Seychelles, Habib Bank Limited and Standard Chartered Bank Plc. Banking hours are 8:30am-2:30pm Monday to Friday, 8:30am-11:00am on Saturday. American Express and Visa are widely accepted; Access/MasterCard and Diner’s Club have more limited use. Check with your credit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available. Travelers’ checks are accepted in most hotels, guest-houses, restaurants and shops. Although the local currency is the Seychelles Rupee, visitors are required to use only foreign currency when making payments in hotels, guesthouses and any other hospitality-related expenses such as hiring of cars or boats, services of tour operators and travel agents, patronage of casinos and domestic transfers within Seychelles. However, small incidental purchases in restaurants outside hotels, shopping (excluding duty-free shops) and taxi fares may be paid in local currency. Please note that once money is exchanged at a local bank or withdrawn from an ATM, you must retain your receipt to exchange the local currency back into foreign currency upon departure.
The climate is tropical with high humidity, and temperatures vary between 75 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. During the southeast monsoon, between June and September, the weather is cooler and dryer, the hotter months between November and April being caused by the northwest monsoon. Most rain falls in December and January. The Seychelles is safely situated outside the cyclone belt. You will experience rougher seas when the trade winds blow from the southeast (May to September).
Tap water is normally chlorinated, and while relatively safe may cause mild abdominal upsets. Bottled water is available and is advised to avoid any discomfort.
The electricity supply is 240V AC, 50 Hz. Plugs are square pin and three point.
The main post office in Victoria provides a fast and efficient mail service. Airmail collections are at 3:00pm weekdays and 12:00 noon Saturdays. Post office hours are 8:00am-12:00 noon and 1:00pm-4:00pm Monday to Friday and 8:00am-12:00 noon Saturday. There is a 24-hour telephone, telegram, telex, e mail and fax service and a phone card system and cellular phone network are available. There are radio/telephone communications between the islands. A direct international dialing service is available from the major cities, hotels and resorts. For international telephone calls, the country code is 248 and there are no area codes.
Greenwich Mean Time + 4 hours throughout the year.
The official language is Creole, but English and French are widely spoken, so making yourself understood is easy.
| Victoria House
Telephone: 248 225 256
| Oliaji Building
Telephone: 248 225 225
| Victoria House
Telephone: 248 382 500
WHAT TO BUY
Artwork, printed cloth (especially sarongs), local preserves and condiments, traditional crafts, basketwork and spices are all on offer for the interested shopper.
| 1-2 January
| New Year’s Day
||Assumption Day/La Digue Festival
||All Saint’s Day
||Feast of the Immaculate Conception