This dreamy island country is one of the most sought after destinations — but is it possible to lounge on these world class beaches on a budget?
The Seychelles are one of those luxury, once-in-a-lifetime destinations. Complete with sugar-soft sand, swaying palm trees, and perfectly blue water, some of the world's best beaches are found in this island nation. Plus, you have experiences like hanging out with the giant tortoises that call paradise home. However, this kind of vacation can get expensive — probably too expensive, right? There are some tricks to know to make a vacation to Seychelles more affordable.
In full disclosure, this isn't going to be your most affordable vacation option, but it is possible to visit the Seychelles islands without spending thousands and thousands of dollars (which can easily be a typical price tag for a dreamy destination like this!). In case you're dying to make it to the Seychelles while you're already living close by as an ILP volunteer in Africa, we're sharing some tips on how to make it happen in the most budget-friendly way.
- About The Seychelles
- Top Things To See And Do On Each Island
- Getting Here + Costs To Consider
- Some Budget-Planning Advice
About The Seychelles
The Seychelles are a country made up of 115 different islands in the Seychelles archipelago, found in the Indian Ocean. Most of the islands are uninhabited, with tourists visiting the most popular, main islands — Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue. Mahé is home to the capital city (Victoria) and the airport if that's helpful to know.
We'll touch on this later, but one way to save on your budget is picking one island and sticking to it, instead of spending money on the ferry between islands. We've blocked out the main sites to see on each of those three islands below so you can get a taste of what each has to offer.
Top Things To See And Do On Each Island
Most travelers spend about a week in the Seychelles when they visit 1-2 islands. To keep a budget, it'll be most cost-effective to stay in Mahé for a 3-4 day stay, and maybe visit Praslin or La Digue if you have the time and money. However, you may find that one of the other three main islands is more your vibe — check out the highlights of each to see which island is right for your trip.
Home to the capital city and international airport, Mahé has all the connections and island adventures you're looking for. Most of the island's activities are housed in the northern section (near Victoria) which means you can stay busy without traveling far. Mahé has stunning beaches, a national park, hiking trails aplenty, plus a few things to see in and out of the city.
If you're looking for a quick list of things to do on Mahé, Grand Anse, Beau Vallon, and Sunset Beach are all very popular beaches to visit. If you're looking for somewhere more remote, Anse Major is a famous beach best reached by taking a hike through the jungle before reaching the shores. Copolia hiking trail is another hiking trail to check out (it's more suited for beginners). If you're into seeing waterfalls, visit Sauzier Waterfall, before seeing some of the sites in Victoria (the colorful Hindu temple and nearby Botanic Gardens come to mind). That's just a taste of what there is to do on Mahé!
One of the more visited islands, Praslin has a quieter vibe than Mahé but still boasts plenty to do. Of course, there are plenty of beaches. Anse Lazio, Petite Anse Lazio, Anse Volbert, and Anse Georgette are just a few of the many beaches that are worth visiting on the island.
After your time on the beaches, check out the Praslin National Park for the chance to see more of the flora and fauna of the island. The coco de mer palm trees are a famous attraction in the park found in the UNESCO site, the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve. This endemic species of palm produces the world's heaviest seeds (weighing up to 40 pounds) and some of the largest fruit ever recorded (which can topple the scales at 95 pounds). There's a swirl of history, folklore, and cultural guidelines surrounding this protected plant.
There are multiple hiking trails on the island too, if you'd like to fit that into your low-key itinerary.
Find a more relaxed, sleepier island here than on Praslin. La Digue is famous for a few reasons, like the massive boulders nestled in the white sands of Anse Source D'Argent. Grand Anse and Anse Marron are other popular beaches to hang out on (you'll need to hike to Anse Marron). Some say that this little island has the best beaches in the Seychelles if you'd like to test that claim yourself. Oh! If you have some wiggle room in your budget some vendors rent out "crystal kayaks" where you can see through the body of the kayak for a picture-perfect view of the water below you.
It's also very popular to visit the L’Union Estate to learn a bit more about the colonial rule of the island chain and the chance to spot giant tortoises that live on the grounds.
A Note About The Beaches + Other Things To Do
No matter which island you visit, know that the beaches are the main attraction for the Seychelles and are usually free to visit — even the ones by 5-star resorts. The exception to this are the beaches within the boundaries of national parks, which require a fee to access. No matter where you are swimming, take note of any signs or warning flags on the coastlines. Sometimes weather conditions during certain times of the year create wave conditions that aren't safe for swimming.
Of course, these islands are also premiere destinations for snorkeling, sailing, and other boat trips if you have the budget. Some tourists are even lucky enough to be here during August - October (ish) when whale sharks can be spotted in the Seychelles. They're not always there but have been seen around some of the less inhabited islands.
If you're an ILP volunteer already in Uganda, that's a huge way to make this vacation affordable. Instead of paying a couple of thousand dollars for a very long flight here, you're just a few hours away on a plane ticket that is a fraction of the price than if you were traveling from North America or another destination.
Flight costs can vary, but you can snag airfare from Uganda to the Seychelles in the $600 range (search EBB to SEZ). Most of the best fares are usually on Ethiopian Airlines. Again, this is higher than most of our flight prices to favorite ILP destinations, but is a pretty good deal when it comes to visiting somewhere like the Seychelles.
You don't need a visa to visit the Seychelles (a nice cost-saving perk).
Getting Around The Islands
Luckily for budget travelers, there are buses available on Mahé and Praslin, meaning you can avoid paying for a taxi, which are notoriously expensive. Buses are affordable, most routes have a flat rate of 6 rupees no matter where you go. Just plan ahead and know that the bus schedule might not line up exactly with your itinerary, so you'll need to be flexible. Download the bus schedules here (here's a link to the official website, as well).
You may want to book somewhere to stay that's close to a bus pick-up or within walking distance to your favorite beach to help save where you can.
On La Digue, it's popular to get around by bike (booking a place to stay that has bike rentals will be helpful). Rentals are usually around 7 euros per day. Be mindful of the routes that take you into the hilly exterior, and be ready for quite the workout.
Traveling Between Islands
Staying on one island is going to save you some money — ferry prices are around 60 - 72 euros between Mahé and Praslin, with some tourist charges and option upgrades if you want to be on the upper deck. Prices between Praslin and La Digue are more affordable, at around 15 euros. Keep in mind that those are one-way tickets, so a day trip to just one island can get pretty pricey.
Some Budget-Planning Advice
Pack What You Need
You can't pack up food for the whole vacation, but I've been known to pack some protein bars and buy yogurt or some local fruit in the morning for breakfast instead of spending money at a restaurant. You will also want to pack things like sunscreen and bug spray. Almost every item for sale is imported and prices in this luxury destination are already inflated, so avoid buying supplies like this if you can.
Other budget travelers recommend seeing what you can buy locally to keep costs down. Freshly caught fish is sometimes sold on popular beaches and grilled to order which makes for an affordable meal. Also, visiting the local markets can be a good way to stock up on local fruits and veggies for your trip. There are a slew of restaurants on the higher end of things but there are some budget options if you look (mostly serving the local fare which includes rice, curries, and seafood).
Some other recommendations are bringing your snorkel gear with you if you have it. Snorkeling tours can get expensive, but several beaches around the Seychelles have fantastic off-shore snorkeling which is totally free if you have your own gear.
Visit In The Low Season
I love visiting busy or expensive places in the low season. You're often battling fewer crowds, can snag discounts on accommodation and activities, and flights are usually much more affordable.
The high season in Seychelles is December and January, then again from June to August. February is one of the rainiest months, so the lowest peak for visitors. You will likely encounter some rainy days and rougher sea conditions in the low season (some beaches have higher swells that aren't great for swimming but great for surfing and sailing excursions).
There's also a lull in visitors in March and May/June.
Where Should I Stay?
If you do a quick search, you'll realize that these islands are full of luxury accommodations that have a hefty price tag. However, you can find a few hotels and Airbnbs on Mahé in the $100 - $200+ range (again, a bit higher than most ILP vacation destinations, but a cost that you can split with your ILP group). Some of those more affordable places also have the perks you're looking for, like close beach access or a pool.
Booking as early as possible is going to help you have options, though. Sometimes last-minute planning forces you to spend more than you'd like, so booking accommodations (and flights) earlier can help you save.
One thing you will want to splurge for is air conditioning. It gets extremely hot and humid on the island and several budget travelers recommended making this a cost to budget for instead of skipping out on this sometimes optional luxury.
It's Not Your Most Affordable Vacation Option
So yes, you can do the Seychelles without going the luxury route with the luxury price tag ... but it is not your most affordable island vacation option. In full disclosure, most ILP volunteers in Uganda head to Zanzibar for a dreamy island trip filled with picturesque beaches, tortoises, dolphins, and boat rides on the coast. It's a stunning vacation that has rave reviews. Zanzibar has so much to see and do, and flights to this island are a fraction of the cost from Uganda.
Just know you can have a fantastic beach trip without spending the money to go to the Seychelles!
We have volunteer opportunities in nearby Uganda!
International Language Programs (that's us!) is a non-profit based out of Utah in the United States. Our focus is on providing a way for college-age adults to travel and see the world in a way they can actually afford, and then to also be able to contribute to the communities by volunteering. We've got a Humanitarian Program in Uganda that we're in love with (especially since those lucky volunteers get to vacation in spots like this), but there are also locations all over the world.
Click that button below to learn more about how it all works and see if it's the right fit for you or something you could suggest to someone you know.