You’ve decided on your island of choice, but how do you get around once you’re there? The great thing about the Seychelles is that it’s really easy to roam independently – whether that’s in a hire car, on a bus, on two wheels or on foot. So whether you’re hankering to get up close to some local life, get to a stunning viewpoint or simply find your way off the beaten track, there’s a form of transport for you.
Buses are the primary means of public transport on Mahé and Praslin. They are very cheap and reasonably good but be aware that times and routes are geared to local requirements, not tourists. On Mahé, if travelling during peak periods you may have to stand and at other times, particularly weekends and public holidays, you may face a long wait at bus stops. Buses on Mahé operate mainly between 5.50am and 8.30pm.
Buses are less frequent on Praslin, usually running between 5.50am and 6.20pm. On La Digue, buses take the form of open-sided covered lorries (camions) that roam the island with no fixed timetable. Elsewhere there are no buses.
There are plenty of metered taxis available on Mahé but not so many on Praslin. Hot tip: it is often necessary to ask the driver to turn on the meter to avoid any disagreement over the fare at your destination. If the meter is broken (rather often the case) a fare should be agreed in advance. On Mahé taxis can be found at the airport, Victoria taxi rank in Albert Street (next to Camion Hall) and by the clock tower in Independence Avenue. Your hotel will also be able to organise one for you.
The great thing about getting a taxi is that drivers can often make very good, amusing and informative guides to the islands and can also be hired by the hour or day for negotiable rates, which you must agree on before setting off.
On La Digue most people get around on bicycles so there are only a few unmetered motorised taxis, and several more ox carts, which pass for taxis. They may be encountered driving up and down at La Passe or at the jetty when a ferry arrives from Praslin. None of the other islands has taxis.
Hiring your own car is the best way to explore both Mahé and Praslin – distances aren’t great and it’s an ideal way of exploring all the corners of the islands on your own time.
Note, however, that standards of driving are not high. Cars are driven on the left in Seychelles but drivers tend to roam onto the wrong side of the road with alarming frequency. Tourists unfamiliar with driving on the left sometimes forget which country they are in and create added confusion. There is a drink-drive limit, so the best advice is simply to not drink and drive.
The absence of pavements and the narrowness of roads mean that pedestrians are often added obstacles. The rush hour around Victoria should be avoided if possible (either side of 8am and 4pm).
Roads on Mahé are very good. Praslin roads are good between Grand Anse, Baie Ste Anne and Anse Volbert, but deteriorate en route to Anse La Blague and Anse Lazio. Speed limits are 40kmh in towns and villages and 65kmh elsewhere, except for Mahé’s east coast road, where the limit is 80kmh.
Cars may be hired only on Mahé and Praslin; several car hire companies are represented at Seychelles International Airport and at the larger hotels. Vehicle standards are variable and it is useful to inspect prior to making a commitment. Vehicles can be delivered or re-delivered to any point, mutually agreed with the hire company.
The tourist board’s excellent tips for tourist drivers are never leave valuables, such as passports, unattended in the car and never park directly beneath a coconut palm (you’ll be paying for the damage if a coconut falls and makes a dent!).
It’s not that easy to hire bicycles on Mahé, nor especially recommended in terms of the terrain. Praslin is a little easier – try Anse Volbert for cycle rental – but it’s still not the expected mode of travel. On both islands, though, some hotels will have them to rent or loan. In contrast, it’s all about cycling on La Digue, with so little motor traffic, and there are loads of bike rental shops at La Passe.
Guided walks are an amazing way to see native flora and fauna that you might otherwise miss, and to learn about local culture – everything from the use of spices and medicinal plants to the making of baka (home brew). On Mahé, local naturalist Basil Beaudouin leads walks from 1–2 hours up to a full day of 6–8 hours; he is available to talk about his walks at the Coral Strand Hotel. The average price is SCR 350 per person (£16).
On Praslin, Bois Mare Nature Guide, Cap Samy offers a variety of walks. Coco de Mer Hotel & Black Parrot Suites offers guided walks of the nearby Jean Baptiste Nature Trail.