You’re not coming to the Seychelles for boutique shopping and expensive finds: if you’re like us, you’d just like a few local mementos to remind you of these paradise islands. There’s not that many traditional products on sale, but you can seek out art works, crafts, jewellery, spices and more at the variety of studios and stalls dotted around the islands. For essentials, the capital Victoria and major beach resorts on Mahé and Praslin are the only places to look.
There are many art studios well worth visiting on Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, including those of Michael Adams, Tom Bowers, George Camille and Gerard Devoud. The Craft Village (Le Village Artisanal), at Anse aux Pins on the east coast of Mahé, is also a good place to see the work of local artists.
The world’s largest seed, which could weigh as much as your baggage allowance when taken fresh from the tree, makes a novel souvenir when hollowed out. You can buy them at the Rangers Station, Fond B’Offay, Praslin. They are also available from souvenir shops; however, be sure the vendor gives you an export certificate or you risk confiscation by customs officers at the airport.
The coconut palm is the artisan’s most versatile resource: its leaves are woven into bags and baskets; the nut itself is made into napkin rings, candle holders and trinket pots; coconut oil is used to perfume soaps and bath oils; and the unusual spotted timber is used to make boxes, buttons and beads for necklaces. In the Craft Village, by the entrance to the old St Roch plantation house, is Maison Coco, a shop dedicated to the products of the coconut palm, housed in a building made out of palm tree products itself.
Beautiful jewellery, combining gold with mother-of-pearl, seashells and other local items, is made by Kreolor, which has shops at Seychelles International Airport departures lounge, Camion Hall and Kenwyn House, Victoria; Grand Anse in Praslin; and La Passe, La Digue. The sea shells used in the jewellery were acquired following the bankruptcy of a local button factory, so there is no impact on the reefs. The company also manufactures some highly original items combining granite, raffia seeds, coconut wood and espadon – the bill of sailfish discarded by fishermen, which can be made to look like ivory. These include placemats, trays, boxes, bracelets, mirrors and picture frames.
Praslin Ocean Farm Ltd culture pearls from the local black-tipped pearl oyster. They produce silvery blue, green, gold and black coloured pearls which are set in jewellery and also baby clams plated with silver and gold. Their shop, Black Pearls of Seychelles, is opposite Praslin airstrip and is worth visiting not only to see the jewellery, but also their aquarium. You can have a guided tour for a small fee.
More than 100 local plants are used to produce three perfumes for Kreol Fleurage Parfums of North East Point, Mahé. They are for sale at many hotel and souvenir shops – and Harrods in London.
Packets of spices may be purchased at many places, including Victoria’s market and Jardin du Roi, Mahé. Pickled hot chillies and dried vanilla pods, also available at the market, make novel, genuinely local souvenirs to take home. Seychelles Tea Company sells packs of tea with cinnamon, lemon, orange and vanilla flavours, on sale in most supermarkets.