Seychelles (Jun 2016)
Heading west from India to Europe gave us the opportunity to add a unique destination to our itinerary. There are quite a few islands in the Indian Ocean that are well-established honeymoon spots. Think idyllic beaches, resorts with bungalows over the water on small atolls, hundreds of miles from the nearest continent. Because we have options available to us in the Caribbean at a fraction of the cost, these places are generally overlooked by Americans. But since we were already in the general area, we’d be crazy to not check one out.
The Maldives immediately stuck out to us. Flights there were ridiculously cheap from India, and who wouldn’t want to be sleeping on a bungalow above calm turquoise waters? Well, the Maldives were several tiers above our price range. All of Kevin’s Hilton points couldn’t even get us a single night there. Our runner up choices were Mauritius and the Seychelles, both off the coast of Africa. We ended up choosing the Seychelles because it seemed to be the most budget-friendly, and there were some excellent flights options to take us to Europe afterwards. And it also looked pretty awesome – there were beaches, hikes, and giant tortoises.
The Seychelles are made up of 115 islands, of which only a handful are populated. We split our time evenly between two islands: La Digue and Praslin. They were two different experiences. La Digue was very small and relaxed. Not a lot of people, just a few motorized vehicles. And so many amazing beaches. There are 16 beaches on La Digue, and every single one of them is a postcard-worthy, white sand, turquoise water beach surrounded by big piles of granite rocks. Praslin was a bigger island with more people and cars (we had to rent a car to get around) and in our opinion, only had two really good beaches. Both islands are considered laid back compared to the main island of Mahé. The locals are friendly, and they all speak a combination of English, French, and Creole. Kevin got to practice a little bit of his French, and Christine learned that Creole isn’t just a food, it’s also a language.
The Seychelles is a popular resort destination – meaning many people fly in, get whisked away to a private resort with a private beach, and stay there. This is the most expensive way to do it. We booked what are called “self-catering apartments” – basically full apartments with a kitchen, but we had to do everything for ourselves. This sounded perfect for us because we like to cook. What we learned the hard way was that because the Seychelles is in the middle of nowhere, there isn’t much in the way of fresh food, and all of it is expensive. Everything in the Seychelles was expensive. So most of our ”self-catered” meals were ham and cheese sandwiches, eggs and hash browns, and pasta. Regardless, it was fun to cook, and it became a game to see how creative we could get with the few ingredients available to us.
Besides the beaches, one of our favorite things about the Seychelles was the resident giant tortoises. We had read about them before showing up, but the first time we saw one, we were still in awe at how big it was. We were riding our bikes on La Digue and came upon one hanging out on the edge of the road, looking for something to eat. We stopped to watch him for a bit. When we think of turtles, we think of the ones that usually hide in their shell when people come around. Not these giant tortoises – they are fearless, and docile. Sadly most of them are in walled enclosures, on display.
Our favorite activity on the Seychelles was going deep sea fishing, a first for both of us. June is their monsoon season, and the waters get extremely choppy. On our ferry rides to and from the islands, which were on giant catamarans, we were sure that the boat was going to capsize at any moment. So there we were, out in the middle of the ocean on a twenty foot boat, trolling five lines behind us with a captain who gave us the impression that he absolutely lived for jumping waves in the monsoon season – which he did. We took quite a few waves to the face. We had a successful day, reeling in a haul of nine bonito and two big yellowfin tuna. We had the tuna for dinner two nights, and it was awesome. The bonito…well, let’s just say that we didn’t have a sharp enough knife (or possibly the skills) to do the job, but in the end a hungry local cat was well fed.
We’ve been to a lot of beaches on this trip. The Seychelles will likely be our last. It was a welcome change from the chaos that was India. And it was pretty cool to be on an island in the middle of nowhere. Driving on the left hand side of the road has become so normal for us, we might need to take some lessons when we get back home.
Here are our favorite pictures of beaches, tortoises, and good times in the Seychelles!