The Indian Ocean island nation of the Seychelles isn’t likely to be your first thought when planning a budget holiday but with beaches as photogenic as they come, it’s been on my wish list for a very long time.
With resort prices coming in at around £1500 for a week-long break, and some of the most luxurious offerings well over that for just a single night, you could be forgiven for giving up and going elsewhere. Don’t. Although it’s never going to be what you’d call a cheap holiday, here’s how to make those beautiful beaches a more affordable reality.
Choose your flights carefully
I flew indirect via Colombo, Sri Lanka, and with the use of a few Nectar points, snagged a fare of under £500. Other routes to explore include Ethiopian Airlines via Addis Ababa and Kenya Airways via Nairobi. Emirates and Etihad also serve The Seychelles.
Travel in the shoulder seasons
Peak time means peak prices. Off season brings the rain and there’s nothing worse than a beach destination in wet weather. I travelled in March. It was hot and humid but the sun was shining. April’s also good as is our autumn. Avoid Easter and Christmas when prices soar.
Unpackage your accommodation
The all-inclusive resorts offer a lot, but you pay handsomely for the privilege. Instead, choose a home stay or a self-catering option. On Mahe, I needed an overnight stopover before catching a ferry to the islands and came across Chez Lorna, just north of the capital in De Quincey Village. The owner was exceptionally welcoming and my en-suite air conditioned room with shared balcony cost me just £30 for the night.
On La Digue, I upped the budget a bit and spent about £80 a night on a cottage at Cabanes des Anges in within an easy stroll of the jetty in La Passe. For that I had air conditioning, my own kitchen, living room with satellite TV – and the place also had a pool. Considering my accommodation slept two, that’s extraordinary value at £40pppn. Best of all, the island’s main supermarket, Gregoires, was just a minute’s walk away making self-catering an attractive option.
If you’re looking for a traditional hotel set up, then Palm Beach at Grande Anse on Praslin might fit the bill – right on the beach with a decent pool and sea views from superior rooms. The price was about £80 per night for a double room.
Eating out isn’t cheap in The Seychelles but it is possible to save money by eating where the locals go or by self-catering. There are plenty of pizzerias if you’re looking to eat out but have a tight budget. On La Digue, most places charge extra for WiFi but Fish Trap by the jetty offers a free connection to its customers. You can eat for about £10-12 but save money on surfing while you check your emails. It also has a beachfront seating area and the sunset cocktails are worth pushing the boat out.
Use local transport
Getting between the islands is cheapest on the ferries. Expect to pay about £30-35 depending on the exchange rate for an economy seat; the journey takes about an hour making it a convenient choice. The fifteen minute hop between Praslin and La Digue is cheaper.
On Mahe and Praslin, the buses are easy to use and cost a flat fare of 5 rupees (about 25p) however far you go. You’ll need small change as notes greater than 25 rupees aren’t accepted. Choose accommodation on the bus route and there’s no need to hire a car to get around. The two options listed above are close to the bus stop. Note that you’ll need to hire a taxi if you have luggage, though, as the buses won’t let you on.
The best bargain in the country
On La Digue, it’s easy (and free of course) to get around on foot, but you can also find bicycle hire for around 100 rupees a day (about £5) which makes it straightforward to explore the rest of the island. I hired mine through the Cabanes des Anges reception desk but there are plenty of operators in La Passe.
So there you have it: proof that paradise doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive.