On arrival, it is necessary to have a current passport that is valid for six months after the scheduled date of departure from the Seychelles and a return ticket. Proof of accommodation is also necessary and, if you have not made a booking, an official at the airport will take you aside and organise your accommodation there and then, even if it is late at night. A one-month entry permit will be issued on arrival, and this may be extended for a further two months provided you have proof of funds to cover your stay. Extensions may be obtained from the Department of Immigration. No vaccinations are necessary unless you have been in a yellow fever country within the last six days, in which case a yellow fever vaccination certificate is needed.
Regular flights link the Seychelles with Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Air Seychelles, with its bright red, green, blue and white livery and the white fairy tern logo, is the national carrier. It originally only provided a service from Mahé to Praslin and Frégate with foreign airlines bringing in the tourists. However, in 1983, Air Seychelles launched its first international flight from Gatwick, London, using a DC10 aircraft.
Several other airlines fly to the Seychelles: these are Kenya Airways; Emirates Airlines; Etihad Airways; Ethiopian Airlines and Mihin Lanka. There are also frequent unscheduled seasonal flights linking up with package tours and cruise ships. They include Air Austral, linking Réunion and Mahé, Condor, taking passengers from Munich, Blue Panorama and Transaero Airlines from Moscow, as well as other flights from eastern Europe and China. Flight schedules vary so check websites for details.
The busy Seychelles International Airport is located on Mahé, right on the edge of the ocean, just 9km south of Victoria. Constructed in 1971, on land reclaimed from the sea, the international airport terminal buildings have undergone major renovations and there is now a proper baggage carousel instead of having luggage all piled up on a shelf. There is a tourist information office at the airport. Departure tax is now included in the cost of the airline ticket.
Cruise and expedition ships sometimes call at the port of Victoria in Mahé, mainly from November to April when the seas are calmer. The larger cruise ships generally only visit Mahé but passengers can be ferried to Praslin and La Digue by local vessels. Expedition cruises with smaller vessels sometimes include the outer islands in their itineraries, although this has been somewhat curtailed by recent Somali pirate activity.
About 300 taxis are waiting to transport you around Mahé, a further 40 will take you around Praslin, and there are now also three on La Digue. They operate under the banner of the Taxi Operators Association. The drivers are encouraged to attend regular meetings and talks aimed at improving their knowledge of the islands. Many of the drivers will be happy to take you on a ‘conducted tour’ and many of them speak English. Apart from the taxi rank in Victoria, taxis are available at all the major hotels, at the airport when international flights arrive, and at the quayside when ferries dock.
Buses are widely used by the residents and, as a ride costs only SR5, are a most economical way to get from place to place. The buses have wonderful natural air conditioning through all the open windows but they do battle up the steep hillsides at times. Some of the newer buses do have air conditioning, and these charge SR10 per ride. The bus terminus on Mahé is in Palm Street, Victoria, where detailed timetables are available. Buses run from 05.30 to 19.00 with reduced services on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. The bus service on Praslin is not as extensive as on Mahé but is still a useful way to get around.
Three large, fast, Cat Cocos catamarans of varying sizes link Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. The catamarans have three classes: economy class main cabin, economy class upper cabin, and business class. The crossing between Mahé and Praslin takes 45 minutes and a further 15 minutes between Praslin and La Digue. A shuttle service is provided to and from the airport at a cost of €10 per adult and €5 per child one-way. The Cat Rose’s ferry also operates throughout the day between Praslin and La Digue. Various other types of boats can be hired to get to the smaller islands and an inter-island schooner cargo service plies between Mahé, Praslin and La Digue.