Car rental is a default option for us in all our travels before the planning stage. When there’s vehicular traffic in a country or region, we rent a car because the freedom of movement and comfort is more important than budget savings, especially when those savings are often questionable.
Although Seychelles is an archipelagic state with relatively small islands, it’s challenging to navigate without a car.
There are numerous interesting locations, significant distances between them, and the mountainous terrain makes walking not a viable option for too long. I tested this on the day of departure. We had half a day that we decided to spend as pedestrians. We returned the rented car and walked from the seaport in Victoria, the capital, to Beau Vallon Beach and back – approximately 7 kilometers one way. We survived, but walking through mountain passes in a tropical climate didn’t bring much pleasure. I did this experiment consciously to share insights and dissuade you from repeating my experience.
Without a car, you’d be compelled to rely on buses and be constrained by their schedules and routes or resort to taxis, which would cost you a significant amount of money. Simply staying on one beach isn’t even an option; it’s strange.
Where to Rent a Car in Seychelles
If you think Seychelles differs in this regard from Cyprus, Georgia, Thailand, Germany, or France, you’re mistaken. Civilization here is as established as in the aforementioned places.
In Seychelles, I found two options for car rental:
- First option – Renting a car through the familiar and well-known Rentalcars. You pre-select the desired car, book it online, approach the car rental counter at Mahe Island’s airport upon arrival, receive the car, complete the formalities, and set off to explore new places. The car rental counter at the international airport on Mahe Island is located opposite the arrival zone, on the left.
- Second option – Searching for a car on-site. You can also approach the car rental counter in the arrival hall upon arrival and inquire about available cars. There’s a high probability there won’t be any cars available at all. In this case, you’ll have to take a taxi to your guesthouse, villa, or hotel. There, ask the locals to help you find a car – there’s a 90% chance that something will be offered to you, and you won’t be left without a car.
We planned to visit three islands – Mahe, La Digue, and Praslin. Practically, a car was necessary on two islands – Mahe and Praslin. We used bicycles on La Digue since motor transport is prohibited, and there’s no need for it on the small island.
On Mahe, we pre-booked a car through Rentalcars – we received a Hyundai I20, no issues with documentation or the rental process. All payments were made using a credit card.
For Praslin, we didn’t book anything in advance and planned to find a car on-site. Additionally, we were going to La Digue where we didn’t need a car. We relaxed.
A day before departing from La Digue to Praslin, I messaged the villa owner we had booked and asked for help with car rental, as we didn’t find any cars on any local car rental website! There were no cars available at all, regardless of the money offered.
The approach with the apartment host worked out; they found a car for us. The message arrived when we were already on the ferry heading to Praslin. We took a chance, and it worked out. Upon arrival at the port, a girl was waiting with a sign bearing my name, the same Hyundai I20, at a lower price – $50 per day, compared to $60 on Mahe.
Make your own conclusions. In my opinion, it’s better to search for a car in advance, either on local websites – it might be slightly cheaper, or through Rentalcars – it might be slightly more expensive, but more reliable, especially if you’re unsure or have limited experience with car rentals.
Features of Driving in Seychelles
The first feature is that driving is on the left side in Seychelles. Accordingly, the steering wheel of vehicles is on the right side. Even if you sit behind the wheel on the right side for the first time, getting used to it takes about 15 minutes. There won’t be any problems.
The second feature is narrow roads and numerous mountain serpentine routes. On the islands of Mahe and Praslin, there is a mountainous terrain, numerous mountain passes, and serpentine roads, while beautiful beaches surround the perimeter of the islands. Just be cautious, and you’ll avoid any problems.
The third feature of the Seychelles islands is that on both sides of the road, there are drop-offs of about 40–70 centimeters. Failing to negotiate a turn might result in losing your vehicle.
Sometimes, Seychelles experience heavy rains, and to reduce the impact of water flow on roads, drainage ditches are constructed on both sides of the road. There are no barriers from the roadway, so it’s crucial to be extremely attentive while driving on serpentine roads.
Parking across the island is free; however, paid parking can be found in the capital, Victoria. Usually, there is parking available near the accommodation you rent, and it’s also free.
There are a few gas stations – on Mahe, there are a total of 6, and just 2 on Praslin. Nevertheless, this is sufficient; you won’t run out of fuel. Considering the local distances, you’ll only need to refuel once when leaving the airport or twice to accurately estimate the fuel consumption for the entire trip. The cost of gasoline is similar to the average European price, approximately around 1.3–1.5 Euros.
On the islands of Mahe and Praslin, there’s a circular road. More precisely, it’s an incomplete circle – this is the main feature. If the road were a complete circle, it would be much faster to cover all locations on the island. I don’t know if this was done intentionally or not.
Because the road isn’t a complete circle, you often have to cross from one side of the island to the other through mountain passes or return back on the unfinished circular route. It’s a peculiar aspect of road organization. In principle, you get used to it, nothing life-threatening.
Traffic on weekdays can be significant, especially around the capital city, Victoria, on Mahe. Just take this into account if you plan to reach the airport or the port. This mostly concerns Mahe – most of the major traffic happens there. Praslin is significantly calmer and less crowded with cars.
The speed limits in Seychelles are as follows: in cities, 45 km/h, outside of cities, 65 km/h, and on the only expressway leading from the capital, Victoria, to the airport – 80 km/h. Not very fast, but considering the traffic, serpentine roads, and frequent stops at beautiful places, you won’t need to go any faster.
There is only police in cities. It won’t cause problems for tourists unless you explicitly violate the rules.
I don’t recommend drinking and driving. Not because of the police; they won’t stop you if you haven’t broken any rules. But because of the serpentine roads and the need to be constantly attentive. Of course, you can afford a glass of wine or a couple of 0.33 beers, but not more.
More about Seychelles:
- How to Travel to the Seychelles Islands on Your Own
- Seychelles, Mahe – Your Complete Guide to the Island
- Top 15 Things to Do on Praslin Island, Seychelles
- La Digue, Seychelles – Where to Stay, Best Island Areas