I’ll try to combine a review with a guide format, and we’ll be talking about the largest and most popular island in the Seychelles – Mahe.
I’ve previously written about how to travel to Seychelles, the itinerary, popular islands, prices, accommodations, car rentals, food, and getting around. Today, I’ll tell you about our first island on the itinerary — Mahe.
Mahe — Basic Information
Mahe is the largest island in the Seychelles archipelago. Here, you’ll find the world’s smallest capital city – Victoria.
Mahe is the main logistics hub for tourists. It houses the international airport, a seaport, and a marina. Most routes to other Seychelles islands and excursions start from Mahe.
Mahe boasts around 70 beaches, with some of them making it onto various lists of the world’s best beaches.
You won’t find large shopping centers like those in your hometown on Mahe. Something resembling a supermarket can be found near the marina, not far from the island’s capital, Victoria. There’s also a shopping center there.
Instead, small private shops and stores with essential products are scattered around the island.
Mahe is considered large only by Seychelles standards. The island stretches 29 kilometers in length and 13 kilometers in width, on average.
The terrain is hilly, and despite its seemingly small size, you’ll need a car to get around. There is public transportation, a bus that runs on a schedule, but it’s not very frequent.
Walking or biking is not a viable option due to the hilly terrain, humidity, and heat even in winter. I specifically checked on the day before returning the rental car I had used.
An unfinished “ring” road encircles the island. You can access most of the main beaches on the island through this road, but for some, you’ll need to walk a bit from the parking area. The road is incomplete, so you can’t drive around the island in a circle; part of the road involves mountainous terrain. There’s a viewpoint in the mountains overlooking the capital and the port – it’s very beautiful.
Weather on Mahe
It’s warm here year-round – Seychelles are located near the equator, and territorially they belong to Africa. The temperature hovers around 28–31 degrees Celsius throughout the year. It’s only a few degrees cooler at night. In the winter, there might be waves on most beaches, making swimming challenging. However, there are plenty of beaches that are protected from the waves or where the waves are gentle. If you want perfectly calm waters, plan your trip for early autumn or spring-summer.
Rainfall primarily occurs in the winter, from December to March, but it’s not frequent. We spent over two weeks in February and only encountered rain twice, with a completely overcast sky for only three days. Given our extensive experience of extended stays in tropical countries during the winter, we were quite content with the weather.
When to Visit Mahe
The best time for us is winter. It’s warm during this season, there are fewer tourists compared to spring and summer, and occasional tropical rain is possible.
For dry and wave-free conditions, consider early autumn, spring, and summer. More people visit during this time, and prices are slightly higher, but not significantly.
Objectively, Seychelles in general and Mahe in particular are year-round destinations for a beach vacation.
How Many Days to Plan for Mahe
If Mahe is part of your Seychelles itinerary, 4-5 days is optimal since there will be time to explore a couple more islands.
If you plan to focus solely on the main Seychelles island, Mahe, 7-12 days is optimal. Although I know people who spend months there during the winter.
Internet on Mahe
You’ll find internet access in many public places, but the signal can be weak. The solution is to purchase a local SIM card with the desired amount of data for $30-$60, depending on your needs. The speed is good, and it works everywhere on Mahe and on the main tourist islands – Praslin and La Digue.
It’s best to buy it at the airport from the Airtel operator. The kiosk is located to the right of the terminal exit, about 50 meters away.
3 gigabytes cost $30. 6 gigabytes cost $45. The card is active for 30 days. It’s sufficient if you’re not streaming videos. We used it for work, social media, and email.
Currency in Seychelles
The currency in Seychelles is the Seychellois rupee, with an exchange rate of 13.50 rupees for $1.
It’s better to exchange money right away, about 50% of your total budget. If accommodations and a car are already paid for, 30% of your vacation budget should be enough. Cards are accepted in many places, including local shops.
Transportation on Mahe
Local buses run on the island. They don’t run frequently, but they adhere to a schedule. You can reach the main tourist spots, villages, and the capital city by bus.
Buses can be time-consuming. Walking is very time-consuming and exhausting due to the temperature and terrain – we tried it as an experiment on the day we returned the car.
If you want to see more beautiful places and not spend half a day on the road, rent a car. The traffic is on the left side, but there are no issues – locals and tourists drive carefully, and traffic is only congested on the approach to the capital and the airport.
I provided detailed information about car rental and our experience in this article, along with some driving tips.
You can rent a car through Rentalcars, and you can pick up the car at the airport. You can drop it off at the seaport if you plan to visit other islands.
Things to Do on Mahe – Entertainment
I can’t say there’s an incredible variety of things to do on Mahe, but there are some interesting options to keep you busy.
First, it’s a good idea to drive around the island and see all the most beautiful and famous beaches. By the way, it’s also worth visiting some of the less-known and not-so-beautiful beaches. Often, these places offer a true island atmosphere – fishermen catching and cooking fish on the shore, locals with children, and young people gathering here on weekends and Friday evenings. Don’t get fixated on just the most popular beaches.
Visit the capital, Victoria – here you can find a clock tower, a mini replica of Big Ben, some colonial architecture, a souvenir market with local delicacies, a natural history museum, a couple of cozy squares, and the Arul Mihu Navasakthi Vinayagar Temple.
Two to three hours for exploring the city should be sufficient, as it’s not too complicated. Park your car and explore the capital on foot. It’s better to drive to the port and marina, which are close to the city center.
Go kayaking with a clear bottom – you can rent a kayak on popular beaches on the island. For example, at Anse Royale beach.
Visit Bazar Labrin on Beau Vallon Beach on a Wednesday, enjoy some local affordable food, and have a good time. There’s not much else to do in Beau Vallon.
Go fishing with the locals or on your own by renting a boat and fishing gear. You can inquire about rentals from the host of your guesthouse or the hotel where you’ll be staying.
Head to the mountains to see a waterfall, and there’s a viewpoint nearby with a view of the port, the capital, and the ocean.
If you have time, consider visiting the Botanical Gardens, established in 1901, and the Royal Spice Garden.
Climb to the main peaks of the island – Copolia and Morne Blanc. The areas around them are considered national parks. There are easy trails to reach the tops, and from there, you can enjoy views of the eastern and western parts of the island. You can get to the start of the hiking trail by car, and a landmark is the Tea Factory.
From there, you’ll walk on foot, leaving your car in the parking lot near the trailhead. There are signs pointing to the trail. The viewpoint is about 900 meters away. You can take bus No. 14 from Platform C at Victoria Bus Terminal. Get off at the Tea Factory bus stop.
Best and Popular Beaches on Mahe
Popular doesn’t necessarily mean best. On Mahe, the most popular beach is Beau Vallon. In our opinion (and not just ours), it’s one of the worst beaches in the Seychelles. The place feels a lot like a mid-range package resort with a high concentration of tourists from the former Soviet Union.
During the winter, Beau Vallon experiences strong waves, the sand is coarse and somewhat dirty, and there aren’t very attractive hotels along the beach. There are lots of people here year-round.
The best part of Beau Vallon beach is to the right when facing the ocean.
Beau Vallon is popular because there’s relatively affordable accommodation nearby and many large hotels right on the ocean.
The main point is that Beau Vallon doesn’t resemble the typical Seychelles image that comes to mind when you think of the Seychelles. I suspect that negative reviews about the Seychelles often come from those who either paid disproportionately high prices for accommodations or spent most of their time at Beau Vallon and its surroundings. You can see it on the photos below.
Now, about the truly beautiful beaches:
If you look at the island of Mahe, you can roughly divide it into the southeast and northwest. The best places for leisure and the best beaches are in the eastern and southern parts of the island, or in the lower part of the island when looking at the map.
Out of the more than 70 beaches on Mahe, I can name our favorite must-visit series.
Anse Intendance – southwest, rightfully considered one of the most beautiful in the Seychelles.
Anse Soleil – on the west coast, on a promontory.
Anse Royale – on the east coast, just south of the international airport, where you can rent a kayak. There are fishermen on the nearby beach to the south.
Anse Petit Boileau – the southernmost part of the island, near Polis Bay. You have to walk quite a bit, but it’s very beautiful.
Port Launay – on the west coast, closer to the capital, Victoria. There’s a nice French restaurant, Del Place, right by the ocean (it’s expensive, and you need to make a reservation in advance).
These places are the postcard-perfect images you imagine when you think of the Seychelles. White fine sand, picturesque coves, crystal-clear turquoise water even when there are waves, and very few people, surprisingly.
Grand Anse is another great beach on the west side of the island. There are no cozy coves or picturesque Seychellois boulders, but it’s the best place to spend your day during the sunset. The beach is long and wide, with plenty of space. During winter, there were about one and a half people per hundred meters, not including us.
Where to Eat on Mahe
You have three options – restaurants, “take away”, and cooking at home.
We tried all three methods, and here are our findings.
Cooking at home isn’t a viable option. It’s not cheaper than local eateries, and it’s less tasty. The range of products is somewhat limited, with a couple of supermarkets offering. In local stores, you’ll mostly find frozen chicken, at best.
So, the two remaining options are restaurants and “takeaway”.
Restaurants are expensive and not for everyday dining unless you have an unlimited budget. A lunch in an average Seychellois restaurant will cost you at least $40-$50 per person. With an ocean view and great French or Creole cuisine, you’re looking at $70-$100 per person.
Takeaway, also known as “food to go,” is something in between a café and home-cooked food. Essentially, it’s Seychellois street food, and many locals enjoy this format. They cook and heat your food right in front of you, and you can choose from a good selection – meat, poultry, seafood, fish, and rice. Everything you order is provided in disposable containers – you can eat on the spot or take it with you and enjoy your meal on your balcony with an ocean view, accompanied by wine (our choice).
Food from takeaway places is almost cooked right in front of you, fresh, and nothing is from the day before. The fish and seafood come directly from local fishermen. The cuisine is Creole. They serve a lot of rice with each dish, and they’re surprised when you say you’ve had enough rice or decline it.
The takeaway format is optimal for budget-conscious independent travelers. If you combine it with restaurants occasionally, it works perfectly and is very budget friendly.
A meal from a takeaway place will cost you $5-$7 per person, and I’ll risk saying that it’s cheaper, much healthier, and more delicious than street food in Kiev, with the bonus of beautiful views.
Where to Stay on Mahe
Of course, you should live closer to the beautiful beaches. This means you should choose accommodation in the lower part of the island or roughly in the middle. If you’re renting a car (like we did), go for budget options in the middle of the island, closer to the southern part or on the western coast.
You don’t necessarily have to stay right on the beach since you’ll probably be exploring various locations every day. Getting to the airport or the seaport for transfers to other islands is easy and quick with a rented car, which you can conveniently leave there.
On the Seychelles in general and Mahe in particular, there are two main types of accommodation: villas, apartments, or upscale hotels. Our preference is for villas, apartments, or guesthouses. They often come with parking, balconies, kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, gardens, and provide a daily ocean view – quite the complete package.
Apartments or villas are like Seychellois cottages, spacious and comfortable. The price for such accommodation ranges from $70 to $120 per day, depending on comfort and location. On Mahe, we rented a villa: Residence Monte-Cristo for $80 per day.
The only downside to our place was the weak internet, so we used mobile data, which sufficed for our needs.
We booked our accommodation on Booking.com – Mahe a month before our trip. During the high season, it’s better to book 3-6 months in advance since the good options are in high demand.
If you’re planning to stay without a car, on a budget, and near the ocean, you can try Beau Vallon near the beach of the same name. We didn’t like this place much as it was too crowded, and the beach wasn’t your typical Seychellois beach. However, judging by the number of people, many seem to enjoy this area. It’s not far from the capital, Victoria, and you can easily get to many places by public transport.
Accommodations I Recommend on Mahe
Residence Monte-Cristo – located in the south of the island, on a hill between Anse a la Mouche and Anse Royale bays. It’s surrounded by greenery and offers a balcony with a sea view, a spacious layout, suitable for up to four people or a large family with kids.
Captain’s Villa near Anse Forbans bay in the southeast of Mahe.
Chalets d’Anse Forbans Self-Catering – an excellent budget bungalow for two right on Anse Forbans beach.
Pascalo Villa Apartment – a villa near the island’s best beach, Anse Intendance, in the southwest of the island.
My Paradise – located on the western side near the beautiful Anse Soleil beach.
A Bit About Our Accommodation on Mahe
We stayed at Residence Monte-Cristo, a villa in the central part of the island, closer to the south. The accommodation is situated on a hill, with a steep climb uphill. It takes about 30 minutes to walk to the beaches in both directions. We walked once for an experiment, but mainly, we got around by car. We visited almost all the beaches, though we frequented a couple of the most beautiful ones. So, the location met our expectations.
The villa itself had two rooms, a spacious living area with a kitchen, a bedroom, a large balcony with views of the garden, a pool, and a piece of the ocean. We met the host upon arrival and departure, but we didn’t interact much with the neighbors.
We stayed on the second floor with a separate entrance. The ground floor had utility rooms, a washing machine, a covered garage, and open parking near the house. In the evenings, fruit bats would steal fruits from the trees – quite exotic.
The accommodation, in terms of layout and size, reminded us of a comfortable country house. If we return, we’d likely choose the same place.
If you’re planning to stay without a car, this accommodation may not be ideal, although there is a bus stop nearby. It’s perfect if you’re renting a car.
The cost was $80 per day, and we stayed for a week. The internet was available but weak, so we relied on mobile data for work. We purchased a mobile data package right at the airport for $30, which was sufficient for the entire three-week trip.
Getting to Mahe
For budget and convenient travel, it’s optimal to fly with airlines like Emirates or Qatar Airways from most European countries. Roundtrip tickets cost around $800 to $900, and you’ll have layovers in Doha or Dubai.
We purchased our flight tickets online through Aviasales.
Cost of the Trip
Of course, everyone has their own understanding of the quality of a vacation and the optimal price. In short, a vacation in the Seychelles doesn’t cost more than one in Western Europe when considering accommodation, food, and transportation.
The most expensive part is the flight, followed by accommodation. Food costs will depend on your preferences. We managed to spend around $50 per day for two people, including beverages.
If you exclude the cost of flights, you can realistically budget $1600 for two people for a week, including car rental.
Useful Links for Self-Planning
Hotel Booking: Booking.com – Mahe
Flight Ticket Purchase: Aviasales
Car Rental in the Seychelles: Rentalcars
Travel Insurance: Hotline Finance (Ukraine)
I hope this helps with your travel plans to Mahe! Enjoy your trip.