Bonzour Seychelles! My First Impressions of Mahé Island

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Quiet Road in Baie Lazare on Mahe Island, Seychelles

The Seychelles is a bucket-list destination for many. With sleepy palm trees fringing golden sand beaches and crystal clear waters housing an abundance of ocean-life, it's no wonder that this collection of over 100 islands has a reputation as being one of the ultimate Honeymoon destinations in the world.

If I'm being completely honest with you, the Seychelles wasn't actually on my to-visit list. It looked gorgeous, for sure, but I had decided that the Seychelles was an expensive destination and would likely be far out of my budget. Besides, I had fallen head over heels with the Caribbean as a tropical beach destination - I wasn't really looking for a new chain of islands to visit.

But when my planned trip to the Caribbean fell through, I tentatively began searching for other options and decided that maybe, just maybe, I should give another part of the world a chance. And when I looked into it more, I was surprised to find that I could in fact visit the Seychelles on more of a budget than I'd realised.

The Seychelles is a group of 115 islands located in the Indian Ocean. The closest continent to this group of islands is Africa, the country of Kenya around 1600 kilometres to the west. The Seychelles islands are split into 2 groups: the Mahé group, comprised of mountainous granitic islands, and a second group of over 70, flat, coralline islands.

Many islands in the Seychelles are in fact uninhabited and tourists typically visit the 3 largest islands in the archipelago: Mahé, Praslin and La Digue.

For my trip I would be based in the largest island in the chain, Mahé.

The Journey to Mahé, Seychelles

We arrived in Mahé, Seychelles after an 11 hour journey from the UK. We set the night before, catching our Emirates flight at 8pm. The 7 hour flight took us through the night, arriving in Dubai in the early morning. I had originally planned to sleep on the flight but struggled to get comfortable. I was also sat next to a very unhappy baby who seemed determined that I didn't sleep. I slept on and off for no more than an hour and thus felt like a zombie.

Our first flight had also been delayed for around an hour which made it really hectic when we landed in Dubai as our connection was only a short one. We had to sprint through the terminal which - you'll know if you've been to Dubai - is massive. I had originally planned to eat sushi in the airport but unfortunately I had to wave goodbye to that idea. We made it to the gate but only just; we were one of the last to board the flight to Mahé. It was a miracle that our luggage made it too as in the past my luggage seems to be a little slow to make connecting flights if the connection is short.

We landed in Mahé around early afternoon and took a taxi to our villa which was in fact a cabin.

Wooden cabins in the rainforest on Mahe island, Seychelles

Our home for the next fortnight! A wooden cabin at the edge of the jungle

The Drive to our Cabin in Baie Lazare, Mahé

We were staying along the West Coast of the island. The drive from the airport yielded some stunning views. I was simply mesmerised by the landscape, from the tranquil turquoise waters to the vast mountains dressed in lush forests. We saw little wooden fishing boats dotted along the coastline and locals dancing in the golden sand. I knew I could get used to island life.

Another thing I noticed was the roads. The island is pretty mountainous and the roads take you through the mountains which provide some stunning views. I quickly saw, however that there were few barriers, meaning you had to drive extra carefully. There were also numerous hairpin bends!

We eventually arrived at our hillside villa, untouched forests flowing round the back and side of the property. The villa itself blended in nicely with its surroundings, made of dark wood. Inside the villa was a lovely bowl of local fruits and a fruity cocktail, to welcome us.

We had hired the little villa for £70 a night which was a pretty reasonable price for such nice accommodation in Seychelles. We used Airbnb to find the cabin and were impressed with the find. Although you may not initially think that you can travel Seychelles on a budget, it really is possible! Here's more information on how to visit Seychelles on a budget.

There were two cabins. We were in cabin number 2. The cabin consisted of a dining room / kitchen, a bedroom with a nice, big double bed and a little bathroom. We also had our own balcony which had an outside table and some chairs where we could relax and unwind.

Everything was great until I tried to open our suitcases. To my dismay, I realised that I had lost the keys to them, meaning we were locked out of our cases! Come to think of it, I do remember hearing jangling noise as I got into the taxi at the airport. I thought to check if I'd dropped something but the taxi driver quickly shut the door and I thought nothing else of it. Now we were faced with a very irritating problem. I've never broken a lock before and being in a completely new country, I don't have any useful tools with me. Was there even a local hardware shop?

After panicking for a while, I decided to go to our host who had showed us round the villa. It was very embarrassing as I asked for help but he reassuringly told us he had just what we needed and came back with several different plier tools and a hammer. After trying and trying to break the locks, we decided they were just too strong which I guess is good as we did want strong locks. Eventually, I decided that just wasn't working and that we should try to break the zips instead. So we hammered the zip and that worked. Phew!

With that trauma now thankfully over, we decided to head on out for a walk in search of a local shop to buy some dinner.

Tropical forest trees in Mahe, Seychelles

The road was flanked by dense forests filled with granite boulders

My First Impressions of The Seychelles

The walk was very atmospheric. The air was thick with humidity and the clouds clustering overhead made the lighting quite eerie. There were no pavements so we had to walk on the roads with ditches either side of it. At one point we saw some bright red crabs scuttling along at the side of the road. They were pretty camera shy and quickly retreated back into their holes when I tried to snap some pictures of them.

We found some shops nearby and once we set food inside, we were immediately confused. These shops were not like traditional English shops. They had no refrigerated areas which immediately threw me off. No milk? No meat? We were baffled as to what to eat for dinner. We decided to look for another shop but we found the next one even stranger. Not only were there no fridges, but everything was behind a counter - kind of like a pharmacy although this contained all your usual food items. We asked them if they had any meat and were happy when they pulled out some minced meat from a freezer. At least this would keep us going for the night.

Although the shops were different to what I was used to, there was something quite refreshing about how quaint and small they were. They also looked as if they were in someone's house which was really nice. I was sure when I learnt where to find all the food I was looking for, I would grow to really like the different style of the shops.

Green lizard outside our wooden cabin in the rainforest on Mahe island, Seychelles

A colourful lizard I spotted chilling outside our cabin

My First Morning in the Seychelles

We woke up today at 8am. I was amazed really that we'd adapted so well to the time-zone as Seychelles is 4 hours ahead of England (so it was 4am there - yikes) and I generally like to sleep for a long time. I guess the night flight helped us to crack this. We were also super excited for our first day in Seychelles and to top it all off, our car was arriving between 9am and 10am in the morning. The car was late and I was waiting like an excited child on the balcony. I couldn't wait to start exploring the island. Anyway, just after 10 the car arrived!

Our car was a Hyundai Creta in bright red - not the colour I was expecting but I really liked it. I was grateful that we had a jeep and - more importantly - an automatic as the roads looked pretty steep.

Our rental car, Creta, outside wooden cabins in the jungle on Mahe island, Seychelles

Our 4x4 rental car outside our wooden cabin

Wooden cabins in the rainforest on Mahe island, Seychelles

An aerial view of our cabin at the edge of the Seychellois jungle

Visiting Anse Takamaka - My First Seychelles Beach Experience

We drove from our area, called Baie Lazare, towards the south of the island, passing a few local shops with the scenic coast on our right. We passed a few beaches which looked beautiful. Seychelles is known for its iconic granite boulders dotting the coastline and trust me they were everywhere and every time I saw them it just took my breath away.

The road started to get steep. We were on a very narrow road which was almost a ledge - it was hard for two cars to pass each other. On one side, we were up against a steep cliffside, stretching towards the sky, and on the other we had a great drop with jagged rocks and the sea below. The scariest part was that there were no barriers so there was nothing to stop you from falling off the road.

There was one beach that we passed which we just had to stop off at. We pulled over at the side of the road and raced down onto the sand. The sand felt like velvet beneath my feet and I relished the feeling. The beach was quite wide and very quiet - there was only a handful of people on the entire beach. I later learnt that this beach was called 'Takamaka', like the Seychelles rum.

Ella McKendrick on Takamaka beach on Mahe island in Seychelles

Me - wandering around Takamaka Beach

Takamaka beach on Mahe island in Seychelles

Takamaka Beach

Lunch at Anse Soleil beach

I know what you're thinking - how cool do my shoes look in that picture above? As stylish as they are, these are actually imperative for going in the sea in the Indian Ocean, unless you fancy accidentally stepping on a stonefish or a lionfish barefooted. Both are pretty venomous so it's best to keep your feet protected just in case.

Anyway, after a lovely stroll on the beach, we were feeling pretty peckish. On our drive back, we went down one of the side roads in search of food (it must sound like my whole life revolves around food which is actually kind of accurate). After driving down some narrow, down-hill roads for a while, we eventually came to a little restaurant on the beach called 'Anse Soleil Cafe Chez Julien'. The menu was full of fish, we we expected as most local food in the Seychelles revolves around freshly-caught fish. We chose a shark steak (this is before I learnt how unethical it is to eat shark - I regret this now) and some garlic prawns. Both were yummy and were served with rice and dried slices of papaya.

Dog beside wooden rowing boat on beach on Mahe island, Seychelles

Dog on Anse Soleil beach

An Evening at the ZEZ Lounge within the Four Seasons Resort

That evening, we went to 'ZEZ Lounge' - a restaurant within the Four Seasons resort. We drove to the resort and a golf buggy met us at the car park and drove us through the resort to the lovely ZEZ Lounge. We were greeted at the door by the manager who allowed us to pick a table of our choice. We decided to sit outside, closest to the sea. It was very atmospheric with the sound of waves gently crashing against the cliffs below. The ZEZ Lounge is a sushi restaurant and sushi is easily my favourite food. We ordered salmon sashimi (my favourite), tempura prawn rolls and some tuna sashimi. I don't normally like tuna sashimi but because the tuna came from Seychelles, I just had to try it. Oh my goodness, the tuna sashimi was the best I have ever had - I loved it. The whole meal was delicious! It wasn't the cheapest meal we'd ever had but we certainly loved the food. It was a great experience.

Drone photo of Mahe's rainforests and the ocean in Seychelles

An aerial view of Baie Lazare

Ella McKendrick on Black Rock Viewpoint, Kenmore Scotland

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