My first memory in the Seychelles is standing on the deck of a ferry, with the wind caressing my hair and the seagulls whispering my name, as I counted the shades of blue in the vast ocean before me. I slowly realized it was a pointless task. Over the last three days, I’ve rekindled my love affair with the Indian Ocean, spent lazy afternoons on a hammock, snorkeled into the underwater world, rediscovered the goodness of Creole curries, and settled into the susagade island life.
These are my first impressions of the Seychelles:
1. The ocean is as blue as it’s been in my dreams!
On a clear day, you can see at least four shades of blue in the water, and when you walk closer on the soft white sand, you can see the base of the sea; I snorkeled into the water right from the beach at Kempinski, and found myself amid schools of tiny fish, black sea urchins, and big colorful fish. The blues of the Indian Ocean can cure any other kind of blues, I tell you.
2. The locals are friendly but shy.
I spent an afternoon cycling on the car-free island of La Digue, along the narrow residential by-lanes where locals lounged around on their hammocks and balconies (what a life, right?). I constantly exchanged smiles and bonjour with fellow cyclists, and struck up conversations every time I got lost or stumbled upon a pretty house (and there were so many). The locals were extremely friendly, spoke perfect English, felt happy to help with food recommendations and directions, and one even walked me and my bike to the edge of the forest so I could find my way out. But like in Rodrigues, they seemed shy to come out with their life stories or ask me mine.
3. Creole food is delightful.
Mauritius introduced me to Creole food just over a year ago, and I’ve craved those curries, gateau piments, and rolls since. Sampling a veggie and egg Creole curry at a neighborhood restaurant at La Digue had me filled with nostalgia. I’ve also sampled the most delicious chapatti stuffed with dhal curry (influenced by India but with an African twist) at the night street market in Mahe.
Warning though, my lunches at fancy resorts like Banyan Tree and The Hilton haven’t lived up to my expectations; their set menu offered our group of Indian travel writers, wait for it… daal and palak paneer! Kempinski was an exception, and served up sumptuous fusion Creole dishes and desserts.
4. It’s different from Mauritius.
At first glance, Seychelles can seem like a sibling of Mauritius, but there’s so much that sets them apart. Seychelles feels a bit more rustic, a bit more adventurous, with so many islands to hop to, the forests and birds in its interiors, the dramatic hilly backdrops, and the contagious susagade lifestyle of the locals. It reminded me a bit of Sri Lanka, Goa and Rodrigues.
5. It is possible to do on a not-so-tight budget.
Would you believe me if I told you that I considered extending my trip by ten days beyond the press trip, on my own expense? I eventually chickened out after a bit of research on Google, for fear I might go bankrupt. But after coming here, I’m sure that if you choose to live in a quaint guesthouse and eat only at local restaurants, Seychelles is possible to do on a budget. Budget accommodations range from INR 4000-8000 (50-100 Euros) a night, and a simple meal for two at a local neighborhood restaurant costs INR 2000-2500 (20-30 Euros). So yes, you don’t need to burn a whole in your pocket to experience paradise!
Have you been to Seychelles? What were (are) your impressions?
*Note: I’m in Seychelles on invitation from the Seychelles Tourism Board. Opinions are always my own.