How to visit Seychelles on a budget? It’s simple. Stay in a friendly little guesthouse on the island of La Digue, eat dinner at said guesthouse, rent a bicycle, spend time on the beach and chill out.
For tourists, the Indian Ocean country of Seychelles is luxury territory. This is a fact. It’s expensive to fly there and it’s expensive to stay there. The country is dotted with unfathomably pricey digs, places like Maia and North Island (the latter, the site of Will and Kate’s honeymoon last year) where guests pay €3000 ($3940) per night for extreme luxury, butlers and all.
But on the small Seychellois island of La Digue, there are plenty of guesthouse options, some quite reasonable. La Digue is one island that travelers of modest means can actually afford to visit. My guesthouse, Calou, was a friendly and satisfactory option at €100 ($131) per night for a cottage, including breakfast. I’ll write more on Calou in a subsequent post.
Budget-friendly means different things in different places. On La Digue, a couple can have a perfectly blissful time for €170 ($223) a day, €150 ($197) on a slight austerity plan. Is this Central America cheap? No. Is it Balkans cheap? Again, no. But in Seychelles it is bargain territory.
La Digue is a green speck of paradise fringed with enormous boulders. It’s like something out of the Flintstones — only, of course, its boulders are real granite objects and not the work of animation. Roosters do duty as alarm clocks. There are enormous tortoises, both in a reserve and sometimes lumbering down the road. The land is lush, the roads narrow, and the town very social. Bicycle is the main mode of transportation on La Digue and cars are rare. People wave and say hello on the street. For anyone who has spent time in the Caribbean, there are unavoidable social parallels. There is a Rasta subculture here as well, with reggae spilling out of supermarkets and houses.But in February, when beaches in the Caribbean are heaving, La Digue is remarkably quiet. It’s not difficult to find a solitary spot on one of the island’s top beaches. This is the wet season in Seychelles. Though, even during the wet season the rains tend to be spaced out. A torrential few hours of rain will usually be followed by hours of clear skies.
In the southeast of the island, Grande Anse, Petite Anse, and Anse Cocos beaches are very, very close to perfection. (And if shade were not at such a premium, they would be completely perfect.) Beach bums cluster under the few trees and in the shadow of the boulders along the periphery of the beach. There are one or two makeshift shelters constructed from logs, driftwood, and palm fronds. These go quickly in a more rustic version of the early-morning-towel-on-beach-chair phenomenon seen at countless resort poolsides around the world. On the weekend, tourists are joined by Seychellois teenagers surfing the waves.
You want a perfect day? Here it is. Eat fresh fruit and eggs for breakfast at Calou. Bike to the island’s strip of shops for a stronger cup of coffee before heading on to Grande Anse, where you laze without purpose for six hours. Break for a grilled fish lunch at the beach’s restaurant. In the afternoon, when the burn is undeniable, embark on an intense bike ride up the hill from the beach. Stop at Simon’s juice shack just past the crest of the hill. (You can’t miss it. Simon’s is a small bright yellow hut.) Simon will prepare you a glass of tropical freshness that will change your life. From here, bike downhill, shower off the salt and the sunblock, nap, enjoy a beer as sunlight falls, and then eat creole chicken for dinner. Fall asleep by 9 p.m.
If you can beat that, drop me a note.