The two countries of Mauritius and Seychelles share a lot more in common than just their West Indian Ocean location. Having been both under French and then British rule, the two archipelagic nations count on a unique creole culture, stunning beaches, exclusive resorts and plenty of sunshine as their main draws. Due to this overlap, many travelers often wonder if they should visit Mauritius or Seychelles. I have been to both and have noted the nuances of these two beautiful countries. If you are deciding on visiting just one of these countries – whether for a relaxing holiday, honeymoon or simply to experience a new culture; here are things to consider before going on that trip.
While both countries are more expensive than other nations in Africa, Seychelles is undoubtedly more expensive due to remoteness, lack of natural resources and a deliberate strategy to attract higher end tourists. I personally found Seychelles to be one of the most expensive developing countries I’ve ever visited. A 5km taxi ride easily costs US$25 while a 6-hour tour around Mahe can set you back by US$150 to $200. There is also a lack of midrange and budget hotels in Seychelles – most luxury digs will set you back around $400 a night.
Mauritius is also slightly expensive but prices are more reasonable than in Seychelles. There are more accommodation choices although the luxury hotels are similarly priced to those in Seychelles. Food in particular is relatively inexpensive. My dinners at a midrange hotel averaged about $10 to $15 per person while a half day tour around the island set me back around US$100.
Having been to both Mauritius and Seychelles, I can safely say that Seychelles has better beaches with clearer waters and finer powdery sands. Many of the capes and lagoons in the main island of Mahe offer some stunning backdrops for a swim but heading out to the outlying island of Praslin gives you access to even better beaches with Seychelles’ famous boulders sitting on the white sand. In Mahe alone, you’ll find great beaches such as Grand Anse, Baie Lazare and Takamaka. If you prefer somewhere more quiet, check out Baie Ternay. In Mauritius, the Blue Bay which is near the airport is considered to possess some of the best waters in Mauritius’ main island.
One of the main reasons I decided to visit Mauritius was to check out the beautiful landscapes. There’s something about the way the mountains slope upward here with multiple jagged peaks and then descend dramatically to the azure waters that make Mauritius one of the most beautiful small islands in the world. Landforms such as Le Morne Brabant and the Le Pouce Mountain bring out the hiker even from a non-mountaineerer like me while unusual natural attractions such as the Seven-Colored Earth and Troux Aux Cerfs add variety to what this island can offer.
In Seychelles, the islands are quite small so the peaks are not as dramatic – though the islands are quite scenic as well. Much of this country’s scenic areas are along the coast though you’d be forgiven to forget you’re in a small island while hiking around Morne Seychellois. The main island of Mahe also has a couple of nice viewpoints including La Misere and Mission Lodge.
It depends really on what you are after but due to the bigger population and cultural diversity in Mauritius, there’s more to choose from here compared to Seychelles. If seafood is your thing, you can find excellent fish and crustaceans in both but Mauritius also has a strong tradition in Indian cuisine. Food is also generally less expensive here.
In Mauritius, I enjoyed eating at Le Chamarel with its cliffside setting. Service was not up to expectations (and the waitress even gave explicit hints asking for a tip) but the view is amazing.
In Seychelles, I liked the beachside Del Place along Port Launay. There’s plenty to choose from including pasta, seafood and grills.
Owing to its size and small population, cultural attractions don’t rank strongly in Seychelles – though walking along the breezy and laidback capital of Victoria gives you a glimpse of colonial architecture as well as Chinese and Indian temples sitting side by side. Mauritius offers more cultural sights, including the Aapravasi Ghat which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the sacred Grand Bassin. You’ll also find plenty of old French architecture not too dissimilar from the ones you see in New Orleans while walking around Port Louis, the capital and old mansions scattered around the island.
It is not hard to visit both countries and there are direct connections if you’re coming from Dubai, London, Frankfurt, Istanbul or Paris. However, it is slightly easier to visit Mauritius with its direct air connections to East Asia. There are direct flights from Mauritius to Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai. You can also fly to more European and African cities direct from Mauritius as compared to Seychelles.
In terms of gaining entry, any nationality can enter Seychelles as long as they book hotels beforehand. For Mauritius, citizens of Laos, Iran, Pakistan, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, Yemen, etc need a pre-arranged visa before they can enter.
Have you been to both Seychelles and Mauritius? Which one did you like better?