Today’s featured operator is Billy, based in Mahe, the largest island in Seychelles. Billy is a born and bred Seychellois, the best person to get local tips! We asked Billy to share his local secrets with us, revealing where to go for a truly amazing Seychelles sailing holiday, what islands to explore and how to make the most of your time in these paradise islands!

Hello Billy! To start, would you mind introducing Seychelles to us? I'm sure many readers won't know much about the country!

Sure! Seychelles are a country made up of little islands off the coast of Africa, not far from Madagascar, close to Mauritius also - about 2 hours flight. All together, in Seychelles, we have 115 islands, some are inhabited, some not. The main islands are Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. We are based in Mahé, the biggest island, and the most popular of all the islands we have. I lived on Mahé all my life, then we also have Praslin and La Digue, they're perfect for tourists, there are a lot of hotels and 5-star resorts. We have the sea and beautiful beaches, but we also have the mountains - the islands are very green, with lovely white sandy beach and lovely blue sea. For diving and snorkeling it's just perfect. 

What is the best period to visit Seychelles?

The best period is April and May. It's the calmest time of the year, we have no rain and the sea is calm. We have no waves, and it's a little hot, perfect to go out on the boat. This year we had a little rain, but not so much, just passing showers. The sea is calm, perfect for excursions. 

What are good ideasfor a day trip, for families or couples?

It depends what they want to do. We organize excursions in a private 28 footer catamaran with an engine. We offer a variety of activities - snorkeling, if they're interested in snorkeling, sightseeing, we have trips where we visit not only Mahé, but also Praslin and La Digue in one day, this is very popular with tourists. It just takes one hour by boat to go from Mahé to Praslin, and La Digue is very close, maybe 15 minutes away.

So, we have the option to go to Praslin and La Digue, and also another option is going all around Mahé in a day by boat, stopping at nice beaches, with a barbecue lunch on the beach, with grilled fish and chicken, and smoked fish salad. We organize everything. This is perfect for families. Mostly we work with private groups - my boat is licenced for 12 people, but we don't take 12, we take 8, 9 maximum, so everyone is comfortable. 

Do you also run trips for more than one day, or just day trips?

For the time being, just day trips. With the boat I have, I can't go overnight. We have a cabin and a toilet on board, but it's not ideal. Over the course of next year, I'm building a new boat, and with this new boat I'll be able to do one day overnight, to Praslin and La Digue. So we leave from here, we can have a barbecue, and there will be one cabin, perfect for families and couple.

What do you recommend for group of young people that want to have fun at night?

In general, there are some places in Mahé. There used to be more nightlife, now it's a little quiet, but there are still places - there is a good bar called the Boardwalk, and another called Fire and Ice. These are not far from Victoria, the capital - not even 5 minutes by car. We also have a couple of casinos with slot machines and blackjack, many restaurants of all cuisines - European, Indian, Chinese, Italian, and then we have Creole food. 


Can you tell me a little bit about Creole food and specialties?

When I say Creole food, remember it's a mixed culture, we have people from everywhere - India, China, Europe, we have people from everywhere, lots of nationalities living here for a long time. In terms of food, we have lots of curries, like in India, but here we cook curries with coconut milk, and one of our best curries is octopus curry with coconut milk. Lots of seafood also, grilled fish, sushi, papaya salad, mango salad, the list goes on and on! Now we are staring to get hungry!


Oh yummy! So what kind of food do you offer on your day cruises?

Usually we provide a grilled fish, barbecued chicken and seafood for lunch, like prawns kebab. If clients are vegetarian, I prepare a curry for them at home, and we have that with rice or chapati. I try to make them feel at home!


Ok, another question. What about people that really like sports? What do Seychelles offer?

We can do lots of trail walking, we have many different types of trails. We've got coastal trails, not so difficult for beginners, and that's a lovely trail - you can see all of the island from the rocks. Then we have trails a little bit higher up in the mountains, this is a bot more challenging, up to the viewpoints. As I told you, we have lots of mountains here! There are also many places to see in Victoria, the Indian Temple, the local market from the town, the Botanical Garden where you can visit the giant land tortoise... and then we have the famous Coco de Mer, found only in Seychelles. 


Can you eat it?

I don't think so! In China they use it for medicine. It gets very big and inside it's very stiff, very hard, so it's very difficult to break. 


What about watersports? What sports can you do?

We have jet ski, paragliding, water ski, and during August or September we have a weekend where we host the biggest watersports event, the Regatta. We have a kayaking race, a jet ski race, a boat race... different activities on the water, including swimming race. This happens at Beau Vallon Beach, located on the north side of Mahé. This is the only beach where we have water sports like jet ski or paragliding, and we also have five hotels on the beach. It's a very popular beach but it's lovely, and it's also the largest beach on the island!


Now, let's talk about diving and snorkeling locations!

Diving? Well, we have many spots, I can't really remember the names. For snorkeling, I take my clients to Baie Ternay National Reserve, or there's also another name, they call it Cap Ternay. It's located on the northwestern side of Mahé, it's one of the best places for snorkeling. You can see many varieties of fish - just to name a few, we have batfish, sailfish, sargeant major, we also have the angelfish, many varieties of stingray, sea turtle, the hawksbill sea turtle you can see if you're lucky, and the corals are just amazing, so many colors! It's a nice place. 


And what are the most amazing beaches in Seychelles?

On Mahé island, I prefer Beau Vallon beach. Other beaches around the island are nice, but they have a reef - in the south we have Intendence beach, it's a lovely beach, with white sand, so fine and amazing color, but there's a reef, so it's hard to swim. Beau Vallon beach has no reef, there's a sandy bottom. On Praslin Island, one of the top 10 beaches in the world is Anse Lazio, just before that there's a smaller one called Anse Georgette, these are two beaches I recommend. On La Digue, which is smaller than Praslin, there's also one of the the top 10 beaches in the world - Anse Source d'Argent. That's the one with all the granite boulders. 

So during my excursion from Mahé, in the morning we go to Praslin to see Anse Lazio, then we go to Curieuse Island, where the have the giant land tortoise on the island, they are free! You can see them walking on the beach and around the island. Then we go snorkeling at Saint Pierre, then in the afternoon we go to La Digue. So all the beaches I mentioned, you can see them all in one day!


You mentioned there are 115 islands. Do you think there are any beautiful islands that are not well known?

There are so many islands! I've only been to maybe 5 of these uninhabited islands - Seychelles is really spred out, there are some of these islands that are closer to Madagascar than to Mahè! Some are very far away. The top ones, with 5 star hotels, we have Silhouette Island, another one off the coast of Mahé called Saint Anne Island, then Felicité Island, they have a really top top top hotel there, I think it's six stars! We also have Coco Island, perfect for snorkeling, and maybe the most beautiful of them all is the North Island, with another luxurious resort, the North Island Resort. 


Is it possible to rent a boat without skipper? What are the rules to be respected?

I've heard of it before, but I cannot guarantee. Along the coast of the island we have a couple of rocks that are a bit tricky, you need to know where they are. Maybe that's why they don't really do bareboat. Most excursions are with the skipper.  


Tell us about a Seychelles tradition that not many people know of! As a Seychelles local, you must know many!

We have sega music, a traditional dance. There's sega, mucha, and on Wednesday on Beau Vallon beach there's a bazaar in the evening, with local people playing music, a big bonfire with drums, guitars, people singing, local dancers... it's a big attraction for tourists. We also have local food, souvenirs, everything local from Seychelles. They also sell local rum made from coconut, it's called toddy. It turns into a great party... it's a small island so it's only a small party, but it's a lot of fun! My guests love this. I also work at a hotel, and I always recommend them to visit on Wednesday - it's a chance to see local life, to participate, to dance, to enjoy local music. It's fun to see. 


What do travelers need to know before heading to Seychelles? Are there any behaviors that locals might find rude?

I don't think so. Everyone is very friendly, people like to help in Seychelles - people will not get offended. If we see people in trouble, we like to help. People are very friendly and helpful, and everyone have a smile on their face. During the year we have tourists from all over the world - the first are French and Italians, these are the first two. Then we have Arabs, Germans... many nationalities. But we never have difficulty with tourists. 


And what if someone has never been on a boat before - what do you tell tourists? Is there anything they should take?

I always tell them to remember hat, sunglasses and sunscreen - we have everything else! And also your swimsuit. We have lifejackets and life rings, so even if people don't know how to swim, they can still enjoy themselves. If they don't know how to do activities, we teach them. Where we stop the boat for snorkeling, the water is only 2 or 3 meters, and there is no current, so there's nothing to worry about!

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