We recently returned from a trip to Seychelles. While there, we spent our time on the largest inhabited island, Mahe, staying several nights in both the north and the south. We drove the circumference, visited the capital, and explored several summits and a few beaches.
Many of our trips are thinly disguised educational field trips and it has been quite a while since our last truly idle beach vacation. With that in mind, I thought it a good time to book a journey across the world to a remote location and disconnect from our day-to-day worries.
While it will not be apparent from the final itinerary, this trip was somewhat of a pain to plan because of a series of small changes that cascaded into intractable problems. First, Qatar Airways suddenly removed all of their Saver level flight awards in the two weeks surrounding our desired return date. Then, Etihad canceled my backup booking and moved it to the next day, breaking a connection with a separate flight that I had secured to return us to Las Vegas.
In the end, I did the easiest possible thing and booked a Flexible level flight award on Qatar Airways, using a much larger number of points than I desired. At the least, it allowed us to fly home on our desired date and use up the Qatar Avios that were stranded in my account.
While it was a somewhat non-ideal journey to our final flight bookings, I was happy with where we ended up. I believe that Qatar offers one of the world’s best products, especially for journeying long distances, and, in the end, we didn’t use many more points that we would have if I had booked an Etihad itinerary through Air Canada’s Aeroplan program.
Because of quirks with Qatar’s award program, I had to book positioning flights between Las Vegas and Qatar’s USA gateways. I used United TravelBank funds and an Alaska flight credit to do so.
- Angela and Nicholas
- 97.45USD per person
- LAS-LAX on UA Y
- 255,000 Qatar Airways Avios + 482.85USD per person
- LAX-DOH on QR J
- DOH-SEZ on QR J
- SEZ-DOH on QR J
- DOH-SFO on QR J
- 97.45USD per person
- 308.90USD per person
- SFO-LAS on AS J
- 308.90USD per person
- 128.90USD per person
- SFO-LAS on AS Y
- 128.90USD per person
Hilton has a number of resorts in Seychelles. We read reviews, discussed the positives and negatives of each, and finally landed on an itinerary that I felt would provide us with maximum enjoyment. The properties we stayed at were nice in their own ways but each had room for improvement.
- One room for three nights at the Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa for 1 Hilton Honors Free Night Certificate per night
- One room for five nights at the Mango House Seychelles for 110,000 Hilton Honors Points per night with the fifth night free
- 398.34USD for one night at the Oryx Airport Hotel
- Full-day private boat tour for 865.56USD through Viator
- Electronic travel authorization fees at 10.00EUR per person
- Required travel medical insurance at 26.62USD per person
- Rental car for nine days at 476.25EUR
March 27, 2023
As with most of our travel, this trip started by dropping Fitz off at his boarding facility before driving to the airport, finding a parking spot, and proceeding through security. We stopped at the Centurion Lounge to grab a bite to eat and were surprised to find that we were not subject to a waiting list like we have been on several recent visits.
For our positioning flight to Los Angeles, we opted to save some money and fly economy. Luckily for us, the third seat in our row was empty and we got to enjoy a little bit of extra room. When we arrived at LAX, we stayed airside and walked to the international terminal. We had been unable to check in to our flight and receive a boarding pass online, so we went in search of a Qatar Airways staff member who might be able to help us.
Luckily, there was a Qatar Airways flight departing a few hours in advance of ours. We walked to that flight’s gate and, after waiting about twenty minutes, were able to get helped by a friendly gate agent who printed our boarding passes and provided us with boarding guidance.
After receiving our documents, we visited the oneworld Business Lounge for some drinks and light bites. It was somewhat disappointing, with a surprisingly weak food offering. We each ate a little bit of salad before heading to the Centurion Lounge at the three hours mark before our flight.
This was our first visit to the LAX Centurion and, like in Las Vegas, we were able to enter without waiting. Our impressions of the lounge are overall positive, although the layout is maze-like. The lounge was not crowded at any time during our visit and the food was good, but not quite up to the level of San Francisco’s Centurion Lounge.
We left the lounge twenty minutes in advance of boarding to do a single lap of the terminal and stretch our legs before our fifteen-hour flight. The boarding process was smooth and the flight was excellent. Angela and I chose seats 11A and 11K, window seats in the mini-cabin across the plane from one another. Qatar Airways’ flight experience is absolutely top-notch. The Wifi is high-quality and affordable, the food is generally delicious, and the Qsuite business class seat remains the best that we’ve flown.
We landed in Doha around 1800 and headed to the Al Mourjan Lounge after disembarking. There, we met up with our friend Deloreen before she departed for her flight to Kuala Lumpur. We ate a delicious dinner after she departed and wandered down to the main seating area to wait out our long layover.
The long layovers in Doha, while not terrible due to lounge access, are generally the worst part of flying with Qatar Airways. Of the half-dozen times we’ve flown through Doha, I think we’ve only had a single short transit. Luckily, the Al Mourjan Lounge is a very nice place to spend eight hours. We ate some delicious food, drank a ton of water and coffee, and eventually took a shower before departing.
Our flight from Doha to Seychelles was operated by a plane featuring Qsuites. Again, we were seated across the plane from one another and, after a quick meal service, both Angela and I were able to sleep half of the four hour flight.
When we disembarked, we both immediately realized we were in for a level of heat and humidity that was unlike anything we’ve experienced in recent memory. We walked across the tarmac to the terminal, cleared immigration without a hassle, and secured our rental car from Hertz that I had booked a couple of months in advance. We were informed, when we picked up our car, that we were upgraded to a larger vehicle. I tried to express to the rental agent that we did not want a larger vehicle but he either ignored me or didn’t really care, so we ended up with a small SUV rather than the miniature hatchback that we were expecting.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, I recommend insisting that you receive the smaller vehicle if it is available. The roads in Seychelles are not particularly suited to larger vehicles and, while Angela handled herself with aplomb, I think a smaller vehicle would make the trip more enjoyable for most people.
We drove to the Hilton Northolme where we were cheerfully greeted, offered a welcome drink, and then taken to the main reception area where Patrick, an absolute delight, walked us through check-in, introduced the property’s amenities, and led us to an arrivals lounge where we could spend some time while our room was prepared.
After changing into something a little more in-line with the local weather patterns, we spent about forty-five minutes at the Ocean View Bar enjoying the scenery before being informed at 1100 that our room was ready for us. I was surprised and very appreciative that we were able to get our keys so early. The room was very spacious with a comfortable bed and plentiful sitting room both inside and outside. The bathroom was well-appointed, with the only real issue being that the shower didn’t drain very well.
After unpacking, we decided to head to the gym to try to acclimate our bodies to the vastly different time zone. The gym at Hilton Northolme is located right on the coast and you can enjoy the sight and sounds of the ocean while you pump yourself up.
We returned to our room where Angela did yoga on the balcony and I fell asleep in a pool of sweat on the lounger.
I awoke after Angela finished her yoga practice and we took a shower before napping for a few hours. I woke up to a message from David, our friend who was at the property the same time as us, inviting us to happy hour. We decided to get up and attempt to get our bodies in sync with the local time zone rather than sleeping the night away. After a drink in the bar, we headed down to a lower patio area to take in the sunset.
We ate at Mahe, a Creole-inspired restaurant. We split the kokovici, Angela ordered the vegetable soup and fish curry, and I chose the chicken curry. Unfortunately, while the dishes were well-prepared and well-sourced, they were also criminally bland. In fact, I called the waitress over after we paid our bill to specifically ask her if this was how Seychellois food tasted. We were both somewhat aghast when she confirmed it was, a statement we later found to be untrue.
After dinner, we headed back to our room for some much needed sleep after several long days of travel.
We woke up early and decided to visit the gym before breakfast.
Breakfast was offered at Mahe, the same restaurant that we’d visited for dinner the previous night. Luckily, the dishes were much more flavorful in the morning. The property offers a full buffet with a good variety of Western dishes alongside several delicious a la carte options. The servers repeatedly pressed me to eat as much as I needed in order to be full.
After breakfast, we drove to the Copolia Trail to do some hiking. The trailhead is located on a winding mountain road with very little signage and no formal parking. After bypassing the trailhead and turning around, we eventually parked in a dirt patch on the side of the road alongside a retaining wall. This was the first time I realized that there really isn’t any type of formal tourism infrastructure. The trail is heavily advertised in the “Hiking in Seychelles” guide produced by the national tourism authority, but the only support is a pay booth that you have to visit before trekking.
After paying 100SCR per person, we set off on the trail in a light rain. The sprinkles at the beginning were but a prelude to what we would experience as we forged ahead to the summit. As we climbed higher, the rain fell harder and harder until the trail was quite wet.
The clouds briefly cleared when we hit the terminus of the trail, allowing us to snap several beautiful pictures of the surrounding landscape.
As we started down, the rainstorm turned into a torrential downpour, soaking us from head to toe and making the trail resemble a waterfall more than a dirt path.
We enjoyed the hike. It was short with a substantial elevation gain and some technical sections, but we decided to forego any additional trekking given the tremendous amount of rain that had just saturated the landscape. As such, we returned to the hotel, laid our clothes out to dry, and headed to the pool to visit with David and Fay.
After about half an hour, we decided to grab our snorkel gear, newly purchased for this trip, and head into the water adjoining the beach below the bar. We secured some flippers from the equipment stall near the beach before wading out and seeing a large variety of beautiful fish including, thanks to Angela’s sharp eyes, a lion fish.
We returned to the pool after snorkeling before getting hungry and heading out for dinner. We decided to walk to Beau Vallon, about twenty minutes from the Hilton Northolme, and visit The Boat House for another try at local cuisine. Angela ordered the octopus curry and I chose the chicken curry and this time we were treated to the flavor profile that we expected, satisfying our hunger with with bold, well-spiced dishes. It even felt a bit like home, with a little animal begging for scraps at Angela’s feet.
After dinner, we walked back to the hotel, washed a day’s worth of sweat off of us, and fell asleep.
After another delicious breakfast, we drove to Eden Island to embark on a full-day private boat tour of St Anne Marine Park and the surrounding area. After parking in a paid garage, we wandered around for a bit before finally finding our skipper, Jolin, and tour guide, Clifford. As we set out on our tour, the clouds overhead provided a brief drizzle before clearing up and giving way to a clear and sunny day.
On the way to the aquatic park, our guide gave us an overview of the area surrounding Eden Island, including the history of the various islands. He also outlined our itinerary for the day.
Our first stop was Moyenne Island, home to a walking trail and, more importantly, several hundred giant tortoises of various ages. Adult tortoises are free to roam the island. We started our adventure by hanging out with a group of tortoises and feeding them while being instructed on how to scratch their neck. Angela was an absolute natural given all her practice with Fitz.
After reluctantly departing from the friendly tortoises, we made our way around the island. We were unbelievably hot and sweaty by the time we were halfway around but it was all worth it for the ocean views and the tortoise interaction.
Finally, we reached our initial point of departure and returned to our boat. Given we were trying to enjoy the moment, there aren’t many pictures of the rest of the day, so I’ll do my best to describe what we did.
First, we were brought close to the sandbar that connects two islands during low tide. There, we were given forty-five minutes to explore the sandbar and beaches before returning to the boat. During our exploration, we found a family of crabs living in the cracks between two large rocks.
Next, we boated out to the open ocean to take in the salty breeze before returning to a reef in the marine park where we snorkeled for an hour. We saw an absolutely wonderful variety of fish as we swam up and down the reef before reluctantly returning to our guide.
Afterwards, we slowly cruised to a Creole BBQ hosted on a local beach. While there were quite a few tourists there, brought by other boats, we also spotted a fair number of locals enjoying themselves and eating from the buffet. We chowed down on fish curry, quick pickled cabbage, lentils, mango salad, barbeque chicken, and whole grilled fish.
Finally, we returned to Eden Island in the mid-afternoon, said goodbye to our skipper and guide, and started the drive back to our resort. We realized that we would need some additional sunscreen during our trip and figured that Victoria would be the easiest place to secure some.
We wandered around Victoria in the late afternoon. It was ludicrously hot and humid as we searched multiple pharmacies and small markets to try to find some sunscreen, finally locating some at our fourth stop. Once we returned to our car, we were stuck in traffic for almost forty-five minutes, with twenty-five minutes of that waiting to exit the parking lot that we’d chosen.
Eventually, we found ourselves back at our resort where we used complimentary cocktail coupons to enjoy some beverages before heading to sleep early after a very exciting day.
When we woke up, Angela was feeling the initial effects of what we eventually decided was some type of heat-related illness. We went to breakfast where we were presented with a special set of pancakes wishing us well on our continuing journeys.
After breakfast, we packed up and loaded the car before driving to Mango House where we arrived around 1215. The whole check-in experience was very odd, especially compared to the warm welcome and information-filled greeting we received at Northolme. We had arrived early and did not expect our room to be ready, so we were content to wait in the lobby.
Forty-five minutes later, we were informed that our room had been cleaned, we were given a very brief tour of the grounds, and then we were brought to our room where our luggage had already arrived. The room is well-appointed with a higher quality of fit and finish than the one at Hilton Northolme. The downside is that there is much less indoor seating and an overall smaller footprint. In addition, the room has almost no privacy as the windows are not tinted or mirrored and everyone in the resort can easily look in on you as they walk to the beach or any of the restaurants.
After unpacking, we visited the Italian restaurant on property for a quick meal of burrata and pizza before retiring to the room. Angela decided to rest the remainder of the day to recover from her ailment. I briefly fell asleep on the patio overlooking the ocean before getting up and heading to the gym. I found it to be nicely equipped and empty of other people every time we visited.
While Angela slept, I tried to keep quiet, spending a majority of the afternoon and early evening on the patio reading until I fell asleep, woke up covered by mosquitoes, and headed inside to rest.
With Angela feeling a bit better, we enjoyed a big breakfast. The staff at Mango House informed me that I could order unlimited entrees and so that’s what I did, usually settling at around four cooked plates in addition to the various “buffet” items that were brought to our table by servers. The experience was definitely different from other resort breakfasts that we’ve had, but the food was uniformly pretty good, although I think they’re still working on cooking eggs properly.
We took our time at breakfast before returning to the room and sitting on the patio for a while reading. Once we’d had some time to digest, we headed out to the beachfront to lounge the day away.
At 1600, we packed up our things and walked to MJ’s Cafe and Takeaway for rice, pork, salad, chicken drumsticks, fish skewers, and sweet potato dessert, all for 75SCR per person, the cheapest meal we ate during our time in Seychelles. It was quite good, but I’d recommend visiting early in the day before the chicken curry is gobbled up by other patrons.
After another filling breakfast, we packed up and drove to the Glacis La Reserve trail. We parked on a dirt embankment near the trailhead before setting off up the mountain. The hike was short and sweaty, but the views at the top were definitely worth it.
After our hike we drove to the Anse Royal Beach where we spent an hour in the water soaking up the rays (a few too many, in my case, as this time left me crispy for the rest of our vacation). Anse Royal Beach was one of the few places on the island that we saw with a dedicated parking lot, making it much easier to enjoy.
Returning to the resort, we stopped by the pool to chat with David and Fay for half an hour before returning to our room, relaxing a bit, and then heading to the gym where we both took advantage of the plyometric boxes.
After the gym, we spent some time on the patio before getting tired, choosing to skip dinner, and getting some sleep.
With Angela feeling under the weather again, this time from a cold of unknown provenance, we decided to spend the rest of our trip doing nothing but relaxing. After breakfast, we spent a majority of the day at the beach reading in the shade of palm trees.
For dinner, we ate at the Creole restaurant on property, Moutya. While there was certainly more flavor than our previous resort meal at Mahe, it still didn’t hold a candle to either of the off-property Creole meals we had, either in Beau Vallon or on the beach. We split the coconut ceviche, Angela chose the octopus curry, and I selected the king snapper filet. Again, the meal was well-sourced and well-prepared, but there was absolutely no kick to the dishes.
When we returned to the room, housekeeping presented us with a set of oils, lotions, and scrub additives in the form of a “luxury shower kit” that we enjoyed using before retiring for the night.
After breakfast, we spent the entirety of the day reading and relaxing, primarily on our patio overlooking the beach. Angela continued her recovery from her cold and we were both able to finish multiple books over the course of the three days of relaxation.
For dinner, we visited Kapatya, a small local restaurant with an Indian flair. We enjoyed some delicious dishes, with Angela choosing the octopus curry and myself opting for the mutton biryani. The flavor profile was great and the portion sizes were so big that I almost didn’t finish everything.
After breakfast, we packed up and were generously provided an alternate room to use while we waited to depart. I handed over the keys to the room we’d been staying in and was provided with our alternate room’s keys about twenty minutes later. We spent a majority of the day at the adults-only pool outside reception, soaking up the rays and enjoying the beautiful scenery one last time.
After a fire drill, the first of which we’ve actually had to participate in since our school days, we retired to our provisioned room, hung out on the patio for an hour, and then freshened up before driving to the airport. Surprisingly, our temporary room was larger than the room we had been assigned during our stay.
I finalized checkout, we packed up our bags, and Angela drove us to the airport to drop off our rental car. While we left fairly early compared to our flight’s departure time, we were certainly happy about that decision when a light rain turned into a torrential downpour twenty minutes after we arrived at the airport.
We spent the ninety minutes before check-in opened at The Coffee Club, a cool space to enjoy a bite to eat or drink. Angela had fish and chips while we waited and I enjoyed a brownie and cappuccino.
Everything went smoothly at check-in and, after we cleared immigration, we headed to the Air Seychelles lounge. There, we had some light bites and sodas while we patiently waited for boarding time. I particularly enjoyed the bathroom indicators in the lounge taking the form of the male and female coco-de-mer parts.
Once boarding started, we were transported to our remote gate by bus before boarding the plane. The five-hour flight was extremely pleasant, with great service from our flight attendant and enough time to get a quick nap in before landing. I think that Angela and I both slept about half of the flight.
Upon landing in Doha, we were transported from our remote gate to the transfer area by bus. We easily cleared security and then walked to the Oryx Airport Hotel where we’d be spending the majority of our nine-hour layover. Check-in was simple and we were on our way in a few minutes.
The room was comfortable with a decent bed and reasonable noise dampening from the terminal. It was nice to take a real shower on our timeline rather than waiting in line for one in the lounge. We crawled in bed to get what sleep we could.
At 0500 we were awakened by a child’s loud screaming that continued for approximately forty-five minutes. It was so loud it sounded like the toddler, presumably, was immediately outside our door in the hallway. With any chance of returning to sleep dashed, we got dressed and headed to the lounge for some coffee and light snacks before boarding our flight.
Once we boarded, we enjoyed a pre-departure beverage and then waited ninety minutes while a medical emergency on board was handled by crew and ground-based medical professionals. Later on, we were told by the purser that someone suffered a serious cardiac episode prior to take off and she was unsure of the outcome.
The flight was pleasant, although the service was a little less attentive than we’ve come to expect from Qatar’s crews. Qatar Airways recently introduced some traditional Qatari dishes to their menu and I was able to try the Qatari breakfast on this flight. I liked it, but Angela wasn’t a huge fan.
Angela and I both managed to get about six hours of sleep on the fifteen-hour flight, landing in San Francisco somewhat rested and prepared for our three-hour layover.
After landing, we walked to immigration, avoiding the long lines thanks to our Global Entry membership, and then walked to Terminal 2. We cleared security and headed to the Alaska Airlines Lounge but were surprisingly denied access because our inbound oneworld business class flight was on a separate itinerary from our outbound Alaska Airlines flight.
Not to be deterred, we walked fifteen minutes back to the Centurion Lounge where we were able to enter without a wait. We grabbed some beverages, I ate some cookies, and we patiently waited until our flight was ready for boarding before exiting and walking to our gate. The short flight to Las Vegas passed without incident, and before long we were on our way home.
Our trip to Seychelles was a success in that we were somewhat active and saw everything that we set out to see while still prioritizing idle relaxation. That said, while we had a very nice time, we wouldn’t specifically recommend a visit to the country to other travelers.
Seychelles possesses undeniably gorgeous scenery, beautiful beaches, and friendly people, but the overall cost, primarily for food, and the lack of infrastructure for tourists to enjoy the natural beauty of the island left us a bit disappointed, especially given that the country is so dependent on tourism for its economy. We will never complain about going to a tropical paradise, but the truth of the matter is that we both feel that there is greater value to be had elsewhere in the world for a similar experience.