We had an amazing time cycling in the Seychelles and want you to have a similar experience.
Below you’ll find our top tips for ensuring you have the trip of a lifetime.
Above all, remember that the mountain roads in the Seychelles are often very steep and narrow, the turnings can be very sharp and there are frequently deep drainage ditches either side of the road. It’s not a good place to learn to climb and descend. Good disc brakes will really help you - if you don’t have them, make sure you’ve got decent rim brakes.
We used carbon wheels with good breaking tracks and rode some of the descents with extreme caution. We also cycled particularly carefully for the first few days while we got used to the roads. The importance of this was bought home to us when we heard of an Italian cyclist staying on the island when we were there. On day two he broke his bike in two and was in hospital with serious injuries after overcooking a turn on one of the mountain roads.
If you'd prefer to minimise the risks, you can always stick to the beautiful coast road.
While this may all sound rather negative, we’re just trying to emphasis the need to ride carefully and sensibly. Do that and you’ll get the experience we had: the unforgettable memories of exploring an incredibly beautiful tropical island paradise on two wheels, getting a behind the scenes look at the “real” Seychelles, that most people never set eyes on.
Have you ridden in the Seychelles? Comment below and let us know if you have any more tips!
Words and photos by John Maskell
- 1There are very few bike shops on the main island, Mahé, and we certainly didn't see anywhere you could hire a road bike. So you'll need to bring your own.
- 2It’s a good idea to have had your bike serviced before the trip and, at the very least, to bring a spare hanger, inner tubes and a bike pump (and know how to use them). Our packing list has more suggestions. For simple needs while you’re in the Seychelles, try “Tyres on Wheels” in the Orion Mall, Palm Street, Victoria - but don't expect them to be able to provide more than something like a tyre. This shop is next to the main bus station in Victoria.
- 3If you plan to ride any of the mountain roads, we’d suggest bringing a compact chainset with a 11-28 or even 11-20 or 22-32 cassette. The gradients are tough! It’s a good idea to have done some riding beforehand too...
- 4Carbon wheels might overheat on some of these descents as there is a constant need to brake – having said that, our carbon wheels were fine, just take your time.
- 5We’d suggest bringing bright clothing to wear on your rides as the roads are narrow. While most drivers we came across were laid back and courteous, they are not that used to driving with cyclists and it will certainly help if they can see you easily.
- 6While there are shops dotted around the island, you’re highly unlikely to be able to get the food you’re used to eating on the bike. Think ahead and bring your own if you’re particular.
- 7The temperatures all year round are between 26 and 32 degrees Celsius, so you will sweat a lot: bring two large water bottles and plenty of hydration tablets. As well as the obligatory sun tan cream.
- 8If you would like to enlist the help of a guide then you may want to approach a member of a local cycling club such as the Velo Club De L’Ouest (VCDL) which is run by the Captain of the Seychelles National Team or go via the Seychelles Cycling Association. Generally, bringing old size M, S, XS or XXS cycling clothes and T-shirts goes down very well and please remember that these guys have jobs at places such as the Four Seasons Hotel or the SeyBrew Brewery so they might be giving up work to cycle with you.
Seychelles cycling maps
- 1Most of the roads in the Seychelles do not have road signs, so it is best to cycle with a GPS computer and to have downloaded route files before heading out (you know where you can find lots of tried and tested routes - here!).
- 2You might not have a map of the Seychelles on your Garmin. You can buy a map (Eastern Africa) from the Garmin website via your account or you can get a free OSM (OpenStreet) map. If using the latter, you might want to donate a few dollars using the OpenStreet method as they are saving you a lot. To get the free map (use the Routable Bicycle option) follow the instructions here.
- 3Once you have the map: “gmapsup.img in a “Garmin” directory on the micro-SD card on your Garmin device it should, when unplugged from the USB cable, find the map in a similar way that Garmin devices find your new courses once you have put a new course in the New Files subdirectory on the GPS device itself.
- 4If it does not, go to Activity Profile> System>Navigation>Map>Map Information; find the “openfietsmap lite” or whatever you have called the map, select it and “Enable” it. Then when you go to a course you have downloaded from our site, you should see the underlying detailed map under the course.
- 1The south and the west of Mahé island are the quietest areas and are best for cycling. The coast road is for “nice” cycling trips, whilst the roads crossing the island are for those with a high pain threshold/very fit who are experienced riders good at technical bike handling. There’s lots more information on routes in our guide to the Seychelles.
- 2The nicest time to cycle is at first light at 6 am as there are few people around, the light is amazing and you can then generally get back for the hotel breakfast buffet (ours closed at 10:30 am) with some real appetite.
- 3Victoria, the capital, has a rush hour between 7-8 am and 4-5 pm. Try to avoid the traffic jams here and down towards the airport at these times.
- 4As well as the usual essentials, make double sure you have spare inner tubes and a pump when you head out on your ride as the ability to source spares is unlikely since the only bike shops are in Victoria. We’ve got lots more tips on packing in our packing list.
- 5Watch out for the blue buses that ply the often narrow roads and are sometimes driven very fast.
- 6Some of the low-lying bits of coast road such as Takamaka (west) and Bazarca beach (south) can have sand drifts across the road (a bit like some stretches of coast roads in Portugal) so keep the descents slow.
- 7In some areas, particularly around Victoria, we saw diesel on the road. As we’re sure you know, bicycles and diesel patches don’t mix well together. Exercise extreme caution if you spot any telltale rainbow marks on the road ahead.
- 8Many of the roads are bordered by densely growing trees and bushes. Storms are not uncommon and if there’s one while you're there, you’re likely to find a lot of tree debris on the roads. The authorities seemed pretty prompt at clearing the roads, but you'll need to take extra care.
The temperature is most likely going to be around 28 to 30 degrees so you will be losing around a litre of fluids per hour in the saddle. We used the small convenience shops that are dotted around the island to top up our water bottles. Make sure you take this seriously - heat stroke is very unpleasant and can strike fast.
Other things to know about cycling in the Seychelles
- 1It’s a good idea to be familiar with the rules of the road in the Seychelles. Cycling is on the left hand side as it is in the UK: try to remember this when going across junctions. There’s more information here.
- 2There are plenty of ATMs around the island if you need Seychelles Rupees. Euros and US Dollars are widely accepted around the island and the exchange rates are relatively consistent. Try not to change money on the beaches.
- 3Don’t drink the tap water.
- 4Be careful swimming in the sea along the south coast between June and September as there are difficult currents: the large red warning signs should not be ignored.
John Maskell is a roving reporter whose mission in life is to find the best coffee stop on any given ride.
Before you go, make sure you’ve read our ultimate guide to cycling the Seychelles. It’s got tried and tested routes, information on where to stay, when to go and more.
Have you been cycling in the Seychelles and got some additional tips? Please comment below!