The Seychelles. Famous for its beautiful beaches, exquisite coral reefs and natural reserves, awesome diving sites, the famous Coco de Mer palm tree, large tortoises, spices and a very relaxed way of life.
Sadly cycling in the Seychelles doesn’t make the list...
But - if you’re heading there on a honeymoon or family holiday and there’s the tiniest possibility you can get a “pass” to take your bike with you, we say “do it”!
We booked a family holiday to the Seychelles with low expectations about the quality of the roads, some trepidation over how steep the climbs appeared to be and some considerable anxiety over the apparent lack of decent bike shops and bike rental on the Seychelles’ Mahé island.
Words and photos by John Maskell
As it turns out, we were right about the gradients and lack of bike shops: you’ll need to bring your “A” game (and/or an 11-32 cassette) if you’re going to tackle the mountain passes and we wouldn’t recommend trying to rent a bike in the Seychelles (read our important tips here).
Yet we were pleased to find the roads in better condition than the ones we’re used to riding in the UK. There’s also a small but strong local cycling presence in the form of the Seychelles National Cycling Team, the Seychelles Cycling Association and a few cycle clubs (including Velo Club de L’Ouest). They hold plenty of races on the main island, Mahé, and there are enough segments on Strava to provide a challenge.
We had a fantastic time cycling the Seychelles and were blown away by the people and the scenery: members of the national team took time to guide us around the island’s best roads, through lush rainforest, dense jungle and to picture-perfect beaches.
We saw the parts of Mahé that most tourists never reach - and we loved it.
Want to cycle the Seychelles?
In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to plan some unforgettable cycling in the Seychelles: detailed information on the best rides plus where to stay, when to visit and information on Seychelles bike rental too.
Read on and plan your next cycling adventure.
Seychelles cycling routes
What are the roads like in the Seychelles?
One of our main concerns about cycling in the Seychelles was whether the roads would be suitable.
We needn’t have worried.
There are three islands for road cycling within the 115 island archipelago of the Seychelles: Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. These contain over 500 km of roads, most of which are on Mahé and 95% of which are asphalt or concrete.
Given the consistent weather through the year, and the capacious storm drains, the roads are generally in better condition than in many parts of the UK.
That said, if there’s a storm you’re likely to find a lot of tree debris on the roads: to get around this we tended to cycle closer to the middle of the road as generally there is very little traffic - but obviously you’ll need to use your common sense and discretion to stay safe.
An overview of cycling around Mahé island, Seychelles
This guide focuses on the main island, Mahé, the capital of which is Victoria which is located in the northeast of the island, together with the international airport.
On this map we've shown where we stayed, the airport and the six big hill climbs included in our mountain loop:
Mahé can be divided into three cycling segments.
North Seychelles: this contains the towns/villages of Bel Ombre, Beau Vallon, Glacis, Vista Do Mar, La Gogue, The English River and the capital Victoria.
This is the more heavily populated part of the island with some of the better, value for money hotels and apartments. Beau Vallon is one of the island’s longest beaches and there’s also the impressive Anse Nord d’Est.
South Seychelles: this is by far the quietest part of the island and it's where you find jaw-dropping beaches such as Anse Intendance and Anse Takamaka.
There are a few villages and on the west coast, green hills drop down through dense jungle before slipping into the sea. You’ll also find some outrageously good hotels.
On the east coast, once you’re south of the airport and Anse Royale (around 11 kilometres below the airport), it's less built up and the roads become a lot quieter as the coast road meanders along and around the southern coast from one stunning beach to another.
The Seychelles Mountains: a steep spine runs down the middle of Mahé from north to south (some 480m high) and is crossed in the middle by the Sans Souci and La Misere roads and further south by the more gentle Montagne Posee, Mont Plasir road, Les Canelles, Dame le Roi and the South Coast/Takamaka roads.
When you look at the northwest of the map, you see the green swathe that is Morne Seychelles National Park. Other than the San Souci mountain road mentioned above, we understand there are no surfaced roads through the park; you’ll need to explore it on foot.
Our suggested Seychelles cycle routes
All three of these routes are 60-80 kilometres long and have between 1,000 and 2,300 metres of climbing. They are designed to allow you to leave after breakfast and hopefully get you back to the hotel for some beach time and/or time with the family.
Each ride starts and finishes at the Constance Ephelia hotel but, of course, you can easily amend this.
Read our tips for cycling in the Seychelles - there are important things to know about cycling here before you set out.
- Distance: 79km
- Elevation: 2,320m
- Epic rating:
- Distance: 59km
- Elevation: 1,510m
- Epic rating:
- Distance: 59km
- Elevation: 1,040m
- Epic rating:
The grand, five star resort-style hotels, tend to be located on the quieter west side of Mahé island: Banyan Tree, Four Seasons, Kempinski, MAIA and Constance Ephelia.
There are also some luxury hotels in the north in the Beau Vallon area: for example Hilton, Savoy, Meridien and H Resort.
The budget hotels tend to be located south of the airport. For example,
Our choice: Constance Ephelia Seychelles review
We chose the Constance Ephelia as it is a family-friendly resort spread across 296 acres overlooking the Port Launay Marine National Park on the west of Mahé Island.
It has all the facilities you’d expect of a large five star hotel including five restaurants, two sublime beaches, a huge spa, tennis courts, a kids club, swimming pools, free non-motorised water sports and even a long zip wire in the jungle (which you have to pay for and it’s supervised). There are also paid for water sports such as diving and deep sea fishing. The hotel has bike hire but you are not allowed to take these bikes outside of the resort.
We found that Constance Ephelia had something for everyone in the family.
What we loved
Things to know
The Four Seasons Hotel looks and feels more “boutiquie” and more grown up than the Constance Ephelia. It comes highly recommended by people who have stayed there.
The hotel (which is further down the west coast from Constance Ephelia) sponsors the Velo Club De L’Ouest (VCDL), which seems to be the island’s main and best bike club. This bike club, in turn, helps orphans and less privileged kids learn how to ride bikes. It is run by the Captain of the Seychelles National Team: Ahmad Arrissol.
We were also recommended the Crown Beach Hotel on the east coast at Pointe Au Sel. It’s considerably cheaper than the two hotels mentioned above and is well-thought of, due in part to the fact the staff are efficient and friendly.
Bike rental Seychelles
As mentioned, road cycling is possible on three islands in the Seychelles: Mahé, Praslin and La Digue.
La Digue bike rental
There are plenty of bike hire shops on La Digue, the smallest of the three islands. At first, this seems surprising, but it’s because on La Digue bicycles are the main form of transport.
Praslin and Mahé bike rental
There is a remarkable lack of bike hire on these two larger islands.
Some hotels have bikes guest can borrow, but our experience at the Constance Ephelia was that they refused to let the hotel bikes past the front gate - we even had some initial problems persuading hotel security to allow us to take our own bikes out of the grounds! We generally got the impression that the hotel’s security staff were surprised if anyone wanted to leave the confines of the hotel grounds at all.
So bring your own bike.
When to go
The best times to visit the Seychelles are April, May, October and November. These months represent the transition between the hot and humid northwest trade winds (November to March) and the cooler southeast trade winds that define April to October. A visit during these months offers more mild conditions ideal for sunbathing, cycling and snorkelling.
We visited in December as we were keen to avoid winter in the UK and needed to work around school holidays.
The average temperature sits between 25 and 32 degrees Celsius the whole year round with the wettest month being January and the driest August. The sea temperature averages between 25 and 30 degrees and was actually 29 degrees in December. When it does rain, it tends to be short, sharp and somewhat refreshing.
Tips and articles
There are direct, international flights (10 hours from London) to Mahé, which is the biggest island in the Seychelles. The second largest Island, Praslin, is then a 15 minute flights from Mahé and the third Island, La Digue, is a 15 minute speedboat ride from Praslin.
Mahé has by far the lion’s share of the population, hotels and commerce. It is 26 km long and 17 km wide with a 111 kilometre coastline.
We were advised not to drink tap water anywhere on the island and even the locals stick to bottled water or water from waterfalls high up in the mountains.
English and French are spoken extensively, as well as the main language: Seychellois Creole.
It is better to take euros rather than pounds or dollars, although these are accepted. You’ll normally receive change in Seychellois Rupee. The local currency, the Seychellois Rupee, is used and would be needed if you want to take the frequent buses.
The Seychelles sits near the equator so sunrise is relatively constant at 6:00 am and nightfall at 6:30 pm and the temperature is stable, ranging from 24 to 32 degrees Celsius. The occasional rain showers do occur, but they are generally short-lived.
In case you wonder when you look at the map, “anse” means beach.
Seychelles Since 1770 by Deryck Scarr gives a good overview of the history of the Seychelles.
John Maskell is a roving reporter whose mission in life is to find the best coffee stop on any given ride.
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