Why is Seychelles so expensive? There’s not just one reason but many. Truth is that this dotting of gleaming isles in the middle of the Indian Ocean is up there with the Maldives, with Mauritius, with Belize as one of the most expensive tropical destinations you can pick. It’s possible to drop over $700 on just your hotel for a night, not to mention $100s more on top-class fine dining and adventure activities.
This guide will run through five of the most obvious culprits for cranking up the cost in the island country. From the geography of the place – being set over 1,000 miles off the coast of East Africa in a pretty tricky spot to reach – to the upscale demographic that the local tourism industry tends to have its eyes on, it should go some way to justifying precisely why you need all those extra dollars to travel to this corner of the world.
Of course, we’re not saying you HAVE to be George Clooney to head down this way. You don’t. These days, there are occasionally bargain flight deals to and from the mainly international airport, and you can also cut costs considerably by traveling during the January to February rainy season, which doesn’t actually see constant downpours anyhow.
It’s an island
We’ll begin with the obvious one. In case you didn’t know already, the Seychelles is an island country. It’s actually made up of a whopping 115 islands in all, but only eight of those are permanently inhabited. That’s great news and all if you’re after paradise beaches because it means there’s no shortage of coastline that has the potential to wow – there’s around 750km of shoreline on the three main isles alone, each offering striking beaches, sandbars, and paradise lagoons.
But enough waxing lyrical. There’s also a big downside to being an island country: Things tend to cost more. A lot more. The reason? A whole load of the things that people use every day need to be imported by sea. That’s pricy to do and we’re talking EVERYTHING that can’t be made right here on the isles themselves needs to be shifted across the water.
Just a glance at the stats should reveal what we’re talking about. The Seychelles export things to a value of about 824,000 in thousands of USD per year. But they import goods to a value of almost double that, at a whopping 1,437,735 in thousands of USD. Fuel to keep the economy going accounted for around 25% of all that, while machinery and manufactured goods come a close second, with the top trading partners being Saudi Arabia and France.
It’s pretty isolated
Just as the locals of Madeira, the Azores, and even New Zealand know all to well, being an island is just the start of the story. What also matters is where exactly you’re located on the globe. See, it’s not too much of an issue to cart off piles of cheddar cheese and petrol to the Channel Islands in England or the Florida Keys, which are close to the mainland and even linked by highways to their mother country.
Things get a whole load harder when you’re talking about far-flung archipelagos somewhere deep in the Atlantic or Pacific oceans. So it is for the Seychelles, which string out like a line of glistening pearls through the midst of the Indian Ocean some 1,000 miles from the nearest neighbor on the continent of East Africa, and a whopping 560 miles from the next large island over, Madagascar. That’s pretty isolated, eh?
The downside for importers here is that getting the goods across the seas is rarely ever easy or quick. It can take days and days of sailing up and down the Suez Canal or around the rough capes of South Africa to get things into port. And that’s not even mentioning the infamous waters around the Gulf of Aden, forever patrolled by Somalian pirates and the like.
There are import tariffs on some goods
We’ve already seen how something like 80% of the consumer goods in the Seychelles need to be imported. We’ve also shown how tricky it can be to transport said goods over to the islands, through unruly seas and across thousands of miles of water. But even that’s not the end of the hurdles. There’s one more and it might just be the thing that traders in these parts hate the most: Import duty.
Now, thankfully, something like 83% of the goods that come into Seychelles ports are totally exempt from import duty. That’s something that’s been instituted precisely because the government want to nurture strong commercial ties with other nations, and the fact they NEED most of this stuff. However, there are some things you will need to watch out for.
Numero uno is – you guessed it – alcohol. The authorities here slap a hefty fee on the importation of booze. It varies depending on the sort of tipple you want to bring in but is usually a standard rate per liter of liquid, with higher rates for drinks over 8% proof. There are similar import taxes levied on cigarettes, petrol, and cars. The good news is that you can make use of duty-free shopping in the airport to get a cheap bottle of gin, and there’s always the local stuff to enjoy that should be a touch cheaper.
It’s a luxury destination
Why is the Seychelles so expensive for hotels? Why is the Seychelles so expensive for food? A lot of these questions can be answered by considering what sort of destination this really is. The truth is it’s not a backpacker haven a la Thailand, it’s not an adventure mecca a la NZ, you don’t have the enthralling history of Italy, or the surf beaches of Mexico. Nope, the Seychelles excel mainly at one thing: Luxury.
Truth is they’ve been attracting the upper echelons of the travel market since they first entered the map at the opening of the Seychelles International Airport back in the 1970s. It was probably never going to be any other way. What other cohort of travelers have their wanderlust piqued by the presence of turquoise swimming lagoons and sugar-soft sands?
The accommodation offering is always a good litmus test for the character of the crowd you can expect to find. So…there are more five-star resorts with infinity pools and chic spas than you can shake a bowl of shark chutney at. These aren’t the sort of places that you breeze into with the guidebook in hand and negotiate rooms for $10. We’re talking rates of over $780 per night!
Yep, they really do exist. Check it out:
- Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa ($$$) – Backed by a lush jungle-covered mountain, this resort is honeymoon stuff on the seafront of Silhouette Island.
- JA Enchanted Island Resort Seychelles ($$$) – The luxury level here is bordering on ridiculous because you get to live on your own private island!
- Constance Lemuria ($$$) – A three-tiered pool and proximity to one of the country’s most incredible isthmus beaches make this one a doozy to write home about.
Flights can add up
Although it’s a popular honeymoon and jet-setter hub with all the pulls of coconut-lined beaches and exquisite resort hotels, Seychelles still doesn’t have the same overload of flight links heading in and out as some of the world’s leading destinations.
Take the international airport on Mahe island, the Seychelles International Airport. At its absolute peak of traffic back in 2020 it only catered to 1.2 million people. To put that into perspective, that’s less than some regional airports on the Greek Islands and just 1/65 of what Bangkok Airport saw in the same year. Adding to that is the general lack of major carriers who run routes over. There’s only 16 in total, with Air Seychelles bringing up the bulk, although many of those only go seasonally.
The point here is that there just aren’t that many flight connections to the Seychelles. That, in turn, means there’s not so much competition on the route from different airlines. And that means that the passenger usually ends up paying more. In fact, stats show that the average cost of a ticket from London to the Seychelles during the peak of the high season is over $1000 per person.
Why is Seychelles so expensive? Our conclusion
There are many reasons why the Seychelles reign as some of the most expensive islands on the planet. The obvious thing to say is that they tend to cater to a much more monied crowd that other spots around the globe. Luxury hotels for jet setters and honeymooners are the norm in the market here, which means you’ll fork out a whole lot more but get the height of service and comfort.
Adding to that is the fact that this is a far-flung island nation, which means the vast majority of goods – everything from petrol to cars to food ingredients – need to be imported. So, there’s extra outgoings because consumers are paying for transport, protection, and import duties.
Remember, though, you can do the Seychelles cheaply if you really want. You can seek out locally owned B&Bs and guesthouses that aren’t necessarily right on the beach to pay less. Flights are typically a lot cheaper in the low season months of January and February, too, while the main island of Mahe is often the most affordable of the lot.