It was 6 in the morning when I arrived in Mahé. The morning rays were slowly waking up the twittering birds. The moment I stepped off the plane, I took a fresh breath of tropical air, which smelled sweet, like banana trees. There was a distinct humidity in the air and it was hot, with the thermometer indicating 27C. I went through the sleepy passport security checks, got my entry stamp in the shape of a coco de mer when I finally saw the sign I've been waiting for: "Welcome to Seychelles".
Although tired after 17 hours of travel, my excitement finally kicked in. I forgot about sleeping, eating or getting over my jet lag: I was ready to explore! There is no better way to venture around the island of Mahé than by car. I wanted the flexibility to visit all beaches, hike all trails and drive to the shops at any given time. Besides, you might have already figured out that I love driving, so I wouldn't miss the opportunity to get behind the wheel.
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I booked my rental few months in advance and I'm so chuffed that I did so, as on the day there were countless tourists in search of rentals, but all companies were already out of cars. I rented my car through Maki Rentals. Why? Because they were affordable, reliable and offered me great customer service. Also, their website looked the most trustworthy which to me was a great bonus. I rented a car for 6 nights on Mahé and 6 nights on Praslin.
Driving in Mahé
Mahé is the largest of the Seychelles islands and also the most developed. There is one ring road which goes around the island and a couple of roads which cross the mountains. The ring road is relatively easy to drive on, although very narrow and full of curves. Towards the South and South East, the road is well defined and rather easy to drive on. Nothing special, just pretty much straight line with one stretch of road close to Victoria, where you can enjoy a dual carriageway. The mountain road, however, is a bit of a menace. If you have a 4x4 then taking this road is a child's play. But cars in the Seychelles are small and flimsy. Remember my article about driving in Madeira? Well, the narrow, steep mountainous roads are very similar in Mahé. You need fantastic clutch skills, brilliant confidence and a lot of courage to drive in the Seychelles.
Locals will overtake and buses will take no pity on you. Actually, one almost pushed me off the road. I wonder why is this keep happening to me?! Overall, if you love driving like I do, and you believe you are a formula one driver, like I do, then driving in the Seychelles will come as second nature. Jokes aside, driving in Mahé will prove to be a little challenging, but also necessary. Without a car, I wouldn't have been able to visit all beaches, hike the trails and shop in Victoria as and when I needed to.
My advice is to take it slow, get used to the car and the roads first. You will soon get confident and realise that driving in Mahé is just another fun adventure which will make your Seychelles holiday even better.
Driving in Praslin
After taking the hairpin turns in Mahé, I honestly didn't think much of the Praslin roads. They were better defined, wider and much more relaxing to drive on. Praslin has two roads, similarly as Mahé. One ring road which takes you around the island and one road which crosses the National Park, through the Valle de Mai. Naturally, after my Mahé experience, I wanted to avoid the mountain road, as I imagined it to be crazy difficult. What do you know, Praslin has a super well-defined mountain road, which is much easier to drive on than its ring road. On my way to the hotel from the ferry, I took the longer route, which proved to be very difficult. It was like driving on a steeper Transfagarasan with no safety barrier on the side. Yup, definitely like driving in Madeira. To all of you adventure lovers out there: take the mountain road whilst driving in Praslin. You will save yourself a lot of near heart attack moments.
Difference in cars
As I already mentioned, I ordered both cars from Maki Rentals. I preferred the car I had in Praslin by far because I found it easier to manoeuvre. On Mahé I had a blue Hyundai i10, which struggled a little uphill. I would probably recommend paying a bit more and getting a bigger and more powerful car. In Praslin, I had a red Daihatsu. Never drove a Japanese car before so I was quite chuffed about taking it for a spin. It wasn't the agilest car but definitely had its virtues. It was more than enough to serve on the less demanding roads of Praslin.
Tips on driving in Seychelles
Although difficult, driving in Seychelles is a lot of fun and I can't recommend it enough. If you are a car lover like I am and love a good challenge, then there is no better way to get around the islands than by car. There are a few things you need to be aware of. Locals don't seem to be very patient, so they will overtake you. If this happens, slow down, signal and let them pass you. There are not many street lights on the roads, so if you want to drive after dark, just be extra vigilant and very, very careful.
In Seychelles, you will have to drive on the left, the same as in the UK.
As with any rental, take pictures before you accept the car, and ask the provider to write down any faults you might notice. Upon return, take pictures of the car and ask the provider to give you written proof that your car was returned in the same great condition. One odd thing in Seychelles is that you get the tank with a random amount of fuel in it and you have to return it with the same amount. This was new to me, but maybe it's a standard around the world. Is it? You tell me in the comments section below.
Are you ready to have an adventure of a lifetime? Then book your stay in the Seychelles, rent a car and make sure to tell me which part of the islands you loved the most in the comments section below.
Thank you for Maki Rentals for partnering with me in order to try your services. This is not a sponsored post and all opinions are my own.