The Republic of Seychelles is a paradise on Earth, at least judging by the photos. Pristine sandy beaches and rocky coasts tumble into bright blue waters. Palm trees sway overhead.
Most people come to Seychelles for a beach vacation, and the romantic setting also makes it a popular honeymoon destination.
The diverse landscape, including mountains and tropical forests as you move inland, along with the unusual wildlife, make the island country a popular destination for nature lovers as well.
Images of Seychelles look like pictures of paradise, but you might be wondering if they really are paradise. Is the reality behind the photos as beautiful as the images, or are there dangers lurking?
We’ve done the research and put together a a manual for you to learn how stay safe while you’re in Seychelles. Let us be your guide!
Is Seychelles Safe to Visit?
Seychelles is generally a safe country to visit. Beyond normal precautions you would exercise anywhere, like not leaving your wallet unattended or your door unlocked, there is nothing to worry about in this island paradise.
The worst you might experience is some petty crime in the form of pickpocketing, or you might have a strong tropical storm.
World governments are mostly united in their advisories for citizens visiting Seychelles. The United States State Department only has a Level 1 travel advisory in place for Seychelles.
The Australian government agrees, only telling its citizens to exercise normal safety precautions when visiting Seychelles. However, there is sometimes trouble in paradise.
Visitors and tourists can experience a range of problems, including:
- Petty theft
Petty crime on the island has increased over the past few years, probably because the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the tourism industry that the island’s economy relies on so much, impoverishing many citizens.
The Canadian government includes this fact in its travel advisory for its citizens, warning people about the potential for theft. Most incidents of theft are petty crimes of opportunity, such as pickpocketing and bag-snatching.
There are instances of more aggressive crimes, such as break-ins, burglaries, and assaults, especially in remote areas. These are troubling as they tend to target tourists and are on the increase.
The biggest danger you will run into in Seychelles is the very same nature that is the country’s biggest draw. The pristine coastal waters hide dangers, including riptides and sharks, so you need to be careful when engaging in water activities.
Remember that most beaches don’t have lifeguards or other forms of assistance, so don’t push yourself beyond your limits, and always check for any posted warnings. Beaches can be more dangerous during the monsoon season as that is when the waters become rougher.
Overall, your stay in Seychelles should be a calm, smooth one, as calm as the photos of the beautiful beaches. Just use some basic precautions, and that should be enough to ward off the worst of what the country has in store for you.
Crime in Seychelles
Finding accurate, comprehensive crime statistics for Seychelles is not always the easiest. What we managed to dig up paints a complex picture of the island.
The violent crime rate in Seychelles is fairly high. As of 2019, the violent crime incidence rate was 10.23 incidents per 100,000 people. Most of these occurrences affect locals and involve crimes such as gang conflicts.
They do, however, sometimes affect tourists, but mostly in the form of armed robbery, rarely more serious crimes such as homicide or kidnapping. According to statistics from the Global Organized Crime Index, the rate of gun ownership in Seychelles is fairly low.
Most violent crimes, such as assault, occur with a knife or machete, and the overall level of gun crime is fairly low. Seychelles has a somewhat active organized crime sector, as the fact that it’s an island country makes it a hub for trafficking, but these are crimes that almost never affect tourists.
The rate of drug trafficking, especially heroin, is also high as the addiction rate is moderately high in the country, but again these are problems that don’t affect tourists as much.
Finding statistics about robbery is difficult, which is ironic as this is the crime that affects tourists more often. In an informal survey of expats living in Seychelles, the rate of worrying about crime is a low 35.29%.
Only about 37% worry about being robbed. However, many people in the survey expressed their concern that crime has risen in the past three years. What do all these statistics mean about your safety if you visit Seychelles?
It just means that Seychelles is a real country like any other, with problems such as crime and addiction, not a playground or tropical theme park. Most of the violent crime in the country doesn’t affect foreigners, except for assault and armed robbery.
You do have to be on your guard against petty theft, as it’s unclear how prevalent this is. Official statistics are sporadic, but anecdotal evidence recommends visitors should be on their guard.
The primary concern for most tourists to Seychelles is petty theft. The UK government warns its citizens to be on their guard against theft and to take the same precautions they would while at home.
Like anywhere, pickpockets and petty thieves in Seychelles are criminals of opportunity. They take advantage of people who seem distracted and swipe their belongings. As such, you can protect yourself by reducing the opportunity to take your stuff.
Keep valuables secure instead of in a loose pocket or unzipped bag. Leave most of your valuables in your hotel safe and only take what you need for the day as you move around.
Some criminals go a step beyond and engage in break-ins to get what they want. Tourists are often victims of hotel or vehicle break-ins.
Make sure that you choose a hotel with good security, such as around-the-clock private security, a hotel safe, and grills on ground-floor windows. While driving, don’t leave any valuables in the car, especially not in plain sight.
Finally, tourist scams are another form of petty theft that people sometimes fall victim to in Seychelles. Most scams here are the same ones you find in tourist destinations around the world, such as friendly ATM helpers or people asking you to take their photo on the street.
Be careful when using ATMs, as some have card skimmers, so only use machines that are in secure locations, such as inside a bank. Taxis and street vendors will also sometimes scam foreigners by overcharging them.
Petty theft does occur in Seychelles, as it does almost anywhere in the world. However, you can minimize your risks by taking the same basic precautions you would take anywhere else.
Seychelles is a country with a high level of income inequality and a high level of disparity between the income of foreign visitors and the locals who live here. The result is the perfect conditions for the prevalence of more violent forms of theft, such as assault.
As mentioned above, break-ins are common in Seychelles. Burglars usually target hotels, vacation homes, or the residences of wealthy Seychellois and ex-pats.
It helps that people get lulled into a false sense of safety by the island’s tranquil atmosphere and often leave doors and windows unlocked. Armed robberies and assaults are becoming more common, especially in recent years.
Assaults often occur in remote areas that are known to attract a lot of tourists, such as beaches and hiking trails. The Canadian government advises its citizens to exercise caution when going to certain beaches, such as Cote d’Or Beach, and on hiking trails.
If you want to venture to more remote areas, make sure that you aren’t doing so alone. Join a group that is going beach-hopping, and always hike with a licensed guide.
Hiking with a guide is recommended anyway due to uneven trail conditions and the difficulty of mountain rescue in some areas. Avoid going to the beach alone except for major public beaches that have their own tourist police force.
Assaults can happen in broad daylight, so don’t think you’re safe just because you’re not going at night. Assault and armed robbery can happen in towns and cities as well. Be careful when moving around the capital, Victoria, at night, as there are some sketchier areas.
Taking basic precautions such as avoiding dark side streets at night and not walking alone after dark can almost completely eliminate your chances of getting robbed.
Avoiding Bad Areas
Learning where to avoid in Seychelles can help you avoid becoming a victim of a crime. The capital Victoria is like any bigger city in that it has some sketchier areas.
Avoid back alleys and side streets unless you know the neighborhood very well. Most tourist attractions are located outside of the capital anyway, so you shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time there.
The big island of Mahé, in general, is one of the less safe areas in Seychelles. At night, it’s not recommended to wander around alone.
Beau Vallon, a bay on the island, is known to be a crime hotspot after dark. Wherever you go in Seychelles, even in safer, quieter areas such as La Digue and Praslin, keep your safety in mind and don’t lose your situational awareness.
Things to Consider
Here are some other things to keep in mind as you travel to Seychelles:
- Piracy in the Indian Ocean almost never reaches Seychelles, but it still pays to do your research before heading out yachting.
- Avoid wearing fancy clothing, lots of jewelry, or flashing your valuables. Not only does that make you a target for criminals, but it is also insensitive, given the big wealth gap between tourists and most locals.
- Research beaches ahead of time as safety information isn’t always posted on signs, and conditions change from season to season. Even some popular tourist beaches, such as Lazio Beach, can get very dangerous.
- Mosquitos here can carry disease, so use lots of bug spray, coils, and mosquito netting to keep them away.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some other things you may want to know:
Is Seychelles safe from pirates?
Yes, Seychelles is safe from pirates, as most pirate activity happens further north in the Indian Ocean. Pirate attacks that do occur in the waters around Seychelles are usually a few dozen nautical miles away from shore and target tankers, not tourist boats.
What should you avoid in Seychelles?
Taking a few basic precautions can help you avoid becoming the victim of a crime. Avoid wearing fancy clothing or flashing valuables, as that will make you stick out. Avoid breaking cultural norms such as wearing very revealing clothing in public, as that is considered rude.
What Is the biggest problem in Seychelles?
One of the biggest problems in Seychelles is heroin. The country has the highest rate of heroin addiction in the world. This doesn’t affect tourists much, except for the fact that drug laws are strict to combat the problem, so you don’t want to indulge in illegal substances while you’re here.
What is the best month to visit Seychelles?
The best months to visit Seychelles are April, May, October, and November. Due to its unique position, Seychelles gets not one but two monsoon seasons a year. These months are the only ones outside of monsoon season.
Do the Seychelles have sharks?
Yes, the waters off the coast of Seychelles have sharks. Most species of sharks that frequent the archipelago, such as grey reef sharks, are harmless, and you can even go swimming with them on special excursions. However, still be careful and check warnings before heading to the beach.
So Is Seychelles Safe to Visit in 2023?
Yes, Seychelles is mostly safe to visit. In fact, it is one of the safest countries in all of Africa. Petty crime and armed robberies do occur, but with some situational awareness and a bit of luck, you can have a smooth, trouble-free vacation. Happy travels!