Getting married in Seychelles during a pandemic
What's it like traveling during a pandemic? Only a portion of people will get to experience this and it has surely changed over the course of the pandemic, be it the airlines and airports readiness itself or simply people getting used to the idea as the pandemic becomes part of our lives for the time being. It also surely depends on where you're going and why you're going.
Global travel has dropped to a new record low in 2020 where more than 62 million jobs were lost due to the pandemic halting travel. Most airlines estimate that it won't be until 2024 till travel goes back to how it was pre-covid19. So until then? Seems like PCR testing will remain part of our lives as well as maybe vaccination helping bypass quarantine requirements for some countries such as Iceland, and in our case here, Seychelles.
I traveled three times since the pandemic started in March 2020 and they were all with Emirates. Two of these trips were to go visit my family in Lebanon and the third to Seychelles. I surely have relaxed over time because it's quite clear how most airports are becoming quite self-aware and cautious while providing the right measures for social distancing and sanitizing.
The first thing you need to do is simply check what the airline is mentioning in terms of regulations. Some routes need you to do a PCR test within 72 to 96 hours before flight time, some require you to do a PCR test on landing, or few days after landing, some require you to quarantine either at home or at a hotel. Best to keep an eye and monitor the official sources of said country.
In terms of traveling, I do my best in terms of always keeping my mask on, sanitizing and washing my hands, keeping my distance, avoiding touching my face. Even though it felt fine at most time, the idea to travel for tourism didn't excite me at all as I felt that there isn't really a point going anywhere because either things are closed out of precaution or not which will mainly stress me out. Meanwhile, we've also been quite lucky living in Dubai as the beautiful weather really allowed us to be outdoors since last October; this alone alleviated a lot of the pandemic stress related feelings.
|Feet meet Seychelles
Seychelles Covid19 regulations
My partner and I decided around October to get married and we chose to go for Seychelles sometime in early Spring. Seychelles is well known for being a beach wedding destination. And the best thing is, they are doing everything right in terms of Covid-19 related measurements. When we made the decision back then, we saw that we were required to quarantine for 6 days and only at pre-approved establishments by the government. Around January, there was a new announcement allowing travellers who were vaccinated with two weeks having passed since their second dose to enter the country. In addition to that, it was great to see how serious and strict Seychelles were about the regulations. Even when vaccinated, we were still required to do a PCR test within 72 hours of our flight into Seychelles and we needed to fill and submit an online application (paid) with all necessary documents before getting the approval to fly to Seychelles. I believe after mid-March, the country is now open to all travellers, regardless of vaccination status, as long as they do their PCR tests given that most of the population in Seychelles is now vaccinated.
While in Seychelles
If you ask me what I thought about Seychelles, I don't think I can give a fair assessment as when we were there few weeks ago, there was still a curfew, some restaurants had just started opening up but most were only open for take-away. The hotel managers were taking our temperature every day, and everywhere we went to from restaurants to souvenir shops were also taking our temperature. So it still didn't feel like I would imagine it would feel in non-pandemic days.
|Morne Blanc Trail
We worked with Marco Pross company who helped arrange the wedding from decor, flowers, working with registrar, arranging a hairstylist, a photographer, as well as certifying our marriage in the UAE embassy in Seychelles and mailing us the document.
Another pandemic twist to our marriage was that the government required the beach wedding to take place at a hotel with direct beach access, so we had to do some last minute plans to accommodate that. Luckily this gave us a chance to experience another hotel.
The wedding itself was no doubt beautiful as the turquoise sea was our backdrop. And the owners of the hotel were extremely helpful with filming the whole wedding and going live for our family and friends to watch and be with us.
Where should you stay
We stayed at Le Nautique Waterfront Apartments at Anse Royale (they also have another location in La Digue island) where we had our wedding. We then stayed in the original accommodation we had booked "Red Coconut Self Catering Villa" where we were supposed to quarantine, as it's quiet, only accommodates the owners and two other accommodations (a bungalow and a 2 bedroom villa) and has a small cute pool so we thought it would be good for us to have that space. And then we didn't really want to change anymore as the owner was super helpful throughout giving us tips and recommendations, so we kept it.
Now the question is where should you stay and what can you do? Okay, so stay on the main island where you land, and that's Mahe and visit and swim in beautiful beaches like Anse Intendance and Baie Lazare, go hiking in Morne Blanc (800m elevation - medium level) to reach the top for a gorgeous view of the west side of the Island, visit Eden Island to try its restaurants or go on a half day or full day trip by boat tour. We did all of these and they were quite nice (Instagram Seychelles highlights). Of course, we didn't have a lot of tour options and had to do a private boat tour due to restrictions and social distancing. Hopefully by the time you go, you can do much more.
The private boat tour was quite nice, albeit quite expensive, nevertheless we didn't mind paying as it was literally the only thing we paid for besides our wedding and the food for the week. We visited several close-by islands near Mahe such as Long island, Round island, Moyenne island (it was closed when we went, but you can visit it to see giant tortoises) and snorkel around the area.
Visiting other Islands
You can also take the ferry (double check the timings specially if you have a flight to catch) to a couple of other islands such as La Digue and Praslin and stay there for few nights. I kind of wish I did more planning as those islands are gorgeous but I was mostly busy trying to get the paperwork right to be able to fly to Seychelles and do the wedding.
Other activities you can do would be parasailing, diving, go on cultural tours, visit the botanical gardens, visit Victoria market.
|View from Morne Blanc trail
Driving in Seychelles
It's not rocket science but I just wanted to keep this here in case you haven't noticed. Seychelles is like the UK, the car drives on the left side and the steering wheel is on the right of the car. What made this a bit more difficult is that the roads are narrow, so just keep that in mind and be careful! Moreover, due to how narrow the roads are, shorter distances take longer time by nature, and most of the time you might feel like you need to be jumping from one side of the island to the other.
All in all though, we were still able to make it, thanks to countries like Seychelles and the UAE that have put proper regulations and requirements in place facilitating travel whilst keeping everything safe.
As a bonus, I made a relaxing 3.5 minutes video of all things Seychelles turquoise water. Enjoy!