Last updated on May 25, 2023 by Wandering our World
When it comes to tropical Indian Ocean paradises, you probably can’t get much better than the Maldives or Seychelles. However due to their remote nature, visiting either is costly and the airplane journey long.
So making the right choice between the Maldives or Seychelles for your dream getaway is vitally important.
However other than their remoteness and stunning beaches, these islands are vastly different.
For example, the Maldives is perfect for a romantic retreat in an overwater bungalow on a stunning private island. Whereas the Seychelles has more to do, better opportunities to explore culture, and arguably better beaches too…
Having spent time in both, we compare Maldives vs Seychelles below, showing you what to expect in each, and some of the best places to check out.
We look at which has the better beaches, nightlife, activities, culture, food and even more! All so you can make the right vacation decision.
- A Quick Overview
- Which Has Better Beaches & Landscape?
- Which Has The Better Cultural Experiences?
- Which Has Better Nightlife?
- Which Is Better For Families?
- Which Is Better For Couples & Honeymoons?
- Where To Stay According To Your Budget
- Which Has Better Weather?
- Which Is Cheaper?
- Which Is Safer?
- How Does The Cuisine Compare?
- Which Is The Better Choice?
Maldives vs Seychelles: A Quick Overview
For beach lovers, you will find spectacular beaches and turquoise swimming waters in both the Maldives and Seychelles. We tell you some of our favorites further on in this article.
However the Seychelles – made up of 115 different islands – arguably has the better beaches of the two due to their accessibility.
There are numerous beaches in the Seychelles, including many iconic white sand stretches of coastline.
Plus, with so many islands it’s still possible to find secluded spots that have a deserted island feel to them. Even the popular beaches in the Seychelles rarely feel busy.
Finding secluded beaches and stretches of coastline in the Maldives is harder. Although with 1190 islands and cays – they do exist!
However many islands in the Maldives are privately owned by a resort complex. So activities on the island revolve around the resort and what it offers. That also means that many of the beaches in the Maldives are not public and so you cannot visit them.
In contrast, the Seychelles will give you a more local experience, where you can island hop, explore beaches everywhere, go for picnics, and interact in the community.
With that being the case, there are also many accommodation options in the Seychelles – from guest houses through to five-star resorts.
That makes the Seychelles a more affordable destination for people traveling on different budgets.
In contrast, the Maldives is focused on high-end resorts. Although as it specializes in this, the resorts tend to be exceptionally well run with great service. So if you’re looking for a five-star resort holiday, then it’s hard to beat the Maldives.
The snorkeling and diving is also better in the Maldives, where the clear glass-like water makes this a world-class nation for underwater activities.
Below we look at some of the sights you must see in both countries, before comparing the culture in this battle between Maldives vs Seychelles. Spoiler alert – they’re very different!
Which Has Better Beaches & Landscape?
Maldives: The Beaches & Landscape
Ever seen pictures of crystal clear turquoise water, with those stunning wooden hotel huts sitting over it?
That’s what you should expect throughout the Maldives, a country that specializes in up-scale resorts and honeymoon vacations.
Some of the world’s best beaches happen to be in this nation too. One of our favorites is the powder white coastline at Lhaviyani Atoll where the palm tree lined beaches look like a computer screensaver.
We’ve found that the west side of the Atoll has wider beaches and softer sand, so is perfect for a day’s sunbathing.
As many of the islands are privately owned by resorts, you may be limited as to where you can go on each island in the Maldives. That is far less of an issue in the Seychelles.
However what this means is that if you’re staying at a Maldives resort you are pretty much guaranteed to have a spectacular beach, and a coral reef for snorkeling, right beside your room. When it comes to high-end beach vacations, this country really does excel.
It also excels when it comes to snorkeling, with a spectacular colorful underwater life that can be seen easily thanks to the gin-clear water.
However most snorkeling is done with a resort, due to the privately owned nature of many islands in the Maldives.
One of the best snorkeling spots is Manta Point, which is home to Manta Rays! Also known as Emas Thila, this is probably one of the best places in the world to swim alongside these gentle giants, just make sure you take a great underwater camera with you – like this one.
For a burst of color, Banana Reef is another great spot to snorkel and dive. Here you’ll see rays, sharks, and many different types of reef fish including Royal Blue Tangs. You might not have heard that name before, but you will recognize the fish if you’ve seen ‘Finding Nemo’ – ‘Dory’ was a Blue Tang!
Recommended: Snakes and Sea Snakes in the Maldives
Seychelles: The Beaches & Landscape
The Seychelles is everything you want when it comes to a beach holiday and more. And as a general rule, the more remote islands you manage to visit in the Seychelles, the more beautiful beaches you will find.
However no trip to the Seychelles is complete without visiting the breathtaking Anse Source d’Argent on La Digue island.
The turquoise water and vanilla-colored fluffy sand is set against a backdrop so stunning it’s movie worthy. And it actually is. This iconic beach is so beautiful it’s been filmed for numerous movie and television projects. It’s claimed by some to be the most beautiful beach in the world.
Beau Vallon beach on Mahe island is a popular place for couples and families alike. It can get busy, but the shallow water is perfect for swimming and the sunset spectacular.
For good snorkeling, Anse Badamier on Curieuse Island is one of the best spots across the archipegalo. Here you can swim with colorful reef fish, hawksbill turtles and even nurse shark pups.
In fact one of the most spectacular turtle spots in the Seychelles is the remote Bird island. Famous for its diverse bird-life which is well worth seeing in itself, you’re almost guaranteed to swim alongside turtles here.
The Seychelles has more to offer than just beaches though. If you’re feeling adventurous, then a visit to Morne Seychellois National Park is well worth it.
This forest has the only remaining indigenous rainforest in the Seychelles and is home to some wonderful and unique wildlife. Watch your step though – the world’s smallest frog lives here. The Sooglossus gardineri frog is just 1cm long!
Why not hike up Niz d’Aigle on La Digue island too. That will give you panoramic views over the island and across the Indian Ocean. It’s one of our favorite hiking spots in the archipelago.
In fact, if you like hiking and wildlife spotting, then there’s no doubt the Seychelles will be a better choice for you than the Maldives.
Which Has The Better Cultural Experiences?
As the Maldives is more focused on resort-based holidays, interaction with the local community and culture tends to be limited.
That’s unless you make a trip away from the private island resorts, and into the population centers.
Hotels and guest houses in the Seychelles are more integrated into the community, so a Seychelles vacation will have more of a ‘local’ feel than one in the Maldives. That also opens up opportunities for excursions away from the hotel.
Luckily though, in both countries English is widely spoken and understood.
Below we look at the culture in each in more detail!
Maldives: The Culture
As a majority Muslim country, the Maldives is a conservative nation, although within resort complexes you are free to act as you would in any liberal Western country.
However if you plan to make any excursions into population centers – like the capital Malé or public beaches – then be sure to dress conservatively, and avoid things such as alcohol.
The culture in the Maldives is vibrant, interesting, and definitely worth discovering though.
Bodu Beru is a traditional rhythmic dance performed by upwards of 15-20 people, and was introduced to the Maldives around 1000 years ago. It’s been a tradition here ever since, and many resorts have cultural nights where dancers perform.
If venturing into Malé, a visit to the Maldives National Museum is a must. Not only does it give an insight into the history of this nation, but it also has a great collection of historical artefacts from the region, some several centuries old.
Seychelles: The Culture
The Seychelles is its own diverse mix, and as a nation made up of immigrants, the culture has been formed though African, Asian and European influences.
A visit to the capital of the Seychelles, Victoria, should be on your itinerary.
One of the smallest capital cities in the world (population: 25-30,000), Victoria is a colorful charming town which has many art galleries, craft markets, and architectural curiosities to visit and discover.
Just outside of Victoria you can visit the ruins of Mission Lodge. This missionary school from the 1800s will give you an insight into life for the Seychelles’ early settlers. There’s also a spectacular viewpoint nearby the ruins.
On the island of La Digue, visit the fascinating L’Union estate. This sustainable coconut plantation is a fun place to tour, but also has historical sites such as the cemetery of the island’s original settlers.
Which Has Better Nightlife?
Neither the Maldives nor the Seychelles are popular for their nightlife. For one, the Maldives is a Muslim country, so the nightlife can’t really be over-the-top or wild.
Seychelles isn’t known to be a big party place either. The night entertainment mostly consists of beach clubs and beachfront bars, with people lounging around and listening to music while sipping on cocktails.
However when compared head-to-head, Seychelles does have a better nightlife scene than the Maldives.
Below we delve into the nightlife of each country in more detail!
Maldives: The Nightlife
In the Maldives, you can only serve alcohol on resort islands. Some of the most popular night establishments include Kurumba Resort, Babuna Bar, and Moodhu Bar.
However a fun night activity in the Maldives are the beach bonfires held by some resorts. At these, visitors gather around a fire pit and enjoy drinks while listening to music. Fun!
Seychelles: The Nightlife
There are two islands that are known to be nightlife hubs in the Seychelles.
The first one is Mahé Island, which is filled with clubs, bars, and even casinos. Here you’ll hear Creole music playing from bars and restaurants late into the night.
For a relaxed atmosphere on the island, The Boardwalk Bar & Grill offers a great selection of cocktails with marina scenery. But if this isn’t scenic enough for you, Del Place Bar is a breathtaking hangout spot nestled in the hills of Bel Ombre with views of the ocean and its lush surroundings.
And if you’re looking to throw away your inhibitions and dance all night, check out Katiolo Nightclub. It’s the best play for dancing and they often host themed parties. Another popular place is the Barrel Nightclub which is known for serving cheap drinks and having great live DJs.
And don’t forget about the casinos. Casino Gran Kaz is the most popular spot in the country, offering all kinds of table games such as blackjack, poker, and roulette with the occasional live entertainment events.
Though not as big, Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Casino is another option to unwind and play slot machines.
On the other hand, the island of Praslin is known for its upscale night entertainment, and the nightlife here is centered on beachfront resorts and fine-dining restaurants.
For example, the bar at Paradise Sun Hotel is a great place to sip on cocktails while listening to live music, be that Creole or international music. You can even find cultural performances at resorts and upscale restaurants like Pirogue Restaurant & Bar.
Fun fact, Seychelles’ upscale nightlife can be so exclusive that those wearing casual clothes may not be admitted into these fancy nightlife establishments. So dress to impress!
Which Is Better For Families?
If you’re searching for theme parks or water parks, you’re unlikely to find either in both the Maldives and the Seychelles. However, there are still many fun things you can do in each country.
Overall, Seychelles offers a wider range of activities than Maldives as we will show you below. From lush forests and hiking trails to nature reserves, it’s the better option for adventurous families.
On the other hand, Maldives is better when it comes to marine life. You can snorkel, deep dive, and try out a bunch of water sports with your family in this nation.
The Maldives also wins in terms of tourism infrastructure and as such there are probably more family-friendly resorts in the Maldives compared to the Seychelles.
Maldives: For Families
Something kids will surely love is Vaadhoo Island’s surreal “Sea of Stars” phenomenon.
This is when the beaches of this island glow a brilliant shade of blue due to the many bioluminescent plankton swimming underwater. The best time to see this curious phenomenon is between June and October.
And even though the Maldives is best known as a honeymoon destination, there are many family-friendly resorts here as well.
Many of these resorts offer kids clubs with organized and supervised activities. There are even resorts offering babysitting services.
Seychelles: For Families
Compared to the Maldives, the Seychelles has a more diverse landscape. That means you can take your family on a hiking adventure like to the peak of Morne Blanc.
The viewpoint at the top gives the most gorgeous 360-degree view of the island and turquoise sea. Other than Morne Blanc, there are plenty of other hiking trails in Seychelles, too.
Too tired to hike? Zoom through the lush forests by taking the Seychelles Zip Lines at Constance Ephelia Resort.
Or walk through the Seychelles National Botanical Gardens and take a look at over 280 plant species. Although most children’s favorite attraction in the garden is actually the Aldabra giant tortoises, which are endemic to the country. Visitors can meet these gentle creatures up close and even feed them.
Last but not least, Seychelles offers a more diverse cultural experience than the Maldives too.
You can visit local markets and historical sites to get a feel of the country’s unique blend of African, Asian, and European influences. And dor a fun learning activity to do with the family, take a Creole cooking class.
All in all, the Seychelles simply has more things to keep children occupied and active compared to the Maldives.
Which Is Better For Couples & Honeymoons?
Being a world-renowned honeymoon destination, the Maldives is known for its breathtaking nature as well as luxury resorts that are perfect for a romantic getaway.
But we’ve established that Seychelles’ beaches are even more pristine and secluded, so which one of the two is the better honeymoon destination?
First of all, something to keep in mind is that there are restrictions to alcoholic beverages, skimpy clothing, and public displays of affection in the Maldives. You can only do so freely if you’re staying at a private resort island.
And if we’re to compare couples’ activities, the Maldives and the Seychelles are very similar. There aren’t many tourist attractions in both countries aside from the picturesque beaches. Your honeymoon will revolve around taking advantage of resort amenities, strolling on the beach, snorkeling, and doing water sports. However, Seychelles still offers a wider variety of activities.
But that said, for a classic honeymoon at an exceptional resort, the Maldives will likely suit most couples. We’ll explain next…
Maldives: For Couples & Honeymoons
What the Maldives is most known for is the ‘one island, one resort concept’, which makes it perfect for honeymoons.
On top of that, many of the resorts have overwater bungalows which are villas built on stilts above the sea. Imagine waking up next to your significant other and then opening the door directly to the ocean. Now that’s special and extremely romantic.
Another romantic thing to do for couples in the Maldives is stargazing. The sky is clear enough that you can lay down a picnic mat on the beach at night and just enjoy the twinkling stars.
And for something very special, there’s an underwater restaurant in the Maldives called Subsix which is a popular dining place for couples.
The journey to the restaurant itself is already a unique experience as you will have to ride on a speedboat and then descend a flight of stairs to get underwater!
Seychelles: For Couples & Honeymoons
Even with Maldives’ one island one resort concept, the Seychelles may suit some when it comes to a honeymoon trip.
Known for its white sand beaches, natural beauty, and lush landscapes, the Seychelles is the perfect backdrop to the perfect honeymoon. Most of the resorts also have private villas.
And if you’re looking for activities, most couples can do leisurely beach activities, hiking, or even island hopping to go snorkeling and exploring around different islands. Sunset cruises are also popular for couples on their honeymoon.
In the end, it’s hard to choose a better honeymoon destination between the Maldives and the Seychelles as the two are very similar.
But if you want to explore more then the Seychelles will likely suit you better. Whereas if you want an exclusive overwater bungalow experience, then head to the Maldives.
Where To Stay According To Your Budget
Budget: The word ‘budget’ is a rarity in the Maldives, but on the stunning Fonimagoodhoo Island you can find private villas at the four-star Reethi Resort at a tenth of the price as other Maldives stays.
With everything catered for, and a white sand beach on your doorstep, this resort makes the Maldives affordable to most. See photos and rates!
Luxury: At Amilla Maldives you get the opportunity to stay on an overwater villa that sits directly over the gorgeous waters of the lagoon. The sea views are, of course, breathtaking. But even more so from your own private pool.
Couple that with the world-class service and you have one of the best resorts in the world and the perfect honeymoon stay. And incredibly it’s still a lot cheaper than similar stays in the Maldives. See photos and rates!
Budget: AQUA Boutique Hotel is a stunning hotel situated close to the Anse Nord d’Est Beach. There’s a sprawling garden, a refreshing infinity pool, and each aparthotel room comes equipped with its own little kitchenette.
It’s within reach of local towns and has easy access to stores and restaurants as well as some beautiful sightseeing opportunities. And all of that at a fantastic budget price point. See photos and rates!
Luxury: Nothing says luxury like a private island, and Denis Private Island in Seychelles offers a resort experience unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Each room is like a private villa, spacious with beachfront views.
Activities can be arranged through the hotel, and the island is a short 30-minute flight from the main airport. They also have their own private restaurant that serves farm-to-table food and a gorgeous infinity pool overlooking the ocean. See photos and rates!
Which Has Better Weather?
The Seychelles and the Maldives have very similar weather conditions, namely tropical climates with temperatures of about 24 – 30°C year round, and no winter.
The Maldives is more humid while the Seychelles is drier albeit slightly warmer. Therefore, the Seychelles’ weather may be just slightly better for some as it’s not too humid.
What’s interesting is that the seasons in these two countries are opposite from each other.
The Maldives’ dry season or high tourist season runs from November to April, which is when it’s the rainy season in Seychelles. On the contrary, Seychelles’ dry season is from May to September.
So this can be a determining factor if you’re still torn on which of the two countries you should visit. Just choose the one that’s experiencing dry season when you’re planning on visiting.
Which Is Safer?
According to the US State Department, the travel advisory for Seychelles is Level 1 (Exercise Normal Precautions), while for Maldives it’s a Level 2 Advisory (Exercise Increased Caution). This means that the Seychelles should be safer for travel than Maldives.
Even so, crime levels in resort areas in the Maldives are still relatively low, and pretty much unheard of on private resort island.
Which Is Cheaper?
Although the Seychelles is not a cheap destination, the Maldives is far more pricey in comparison. The Maldives is known for its high-end tourism, which can result in higher accommodation and eating costs, especially if you’re staying at private island resort or in an overwater villa.
As for flight prices, the Maldives have more direct flights and better connectivity compared to Seychelles, which is why it’s usually cheaper to fly to Maldives.
The Seychelles is a smaller and more remote destination so it can be more expensive to reach (and it usually requires connecting flights). But of course, flight fares highly depend on your departure location and time of year.
How Does The Cuisine Compare?
Both island nations have delicious seafood, and some dishes that may surprise.
Maldives: The Food
Considering the first settlers to the Maldives came from India and Sri Lanka, it’s no surprise that the food here is heavily influenced by Indian cuisine.
Curry is therefore one of the most popular dishes here. We recommend trying Mas Riha. Made with freshly caught tuna, coconut, and a good number of chilies, this is a truly unique and delicious Maldivian dish.
Seafood is also popular and traditional dishes include Garudhiya (a type of fish soup) and Kulhi boakiba, which is a fish cake made from smoked tuna, coconut, ginger and rice.
As for what to drink, resorts in the Maldives have countless number of cocktails to try. However the coconut water in the Maldives is delicious and refreshing – especially when enjoyed direct from the coconut.
Seychelles: The Food
Seychelles cuisine is focused heavily on seafood. No surprise there for a nation made up of 115 islands!
Grilled fish is a popular dish in the country, with Red Snapper one of the most common choices. Served with chili, this is a must-try dish but it will be spicy.
Why not pair grilled fish with Seychelles version of French fries – Breadfruit chips!
A unique dish to the Seychelles, and one people are either desperate to try or want to avoid completely, is shark chutney. This side dish is found in many creole restaurants and is exactly what it sounds like!
Want something to wash down your breadfruit chips and shark chutney? How about a wine made from the flowers of coconut trees. That’s what sweet-tasting Kalou is made from.
Recommended: Seychelles for Foodies
Maldives vs Seychelles: Which Is The Better Choice?
Both Maldives and the Seychelles will provide an unforgettable experience, but also very different holidays.
If you’re looking for an all-inclusive resort holiday where you’re guaranteed great beaches and world-class snorkeling, then the Maldives may be your best choice. Resorts are what this country excels in, however the prices are expensive, and excursions can be limited.
The Seychelles probably has the better beaches of the two nations, and with a variety of accommodation options is also better suited to tourists on a range of budgets.
It’s also possible to find beaches all to yourself in the Seychelles, although that will require some island hopping.
However with hiking opportunities, remote islands to discover, and a local community that is mixed in with the tourist sector, the Seychelles provides a holiday experience outside of the all-inclusive resort package offered in the Maldives.