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. 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.
Maldives vs Seychelles: Stunning Indian Ocean paradises
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 – probably has the better beaches of the two.
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 are privately owned by a resort complex, and 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.
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 it a more affordable destination in this respect for people traveling on different budgets. 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.
However the snorkeling and diving is 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!
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!
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.
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!
A hike up Niz d’Aigle on La Digue island will give you panoramic views over the island and across the Indian Ocean. It’s one of our favorite hiking spots in the archipelago.
Maldives vs Seychelles: Experience paradise and island life
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.
In both countries, English is widely spoken and understood.
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 artifacts from the region, some several centuries old.
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.
Maldives vs Seychelles: A taste of the tropics
Both island nations have delicious seafood, but with different cultural backgrounds in both countries, that’s where the similarities end.
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 drunk direct from the coconut.
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.
Maldives vs Seychelles: Which should you choose?
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.
Recommended for your trip to Maldives or Seychelles
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