Seychelles: Shopping Holiday
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The most infamous and unique Seychelles souvenir has to be the suggestively curvaceous coco de mer nut, thought by olden-time sailors to be shaped like a woman's nether regions. Export of these rare nuts is strictly controlled; if you purchase one, make sure it has government tags and identification papers, and be prepared to exercise your credit card.
Coco de mer purchases aside, shopping in Seychelles can be rather uninspiring. Many souvenirs are generic creations from overseas affixed with a Seychelles sticker, and items like tee-shirts can be more expensive than expected due to import costs. However, there are a number of locally-made goods that savvy shoppers in Seychelles would do well to seek out. For example, items made from coconut-palm components, pearl jewellery and hand-dyed pareos can be excellent buys.
Likewise, paintings, sculptures, pottery, and other hand-made, original creations by local artists can capture your imagination and be a compelling memento of your Seychelles holiday. If you take the time to visit local galleries, you'll often have a chance to meet the artist and perhaps see him or her at work. On Praslin, visit the George Camille Art Gallery at Anse Volbert (Côte d’Or) for a range of paintings showcasing the stunning natural beauty of the islands. On La Digue, Barbara Jensen Studio at Anse Reunion also offers some remarkable pieces.
Even if you don't buy anything, local markets are worth a visit if you enjoy the bustle and flavour of vibrant local shopping scenes. Victoria Market, officially known as the Sir Selwyn Clarke Market, is the hub of the capital. Upstairs, the boutique units are mainly aimed at tourists, but downstairs, local foods such as Hellfire chilli sauce, whole spices and citronella tea can be found. There are also many small stalls selling fruit, vegetables and spices, and a large fresh fish market; this is the place to go if you're gathering supplies for self-catering.
Victoria also offers some interesting destinations for shoppers with particular interests. Stamp collectors may wish to visit the Seychelles Philatelic Bureau in the main post office, and those who want to take some island rhythms home should drop by Ray's Music Room on Albert St. for a wide selection of Creole music. Camion Hall, also on Albert Street, is the major arts-and-crafts centre of the Seychelles.
Other good shopping deals in Seychelles include colourful sarongs and batiks, model ships, gold and pearl jewellery, spices such as fragrant vanilla pods and cinnamon oil, island tea, island perfumes and Coco d'Amour, a tropical Seychelles liqueur in a bottle the shape of the coco de mer.
Shopping hours in Seychelles are approximately 8am - 5pm, Monday through Friday, and 8am – 12pm, Saturdays. Kiosks, small grocery stores and some tourist shops keep later hours, but other shops close for lunch between the hours of 12pm and 1pm on weekdays.