There’s a good chance you may have never heard of the Seychelles. The rocky grouping of islands is northeast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.
These small little islands are made up of the clearest blue water you will ever see and unbelievably white sand. They’re the true definition of paradise.
On my last trip, I was committed to buying a coco de mer. A coco de mer palm is an endangered ancient palm tree that produces large green nuts.
The nuts themselves weigh anywhere from 30-70 pounds!
They’re almost impossible to find, so here are some tips to help you find a coco de mer in the Seychelles!
Coco De Mer on Mahé Island
It’s challenging to find information on where to find a coco de mer. Initially, I had looked on Mahé Island though I was quickly turned away and told to go to Victoria Market.
Victoria Market is a large artisan market where the locals do their food shopping.
While I was unsuccessful at the market, I began to ask around, and they sent me on a goose chase to a small shop. It wasn’t a bad option, and they did have them in the back of the shop, but the shop is extremely hard to find. I couldn’t find it myself, and I eventually gave up.
Coco De Mer on Praslin Island
I then moved my search to Praslin Island. My first stop was the Vallée de Mai, a nature reserve that is home to the largest concentration of coco de mer trees in the world. They have a gift shop there with coco de mer for sale.
Sounds promising right?
Well, the supply was extremely limited. So I decided to ask the shop staff if they knew somewhere to go. I was told to visit a shop that was about a 15-minute cab ride away. My non-helpful information is that I don’t remember the exact name of the place I went. All I remember is that it was another spot a little further past Vallée de Mai. One of the staff at Vallée de Mai should be able to explain where it is.
When we got to the next shop, it felt a little bit like a back-alley deal. We were led into a small shed with coco de mer lying on different tables. It felt a bit sketchy, but they had all the licensing, and they were legit. I learned that this spot was the middleman between the farmers and the retail shops, so we had the option to buy for less than we would in a store.
However, I still didn’t love any of the nuts for sale. I wanted a perfect coco de mer, without blemishes and with perfect symmetry. So, we pressed on.
Coco De Mer at Anse Lazio
I continued my search on around Praslin Island until I was finally successful!
Where did I hit the jackpot? At a beach called Anse Lazio.
At Anse Lazio, there is a restaurant and bar right on the sand called Bonbon Plume. Not only do they have one of the best lunch views, but they also have a bookshop in the beach house with coco de mer nuts for sale.
What they have on hand is what’s available so if you like one, get it. Otherwise, it might not be there when you return. Just make sure that it has the government seal and comes with the export license.
If it doesn’t have these things, you won’t be able to leave the country with it, and there’s a chance you could be fined or even sent to prison. Also, be sure to look for any aesthetic flaws.
Cost + Significance
My coco de mer cost me about $300 USD which may sound a bit expensive, but it’s a rare nut that makes one fantastic souvenir. Luckily the shop took credit cards!
You’re probably wondering why I went through all this trouble in the first place. For one, The Seychelles Islands is the only place on Earth that coco de mer grows.
It can take up to 40 years for a tree to reach adulthood! It then takes another 7-10 years for the nut to grow and to fall off the tree. Then, it takes ANOTHER 10 years for it to dry and be allowed for sale.
It might sound like a silly journey to go on, but it’s so worth it if you’re traveling the islands. All in all, where there’s a will there’s a way.
I was sent on quite the goose chase to find one, but I never gave up. All you have to do is ask around, and eventually, you will find one!