Insight /

Seychelles, mauritius, Maldives, Madagascar

Islands Of the Indian Ocean

The world’s third-largest ocean is home to a range of tropical islands. From wild adventure to an all-out luxe paradise, explore the islands of the Indian Ocean

Precious Pearls in Tropical Waters

Framed by Asia, Africa and Australia, the Indian Ocean is known for its jewel-like islands which offer white, sandy beaches and verdant interiors as standard. But delve deeper into the topography, wildlife and culture and you’ll find distinct differences between the islands.

We shine a light on five fabulous Indian Ocean islands. Which one will you choose?

Madagascar

The lowdown

  • Best For

    Wildlife-lovers and adventurous travellers seeking off-the-beaten-track experiences.

  • When to go

    The best time to visit Madagascar is between April and December, avoiding wet season which runs from January to March

  • Insider Tip:

    Consider a stay at private island Miavana, created by the Seychelles' North Island team, with a similar wow-factor.

To do Madagascar justice you really need to devote at least two weeks to this extraordinary country which broke off from India millions of years ago and has developed its unique culture with influence from Borneo, Africa and the French.

The island feels primitive and untouched, flitting with the kind of natural beauty that you’ve only ever gawped at on a nature documentary. Azure-hued butterflies come as big as your head and the rainforest crashes with astonishing creatures such as lemurs, tomato frogs, dancing sifikas and the cat-like fossa. Among Madagascar’s impressive natural formations – mangroves, mountains, limestone cliffs and underground caves – you’ll feel like an explorer, discovering bizarre endemic plants such as the sheath-like travellers palm, towering baobab trees and over 900 species of orchid. Its culture is rooted in the rituals, spirits and taboos of the mystical world of the Malagasy people who you will have a privileged opportunity to get to know. This is an adventurous trip that will stay with you long after you leave.

Mauritius

The lowdown

  • Best For

    Those who want more than just sun, sea and sand.

  • When to go

    The island has warm weather year-round, with May to December being the cooler months.

  • Insider Tip

    Seafood is king in Mauritius, dine out on lobster, octopus and squid plus rich, tasty Creole fish curries.

If you’re looking for an Indian Ocean island that brims with colourful culture, you would do well to visit Mauritius. Firstly, it has all the hallmarks you’d associate with a tropical holiday – white-sand beaches, iridescent waters and great hotels, but on Mauritius it’s easy to explore beyond that – and its fusion of  Indian, French, Creole, Chinese and African cultures is made accessible by its friendly inhabitants.

Discover wildlife on easy hikes through the forested jungle which open out onto startling viewpoints, head out on the waters to see dolphins and snorkel in protected marine parks or take a foodie tour of Mauritius’ markets and palm tree plantations including cookery lessons with local chefs. One of the best things about Mauritius is that due to zero time difference, it’s doable in a week and year-round balmy temperatures mean it’s a great way to get some winter sun.

Seychelles

The lowdown

  • Best For:

    With its superb birding scene, the Seychelles are ideal for ornithologists.

  • When to go

    The Seychelles can get breezy during the trade winds, avoid these by visiting between April and May, and October and November

  • Insider Tip

    Island hopping is a great way to experience the diversity of the Seychelles, speak to us about visiting Praslin, Bird Island and Mahé, all on one trip

With its wild, granite boulder-strewn beaches and flourishing jungle humming with a soundtrack of wildlife, the Seychelles is a nature lover’s paradise. In particular, over its scattered islands, you’ll find it has a huge population of nesting seabirds such as terns, frigates and tropicbirds.

The Seychelles also has a reputation for being the home of the world’s most exclusive resorts. While this is true, we have also found some of the Seychelles’ islands to be affordable, and shying away from bigger resorts can give you a more enriching trip. For something different, stay in a characterful self-catering apartment on Mahé or Praslin, using local markets for ingredients, eating out in traditional Seychellois restaurants and hiring a car to explore. The biggest island, Mahé, has well-paved roads and you can soak up Creole architecture in its capital Victoria or find hidden beaches in the north.

 

 

Réunion Island

The lowdown

  • Best For

    Hikers and those that prefer their tropical paradise to be a little rugged, raw and natural.

  • When to go

    Réunion's dry season is May to October, with temperatures 20-25°C while November to March is more humid, and January and February are wetter.

  • Insider Tip

    Whales regularly pass by reunion from May to September, spot them from the beach.

With no direct flights to Réunion Island (you connect via Mauritius), this is the island to choose for those who don’t mind going that bit further. And when you arrive on Réunion, you’ll reap the rewards of your extra effort. The French-speaking island greets you with a wild, untouched beauty in its rugged, volcanic landscapes. You’ll still have bags of tropical charm on powder-white beaches, coral reefs and rainforests, with the addition of small Creolean villages, colourful guesthouses and a surprisingly good wine scene.

Soak up the pleasures of this castaway isle. Hike the jungle trials via cascading waterfalls to breath-taking panoramic vistas, spot flashes of rare birdlife and relish the solitude of this raw, all-natural environment. You can even clamber Piton de la Fournaise, an active volcano that crowns the island at 2,600 metres.

Maldives

The lowdown

  • Best For

    Marine lovers, luxe-seekers, and those that love a really great hotel

  • When to Go

    Although weather patterns are harder to predict these days, we'd recommend visiting the Maldives between November and April when temperatures are warm. The driest months are January to March.

  • Insider Tip

    With such a high standard of hotels, it can be hard to differentiate. Talk to us about your priorities whether that’s sustainability, private pools or a great kids’ club.

Perhaps one of the most celebrated Indian Ocean idylls, the smattering of islands that make up the Maldives are home to some of the world’s most picture-perfect tropical landscapes. Stunning scenes greet you at every turn from icing sugar-soft beaches to bendy palm trees angled perfectly to frame the view.

With a range of world-class hotels from the rustic-luxe to the all-out glam, the Maldives’ quality of accommodation is particularly high. And although many are drawn to this luxury enclave for its hotels, in fact its colourful underwater world is a great lure for those wishing to ascend the deep. Its exceptionally clear turquoise waters make marine life easy to spot and whether you’re snorkelling or diving you’re likely to see turtles, baby sharks, and manta rays on a daily basis.

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