Indian Ocean holidays are characterised by miles and miles of beautiful beaches, turquoise water and blue skies. The Indian Ocean islands are Mauritius, Seychelles, Maldives, Zanzibar, Madagascar, Reunion and Comores. Each of these islands offers a vastly different experience. Choosing the right destination depends on the type of Indian Ocean holiday you are looking for and the amount of money you are willing to spend.
Mauritius is one of the larger Indian Ocean islands with around 160km of well-preserved coastline. The island is largely protected by a ring of coral inhabited by many different forms of marine life. Many fine resorts and hotels are found along the coastline. Mauritius is a mountainous island with a large, elevated central plateau. Summers are hot, with an average coastal temperature of 30 degrees at noon, and winters are warm with an average coastal temperature of 24 degrees. Although it is tempting to spend every day on the beach, Mauritius offers much in terms of sightseeing. Some of the most popular sights include Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanic Garden, Trou aux Cerfs Crater and Seven Coloured Earth at Chamarel.
Zanzibar, also known as the spice islands, is an archipelago of islands located about 40km off the east coast of Tanzania. The largest of the islands, Unguja, is also known as Zanzibar island. Pemba is a slightly smaller and located to the northeast of the main island. Zanzibar has a rich history, built on Arab and Asian trade, as well as European exploration. Stone Town is the old quarter of Zanzibar and one of the oldest settlements in East Africa. Zanzibar is most often visited for its excellent diving and deap-sea game fishing.
Another Indian Ocean holiday option is the vast archipelago of Seychelles. The island is a paradise for newly-weds and those seeking a romantic getaway. The inner islands of La Digue, Mahé and Pralin offer many activities for restless travellers, who do not want to spend the holiday on the beach.
Madagascar is one of the untamed dive destinations and definitely an open for those travellers considering a less picture perfect Indian Ocean holiday. The island is located is located 250 miles off the eastern coast of the Southern African coast. It is considered to be one of the most exotic and mysterious islands in the world, with its biology evolving in isolation for a 165 million years. It is thought that over 80% of the animal species on the island are endemic to this area. National Geographic reports that researchers documented 304 hard coral species off the north-western coast of Madagascar in a recent marine survey. This represents more than a third of the world’s total known species of hard corals - truly a diver’s paradise!
The Maldives offer visitors the ultimate luxury island getaway, with only one boutique hotel per island. The islands are small and intimate, making it a perfect honeymoon destination. The beautiful corals surrounding the islands make it a top scuba diving destination, where divers can observe manta rays and whale sharks, among others. Best weather can be found during the Southern Hemisphere summer months of November through to April.
Reunion Island offers an Indian Ocean holiday off the beaten track. The island is mostly known to French travellers, but is slowly gaining popularity. The island offers 17 miles of beautiful, unspoilt beaches, forests and mountains in the centre and an active volcano on its south coast. Adventure travellers will enjoy hiking in Reunion’s unique “cirques”, scuba-diving or surfing in the ocean, or canyoning the island’s waterfalls.
The Comores is located halfway between the island of Madagascar and Mozambique, off the east coast of Africa. Political instability has characterised the Comores in the past, making it a less obvious travel destination for many travellers. However, this island archipelago is certainly worth a visit. The Comores consist of three islands (the fourth choosing to remain part of France). Grand Comore is the largest and home to the capital city Moroni. Moheli is the most sparsely populated island and the least developed. The most spectacular of the islands is Anjouan, the main producer of perfume essences, such as jasmine and ylang-ylang. Some call these islands the “forgotten island”, but for those who love nature, the Comores is a destination not to be missed.