Lifestyle: 5 Exclusive Indian Ocean getaways

World-class island escapes are right on your doorstep

Few tropical destinations can compare with the islands rising out of the temperate gin-clear waters of the Indian Ocean when it comes to natural beauty and exclusive, luxury holiday experiences.

“Brimming with tucked-away resorts, tropical seaside towns and some of the world’s most spectacular coastlines (National Geographic calls Anse Source d’Argent, La Digue, Seychelles the world’s most photographic beach), the Indian Ocean offers a variety of unforgettable exclusive travel experiences,” says Sue Garrett, GM of Product and Marketing at the Flight Centre Travel Group.

With more cruise routes and daily flights, the Indian Ocean has become one of the easiest destinations to access, hassle-free, Garrett adds. “Beyond the beaches, it is the top-notch accommodation, quality service and warm island hospitality that is everything that should come with a luxury beach holiday, and more,” she says.

Since the choice of destinations is as wide as this 70.56 million km² ocean, solve the quandary of where to book by choosing any of these premium experiences.

Sustainable travel in Seychelles

Take your pick from one of the shimmering islands of Seychelles offering the most stupendous luxury in immaculate hotels, where platoons of butlers and eye-stretching infinity pools are the name of the game.

“Delve a little deeper and you’ll soon discover the tropical tableaus on North Island. “The whole island is a private resort making its beaches completely exclusive,” says Lena Hoareau, Director: South Africa for the Seychelles tourism board. “Seek out wandering turtles on the sandy shores of Fregate and champagne-hued sunsets from La Digue. As the first outer island to run completely on solar power, Alphonse Island is sustainability at its best without skimping on luxury.”

Island culture in Zanzibar

Set your watch to the pole pole (slowly, slowly) rhythm of Zanzibar, located just off the mainland of Tanzania. “With a dizzying array of resorts dotting the circumference of the island, there is a wide range of accommodation resort options,” comments Garrett.

Don’t miss a visit to the Emerson on Hurumzi rooftop teahouse for a cuppa overlooking the labyrinthine streets of Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

More adventure in Mauritius

Soak up the sun-splattered ocean in Mauritius. Almost every resort hotel has a dizzying array of water-based activities (non-motorised watersports are often included) with specialist instructors to go with them.

Or holiday on your terms in a studio apartment on the north-west coast, with a big hurrah for your own private pool surrounded by the exotic palms of Trou aux Biches, one of the best beaches on the island.

Discover the exquisite natural beauty of Ile Aux Cerfs, relaxing on a catamaran cruise or snorkelling up a storm in crystal-clear waters. “Or venture to the island’s interior to see the Seven Coloured Earths of Chamarel and Botanical Gardens of Pamplemousse,” suggests Garrett.

Follow whale sharks in Bazaruto

Ideal for a long weekend, Mozambique is exotic and wears its Afro-Portuguese roots on its sleeve for all to enjoy. Savour flavours of piri piri chicken, prawns and other fresh seafood in Maputo Bay. For barefoot-chic, Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelego beckons.

“There are several elegant lodges located on this archipelago, such as the Azura Benguerra and Anantara Bazaruto Lodges,” says Natalie Tenzer-Silva, Director of Dana Tours, a Maputo-based DMC and tour operator. “From June to September, visitors can encounter whale sharks, filter-feeding on krill near the surface in Bazaruto Archipelago National Marine Park. As long as you are comfortable in the water and can snorkel, then this is easy and safe.”

Seek lemurs in Madagascar

“Ponant is the world’s only French five-star luxury yacht-liner and has amazing expedition cruises on offer,” says Divan Viljoen, Marketing Campaign Manager at Cruiseabout, a division of the Flight Centre Travel Group. “Travel to the ‘Vanilla Islands,’ from Victoria in the Seychelles to Madagascar via the Comoros and Mayotte. This 10-day itinerary aboard Le Bougainville features an on-board diving instructor,” says Viljoen.

Discover La Digue, and the Aldabra Atoll, a largely untouched natural sanctuary listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, before venturing on to the Glorioso Islands, part of the Scattered Islands.

“Ponant also ventures through Madagascar‘s west coast, Nosy Komba, also known as Lemur Island, where you’ll find large colonies of these small, agile primates.” On the east coast, pleasure-seekers will fall in love with Île Sainte-Marie, promises Viljoen. “Once a lair of pirates, it has successfully retained its authentic character, offering a great variety of hotels and resorts, which don’t overpower the setting.”