INDIAN OCEAN ISLANDS
Off the eastern coastline of Africa lie some of the world’s most stunning island locations – a paradise of white-sand beaches, palm trees and azure waters where hedonistic pleasures seduce even the most world weary of travelers.
While all of Africa’s Indian Ocean islands offer beautiful beaches, warm clear waters and coral reefs, the differences between them ensures the constant pleasure of new discoveries.
Maldives offers unrivalled luxury, stunning beaches and an amazing underwater world . The Maldives an obvious choice for a true holiday of a lifetime.
Mauritius attracts with its rolling sugar cane fields, mountainous interior, sophisticated resorts and superb shopping.
The Seychelles is the ultimate romantic location with pristine beaches dotted with giant granite rocks and flanked by Coco-de-Mer palms.
Madagascar is exotic, extraordinary and unexpected. For the adventurous and flexible traveller it offers the island holiday of a lifetime.
Reunion Island is a true island of contrasts, ideal for those with an adventurous spirit. It has the active volcano de la Fournaise on its south coast, 27km of pristine beaches to the west, and lush mountain terrain in between.
SNEAK PEEK - INDIAN OCEAN ISLANDS
From the moment you fly into the Maldives, the "wow" factor registers off the charts, with pearlescent palm-fringed islands glistening amidst the azure Indian Ocean. Touch down, and stay in overwater bungalows or villas lining spectacular beaches. The really startling beauty, though, is underwater, where world-class coral teems with marine mammals.
- Unique Culture : An eclectic mix of Sinhalese, Arab and South Indian influences.
- Culinary delights : Sampling the spicy flavours of the Maldives cuisine is an essential part of this vibrant and unique island experience.
- Secluded Luxury : Limiting resort density to one per island, the Maldives offer the ultimate in secluded delight.
- A stay in Paradise : With crystalline blue waters surging gently against isolated stretches of pristine white sand, the islands of the Maldives offer a peaceful sanctuary for enjoyment and relaxation.
- Life under the Sea : Almost every resort island enjoys its own reef convenient for snorkeling, while more remote places for snorkeling and diving are easily accessible by boat.
Area : The Maldives is a tropical nation in the Indian Ocean composed of 26 coral atolls, which are made up of hundreds of islands. It’s known for its beaches, blue lagoons and extensive reefs. The capital, Malé, has a busy fish market, restaurants and shops on Majeedhee Magu and 17th-century Hukuru Miskiy (also known as Old Friday Mosque) made of coral stone.
Population : 393 500
Capital : Malé
Language : Maldivian (Dhivehi)
Currency : Maldivian rufiyaa (MVR)
Maldives International Airports : Malé International Airport (MLE) is the major international airport of Maldives, located on the island city of Malé . Gan International Airport (GAN) is another international gateway to the country.
Getting to Maldives: Practically all visitors arrive at Malé International Airport, located on Hulhulé Island right next to the capital Malé . Getting around in the Maldives takes three forms: boats, sea planes (air taxis) and private yachts. The boats are the Maldivian equivalent of a car, while planes and private yachts are mainly reserved for tourists.
Air taxis and boats prefer not to operate at night, so if you arrive at the airport after dark and are going to a distant resort, you may have to spend the night in Malé or at the airport hotel in Hulhule.
Climate : The Maldives benefits from its location near the Equator, which offers stable temperatures throughout the year and protection from cyclones. The climate is tropical equatorial, generally humid and warm with two Monsoon seasons. With a distance of 800 km from North to South and the Equator crossing the country, the weather conditions vary according to your location in the archipelago.
Best Travel : December - April
Rainy Season : May - November
With temperatures averaging between 23ºC to 30ºC , it is a good place to visit throughout the year.
For the surfers the best time to visit is March to October. Diving is excellent throughout the year. However, as a general rule, from May to November there is more variety of marine life and better visibility on the western side of any atoll. December to April is better on the eastern side, which may affect your choice of resort.
Points Of Interest
Utheemu Ganduvaru : A historical residence where Sultan Mohamed Thankurufaan lived. Located in Utheemu, which is an inhabited island in the north of Maldives.
Biyadhoo Island Resort : A peaceful resort and considered one of the best reef houses in the Maldives PADI Dive Center, with more than 35 diving spots available in the area
National Museum of Maldives : Located at Sultan Park in Malé , which was the former palace of the Sultan of Maldives.
HP Reef : Another of the best diving sites where you can explore different kinds of superb coral reef formations and colorful fish underwater. It is a marine protected area located at the North Malé Atoll.
Banana Reef : the most sought after diving site in the Maldives. It is called Banana Reef because it has the shape of a banana that extends 300 meters from north to south. The major feature of the reef is its marine life, which includes Napoleon Wrasse, Moray Eels and the rare Banner fish.
Manta Point : A diving area where you can enjoy seeing large numbers of manta rays being fed and cleaned by wrasses. Manta rays circle several large coral rocks, and wait their turn to be cleaned. After being cleaned, they swim gracefully to the reef feeding in shallow water where they find plankton. Whether you are an experienced diver or a novice, you will surely enjoy the unique and exciting diving experience that Manta Point offers.
Alimatha Island : located at the Vaavu Atoll on the eastern side of the Maldives. It is a complete Maldivian destination for tourists, as it offers world-class diving, aquarium-like snorkeling as well as a central beach complete with great facilities.
Sun Island Resort and Spa : located on South Ari Atoll. It is considered the most luxurious resort in the Maldives with Villa Hotels which offer modern comfort and great facilities.
Bluetribe Moofushi diving center : offers the best water sport activities such as windsurfing, diving, snorkeling, kayaking, riding on catamarans/pedal boats, and more. Moofushi is also known for the excursions on offer, spotting whale sharks, manta rays and multifarious fish from the shore.
Shimmering sand beaches fringe this large volcanic island. Mountains, coral, and waterfalls offer a natural playground to be enjoyed from your base at abundant, competitively priced hotels. The whole family can make memories of a lifetime while swimming with dolphins, trekking to waterfalls, or learning more about Hindu culture.
- Seemingly endless miles of dazzling beaches, naturally protected by a coral reef.
- It is a paradise for water sports like snorkeling, scuba diving, and deep sea fishing.
- Experience the natural hospitality of the Mauritian people and their diverse cultural and religious background.
- A fusion of culture and tradition, Mauritian cooking is in a class of its own.
- A perfect honeymoon destination.
- Excellent golf courses.
Area : Mauritius, a volcanic island nation in the Indian Ocean, is known for its beaches, lagoons and reefs. The mountainous interior encompasses Black River Gorges National Park, with rainforests, waterfalls, hiking trails and native fauna. The capital, Port Louis, blends foreign influences and offers sites such as the Champs de Mars horse track, the colonial Eureka plantation and 18th-century botanical gardens.
Population : 1,3 million
Capital : Port Louis
Language : English, French, Mauritian Creole
Currency : Mauritian Rupee (MUR)
Mauritius International Airports : Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (MRU) is the main airport of Mauritius.
Getting to Mauritius : All airlines fly into Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport in the island's southeast. Transfers to your chosen hotel take from 10 to 90 minutes.
Best Travel : May - Dec
Rainy Season : Jan - Feb
Located just 20 degrees south of the equator, Mauritius boasts a typical tropical climate, and is generally considered as a year round destination.
Points Of Interest
Le Morne Mountain : Classified as a World heritage site, a single peak encapsulates much of the history of Mauritius. The mountain was the place for slaves to escape from their masters. It has full viewpoints over the west coast and southern part of the island.
Black River Gorges National Park : A national park stretching over 6574 hectares of incredible native forests and wildlife, covering 3.5% of Mauritius’ land area and including a range of ecosystems.
Chamarel : The highest waterfall in Mauritius at 100 metres and the 7-coloured earths.
La Vanille Crocodile Park : Without doubt, the star of the show here is the crocodile, but you will also see other creatures, including giant bats, giant turtles, monkeys and a huge insect collection.
Pamplemousses Botanical Garden : Also known as Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden, the plot covers 60 acres of land and features a variety of palm trees and lakes. One unique feature of the garden is the giant lily pond with tadpoles and frogs and overhanging fruit bat trees with bats hanging from the branches.
Château de Labourdonnais : Re-discover the nineteenth century Mauritian lifestyle.
Ile Aux Cerfs : Located off the East Coast, the spectacular white sandy beaches, palm trees,waters of all shades of blue, remain one of the main attractions of the island. The picture-postcard blue lagoon will make you feel as if you have arrived on a Treasure Island. Iles aux Cerfs is the perfect place to relax, enjoy a BBQ and have a go at parasailing to enjoy a majestic aerial view of this pristine isle.
La roche qui pleure /Le Souffleur : Unique enormous waves crash against the volcanic cliffs.
Grand Bassin : An extinct volcano, now a lake high up in the mountains about 1800 feet above sea level, is the most sacred Hindu place on the island of Mauritius.
Champ de Mars : Race Course in Port Louis - the race course is the oldest in the southern hemisphere and the second oldest in the world.
Rodrigues : Popularly known as the jewel in the crown of the Mascarene Islands, is just a short flight from Mauritius. This mountainous island, away from the hustle-bustle of a typical tourist destination, is well worth a visit.
This otherworldly archipelago of 115 islands, set just south of the equator, is the ultimate castaway fantasy. Exuding timeless beauty, the Seychelles comprises lush wild forest that tumbles into the translucent sea. Diverse flora and fauna is endemic and protected, making it an incredible destination for wildlife encounters.
- The most beautiful beaches in the world.
- A variety of activities and attractions.
- Culinary experiences – best Creole cuisine in the world.
- Very safe destination due to high standards of living.
- Romantic and Relaxing – an exclusive high-end travel destination, free of mass tourism.
Area : The Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean off East Africa, known for its beaches, coral reefs, diving, nature reserves and rare wildlife such as giant Aldabra tortoises. Maher Island, with an international airport, is a key transport hub, home to capital Victoria, the mountain rainforests of Morne Seychellois National Park and white-sand beaches including Beau Vallon and Anse Takamaka.
Population : 92 000
Capital : Victoria
Language : Seychellois
Currency : Seychellois rupee (SCR)
Seychelles International Airports : Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) is seven miles (11km) southeast of the capital of Victoria on the island of Mahe in the Seychelles.
Getting to Seychelles : Of the 115 islands, there are nine principal islands, including Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. From Mahe, there are domestic Seychelles flights to all the other islands. Air Seychelles flies from Mahe to Praslin more than 20 times per day. There are also flights to La Digue. Other inter-island flights service Bird Island, Denis Island, Desroches Island and Alphonse Island.
Climate : Temperatures in the Seychelles are warm throughout the year with the average temperature ranging from 24ºC to 31ºC. The best months for diving and snorkeling are April/May and October/November when water temperatures can reach 29ºC and visibility regularly reaches over 30 metres.
Best Travel : Feb - Nov
Rainy Season : Dec – Jan
Points Of Interest
Anse Intendance : One of Mahé's most beautiful beaches, this small and secluded crescent of sand on the island's south coast is a favorite surfing spot thanks to its frequent big swells and wild waves.
Baie Lazare : One of the area's main tourist attractions is the neo-Gothic Baie Lazare Church, dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi, which provides a panoramic view of the area.
Beau Vallon : The alluring curve of glittering sand at Beau Vallon, on Mahé's northwest coast, is a magnet for both tourists and locals.
Morne Seychellois National Park : The largest national park in the Seychelles, which covers more than 20 percent of the area of Maher.
Ste Anne National Marine Park : Encompassing six islands off the coast of Maher near Victoria, which in 1973 became the first national park in the Indian Ocean.
Victoria : the small capital of the Seychelles and the only seaport in the country. Also home to the Seychelles National Botanical Gardens which were established almost a century ago. The gardens encompass 15 acres of native and exotic plants and an orchid garden, as well as flying foxes and giant tortoises.
Anse Volbert : On the northeast coast of Praslin, Anse Volbert (also known as Côte d'Or) is one of the island's most popular beaches.
Vallée de Mai National Park : • A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Vallée de Mai National Park preserves a prehistoric forest containing at least 4,000 examples of the giant coco de mer fruit palm (unique to the Seychelles), vanilla orchids, palmiste, latanier, splayed traveler's palm, and Chinese fans.
Cousin Island : a nature reserve primarily for the Seychelles Warbler and the Hawksbill Turtle. The island lies about 2 km from Praslin Island, and birders can hike the trails to spot some of the Seychelles rare species.
Aride Island Nature Reserve : The northernmost of the Granitic Seychelles, Aride Island Nature Reserve is the breeding ground of 18 species of seabirds, including Frigate birds, Red-tailed Tropicbirds, and the world's largest colonies of Lesser Noddy and Roseate Terns.
Curieuse Island : Home to a breeding program for giant tortoises, which roam freely among the sandy coves.
Anse Lazio : Flanked by rounded granite boulders, this long stretch of blond sand merges with crystal clear waters in dreamy shades of blue. Anse Lazio (Chevalier Bay) is one of Praslin Island's most picturesque beaches.
La Digue Island : The fourth largest island in the archipelago, it is a haven for nature lovers and those seeking a glimpse of traditional island life; bicycles and oxcarts are popular modes of transport.
Silhouette Island : • In a marine park off Mehé’s west coast, it is the only other island in the Seychelles besides Maher, with a mist forest, which cloaks the 731 m peak of Mont Dauban.
Bird Island : Once known as Îles aux Vaches for the population of Dugongs (sea cows) in the area, Bird Island harbors a population of migratory Sooty Terns, which swells to 1,500,000 birds during the May to October breeding season.
Aldabra Atoll : A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Aldabra is the world's largest raised coral atoll. The central lagoon fills and empties twice a day through four channels, revealing mushroom-shaped pinnacles known as champignons.
Madagascar ranks high on the sightseeing trail for its native biodiversity, indigenous wildlife, and pristine beaches. More than 90 percent of Madagascar’s fauna is unique to the island, such as the Ring-tailed Lemur. Trek through lush dense forests, and then recline on a hammock on remote coastline. Combining safari and beach time has never been easier.
- Cultural Experience - A visit to Madagascar will leave tourists with a mixture of awe and wonder upon spending time with the Malagasy people. This Island has a unique and rich cultural heritage, with fascinating and unusual tribes.
- The unique wildlife - The country’s largest attraction is its unique collection of animals and plants, many of which are found nowhere else on earth.
- Orchids & other flora - As with its unique fauna, 80% of Madagascar’s flora is endemic to the island and has over 13,000 plant species, including all of the world’s eight baobab species (six of which are endemic to Madagascar).
- Adventure Getaway - The Island offers all adventure enthusiasts an opportunity to take part in activities like surfing, diving, snorkeling, kite surfing, fishing, bird-watching, yachting, kayaking and even seasonal whale watching.
- Pristine beaches - Madagascar’s beaches are probably one of the undiscovered secrets of the Indian Ocean. You can choose between Nosy Be or one of the northern islands, Ile Sainte Marie or the southern beaches near Ifaty or Fort Dauphin.
Area : Madagascar, a huge island nation off the southeast coast of Africa, is home to thousands of animal species – like lemurs – found nowhere else, plus rainforests, beaches and reefs. Near the busy capital, Antananarivo, is Ambohimanga, a hillside complex of royal palaces and burial grounds, as well as the “Avenue of the Baobabs,” a dirt road lined by massive centuries-old trees.
Population : 22.5 million
Capital : Antananarivo
Language : Malagasy
Currency : Madagascar Ariary (MGA)
Madagascar International Airports : Ivato International Airport is the main international airport serving the capital, Antananarivo, located 16 km northwest of the city centre.
Getting to Madagascar : The main airlines flying to Ivato International Airport in Antananarivo are Air Madagascar from Paris, Johannesburg and Bangkok; Air France from Paris; South African Airways and Airlink from Johannesburg; and Kenya Airways from Nairobi
Climate : Because of its geography, Madagascar's climate is highly variable. Generally, Madagascar has two seasons: a hot, rainy season from November to April and a cooler, dry season from May to October.
The east coast is the wettest part of the country and thus home to the island's rainforests. This area is also hit periodically by devastating tropical storms and cyclones.
The central highlands are considerably cooler and drier, and are the location of much of Madagascar's agriculture, especially rice.
The west coast is home to dry deciduous forests. Deciduous trees lose all their leaves during the 6- to 8-month dry season.
When rains return, these forests erupt in a sea of bright green leaves. The southwest of Madagascar has the island's driest climate. Parts of this area can be considered desert because so little rain falls.
Best Travel :Apr - Dec
Rainy Season :Nov - Apr
Being prepared for all weather is always recommended as weather patterns do not necessarily stick to the traditional seasons.
Points Of Interest
Ile Sainte Marie : The island lies off the east coast of Madagascar and its array of protected bays and inlets drew pirates to Ile Sainte Marie during the 17th and 18th centuries. The wrecks of several pirate ships can still be viewed from the shallow waters of the Baie des Forbans. The still, clear waters of the island’s bays make ideal spots for snorkeling. Migrating humpback whales visit the island waters during summer and early fall.
Isalo National Park : Notable for is varied terrain. Located in the central southern region of Madagascar, the park includes areas of grassland, steep canyons and sandstone formations, all dotted by occasional pools lined by palm trees.
Tsingy de Bemaraha : The word “tsingy” refers to the pinnacles that dot the park’s limestone plateau. Located near the country’s west coast, the park features a broad expanse of mangrove forest. The park is home to seven lemur species, including the Deckens Sifaka, a genus of lemur notable for its creamy white fur and black face.
Nosy Be : Tranquil beaches, clear turquoise waters and excellent seafood restaurants on the sands, serving seafood dinners.
Avenue of the Baobabs : A group of trees lining the dirt road between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina in western Madagascar. The Baobab trees, up to 800 years old, did not originally tower in isolation over the landscape but stood in a dense tropical forest. Over the years, the forests were cleared for agriculture, leaving only the famous baobab trees.
Ifaty : The name given to two dusty fishing villages on the coast of southwest Madagascar. The desert inland area is known for its spiny forest, where the strange-shaped baobab trees have thrived for centuries.
Royal Hill of Ambohimanga :Considered one of the country’s most sacred spots by the Malagasy people for 500 years, the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga is a historical village that was once home to Madagascar royalty. The wall that surrounds the village was made in 1847 and was constructed with a mortar made of lime and egg whites.
Andasibe-Mantadia :Encompassing about 100 miles of land in eastern Madagascar, Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is home to eleven lemur species, including the country’s largest lemur, the Indri.
Masoala National Park : Covers nearly 250 miles of rainforest and includes three marine parks as well. The park features ten species of lemur, including the Aye-aye, the world’s largest nocturnal primate.
Ranomafana National Park : The park is home to the endangered golden bamboo lemur, an animal whose diet includes bamboo shoots that contain doses of cyanide that would be lethal to other animals, yet the charming golden lemur feeds on the bamboo with no ill effects.
What is considered by some to be the very best of France is encapsulated this Indian Ocean French colony. Set apart from other regional islands, Réunion features spectacular topography, with soaring volcanic massifs and peaks. Climb Piton de la Fournaise volcano, or simply indulge in enjoyment in coastal cities, sampling Creole delights.
Why Reunion Island?
- Discover La Fournaise, an active volcano, and the sheer diversity of landscapes.
- Cuisine – taste sensations from a melting pot of different cultures.
- 42% of the island is a protected national park.
- Extreme sports in Nature – including canyoning, rafting, hiking, aquatic whitewater and paragliding, ultralights and climbing.
Area : Réunion Island, a touch of France in the Indian Ocean, is known for its volcanic, rainforested interior, offshore reefs, beaches and Creole culture. The active Piton de la Fournaise volcano, its most iconic landmark, rewards climbers with sweeping views from its rim. Piton des Neiges, a massive extinct volcano, and Réunion’s 3 cirques (calderas), natural amphitheaters formed by collapsed volcanoes, are also climbing destinations.
Population : 845 000
Capital : Saint-Denis
Language : French
Currency : Euro
Réunion Island International Airport : Roland Garros Airport (RUN) is located in Sainte-Marie on Réunion. The airport is 7 kilometres east of Saint-Denis.
Getting to Réunion Island : Air Austral, the French airline of the Indian Ocean, is the only airline to offer direct non-stop flights between Reunion and Johannesburg twice weekly. From Europe, Air Austral flies from Paris. There are also regular flights between Mauritius and Reunion, so combining the two island destinations is a viable option.
Climate : Reunion Island benefits from a tropical climate softened by the breezes of the Indian Ocean. The sun shines all year round, especially in the north, west and south of the island. The wide variety of microclimates in Reunion means that one can be soaking up the sunshine by the sea in the morning and be taking in the cool mountain air in the afternoon, and all this without having to travel far.
The year is divided up into two long periods: the warm and humid season, from November to April, and the fresher and drier season which runs from May to October.
Best Travel : May - Nov
Rainy Season : Dec – Feb
The peak tourist season is during the French school holidays from July to early September. From October through to the New Year holidays is also busy, but after this everything eases down during cyclone-prone February and March.
Points Of Interest
Le Piton de La Fournaise : One of the most active volcanoes of the planet. This mythic volcano can be visited by helicopter or microlight planes, but the best way to discover the volcano is the hard way, trekking!
Mafate : A very uncommon village, is located almost 2000 metres above sea level. The caldera is sort of incommunicado with the rest of the world. There are no roads, no chance to come across a car or a bus, the only way to visit Mafate is by walking.
Cilaos : A world-class site to discover hidden gorges and slide down waterfalls. Famous for its impressive canyons and waterfalls where numerous extreme sports activities like canyoning (canyoneering) and rock climbing can be enjoyed.
Voile de la Mariée : This waterfall is famous for the optical illusion it produces, the falls take on the appearance of the veils of a bride!
Saint-Paul Market : Opens on Fridays and Saturdays is famed as the most beautiful market of Reunion Island. This open market is located on the waterfront of the city and is undoubtedly the most touristic market on the island.
Saint-Denis : The capital city of Reunion Island with numerous museums and cultural monuments.
Boucan Canot Beach : Ideal for tanning, bathing, snorkeling, surfing and other enjoyable leisure activities.
Eden Garden : A beautiful botanical garden of 2.5 hectares which includes more than 700 species of plants.
Aquarium of Reunion Island : Located in Saint-Gilles-les-Bains. The aquarium boasts more than 500 species of fish and natural coral reefs nestled in more than 600 000 litres of water.