Indian Ocean Islands
When you picture the perfect beach, what springs to mind? Perhaps it’s a private island, surrounded by gently lapping seas rich in marine life and technicolour coral. Maybe it’s swaying palm trees, dappled by the warming sun, shading pristine-white sands that squeak satisfyingly underfoot. Or, maybe it’s endless space, where you can enjoy your very own slice of unspoilt paradise, far from the madding crowd.
The island nations dotted across the Indian Ocean have all this and more. From the Maldives to the Seychelles, from Zanzibar to Mauritius, these are places of unbridled relaxation, often blessed with a unique culture, glorious food and plenty of that oh-so-important sunshine.
If it’s pure escapism you’re after, any of the Indian Ocean islands will offer it in abundance, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with spending lazy and glorious days simply lying in a hammock (or private pool), and watching the world go by. But, if you’re the type of person that likes to get out and explore, you’ll be delighted to know that there’s far more to these faraway idylls than merely topping up your tan.
Across the region, you can get up close to nature, enjoying remarkable encounters with some of the world’s most amazing marine creatures – the Maldives’ South Ari Atoll, for example, is among the best places in the world to swim with whale sharks. So, the diving and snorkelling are, of course, superb, but there are also plenty of other joys, whether it's watching turtles hatch on a deserted beach, hiking through national parks rich in birdlife, sailing alongside pods of dolphins or taking in incredible coral-reef views while dining in an underwater restaurant – yes, really! Each nation, and each island, offers up something different, and to help you plan, we’ve picked out our best bits from our two most popular destinations below.
The 115 islands of the Seychelles archipelago are one of the world’s true paradises. From their iconic granite-framed shorelines to their dazzling, white-sand beaches and pristine coral gardens, they offer everything you could expect, and want, from a luxury beach holiday. The nature here is remarkable, too, the topaz-blue seas teeming with fish and marine mammals of every kind, while inland, forested mountains shelter hidden waterfalls which can be explored on rambling hikes horseback rides and even rounds of golf.
And, there’s plenty of luxury here as well, showcased across a dizzying array of secluded island retreats and family-friendly options, each offering its own unique blend of gourmet dining, indulgent pampering and laid-back island living. It’s all knitted together by spectacular, island-hopping trips, either by catamaran ferry, seaplane or even helicopter flights. For the expert advice on your Seychelles holiday, speak to our luxury beach specialists who’ll be on hand to recommend the best place for you to stay and then tailor your Seychelles holiday to perfection.
Where the Seychelles mixes indulgent pampering with the chance to get out and explore, the Maldives, with its one-resort islands scattered across the Indian Ocean like a jewelled necklace, is all about the relaxation. This is a home-from-home for honeymooners and romantics, drawn in by those exclusive, palm-dotted hideaways and the chance to simply chill out. If you want to do more than just soak up the sun, you’ll most likely head for the sea, with extraordinary diving and snorkelling available throughout. Then, head back to your overwater bungalow or beachfront villa for a spa treatment or private dining experience accompanied by the sounds of soft breezes and gently lapping waves.
Of course, as the years have gone on, resort owners have found ever-more inventive ways to one-up their neighbours, so expect anything and everything from underwater restaurants to treetop spas to cinemas on the beach. All rather delightful.
To help you choose your perfect resort in the Maldives, call our Indian Ocean specialists who’ll use their wealth of first-hand knowledge to steer you in the right direction.
Highlights of Sri Lanka and The Maldives
16 days from £4,395 pp incl. flights
This exciting and diverse itinerary combines the rich culture and history of vibrant Sri Lanka with beachfront luxury and relaxation in the blissful Maldives, showcasing the best of the Indian Ocean.