As predicaments go, choosing between the Maldives, Mauritius and the Seychelles is a pretty nice one to be faced with. But deciding which Indian Ocean island suits you can be daunting. After all, they all boast some of the world’s most sensational sands, sparkling-clear lagoons and magnificent landscapes, right? So, which one will give you the experience of a lifetime? And what really makes each region different? Quite a lot, as it turns out…
Hidden in the middle of the Indian Ocean and only a bit bigger than London, Mauritius is home to some of the best beaches in the world. There is so much to do here though. The island is surrounded by an expansive reef sheltering the shallow lagoons, while sugar cane plains stretch for miles, before giving way to the towering mountains that form Mauritius’ iconic backdrop. If you’re looking for a romantic break for two, you have come to the right place – it is easy to see why this destination is sought-after by newlyweds.
But what many people don’t realise is that Mauritius is also one of the most child-friendly destinations on the globe. Pristine beaches ripe for building sandcastles and lush green forests and botanical gardens are waiting to be explored. Better yet, there is a plethora of family hotels with kids’ clubs.
Away from its beaches, Mauritius bursts with culture. The Black River Gorges National Park is home to the spine-tingling Tamarin Falls, as well as more than 300 plant species and avifauna, while the Amazon water lilies at the Botanical Garden of Pamplemousses have to be seen to be believed. With world-class golf, heavenly spas and hidden lagoons, there truly is something for everyone – and that’s before mentioning the heady delights of capital city Port Louis. Breathe in the intoxicating aroma of spices and sweets as you navigate the bustling streets, and regale those at home with tales of all that Central Market has to offer.
They don’t call the Maldives the king of honeymoon destinations for nothing. With sugar-white sands, glimmering turquoise waters and breathtaking coral reefs, this archipelago is widely considered to be the epitome of paradise. Resorts are on their own islands, and range from peaceful 150m-wide havens with little to do but snorkel, swim, or lie on the beach, to larger mile-long retreats with spas, gyms and swimming pools.
With 200 species of coral and 300 species of fish, including the rare and majestic whale shark and technicolor oriental sweetlips, the Maldives is superb for taking an underwater safari. A number of hotels also have their own reefs, so you can experience some of the best snorkelling on the globe just steps from your villa. What’s more, many of the islands here are uninhabited – perfect for unforgettable Robinson Crusoe-style experiences.
When challenged to dream up what paradise looks like, chances are you’re imagining the Seychelles. There’s a reason why people who have travelled all over the world and experienced a plethora of diverse cultures call it their all-time favourite destination – it truly is as idyllic as your daydreams.
Home to powder-white sands, teeming waters and mind-blowing landscapes, this 115-island archipelago is bordered by jungle-clad peaks and filled with a plethora of birdlife, from the Seychelles black parrot to the blue-pigeon. The largest islands, Mahe, Praslin and La Digue, are where you will find the most spectacular resorts. Many offer suites with private plunge pools to enjoy the awe-inspiring surroundings in private, while a sunset catamaran cruise provides the perfect opportunity to island-hop in luxury.
The Morne Seychellois National Park, making up more than a fifth of the island, promises a lush interior of enigmatic mangrove forests, picturesque hiking trails and the country’s highest mountain. The majestic Morne Seychellois stands at 905 metres, while the middle of the parkland can only be reached by walking trails, so you can find total seclusion in just a few steps.
If you’re lucky enough to visit the Seychelles, don’t leave without making the trip to Denis Island. A rare jewel in the sapphire sea, this enchanted coral isle promises true barefoot luxury, and has been known to bring grown men to tears – trust us, it truly is that dazzling. Take a beachside seat, sip a rum-infused cocktail and toast to total relaxation.