Encompassing over 1000 coral islands that form about 25 natural atolls, the Maldives is separated from the rest of the world by the seemingly endless Indian Ocean, offering visitors a secluded paradise. The string of islands is protected from wind and waves by the reefs, which are home to colourful, exciting marine life. The Maldives is characterised by white beaches, palm trees, deep seas and turquoise reefs.
Mauritius is a fascinating, world-in-one-island slice of paradise. Its very name of conjures up images of tropical luxury and stupendous extravagance. While in many destinations famed for cobalt-blue seas, white sandy beaches and luxury hotels, you may eventually find yourself wishing for something to do besides sunbathing and swimming, it’s often hard to know what to do next in Mauritius. The island is loaded with historic sights, cultural diversity, geographic variation and almost limitless activities to distract you from the daily grind of beach and pool. But perhaps its single biggest asset is the relaxed charm of its warm and welcoming people.
Lapped by the temperate waters of the Indian Ocean, the small island of Reunion is known for its exceptional natural beauty, still-active volcano and three dormant cirques, where past eruptions have created gaping holes in the earth. The coast is peppered with paradisiacal white sand beaches, while the interior is characterised by lush rainforests, rugged mountains and the dramatic, plunging scenery of the cirques.
Made up of four main volcanic islands and their diminutive counterparts, the Comoros is blessed with idyllic tropical beaches, magnificent scenery and exotic wildlife. On the island of Grand Comore, visitors can climb the globe’s largest active volcano, Mount Karthala, and take in the elegant Arabic city of Moroni , while Moheli island is known for the enchanting beachside town of Fomboni and Anjouan for its abundant waterfalls and lush vegetation.
With such a dreamlike setting, the Seychelles is unsurprisingly a choice place for newlyweds. But for those looking for more than a suntan or romance, this archipelago offers a number of high-energy distractions. There are jungle and coastal walks, boat excursions, and diving and snorkelling to keep you buzzing. Ecotourism is big – there are marine parks and natural reserves filled with endemic species that are easy to approach. The Seychelles is more affordable than you think. On top of ultra-luxurious options, the country has plenty of self-catering facilities and family-run guesthouses that offer local colour. So if you are suffering from visions of tropical paradise, here is your medicine.
Lamu is a peaceful tropical island where life moves slowly, of sand dunes, mangos and palm tress. The Old Town has many influences – Omani Arabs, Turkish and Portuguese traders all left their mark. To this day there are no vehicles on the island and in many respects the narrow streets and markets have barely changed in hundreds of years. All of this adds a level of mystic to your tropical island holiday.
Pemba Island was known to the Arab sailors as the ‘Green Island’ and is a tropical island paradise fertile, heavily vegetated, palm tree lined beaches and the coral reefs that surround the island offer some of the best diving anywhere in the world. The island’s tourism industry is not as developed as Zanzibar’s and consists primarily of a few resorts. Pemba is also the world’s major clove producer and an internationally renowned African voodoo and traditional healing centre.
Mafia Island forms part of the Tanzanian Spice Islands – Indian Ocean islands on which parks and wildlife reserves are located. The Mafia Archipelago’s coral reefs, sand bars, lagoons and beaches form part of the Mafia Island Marine Park – Tanzania’s first marine national park. This spectacular, unspoilt area offers visitors rich reefs, hard and soft corals and diverse marine life, making this area excellent for diving with numerous dive sites.
Spice Island, Slave Island, Arab Island, Tropical Island – Zanzibar is or was all of the above. The enchanting winding streets and high townhouses of old Stone Town remain unchanged with their giant, ornate doors.
Spice tours to working plantations allow you to see where your cloves, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon come from. Tropical beaches and all the romance and attractions that go with them – scuba diving, snorkelling, deep sea fishing, kayaking, windsurfing, water-skiing and sailing on traditional local dhows.