5 gorgeous Indian ocean islands for your next vacation
From Madagascar’s incredible wildlife to Seychelles’ gastronomical delights, you’ll find your perfect holiday in these waters.
A wooden dugout canoe on a Madagascar beach. Photo: Gallery Stock
Our pick of five stunning spots for your next big escape:
Mauritius is home to some incredible beaches, including this one at Grand Baie. Photo: 123Rf
How to get there? Fly Emirates via Dubai from major Indian cities.
What you need to know? Mauritius is paradise. Once home to the extinct dodo, it is today known for its incredible beaches and skydiving views. For authentic Creole or Mauritian fare, try the street food—the dholl puri (flat bread filled with a spicy paste and vegetables) is fantastic, while at the other end of the spectrum is Amari, an Indian restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Vineet Bhatia at the LUX Belle Mare Hotel. Nightlife is concentrated in Grand Baie, where you’ll find celebrity DJs spinning EDM. Indian passport-holders get visas on arrival.
What’s hot? Swim with wild dolphins or check out the cliffs on the islet of Gunners Quoin off the coast of Grand Baie.
Who goes? It’s popular with honeymooners.
Celebrity quotient: Mauritius is a favourite with the rich and famous, from Prince Harry to Gwyneth Paltrow.
Tips: Stay at the new Westin Turtle Bay Resort & Spa, which faces a protected marine park, or Le Touessrok Resort, which has its own private beaches.
Maldives has plenty of options for luxury accommodation, such as overwater villas. Photo: 123Rf
How to get there? Fly directly to Malé from Bengaluru with Air India or via Colombo with SriLankan Airlines from Mumbai or Bengaluru. From Malé, you can get to your resort via speedboat, seaplane or private jet. Keep in mind that seaplanes fly only during the day.
What you need to know? Indian passport-holders get visas on arrival. You’ll find an amazing diversity of marine life, so plan some snorkelling and diving expeditions. Don’t dismiss the Maldives simply as a honeymoon paradise. It can be equally exciting for families with kids, especially if you’re staying at the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa or the One&Only Reethi Rah.
What’s hot? From LVMH’s exquisite Cheval Blanc Randheli, you can take a dhoni to the Spa Island (yes, it occupies an entire separate island) and spend a full day there.
Who goes? Who doesn’t? It sets the bar for luxury beach accommodation. Plus, experts say the Maldivian islands are sinking due to global warming. If that isn’t excuse to head over immediately, what is?
Celebrity quotient: Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, Rani Mukherji and Aditya Chopra, Fergie and Josh Duhamel, David and Victoria Beckham—with their kids.
Tips: If you’re travelling as part of a large group, find an all-inclusive resort, that’s acceptable to everyone. Boat transfers between islands don’t come cheap—they can run into hundreds of dollars.
Spot lemurs in this biodiversity hotspot. Photo: 123Rf
How to get there? Fly to Antananarivo with Qatar Airways via Doha from major Indian cities.
What you need to know? Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot, and with about 5,000km of coast and some of the most vibrant coral reefs in the world, it is stunning both above and under water. Go hiking, spot lemurs in Andasibe and end up at Nosy Be for some snorkelling. Indian passport-holders get visas on arrival.
What’s hot? Buy spices in the capital and have a meal at Villa Vanille, which uses the orchid flower in dishes such as roast chicken and gnocchi. Stay in a rainforest lodge for a few days and do a walking safari around the misty wild in gumboots. Drink rhum arrangé, a local rum infused with flavours such as cinnamon and ginger.
Who goes? Nature and wildlife lovers.
Celebrity quotient: Not many celebrities are known to visit, but it’s a popular destination for animation films!
Tips: Find a good forest guide through Madagascar Tourism Expeditions. Madagascar also has excellent vanilla, which makes for great gift packs. Ask a local to find you a good lot.
Enjoy the powdery white beaches, tropical weather and pristine blue waters. Photo: 123Rf
How to get there? Fly directly from Mumbai to Mahé with Air Seychelles in four hours. The ferry ride from Mahé to Praslin takes about an hour. Or you could fly to Praslin via Abu Dhabi and Mahé with Etihad Airways from major Indian cities.
What you need to know? Sure, there’s powdery white beaches, breezy tropical weather, pristine blue waters, but Praslin, Seychelles’ second-largest granitic island, is also a great spot for adventure sports. The Eden-like Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must-visit. Visas are given on arrival to Indian passport-holders.
What’s hot? Cinnamon and coconut-flavoured Creole curries offer a gastronomic gateway to Praslin’s colonial past. If you have the time, do make a pit stop at the food market in Mahé, where fresh sea catch, sublime vanilla pods and tropical fruit compete for attention.
Who goes? Watersports buffs and couples on a romantic getaway.
Celebrity quotient: David and Victoria Beckham, Prince William and Kate Middleton and, most recently, George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin.
Tips: Avoid the southeastern side of the island when stray winds blow (especially from May to September), as currents get stronger and wash seaweed up to the shore.
Koh Lanta, Thailand
A beach on Koh Lanta, with a lighthouse. Photo: 123Rf
How to get there? Fly to Krabi with Thai Airways (stopover in Bangkok) from major Indian cities. From there, cars to Koh Lanta are available, and the ride takes about two hours.
What you need to know? Indian passport-holders get visas on arrival in Thailand. Koh Lanta is composed of several islands: the biggest are Koh Lanta Noi and Koh Lanta Yai.
What’s hot? Pimalai Resort & Spa, situated on the uncrowded southern tip of Koh Lanta Yai. Couples looking for a bit more privacy could opt for The Houben Hotel next door. Layana Resort & Spa is the big name on the northern side and its Sundowner’s Bar is legendary for its cocktails. Don’t miss the homemade ice cream at Shanti Shanti, the island’s only concept store.
Who goes? Families, scuba divers and backpackers.
Celebrity quotient: It’s still not on the celeb radar.
Tips: Rent a moped to go beach-hopping. Also, you can hire a long-tail boat to take you to Koh Talabeng, a picturesque island complete with hidden caves and stunning coves.