The Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius, Seychelles and the Maldives have all the makings of a classic tropical island vacation but each is quite different from the other. While Mauritius is a single island ringed by reefs and beaches, the tiny coral islands of the Maldives have just one resort each, and the Seychelles Archipelago rests somewhere in between the two with some large and developed islands, others tiny and deserted.
Mauritius is part of the Mascarene Islands, where volcanic eruptions under the Indian Ocean created an archipelago millions of years ago. Sailors will delight in the secluded coves and bright green lagoons of eastern Mauritius, and appreciate the slow pace of life.
The Seychelles are an impressive destination for a yacht charter, with gorgeous tropical islands, sandy beaches and imposing granite rocks polished by the relentless waves of the Indian Ocean. They are to numerous beaches, coral reefs and nature reserves, as well as rare animals such as giant Aldabra tortoises.
Mauritius is part of the Mascarene Islands, where volcanic eruptions under the Indian Ocean created an archipelago millions of years ago. It is the home of the notable – but extinct – dodo bird, and the Champ de Mars racecourse in Port Louis. The archipelago is favored by sailors and divers because of its crystalline waters and opportunities for swimming, snorkeling and picnicking. Round Island and Ile aux Serpents further to the North are nature reserves under conservation management to protect native species of palms and reptiles.
Sailors will delight in the secluded coves and bright green lagoons of eastern Mauritius, and appreciate the slow pace of life. Captivating villages dot the landscape between the mountains and the sea. Remember: bartering is how business is done here!
An entirely different landscape unfolds in the South. Beaches give way to dramatically high cliffs. The protective coral reef disappears and the Indian Ocean rolls ceaselessly against the shoreline. Ebony forests and rare orchids creep in, and endangered birds and reptiles, and pink pigeons come out to play.
The West side of the island features a rum distillery – what sailor could resist a taste?
This is one of the most beautiful destinations on the planet. Of the 115 islands that make up the Seychelles archipelago, the 41 Inner Islands constitute the oldest granite islands on earth, while the 74 low-lying reef islands radiate tropical paradise.
Discover the famous double coconuts, coco de mer, in Vallée de Mai and the Aldabra giant tortoises at Curieuse, a protected island. See the most photographed Seychelles scenery at St. Pierre islet or visit the scented vanilla plantations at Union Estate on La Digue, one of the most beautiful islands in the region. Go diving at Silhouette Island or sail to Coco Island and snorkel its arborescent corals. Enjoy bird watching at Aride Island, and the turtles at Cousin Island. There are also the larger islands of Mahé and Praslin to get to know. You’ll find stunning landscapes, relaxed island hopping and plenty of chances for swimming the reefs.
The exposed top of a submerged mountain ridge, the Maldives is the lowest country on earth, with an average height above sea level of just one to three meters (three to six feet). The islands have long been a welcome sight on the horizon among mariners, positioned as they are along ancient trade routes and sea-lanes. Now, as then, sailors are welcomed by Maldivians and find shelter from the Indian Ocean among its countless protected, deep-water anchorages.
Maldivians trace their roots to several different cultures including South and Southeast Asians, Africans, and Arabians. Cultural diversity can be seen in everything from music to boat building. Music is frequently played with a local bodu-beru, or big drum, that is quite similar to African drumming. And the Maldivian dhoni, a sailboat built locally by skilled craftsmen, is strikingly similar to a dhow, the traditional Arabian sailing vessel. If your definition of paradise is a lifestyle stripped to the basic essentials of whether the sky is blue and the sun is shining and where the toughest question to answer is if the beach now astern is more beautiful than the one ahead, the Maldives is your destination. One word will suffice in describing the Maldives, Perfection.