This article is brought to you by National Geographic Traveller (UK).
When you envision the Indian Ocean, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s the idyllic image of untouched beaches, framed by swaying coconut palms and surrounded by shimmering turquoise waters on all sides. These desert islands, reminiscent of Robinson Crusoe’s adventures, are scattered throughout the region, offering an escape from the demands of everyday life. From the pancake-flat atolls of Alphonse in the Seychelles to the wildlife haven of Comoros, let’s explore some of the hidden gems you should have on your travel radar.
1. Thulusdhoo, Maldives – Ride the Waves
Picture palm trees gently swaying in the tropical breeze, just as you’d find on the private-island resorts of the Maldives. However, Thulusdhoo, located north of the capital Malé, offers something unique. It retains its local Maldivian charm while welcoming Western-style swimsuits on Bikini Beach and providing a range of restaurants and activities. Adopted by Australian surfers in the 1970s, Thulusdhoo boasts an easygoing, lived-in vibe that appeals to young(ish) saltwater travelers.
Experienced surfers flock here for the twin surf breaks of Cokes and Chickens, accessible by traditional dhoni boats. Randhaa Surf Shop offers lessons and board rentals, and you won’t need wetsuits in the bath-warm waters. Paddleboarders also flock to Thulusdhoo to ride gentle waves and explore the turquoise lagoon. Diving is exceptional, and dinghy sailing is a dream come true. Although alcohol is banned on Maldivian residential islands, floating boat-bars offshore provide a creative solution. Plus, the speedboat ride to reach them is far more exciting than a traditional taxi.
How to do it: Stay at Season Paradise, where double rooms start from $125 (£101), room only.
2. Zanzibar, Tanzania – Dive into Old Town Intrigue
In the historical capital city of Zanzibar, Stone Town is a captivating blend of African and Arabian influences. Streets wind through labyrinthine lanes, and you’ll hear locals chirping “pole, pole” (slowly, slowly) as life here moves at its own unhurried pace. Zanzibar offers resort-level comfort without sacrificing its unique charm. Nungwi and Bwejuu beaches are as stunning as any in the Indian Ocean, yet accommodations typically cost significantly less than in the Maldives.
How to do it: TUI offers seven-night packages starting from £1,398 per person, including flights and bed and breakfast.
3. Pemba, Tanzania – For the Intrepid Beach-Goers
If you’re seeking a classic beach getaway with a touch of adventure, consider Pemba. Located 50 miles north of Zanzibar, this hidden gem remains untouched by most international travelers and hotel chains. Pemba feels like a time warp to a simpler era, with lush forests, swinging vervet monkeys, and fruit-laden ox carts in tin-roofed villages. Here, you’re still a novelty as a traveler, and that’s part of the charm.
How to do it: Expert Africa offers seven-night packages in Pemba starting from £1,890 per person, including full board and transfers in Tanzania.
4. Alphonse, Seychelles – A Nature-Focused Escape
Think of Alphonse as the Indian Ocean’s Galápagos. This Seychelles island, 250 miles south of Mahé, is a haven for rare wildlife and marine life, with its flat atolls serving as a Noah’s Ark. It’s no wonder that highlights from the BBC’s Blue Planet series were filmed here. You can join conservation projects, engage in ocean clean-ups, and track turtles, all while relishing the isolation this island offers.
How to do it: Original Diving offers 14-day packages in Alphonse and Desroches starting from £11,465 per person, including full board and B&B, as well as flights.
5. Mohéli, Comoros – The Realm of Out-there Adventurers
The islands of Grande Comore, Mohéli, and Anjouan have remained relatively untouched by tourism, making them a paradise for adventurous travelers. Mohéli, in particular, offers a glimpse of an unspoiled tropical paradise. Here, you can encounter endangered Livingstone’s fruit bats, watch mantas and dugongs in the UNESCO-listed Mwali Biosphere Reserve, and witness green turtles laying eggs beneath star-studded night skies on Itsamia Beach.
How to do it: Responsible Travel offers 11-day packages in Mohéli starting from £1,599 per person.
Stay tuned for the next five hidden gems in the Indian Ocean that are waiting to be explored!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Indian Ocean Getaways
Q: How can I book a trip to these Indian Ocean getaways?
A: Booking your dream escape to these Indian Ocean destinations is easy. You can use reputable travel agencies, check online booking platforms, or contact the accommodations directly for availability and reservations.
Q: Are these destinations suitable for family vacations?
A: While some of these destinations cater more to adventure seekers and couples, there are family-friendly options available. It’s essential to research each location’s amenities and activities to ensure they align with your family’s preferences.
Q: What is the best time to visit these Indian Ocean getaways?
A: The ideal time to visit varies depending on the destination. Generally, the Indian Ocean region enjoys pleasant weather year-round. Research each location’s climate and consider factors like monsoon seasons to plan your trip accordingly.
Q: Are these destinations budget-friendly?
A: The cost of a trip to these destinations can vary significantly. Some offer budget-friendly accommodations and activities, while others cater to luxury travelers. It’s possible to find options that suit your budget with proper research and planning.
Q: Are there any cultural considerations or local customs to be aware of when visiting?
A: Yes, it’s essential to be respectful of local customs and cultures in each destination. Dress modestly when appropriate, learn basic local phrases, and be mindful of local traditions. Doing so will enhance your travel experience and show respect to the local communities.