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Indian Ocean State of Mind

 From its top hideaway sanctuaries to its dramatic natural wonders, we put the spotlight on the region’s essential experiences

 

With unrivalled luxury, white-sand beaches and crystal clear seas, the Indian Ocean has long been an archetypal vision of paradise.

Private Islands

Desroches Island, Seychelles
This pristine Indian Ocean getaway on the outer fringe of the Seychelles has eight miles of beaches. The interior of the island is maintained by a conservation society and the hotel offers guests five-star accommodation. desroches-island.com

Fanjove Island, Tanzania
On a tiny island off the coast of Tanzania, Fanjove Lodge offers just five thatched houses for guests at this eco resort. Opened in 2013, the lodge takes a bare-bones approach to island living, allowing guests to disconnect and immerse themselves in the island experience. expertafrica.com

Quilalea Private Island, Mozambique
Located in the Quirimbas Archipelago of Mozambique, Quilalea Private Island offers nine eco-friendly private luxury villas in a protected marine sanctuary. Turtles nest on the beach, whales can be seen in season and the island is covered in indigenous vegetation, including majestic Baobab trees.
azura-retreats.com/quilalea

Taprobane Island, Sri Lanka
Guests should be prepared to kick off their shoes — Taprobane Island lies connected to the Sri Lankan mainland by a small spit of sand and is accessed by wading through the water. Built in an eccentric neo-Palladian style, the octagonal abode has just five rooms, an infinity pool and tropical garden. taprobaneisland.com

Velaa Private Island, Maldives
This Maldivian mound of luxury opened at the end of 2013 and is all about the big names — My Blend By Clarins provides the spa products, Michelin-star chef Adeline Grattard cooks up the fine dining; while professional golfer and two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal is behind the Troon Short Game Golf Academy. velaaisland.com 

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Heritage Le Telfair, Mauritius

Wellbeing

Heritage Le Telfair, Mauritius
Spa aficionados rave about this colonial-style resort’s wellbeing offering in the former sugar estate of Domaine de Bel Ombre. As well as all the usual massages and miracle facials, there are fitness programs to get stuck into, relaxing meditative sessions, private in-room treatments and an invigorating trek in the Frederica Nature Reserve. heritageresorts.mu

Reef Villa & Spa, Sri Lanka
The Reef Villa & Spa on Sri Lanka’s southwestern coast takes an organic approach that favors locally sourced materials in everything from the coffee scrub to the seaweed facial. Other homegrown ingredients include vanilla, soothing avocado, honey and sandalwood, and the spa’s location in a hushed garden pavilion only adds to the serene, pampered experience. reefvilla.com

Huvafen Fushi, Maldives
Relax and unwind surrounded by fish, octopuses and other marine life at the world’s first underwater spa at the exclusive Huvafen Fushi resort. Clearly catering for a certain kind of clientele, one of the star treatments is a facial using Champagne, gold and black truffles. The big highlight, however, is the subaquatic surroundings. huvafenfushi.peraquum.com

Six Senses, Maldives
For the ultimate yoga lesson in an oh-so-stunning setting, guests should book a Full Moon Sandbank Yoga experience at Six Senses Laamu after nightfall. Its beachside spa offers a comprehensive Ayurvedic program — guests can book consultations to determine their ‘dasha’ before enjoying a restorative body treatment tailored to their needs. sixsenses.com

Oberoi Spa, Mauritius
Influences from across the Indian Ocean come together at the luxurious Oberoi Spa in Mauritius. There’s a strong emphasis on ancient holistic Ayurveda practices, developed in India over 5,000 years ago, while other treatments use essential oils blended from marula, African potato and geraniums from across the water in South Africa. oberoihotels.com 

Painted by sun, Tsitsikamma National Park

Painted by sun, Tsitsikamma National Park

Natural Wonders

North Malé Atoll, Maldives
With its reefs, drop offs and underwater caverns, not to mention stunning marine life, North Malé Atoll in the Maldives is one of the Indian Ocean’s premiere dive locations. Expect to see anything from sharks, rays and barracuda to whales, dolphins and moray eels. divereport.com

Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Home to the highest concentration of leopards in the world, southeast Sri Lanka’s Yala National Park is The Jungle Book come to life. This vast region of woodland is also one of the best places for seeing elephants, buffalo, monkeys, crocodiles, sambar deer and wild boar — plus all five globally endangered sea turtle species. yalasrilanka.lk

Bassas Da India, Mozambique
This uninhabited, submerged volcanic atoll in the southern Mozambique Channel offers a diving trip like no other. One to tick off for adventurous divers, it’s a marine wilderness of coral gardens and sunken wrecks, best accessed via a liveaboard boat trip. bassadaindia.com

Tsitsikamma National Park, South Africa
Draped in high mountains, deep gorges and rugged coastline, covered with indigenous forest and fynbos (heathland), South Africa’s Tsitsikamma is rightly called the ‘Garden of the Garden Route’.  The park, a 50-mile long coastal strip in the country’s Cape region, is popular for its Otter Hiking Trail. tsitsikamma.info

Tsingy de Bemaraha, Madagascar
The spectacular mineral forest of Tsingy de Bemaraha on the western coast is a UNESCO site; the southern part was declared a national park in 1998. Its canyons, gorges, forests, lakes and mangroves display an astonishing biodiversity, including rare lemurs. travelmadagascar.org 

White sand beach along the coast of Vamizi Island

White sand beach along the coast of Vamizi Island

Beaches

Vamizi Island, Mozambique
Racked for years by civil war, Mozambique is the new kid on East Africa’s tourism scene, and there are some stunning beaches hidden among its Quirimbas archipelago. Icing-sugar sands, luxury lodges and deserted stretches — save for the odd turtle — set Vamizi world’s apart. vamizi.com

Ile Sainte-Marie, Madagascar
Adrift off Madagascar’s east coast, Ile Sainte-Marie is fringed with one deserted beach after another. Guests can cool off with a dip in its blindingly blue waters and throw on the snorkel. Between July and September, there’s always the chance of spotting humpback whales as they journey between this speck of paradise and the wilds of Madagascar. travelmadagascar.org

Olhuveli, Maldives
Stick a pin in a map of the Maldives and you’re likely to find a humdinger of a beach. Olhuveli is just one example. Sitting in the South Malé Atoll, its white sand, water villas and lagoon dotted with the shadows of manta rays are perfectly framed by the blue ocean. olhuvelimaldives.com

Le Saint Géran, Mauritius
Squeaky white sands aren’t the only attraction at the One & Only Resort in Le Saint Géran. The beach is overlooked by Spoon des Iles — the first restaurant Alain Ducasse established outside France — for the perfect pairing of plate and plage. lesaintgeran.oneandonlyresorts.com

Gonubie Beach, South Africa
A little slice of Indian Ocean heaven, Gonubie Beach — some five miles out of East London — is where city dwellers come to hide away among the dunes and tidal pools. Whales and dolphins can be seen from the shoreline, while surfers cruise and kids paddle happily. southafrica.com/beaches 

Read more about the Indian Ocean here. 

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