With miles of bone-white sand, scalloped bays, coral-lined lagoons, and clotted cream island spots bathed in liquid Hockney blues, the Indian Ocean islands have baked-on closet ingredients.
If you think these island idylls are the preserve of honeymooners and luxury-seeking types, you might need to think again. A vacation to Mauritius, the Seychelles and the Maldives will never be a cheap proposition, but it can be affordable – and rich in experiences. In fact, if you know where to look, you can find a song’s paradise.
In both Mauritius and the Seychelles, many of the islands‘ guesthouses, self-catering chalets and three-star properties are a hop, skip and a hop from the top drawer sand strands. Buses and fast inter-island ferries will get you around and, if you’re independent, there are daily markets and fishermen ferrying the day’s catch to the beaches. In Mauritius, follow your nose to the food trucks. A delicious dholl puri or fragrant Creole rougaille (made with tomatoes, spices and sausage) washed down with fresh sugarcane juice will only cost a few pounds.
Avoiding high season (December to January and July to August in Seychelles and mid-November to April in Mauritius) can also bring significant savings. Trailfinders, for example, is currently offering a week at the five-star Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort and Spa in November for £1,599 pp (020 7084 6500; trailfinders.com), including flights and breakfast.
Unlike Asia and the Caribbean, where different islands have adopted different restrictions, the Indian Ocean has been much more accessible to travelers throughout the pandemic. “The Caribbean has been difficult due to fluctuations and island curfews,” says Anna Hilley, long-haul trade manager at Travel Republic. “The Maldives has remained open throughout and we have seen strong demand for Mauritius in November and December [when it reopened to visitors October 1]. Now we are seeing a lot of last minute bookings and the weeks of June, July and August are filling up fast. »
The Indian Ocean is not just a destination for fly and flop visitors. Now that many restrictions on travel have been lifted, those seeking adventure and a sabbatical (or both) are booking trips. Rich in marine life, the region offers extraordinary opportunities for marine and wildlife conservation. In the Seychelles, for example, you can volunteer on Cousin – a protected island reserve.
From cultural heritage in Sri Lanka to an adventure holiday in Mauritius, diving in the Maldives and island hopping in the Seychelles, the Indian Ocean won’t disappoint – and it’s more affordable than you think. Here are 20 holidays to do the trick.
For gallant groups…
Twice the fun in Dubai and Sri Lanka
For a touch of freshness on the Indian Ocean, why not consider combining Dubai with Sri Lanka? You will go from a gregarious and cosmopolitan city to tuk-tuks, temples and Ayurvedic massages. Stay three nights at the Hyatt Regency in Deira, on Dubai’s waterfront corniche, before catching a short flight and heading to the stylish and low-key Avani Bentota Resort and Spa, overlooking one of Dubai’s finest beaches. from Sri Lanka. Yoga, two freshwater pools, water sports and beach volleyball – it’s all there.
How to do
An 11-day break in Dubai and Sri Lanka costs from £1,249 pp with Travelbag (020 7001 4112; travelbag.co.uk) spending three nights in Dubai at the Hyatt Regency and seven nights at the Avani Bentota Resort and Spa about half an hour. board of directors; includes flights.
Cost per person, per day
All-inclusive action in Mauritius
With a strong portfolio of hotels, tours and catamaran cruises in the region, family-owned Tropical Sky is a reliable source of inspiration. Visit off-season for an action-packed all-inclusive vacation at the five-star Maritim Resort and Spa, near Baklava, Mauritius. Within its sprawling 25 acres there are tennis courts, an equestrian centre, a golf course and a Padi diving center with the full range of water activities. And if you just want to sit at the rooftop bar and gaze out over the Alabaster Beach, that’s fine too.
How to do
Seven nights at the Maritim Resort and Spa (01342 395475; tropicalsky.co.uk) costs from £1,549pp for rooms that sleep two adults and one child; includes flights.
Cost per person, per day