What does it take to charm you? Perhaps the kiss of enduring sunlight, the gaze of pure blue sea, the mystery of the moon’s reflection on dark waters? Here are 10 ways you will be surprises by the Indian Ocean islands: Mauritius, Maldives, Seychelles, Madagascar, Reunion, Zanzibar.
1. Wild thing, you make my heart sing
Some of the world’s most beautiful and unusual creatures choose to live here, on the islands of the Indian Ocean. And perhaps they know best. For instance, the dancing lemurs, giant chameleons and elusive fossa of Anjajavy l'Hôtel in Madagascar, the rare turtles and giant tortoises of the Seychelles and the dolphins and incredible fish life, rich in colour and patterns, surrounding them all. Entering their worlds for even a short while creates a space for connection and awe. After that first bond, you can consider yourself smitten.
2. Love at first swim
Sinking into the warmth of the Indian Ocean and floating a while in reef-protected shallows or far-out depths is something we of the cold seas or no seas yearn for most fervently, particularly as we spy our island growing larger and larger out of the airplane window. Why do you think the bikini and swim shorts are the first item we pack?
3. Paradise is easy on the eyes
The protected nature and marine reserves in places like Anjajavy l'Hôtel in Madagascar, the rewilding of tropical forests in areas in Seychelles and the animal and bird life they attract and create, great fiery volcanoes like Piton de la Fournaise near Blue Margouillat Seaview Hotel in Reunion: these scenes are easy to romanticise. And easier to fall for. The sunsets across white sand beaches, like at Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa in Zanzibar and views over the ocean expanse, from islets like Praslin island at Château de Feuilles in the Seychelles, these sing out to photographers and honeymooners alike.
4. Island spirit. And spirits.
What lies behind the perception of happy-go-lucky island life? Let’s consider for a moment that it has something to do with a spirit known as rum. From 20° Sud Boutique-hôtel in Mauritius to Anjajavy l'Hôtel in Madagascar, this popular spirit (whether local or imported brands) plays its hand at soothing travellers, rocking them in their hammocks and on their boat journeys. Whatever your favoured spirit, cocktails at the beach bar or in the pool are what islands are about.
5. Island food, darlin', it's something special
Coconuts just hewn, fresh fruits bulging with life, seafood straight from the ocean, fish never before savoured, fiery spices, aromas and tastes… they combine with romantic set-ups under the stars, tables on the beach, feet in the water, private boats at night, lantern-lit picnics and barefoot barbecues, to ensure you’re properly impressed.
6. How sweet it is to be loved by you
Some of the warmest, most entertaining people you will meet on your travels will be in the Indian Ocean islands. Those waiters at Château de Feuilles, Seychelles ; that bartender at The Nautilus Maldives, Maldives ; the field guides at Anjajavy l'Hôtel, Madagascar ; that spa therapist at Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa ; the hosts at Blue Margouillat Seaview Hotel in Reunion Island and the chef team at 20° Sud Boutique-hôtel in Mauritius… they’re the kind of individuals that make you believe in the maxim, “People make the place.”
7. No man is an island. And yet...
There are, however, those moments during island life when you are able to appreciate the bliss of being away from it all, of secret liaisons and delicious privacy – not leaving your villa if you don’t wish to. It’s this peace and quiet that entices island-lovers so deeply. It’s the joy of sailing across the big blue, a simple speck on the ocean, and retreating to private coves without another soul for kilometres.
8. A daring adventure
Heading out on foot to explore sacred tombs or Lost World-like forests, kayaking through mangroves and kitesurfing over clear waters, fishing off private islands and sailing to remote beaches, these are the escapades of an Indian Ocean getaway and they’ll enchant the wild and curious at heart.
9. The only time you'll hear the word "pressure"
The essential oils of exotic flowers and scrubs made from island spices unite under the hands of a dedicated masseuse – on a deck with a sea view, in a garden oasis or in your private room. From the hammam to the spa table, the words, “Please make yourself comfortable,” never sounded so sweet. Even if a sifaka dances past…
10. The best night's sleep of your life
Having dined and dared, explored and connected, sunbathed, snorkelled and spa-ed, the white sheets of a bed on an island is always more tempting than the one at home. Whether in your villa or outside on a sleep-out deck, mosquito nets surrounding you as in a royal boudoir, your sun-kissed soul will sink into slumber in seconds.