Turquoise dreams: A guide to the Indian Ocean islands

From the colour-popping atolls in the Maldives to the hillside hideaways of the Seychelles; the natural paradise of Mauritius to Sri Lanka’s cultural treasures and La Reunion’s outdoor adventures, the Indian Ocean cradles some of the most beautiful islands in the world.

Spanning countries and continents, this is where you’ll find powdery white sands, vibrant blue waters, Jurassic-like interiors and striking coral reefs. There are thousands of islands in the Indian Ocean, each as distinct as the next; we recommend combining a couple of days of adventure with an away-from-it-all beach break. Here, we’ve chosen our favourite Indian Ocean islands to help you decide on the right one for you.


Best for: honeymoons and incredible white sands

A made-for honeymoon destination, this otherworldly archipelago is a romantic haven with some of the best diving, dining and spa experiences on the planet. Hypnotic white sands disappear into aquamarine waters and each picture-perfect island has just one single resort. Deliciously warm temperatures are year-round, and the kaleidoscopic coral reefs and beautiful ocean sunsets compliment the stylish overwater villas – the glamorous icons of the Maldives.

It’s the resorts, from Robinson Crusoe-style gems to innovative wonders, that really make your experience here special. You could have dinner on a deck isolated in the middle of a lagoon at Baros Maldives or shake things up with a stay on quirky Seaside Finolhu Baa Atoll Maldives, a retro fun and playful spin on the traditional Maldivian-luxe rules.

Find rustic-chic luxury at Constance Moofushi, a high-end island with a castaway vibe, or head to Kuramathi Maldives, one of our most popular resorts thanks to its vast range of restaurants and great choice of facilities.


Best for: island-hopping and world-class beaches

Northeast of Madagascar, this alluring archipelago is where flour soft sands and coral reefs give way to verdant forests harbouring rare birdlife. UNESCO World Heritage sites sit side by side with ultra-luxurious hotels and some of the most photographed beaches on the globe.

Mahé is the most developed of the islands and is where you’ll find the Seychelles’ capital, Victoria. Praslin is the second largest island, an Eden-esque isle that delights with the World Heritage-listed Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve. Slow-paced La Digue is the Seychelles’ undeveloped treasure. Gorgeous white sand bays here are sheltered behind towering granite boulders, and cars are replaced with bicycles and oxcarts. Then there are the pristine beaches and dramatic landscapes on Silhouette Island, a wildlife lover’s dream with an astounding biological diversity.

Stay at Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa, an all-villa sanctuary within a national marine park on Silhouette or discover the boutique charm of Le Repaire Boutique Hotel on La Digue. You can also pamper yourself in one of the finest spas in the Indian Ocean – the Constance Spa at Constance Ephélia Seychelles is a blissful space to restore calm with its hydrotherapy pool, reflexology walkway and yoga pavilion. Island hopping is a popular way to see the different sides of the Seychelles; we can design a trip that combines two or more resorts.

Sri Lanka

Best for: culture, history and wildlife

Of all the Indian Ocean islands, Sri Lanka is our favourite all-rounder. Just south of India, this emerald isle stimulates all the senses with its beautiful beaches, legendary temples and storied cities. It’s an island rich in history and wildlife, where national parks teem with life and an extraordinary cultural triangle lies at its heart.

Travelling with your own car and driver is the best way to get around; we’ve created some suggested itineraries to give you a flavour of what’s possible. Discover the ancient capital city of Sigiriya and see the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, then take a train ride through the rolling tea country and spot elusive leopards in Yala National Park. The island’s coastlines are also pretty spectacular. Choose the caramel-coloured shores of the southwest’s livelier resorts like Bentota or Negombo, or head to the quieter east coast towns of Trincomalee and Passikudah for a drier climate and palm-fringed shores that dazzle with untouched white sand.


Best for: golfing and indulgent spas

Mark Twain once called Mauritius ‘heaven’. A pint-sized Garden of Eden in the southern Indian Ocean, Mauritius is nature at its best. Surrounded by the world’s third largest coral reef, this exotic island comes alive with its beaches and waterfalls, national parks and centuries-old sugar-cane plantations.

Beyond its inherent beauty, Mauritius hosts some of the planet’s most exquisite hotels. On the tranquil west coast, Maradiva Villas Resort & Spa is a lavish all-pool villa retreat, while on the east coast, Shangri-La Le Touessrok Mauritius is home to the renowned Bernhard Langer-designed 18-hole championship golf course. Inland, you can stay a few nights in the mountains at Lakaz Chamarel Exclusive Lodge, the cherry on the top of any Mauritius beach stay.

For couples wanting a secluded escape exclusively for adults, Paradise Cove on the island’s north coast is complete honeymoon territory. And for family fun, African-themed Heritage Awali Golf & Spa Resort on the south coast has exceptional facilities and a fantastic all-inclusive package.

La Réunion

Best for: outdoor adventure and exploration

La Réunion, also known as ‘L’Ile Intense’, is a tiny French outpost in the Indian Ocean that’s often compared to Hawaii. Dense jungles and lunar landscapes, gushing waterfalls and sugar-cane fields, as well as one of the most active volcanoes in the world, there’s so much potential for outdoor exploration.

But while it’s very much an activity-led destination, there’s still a refined luxury culture that’s ideal if you’re after a relaxing break. While away hours on the golden sands of St-Gilles-les-Bains and spend time perusing the pretty Creole houses and markets in Cilaos.

After a long day of sightseeing, Blue Margouillat is one of our favourite places to unwind. A petite, white-walled abode overlooking the bay of Saint-Leu, the Creole-style décor is sharp and sophisticated, and the central pool has a stunning sea view. For indulgence and a little luxury, the most extravagant resort on the island is the LUX* Saint Gilles. A contemporary retreat set beside a coral-rich lagoon, it’s the only resort that allows guests direct access to the beautiful L’Hermitage Beach, and it’s also one of the best spots on the island for whale watching.


Ready to find your perfect slice of Indian Ocean paradise? View our latest offers here or chat with one of our travel experts, who will listen to what you love and design an itinerary that’s right for you.

This feature was updated on 16th January 2024. The information within this feature is correct to the best of our knowledge.

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