Our Indian Ocean guide
We've put together this guide to the Indian Ocean to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about going on holiday in the Indian Ocean - from when and where to go to choosing the right property.
However, there is no substitute for speaking to someone who has been there and will listen to your requirements and tastes before making a recommendation on what is right for you - so we urge you to call and speak to one of our Indian Ocean specialists.
Jump straight to your question:
When to go to the Indian Ocean & when is the best time for offers?
What are the main differences between Mauritius, Seychelles and the Maldives?
How long is the flying time to Mauritius, the Seychelles and the Maldives?
What is the difference in booking with Scott Dunn for an Indian Ocean holiday?
What are the best Indian Ocean hotels with childcare and kids clubs?
What can I combine with a beach stay in the Indian Ocean?
What are the best hotels for honeymoons in the Indian Ocean?
We are just a couple wanting a quiet retreat away from it all, ideally without any families?
Where are the best places to dive in the Indian Ocean?
Which hotels have the best spas for a wellness holiday in the Indian Ocean?
Which coast is the best in Mauritius?
In the Maldives, should I choose over-water villas or beach villas?
What are the absolutely WOW hotels in the Indian Ocean?
What about East Africa, Madagascar & Sri Lanka?
Mauritius is a year-round destination, with December to April being more humid (yet the breeze makes it wonderfully refreshing) and average temperatures of around 25ºC. The drier and cooler months are from April to November, with temperatures ranging around the 22-23ºC mark – so ideal for families who don’t want the fierce heat of the Mediterranean! If you want to dive or do a lot of watersports, then best to avoid January and February. There are some superb offers from the end of Easter to September, so it is excellent value for the summer holidays.
Temperatures are pretty constant in the Maldives, being so close to the equator (expect around 29ºC year-round). The best season to visit the Maldives is from December to April, when it is at its driest, with May to November offering more chance of rain (usually short and sharp showers in the afternoons). The best time to surf is from March to October. You will find the best offers in May, June and September.
The Seychelles has pretty constant temperatures (between 24ºC to 31ºC) with warmer and wetter winds blowing in from October to April and drier and stronger winds coming in from May to September. It is generally wetter in December and January, but showers are usually short and sharp. The best months for snorkelling are April/May and October/November. There are usually some great offers in May/June.
The Maldives is made up of over twenty six atolls spread over a vast portion of the Indian Ocean close to India and Sri Lanka. Each atoll contains a cluster of desert islands, with the various hotels and resorts located exclusively on one island surrounded by its own turquoise lagoon and surrounded by a house reef teeming with marine life and ideal for snorkelling. Many islands have water villas perched on stilts in the lagoon (not something you can get in Mauritius or the Seychelles) as well as a range of Beach Villas surrounded by palm trees. Some Atolls are located quite far from the main airport in Male, meaning you need to get a seaplane (most are around 30-40 minutes), or a domestic flight to reach them once you land. Islands located in the North and South Male Atolls are accessed by the hotel’s own speedboat. It is often said that the Maldives is the most exclusive of its Indian Ocean cousins, but with the price tag to match!
Mauritius can be found to the southeast coast of Africa, just beyond Madagascar. The island is 65km long and 45km wide, with a mountainous interior. The hotels and resorts are generally scattered along its beautiful coastline, protected by the world’s third longest coral reef. You can relax on the beach, but can also dip into the island’s interior seeking out waterfalls or taking walks through the countryside.
The Seychelles is a blend of the two and is an archipelago off the east coast of Africa and to the north of Mauritius. It is made up of 115 islands, some of which are tiny coral atolls and other striking granite tropical islands, many of which are uninhabited. Some hotels are located on their own private island (usually far bigger than those in the Maldives) and others are positioned on some of the Seychelles’ main islands such as Mahé or Praslin. The variety of the islands and ease of travelling around makes this an ideal destination for island hopping, combining two or three in one trip.
It takes 11 hours and 50 minutes to fly direct to Mauritius with either British Airways (3 times a week from Gatwick) or Air Mauritius (3 times a week from Heathrow). Other options include Air France or Emirates.
It takes 10 hour 10 minutes to fly to the Maldives with British Airways (three times a week from October to March), or 12 hours 30 minutes with Emirates, Qatar, Etihad, Turkish or Oman Air via the Middle East.
It takes 12 hours 30 minutes to fly to the Seychelles with Etihad via Abu Dhabi or with Emirates via Dubai.
The specialists at Scott Dunn have seen and stayed in each and every property we feature, meaning we know them inside out. It is a carefully hand-picked portfolio offering a range of luxury hotels and resorts. With each passing day, there is so much more information added to the internet about the best place to go, often never comparing and contrasting between hotels, resorts and destinations – they all look amazing, so how do you know which is right for you? We know all the subtle differences between them, ensuring we will choose exactly the right resort for you individually – we love having a good old chat and getting to know what you like and don’t like! We also go the extra mile, ensuring all the little details are taken care of, such are pre-booking spa treatments, requesting the best villas with the views you have always dreamt of, or arranging for you to get out and about such as trekking in the hills or taking a sunset cruise. It might feel a little daunting to choose from so many amazing hotels, but we have stayed in them all and we are absolute specialists in pairing you with the perfect resort.
There are some superb resorts throughout the Indian Ocean which offer world-class childcare as well as family-friendly accommodation such as 2-bedroom villas and suites. Generally, Mauritius is better set up for families with younger children (most kids clubs start from 8 months and up), as most kids clubs in the Maldives or Seychelles start from 4 years (although baby-sitting is available) – Mauritius also has direct flights all year round. We suggest looking at Shanti Maurice in Mauritius which includes an Explorers kids club for children from 4 months old, alternatively Anahita Golf & Spa Resort or the St Regis for young families, and the Four Seasons Resort at Anahita for families with teenagers. In the Seychelles, Constance Lemuria and Constance Ephelia are superb family options. Moving to the Maldives, look no further than Niyama Private Islands which has an Explorers kids club for children from 12 months old - most other resorts in the Maldives start from 4 years and up. We would also recommend Constance Halaveli, Anantara Dhigu and the Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru for teenagers.
The Indian Ocean destinations tie in perfectly as part of an itinerary featuring a wide variety of experiences to suit any interest. A classic combination is to combine an African safari with a beach stay in either the Seychelles or Mauritius. The easiest connections are from South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya. Sri Lanka combines wonderfully well with the Maldives (only an hour’s flight between the two), and Kerala is also really popular. Many guests are now tying together Northern India (for example Rajasthan or a Tiger Safari) with the Maldives – the ultimate combination of culture and beach. Oman and the Middle East, such as Dubai combine well with all three destinations due to the many Middle Eastern carriers opening Indian Ocean routes. You can even combine a remote desert experience with a tropical beach to finish! Less common combinations include Turkey and the Maldives, Ethiopia and the Seychelles and Indo-China and the Maldives – whatever combination you want, we will find a way to make it happen!
Just imagine yourself on a desert island overlooking a turquoise lagoon in your own water villa with a private plunge pool. The Maldives has a range of amazing resorts which are ideal for honeymooners. There are some resorts which don’t accept children so you will have all the peace and quiet you would want. For over-water villas try Gili Lankanfushi, for something utterly peaceful try Cocoa Island and for an excellent good value honeymoon resort, look at Velassaru. Moving to the Seychelles, an iconic honeymoon destination, you can stay in some beautiful resorts or barefoot private islands, snorkel in crystal clear waters and enjoy the warm hospitality of the islanders. Some of our favourite properties here for honeymoons include the beautiful Raffles resort on Praslin, perhaps combined with a luxurious private island experience on Desroches. In Mauritius, relax on a powder-soft sandy beach, go hiking in the waterfalls and sail in a catamaran. Our popular honeymoon hotels here are the small boutique hotel, 20 Degrees Sud, and the Shanti Maurice for a stylish resort option.
Do consider combining your beach stay with a little adventure in Sri Lanka, Oman, India or Africa – it will give you a wonderfully balanced honeymoon that only adds to the overall experience. In Mauritius a classic honeymoon is a simple blend of staying at the hill-top Lakaz Chamarel where you can take lazy walks in the hills before ending on the beach at a luxury resort.
Where works best for a couple wanting a quiet retreat away from it all, ideally without any families?
Sometimes, what might be an excellent hotel for honeymooners doesn’t always mean it is right for a couple who might want something slightly more sociable and absolutely not with families charging about the place. In the Maldives, you will love Baros, which doesn’t allow children under 12 and has a great sociable atmosphere. We also feel Soneva Fushi works perfectly for couples, given the size of the island, and Huvafen Fushi is also popular. In the Seychelles, consider the wonderful Banyan Tree where every villa has private pools and in Mauritius, maybe opt for the hill-top retreat of Lakaz Chamarel, the great private pools at the Four Seasons and The Oberoi.
Where are the best places to dive in the Indian Ocean?
We think the best diving in the Indian Ocean can be found in the Maldives – and we suggest heading to the outer atolls where there will be fewer other divers in the popular dive spots. Do consider the Park Hyatt on the Huvadhoo Atoll, as well as the resorts in the Baa Atoll such as Soneva Fushi. The Ari Atoll has some excellent diving, such as Constance Halaveli (a great introduction for children learning to dive).
In the Seychelles, look no further than Desroches Island Resort, set on a private island protected by a coral reef teeming with marine life – it is said to be one of the best diving spots in the world.
Moving to Mauritius, we suggest avid divers should consider staying at The Oberoi – although don’t expect the diving to be as good as the Maldives or the Seychelles.
Let’s start again with the Maldives, as you might well have heard of the under-water spa at Huvafen Fushi. We also love the Six Senses Spa at Laamu. Moving to Mauritius, the go-to resort for a great spa is Shanti Maurice, but do also consider the St Regis. Moving to the Seychelles, we consider the best spas to be at the Four Seasons and Raffles, Praslin.
Absolutely – and probably the best place to do this is the Seychelles. A suggested itinerary would be to start with Mahe, head to Praslin and maybe end up at Denis Private Island, although there are many different island combinations available. In the Maldives, many guests like to do a week in a different atoll, or maybe take the Four Seasons Explorer which cruises between the Four Seasons at Kuda Huraa and the Four Seasons at Landaa Giraavaru. There are flights between the Seychelles and Mauritius and, if you are after the ultimate journey around the Indian Ocean, combine the Maldives, Sri Lanka and the Seychelles on our Ultimate Indian Ocean itinerary.
If you travel in the summer, then the east coast is slightly more windy with the south being the most windy, but generally you shouldn’t agonise too much over the difference in the quality of beaches and views.
For many, the idea of having your own water villa and just dipping into the lagoon below you is something that utterly captures the imagination. That said, there is something to be said for Beach Villas – they are generally larger, and offer a lot more privacy given many are surrounded by lush vegetation and palm trees. Many Beach Villas now have private pools and lead out onto the beach. If anything, why not experience both during your time in the Maldives?
Let’s start in the Seychelles and there are two absolutely superb private islands you could treat yourself to. North Island is reached by private helicopter and only has 11 villas and ranks as one of the most exclusive escapes in the world. Fregate Island has 16 villas and some superb beaches, one of which was voted the best in the world. Move to the Maldives and two resorts have recently opened that have simply raised the bar. Cheval Blanc is located in the Noonu Atoll - it played host to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2014. Velaa Private Island is also in the Noonu Atoll (you can combine the two by a 20 minute speedboat) and has some of the best food in the Maldives. If you are travelling as part of a larger party, they have huge four bedroom villas. There are also the private reserves at Soneva Fushi and Gili Lankanfushi – set totally over water and accessed only by boat. Gili Lankanfushi even has a slide so that you can access the lagoon more easily!
Scott Dunn also offers a range of beach hotels in the less known corners of the Indian Ocean. Right along the east coast of Africa you will find amazing boutique hotels like Azura Benguerra and Azura Quilalea, Fundu Lagoon and Baraza – perfect to combine with a spot of safari beforehand. Move to Madagascar (and divers take note), we love the Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina. Sri Lanka is another popular Indian Ocean destination and its south coast has some amazing beach hotels such as Amanwella, Cape Weligama and some superb boutique options like Frangipani Tree and Villa Bentota. Combine these with a tour of the north of the island, seeing ancient cities and tea plantations en route.
If you just want to escape the Indian Ocean and do something similar but maybe a little further away, we also offer luxury holidays in French Polynesia and many of the Pacific Islands.