Blessed with superlative landscapes and idyllic beaches, and rich in activities and culinary experiences, Mauritius, Réunion and the Seychelles offer the best cure for the blues. These Indian Ocean islands are some of the most sought-after on the planet, encircled by beaches of astonishing beauty and backed by forested interiors ripe for exploration. The waters that surround the islands have a color all their own – a blend of turquoise, lapis lazuli and emerald – and shelter extraordinary marine riches. The food, too, is a highlight of any visit here, alongside the cultural mosaic of life out in the ocean. Throw in some of the most luxurious retreats anywhere on earth, and it becomes clear that this could be one place where the moniker "paradise" doesn't overstate things.
From Beach to Adventure
Believe it or not, a day will come during your stay when you decide you've had enough with the beach lounging. Mauritius, Rodrigues, Réunion and the Seychelles aren't just about pampering and relaxation; when it comes to recharging adrenaline levels, they have big surprises up their sleeves. Hike the footpaths that crisscross the islands, ranging from meandering trails to trudges up mountains; scuba dive in enticing warm waters, marveling at more than 300 species of fish (and the odd shipwreck or two); catch the wind and waves on a kiteboard; take a boat tour; explore magnetic canyons; or discover the countryside on horseback.
Life's a Beach
The Seychelles (and, to a lesser extent, Mauritius) is home to perhaps the sexiest beaches in the world. From intimate, hard-to-reach coves to mile-long crescents of white sand, the choice is endless. They're so consistently perfect that it's hard not to become blasé about them. That's why people come here to spend days on the beach under the bright tropical sun, swinging in hammocks, splashing in the sea and sipping a cocktail. Even Réunion, which doesn't fit the cliché of a sun-soaked paradise, has a few good stretches of sand.
To Luxe or Not to Luxe
It's hardly surprising that the Seychelles and Mauritius are choice destinations for honeymooners: here the world's most exclusive hotels compete with each other to attain ever-greater heights of luxury, from personal butlers and private lap pools to in-room massages and pillow menus – not to mention sensuous spas. But if this is not in your budget, don't let that dissuade you from buying a ticket to these destinations. Small, family-run hotels, bed and breakfasts and self-catering establishments offer a closer-to-the-culture experience at prices that won't require you to remortgage the house.
Don't for a second assume that these islands are for beach holidays, nature and adrenaline only – there's so much more to each destination that any trip will be an unforgettable and exciting experience. Across the region, you can explore the archipelago's colonial past in myriad mansions and museums, attend a music festival or a fire-walking ceremony, visit an old sugar factory or a restored Creole villa, or simply soak up the atmosphere of a picturesque village. One thing's for sure, culture buffs won't be disappointed.