What you need to know about remote islands vacations
Bordered by Africa on one side and Asia on the other, the Indian Ocean is a vast swathe of brilliant blue, and it’s scattered with some of the most exotic and beautiful islands in the world. Yes, it’s a long way to go, and from the East Coast you’re likely to be on an airplane for more than 20 hours and will have to change at least once. But when you step off that plane… crystal-clear waters, white-sand beaches, and almost year-round sunshine await. These tropical islands have well-established tourist infrastructures and English is spoken most places, so there’s no need to download that translation app – just find the perfect beach and order a long, cool drink.
Water, water all around. On the islands of the Indian Ocean, you are never far from the sparkle and swell of the balmy blue. Nowhere is this truer than in the string of sandy pearls that form the Maldives, made up of 26 coral atolls in a chain reaching down to cross the equator. Within those atolls are roughly 1,200 islands, and 100 of them are resorts. And those resorts know how to look after you when you’re on vacation. Stay at one of our Maldives vacation rentals and you really will be spoilt, with gourmet food and wine, villas that are out-of-this-world gorgeous and smiling, thoughtful service. Of course with views that steal your breath away anew each morning, you could be forgiven for parking yourself on your beautiful deck and just gawping at the wonder of it all. But there are plenty of gentle distractions to tempt you out – spa treatments, guided snorkeling to meet the local marine life and yoga in the sea breezes to name a few.
Get close to nature
Whether on land or in the water, the islands of the Indian Ocean have plenty to offer the nature lover. Sri Lanka is one of the best places anywhere to spot blue whales, with a 90% chance of seeing the world’s largest mammals as they feed in the plankton-rich waters around Mirissa on the island’s south coast between November and May. There are a number of operators who will take you out on a boat tour – choose one that is committed to responsible whale watching. Your concierge can organize whale watching tours for you.
Yala National Park in Sri Lanka is the place to get out and meet the country’s wildlife. The park is home to 44 mammal varieties and a whopping 215 bird species. Spot elephants, jackals, peacocks and crocodiles, and this is probably your best chance anywhere to come face to face with a leopard, as Yala has the highest concentration of these big cats anywhere in the world. On Mauritius, the Black River Gorges National Park is a protected reserve with over 300 species of flowering plants, so the botanists among you should make a beeline for its many hiking trails. At La Vanille Nature Park, conservation and animal welfare are top priorities, and you can meet and learn about critters such as giant tortoises, iguanas, crocodiles and ridiculously cute furry lemurs.
A fascinating heritage
Many of the Indian Ocean’s islands have interesting histories to share. Their strategic locations meant that they were fought over by colonial powers in centuries past, and the legacies of previous rulers now mix with the cultural traditions of many waves of immigrants.
In Mauritius’s capital of Port Louis, you’ll find the Aapravasi Ghat – built in 1849 to receive indentured laborers who arrived to work on the island’s sugar estates, it’s now a World Heritage Site with a museum and guided tours. The city’s Central Market, housed in a grand, two-story columned Victorian structure, is a great place to visit to experience the bustle of hundreds of traders hawking a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, spices, and seafood, and upstairs there are many arts and crafts that make good souvenirs. Stop at the Champ de Mars if you can - the oldest racecourse in the southern hemisphere is good fun for a flutter on the horses with a lively local crowd.
Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, is well worth a visit – taking a tuk-tuk is the best way to get around (as well as being lots of fun). At the National Museum, you’ll find art from Sri Lanka’s ancient past, as well as swords, guns and other paraphernalia from the colonial period. To experience Sri Lanka’s Buddhist heritage, visit the Gangaramaya temple with its lavish architecture and giant golden statues, and at the end of the day, a stroll along the seafront at Galle Face Green offers the chance to try sizzling street food from a string of busy vendors.
Experience the luxury of our exotic island villas
If your idea of vacation heaven is blue skies, even bluer seas and beaches of powder-soft sand then pack your bags for the remote islands of the Indian Ocean. Whether you want to sun and splash, sample luscious local cuisine or take in some culture, we’ve got just the base for you.
Homes in Mauritius
Our Mauritius villas are perfect for a relaxed vacation with family or friends. We have rentals sleeping from 6 to 14 people, with lush gardens, patios and infinity pools. Our properties come with a golf buggy so you can make the five-minute journey to the beach in comfort then return at the end of a day chilling on the sand and fire up the barbecue for an alfresco feast on the terrace.
Homes in Sri Lanka
Want a luxury vacation for you and a group of friends, or perhaps an extended-family celebration? Our Sri Lanka villas have everything you need to make your stay the best it could be. A private chef to cook up gourmet breakfasts, lunches, and dinners? Done. Cooking classes so you can learn to create Southeast Asian specialties for yourself? No problem. With tennis courts, a fitness center, multiple pools and a spa for pampering treatments, our rentals sleeping up to 30 people make for a very special trip.