Whether in search of a private island for your next magical hideaway, or a fully-equipped resort for the family beach and diving getaway, why not try the idyllic tropical offerings of these four islands situated in the Indian Ocean. Typically, the region has two rainfall seasons, the ‘short rains’ that fall between November and early December, and the ‘long rains’ that fall from March through to early June. The most comfortable period to travel is the drier and cooler months of late June through to early November and its best to avoid April and May when the heaviest rains occur.

With the incredible diversity of terrain, biodiversity, and activities, Madagascar is without doubt the most unique of the island options.Its evolutionary history has the island breaking away from the continental landmass of Africa over 100 million years ago, and this has resulted in a profusion of fascinating endemic animal and plant life.It is these creatures, ranging from the lemurs and giant chameleons to the towering baobab trees and a host of colourful bird species that have become the major attraction.

And its large size: it’s the fourth largest island in the world, ensures such varied terrain, whichincludes a vast mountain plateau running almost the entire length of the island, the dry desert terrain of the south and dense rainforests to the north and east. And then of course there are the endless unspoilt tropical beaches that ring the island making for great surfing, sailing, and diving.

For many, the cosmopolitan tropicaldestinationof Mauritius has become their favourite Indian Ocean playground. Somewhat more developed than its neighbours, it has a history of peace and prosperity that together with the cultural mix brings a calm and comforting familiarity for the international set that return again and again.  

The island is ringed with an endless choice of options from luxurious boutique villas to some of the most well-known and affordable large resorts in the region. Pick a spot and spend your time indulging in every type of fun-filled beach and water activity, or simply come for a well-earned stint of blissful relaxation. The island has something for everyone, including as an excellent destination for families.

The smallest of the island destinations is also the least developed and the most secluded, and with over 100 smaller islets in the chain, the Seychelles has some of the most stunningly beautiful private hideaways. Time in this paradise is all about the romance of lazy languid days spent sun-soaking on stunning beaches and taking to the warm azure waters to dive and snorkel at leisure. More costly than any of its neighbours, there is barefoot luxury galore on the principal islands of Praslin, Mahé and La Dique, and the most exotic of all is the opulent retreat of North Island. The scuba-diving on these islands is some of the best to be had in African waters.  

For centuries, the island of Zanzibar was the centre of East Africa’s flourishing Swahili civilization. Located a short distance off the mainland coast of Tanzania, today it is a thriving destination. For the history enthusiast, it still offers a vivid window into its history that wasbound up in the life of Sultans, the slave trade and dhows, the majestic sailing ships of these warm seas.

This rich cultural heritage is now augmented by the modern-day image of the ‘Spice Islands’ as an exotic and vibrant beach and diving holiday paradise, including an array of extremely affordable options. Take in the historical sights and architectural delights of Stone Town before heading out to an incredible selection of wonderful dive and snorkelling sites along palm-lined beaches spread around the coastline. And for the more adventurous traveller, why not try the more remote options of the archipelago – Pemba to the north, and Mafia Island to the south.