So you’re in the market for a paradise island holiday. You’ll need the basics then: long, white, sandy beaches, warm turquoise waters, some palm trees, great seafood, exotic spices, tropical fruit you didn’t even know existed and excellent service.
The Indian Ocean Islands of Mauritius and the Seychelles have all the makings of the ideal tropical island getaway, but there is a common misconception that Mauritius and Seychelles offer a similar holiday experience.
We have made the process of choosing paradise a little simpler. All you need to do is determine who you are and what you need.
The Solitary Type
Mauritius is a solitary tropical island, almost entirely protected by a dynamic coral reef and lapped by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. In comparison, one hundred and fifteen islands make up the Seychelles Archipelago Some are government protected, some are privately owned and others are the size of a palm tree.
Mauritius is all about effortless fun, first class service, exotic live entertainment, loads of lounging time on the beach and watersports galore. You could easily spend two weeks in Mauritius and never leave your hotel.
Seychelles is a bit more spread out. With so many islands Seychelles appeals to those looking for a deserted island rather than a desert island. A hotel with more than 25 beds is described as a ‘large’ hotel and you will often find only one hotel on a privately owned island.
The Energetic Type
If you’re the active type who wants to be jet-skiing the one minute, windsurfing the next and have waterskiing booked for the afternoon, then Mauritius is your beach activity jackpot.
Just about every hotel and resort in Mauritius is packed with fun activities. Apart from golf, tennis and volleyball, resorts usually offer kayaks, windsurfing, snorkeling and small sailboats free of charge; and jet skis, waterskiing, scuba diving and parasailing for a little extra.
Mauritius has it all for the energetic holiday maker – you could be waterskiing before breakfast, deep sea fishing by lunch time; take a trip on a glass bottomed boat or explore the exotic markets later on, before partying in the nightclubs of Grand Baie by night.
This is not to say there is nothing to do in Seychelles. It’s easy to keep moving in Seychelles as island hopping and staying on more than one island is popular. So if you’re after constantly changing, magnificent scenery, the Seychelles is your archipelago.
Diving in the protected waters of Seychelles is fantastic, with the Inner Islands resting on an easy to access shallow plateau and the Outer Islands providing some great, hardly explored areas for the more experienced diver.
Seychelles offers world class fishing too – the Outer Islands offer fantastic big game, bottom fishing and have become a global centre for salt-water fly-fishing.
It is worth noting for the speed junkies out there that all motorised sports are banned in Seychelles, for conservation reasons.
You’re in love, you’re on your honeymoon, or you’ve been married for years and want to celebrate it – you are looking for passion in paradise, walking hand in hand along deserted beaches, private candle lit dinners and a little pampering.
Mauritius is renowned for its fantastic hotels with the famous “no problem” attitude. Seamless service, specially organised dinners on the beach and sumptuous spa treatments are all available. All of this and the idyllic palm lined beaches stretching along the coast.
Although the Mauritian beaches are beautiful, there is no mistaking that Seychelles beaches are better. In fact, beaches in Seychelles often make it into top beaches of the world surveys. Cousine Island, for example, has been voted one of Condé Nast Traveller’s ‘World’s Sexiest Beaches.
Choose one of the private island resorts and have a villa, swimming pool, beach and an azure corner of the Indian Ocean all to your selves, not another being in sight.
The Nature Lover
Famous for the long extinct Dodo bird, Mauritius has had great success with its recent conservation efforts. However, they have not pursued the eco-tourist quite as consistently as Seychelles.
Seychelles have a long tradition in eco-tourism and a very pro-active approach to conservation. Entire islands have been set aside as reserves and there are marine parks, as well as the forest and mountain reserves, for you to explore.
Swim with the largest fish in the ocean, the plankton-eating whale shark, in the protected waters or visit the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Valée de Mai on Praslin is one, home to the rare black parrot, but also to the world’s largest seed, the erotic Coco-de-Mer, reputed to have aphrodisiac properties. The other is the far flung, Aldabra, where the largest colony of giant tortoises can be found – all 150,000 of them.
Mauritius is the perfect family beach holiday destination. There is fun to be had whatever the age of your children – sun, sand, calm safe sea and fun activities. Not only that, most of the hotels and resorts offer kids clubs and even teenager clubs, so parents can also have a holiday.
When going to Seychelles it’s usually best to leave the children behind. There are no kids clubs to keep them entertained and they are often given the evil eye by hotel staff, even at those places where children are technically welcome.
Mauritius has always been, and still is, known for its world class hotels and Seychelles for its breathtaking scenery. However, Seychelles has caught up and in many ways overshot Mauritius in terms of exclusive luxury accommodation.
Seychelles is not a place for the budget conscious traveler, but if budgets are of no concern then set sail for your personal paradise island. Private islands such as Frégate and North Island are completely exclusive to their guests, so you don’t have to worry about anyone else booking the sun lounger.