The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world’s oceans, covering 20% of the planet’s water surface. Bounded by Asia Africa, Australasia, and the Southern Ocean it has some of the most magical islands scattered around its perimeter and also in splendid isolation its centre.
Volcanic remnants, deep jungles and some of the most unique wildlife found nowhere else in the world all combine to makes this the most fascinating yet still under visited ocean on the planet.
Names like Bali, Java, and Reunion all conjure up thoughts of island paradises so different from her sister ocean the Pacific.
WHEN TO GO
Because it spans two hemispheres and two tropics it is difficult to generalise about when to visit the Indian Ocean. Certainly, May is ideal for Sri Lanka but do check the monsoon times too whilst The Maldives are best visited December to March.
Mozambique’s dry season takes place from April to September and Madagascar in December is when you can see baby Lemurs but it’s a big place with different mini climates. Mauritius is cooler from May until October.
April to October usually produces warm and wind free conditions in the Seychelles when the trade winds stop blowing.
WHAT TO SEE
The big draw is of course the Lemurs but Madagascar is much more with six world heritage classified parks with a biodiversity of animals and plants reflecting the time 60 million years ago, when the island spilt from Africa.
Over a 1000 miles long the island has some incredible scenery and a breath-taking coast line. These are best seen from long hikes. T he capital Antananarivo, full off motorbikes and market stalls, is one of the most lively in all the Africa coast, and you will discover a rich historical, architectural, and cultural heritage all over this amazing hillside city.
Mauritius is surrounded by white sandy beaches and the lagoons are protected from the open sea by the world’s third largest coral reef, which surrounds the island.
There are also some 50 uninhabited islands making it ideal as a zodiac landing area with some of them used as natural reserves for endangered species.
The Black River Gorges National Park is a spectacularly wild expanse of thick forest, home to over 300 species of plants and nine species of bird which are endemic to the island.
You can also explore the wide streets in the old district capital of Mahébourg that still have Dutch and French colonial buildings.
Combining the words paradise and Seychelles happens quite often and it’s not surprising as it is simply true.
These 115 islands are full of atolls, coral reefs, and nature reserves, as well as rare animals such as the giant Aldabra tortoises. Whilst on Bird Island the stunning beautiful fairy terns fill the sky around you.
The rarely-visited Aldabra and Amirantes islands mixed with the modern life of the largest island Mahe with its capital Victoria which has the air of a provincial town offer a tropical contrast and beauty that is unique in the world.
Often called “India’s tear drop” Sri Lanka’s landscapes range from rainforests and arid plains to its pristine beaches, rain forests, highlands and misty mountains.
Famed for its ancient Buddhist ruins, including the 5th-century citadel Sigiriya, with its palace and frescoes the Island has a history going back over 3000 years with some of world’s most ancient cities including Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Digamadulla.
The colourful narrow streets pf the Pettah district in Colombo are clogged with tuk-tuks and labourers pulling heavy carts laden with goods, while a mind blowing assortment of shops and stalls all vie for your business.
INDIAN OCEAN WILDLIFE HIGHLIGHTS
From elephants and leopards in Sri Lanka to manta rays and sharks in Mauritius, huge tortoises in the Seychelles and humpback whales in Reunion, the Indian Ocean is awash with wildlife.
The largest mammal and fish are found here with Blue whales seen in Sri Lanka in March and Whale sharks in the Maldives between January and April.
In Mauritius, the world’s rarest pigeon the pink pigeon is to be found whilst the Seychelles bird life is unforgettable.
Justifiably famous for its lemurs Madagascar also holds the fossa, a carnivore that is related to a mongoose.