For these destinations, I am particularly biased. My opinion – explore them on a small ship luxury or expedition cruise. Yes, wonderful hotels and resorts are available, but ships will have you exploring more places, hidden gems you normally would never get to or have access to. Incredibly unique (and limited) itineraries await those ready to explore!
About 1000 miles off the coast of Tanzania, out in the Indian Ocean, sits one of the world’s most beautiful and pristine archipelagos. The Seychelles’ 115 islands boast some of the best beaches in the world, coral reefs, nature preserves and animals endemic to the islands.
96,000 people live in the Seychelles, the majority on the islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. The largest and most accessible of all the islands, Mahé , is where international visitors arrive. While most visitors stay here, it easy to get to Praslin and La Digue by a short flight or high speed ferry.
Praslin is home to one of Seychelle’s two UNESCO world heritage sites, Vallee de Mai, a tropical rainforest and home to world’s biggest nut, the coco-de-mer. The surrounding islands also have big variety of flora, fauna and incredible beaches that should not be missed.
The second UNESCO site, the Aldabra Atoll, lies 700 miles southwest of Mahé. One of the largest coral atolls in the world, it is best known for world class diving and snorkeling. Some 850 different species of fish the colors of the rainbow are waiting to greet you.
Quite remote, the area is largely untouched by humans. Tourism is limited and carefully controlled. Of special interest is the outer island of Aldabra, home to over 400 endemic species of animals and plants, including 152,000 giant tortoises, the world’s largest population of this type.
Direct from Tahiti Tourism: Amazing white sand beaches lined with coconut trees, crystal clear ocean that’s warm to touch…. The 76 islands and atolls within the Tuamotu Archipelago are spread over an area of more than 700,000 square miles and where the story of Robinson Crusoe could truly exist!
Some of the atolls are simply endless white beaches with a few coconut plantations, others much larger, including Rangiroa, the second largest atoll in the world.
Most visitors to the Tuamotus stay in Rangiroa, Tikehau and Fakarava. Rangiroa is reknowned worldwide for its protected lagoon that showcases spectacular underwater life. Tikehau and Fakarava are equally remarkable destinations.
The Maldives archipelago ia made of almost 1200 coral islands, grouped into 26 atolls. About 500 miles southwest of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, only about 200 of the islands are inhabited. The Maldives are best known for scuba diving and snorkeling, given the abundant underwater life surrounding the area. While not confirmed, it is believed that there are over 4000 reefs – plenty of diving spots, fish, manta rays, and possibly even whale sharks.
The best time to visit is December through April – yes, high season, but this time of year has the most storm free days and the best under water visibility (think crystal clear snorkeling and diving). Visitors fly in to Velana International Airport in Malé’ and transfer by speed boat or seaplane to their resorts. Most of the islands are quite small, so each resort essentially has its own private island. When you want to unplug in the lap of luxury and surround yourself with nothing but the white sands, blue seas and sunshine, you’ll find it here.
The allure of these archipelagos? Certainly the pristine, untouched land, beautiful white beaches and spectacular underwater worlds. But for me, it’s also about the isolation of the destination. Not so easy to get to, which means the crowds haven’t yet arrived. Check out Paul Gauguin, Aranui, Ponant, Lindblad and Zegrahm – all who offer exceptional itineraries.
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