When dreaming of cruising the Indian Ocean, images of coconut palms, overwater bungalows and impossibly blue lagoons immediately float through the mind. The archipelagos of the Maldives and Seychelles are the epitome of this Indian Ocean idyll, offering the visiting yacht guest an irresistible mix of spectacular beaches, phenomenal diving and ultra-luxury hotels.
For sheer, show-stopping beauty in the Indian Ocean, it is hard to beat the island chains of the Maldives and Seychelles where coral reefs encircle white sand beaches of dazzling splendour. In the Maldives, tropical days are spent diving some of the world’s finest reefs and blissing out on paradise islands, while in the Seychelles, film- set beaches are backed by giant boulders and jungle, where giant tortoises roam the paths and coco de mer palm trees tower against the sky.
Welcome to the Indian Ocean – where the eyes can’t possibly take it all in.
The Maldives and Seychelles have the added advantage of being well-accustomed to superyacht visitors and are largely safe from piracy, although care should be taken in the outlying islands.
In Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro, the Great Lakes of Victoria and safari parks lure the adventurer while offshore in tropical Zanzibar, full moon parties, spice markets and sultan’s palaces await.
Some of Africa’s best beaches are found in the sleepy Mozambique archipelago of Barzaruto where cheerful beach bars sit on the rolling dunes and manta rays and whale sharks cruise along the Mozambique Channel.
Madagascar lies across the aquamarine water with its vibrant coral reefs and lemurs swinging from the boab trees while in the outlying archipelago of Mauritius, a growing number of yachts are discovering the country’s gorgeous beaches backed by upscale resorts, colourful colonial towns and jungled mountains.
The Cormoros Islands and the French island of Reunion beckon with volcano trekking, magnificent coral reefs and quaint beachside bars. Back on the African mainland to the north, Kenya promises wildlife experiences at every turn, whether diving the magnificent coastal reefs or heading inland on safari to watch lions and elephants roaming the grassy plains.
For yachts prepared to brave the Aghulas Current, South Africa is a magnificent stop where guests can indulge in wilderness adventures and gourmet experiences or crew can conduct maintenance and provision the yacht.
Across the ocean off the Indian subcontinent, the timeless Andaman Islands are a place of almost mythic beauty. To the south, Sri Lanka’s lush landscapes of tea plantations, temples and beaches make the country a wonderful destination on an Indian Ocean passage.
The security challenges are very real in parts of the Indian Ocean and require considerable caution, but the rewards for the adventurous soul are beyond measure.