Published May 7, 2014
Mauritius, Madagascar, and Seychelles are three of the 15 countries that comprise the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Lying in the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of the continent, the beaches and coastlines of these islands have the magic to replenish the souls of travellers in search of relaxation and also those in search of underwater adventure.
Starting with the island furthest out into the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean is Mauritius. Here, visitors will be enchanted with the peace and tranquility of the island where they will feel like being among the chosen few to experience pristine beaches and breath-taking life under the sea.
Mauritius is a land of blue lagoons, scenic streams, and exotic coral reefs, all fringed by undulating stretches of pure white sand dotted with clusters of casuarina trees and coconut palms. In fact, the entire coastline of the lush island is powdered with pure white soft sand, inviting visitors to luxuriate in lazy inactivity, take leisurely strolls, or take a dip in the balmy, azure waters. In this heavenly setting, there are ample opportunities to explore the mysteries of the marine world by means of snorkeling, scuba diving, and “undersea strolls,” or to participate in water sports such as kayaking, jet skiing, motor boating and parasailing. Those not feeling so adventurous could take a slow trip in a glass-bottomed boat providing clear glimpses of the marine life and corals below.
Windsurfing is also popular with adventure enthusiasts who take advantage of the near perfect conditions of Mauritian waters to get their adrenaline pumping. Or one could go sailing, as conditions are always near perfect, and charter a small sailing dinghy or a yacht.
Some of the most popular beaches of Mauritius are the Baie du Tamarin, Flic-en Flac, Cap Malheureux, Blue Bay, and the Belle Mare. Also, Le Morne Brabant is a peninsula at the southwestern tip of Mauritius and is characterized by a lone basaltic rock soaring 556 metres above sea level – one of the most imposing sights on Mauritius.
The summit covers an area of more than 12 hectares, housing many overhang caves on its steep slopes, and the peninsula lies in the embrace of a lagoon, its unique natural beauty attracting many visitors every year. It is also one of the last refuges of one of the rarest plants in the world, the Mandrinette. Here, you could indulge in diving, fishing or windsurfing.
Coming to Madagascar, the coral reef along the coastline of Ifaty is nearly 100 kilometres long and forms the ideal setting for a plethora aquatic sports. It is easily accessible, and one could spend long balmy days frolicking in the crystal clear water washing onto the long beaches of fine white sand. One may also choose between exploring the water atop the ocean in dug-out canoes or discovering sea life under the water by snorkeling or diving along the reef. Many avid divers come here to explore the unchartered reef.
The many deserted beaches with soft sand and clear water offers the sublimely relaxing activities of watching ghost crabs scuttle across the sand and frigate birds soaring overhead. One may also marvel at the daily sight of dhows sailing past, filled with thatching palms, grain, and cows, floating just inches above the water.
The Seychelles can truly be described, without exaggeration, as paradise on earth. This spectacular necklace of 41 granite and 74 coral islands in the Indian Ocean is a land of perpetual summer, and is renowned for some of the best beaches in the world.
Pristine and uncrowded, the beaches of Seychelles offer powder-soft sands and sapphire waters teeming with a dizzying display of marine life. Visitors will have a thousand opportunities for glass-bottom boating, swimming, water sports, snorkeling, sailing, or surfing, or for finding the true meaning of healing relaxation. With so many islands making up the Seychelles, visitors could enjoy island hopping between the 16 islands currently offering accommodation.
Two beaches that can be singled out among the hundreds of picture-perfect beaches are the Anse Lazio on Praslin Island and the Anse Source d’ Argent on La Dique Island. The Anse Lazio can claim to be the perfect tropical paradise beach and is often listed among the world’s top ten beaches. Perfectly framed by granite rocks, the soft white sands of this dream beach lead you down to calm, clear water ideal for swimming and snorkeling. The Anse Source d’Argent is reputed to be the most photographed beach in the world. With its soft white sand, turquoise water and huge granite boulders sculpted by time itself, it is not difficult to see why photographers and film makers love to come here.
Travellers may start their multi-island vacation from any of these three islands. The main airport in Mauritius is Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport with international flights and Air Mauritius making regular landings, along with flights from other Southern African locations.
The main airport in Madagascar is Antananarivo. This and Noss-Be Airport link to Seychelles main airport–Seychelles International Airport–on the island of Mahe near the capital city, Victoria. Here, there is frequent transport to a ferry terminal for inter-island cruise holidays. The domestic terminal also offers inter-island flights.
RETOSA (The Regional Tourism Organization of Southern Africa) is a Southern African Development Community (SADC) institution responsible for tourism growth and development. The aims of RETOSA are to increase tourist arrivals to the region through sustainable development initiatives, improved regional competitiveness, and effective destination marketing. The organization works together with Member States’ tourism ministries, tourism boards, and private sector partners.