Islands of the Indian Ocean

Indian Ocean Islands: What to Expect / Highlights


Lamu is a Kenya's oldest living town, founded in the 14th century. Fly over the integrated waterways to get to the tiny airstrip on Manda Island. From there you take a large motorized dhow across the canal to the Lamu. No automobiles are allowed on the island so you will find locals, mainly Muslim (women wearing traditional bui buis), walking or biking the narrow streets. This stone town has quite distinctive architecture, huge carved doors, narrow streets, hidden inner courtyards and many mosques. In addition, the white sand beaches, superb seafood, and the relaxed, friendly style make this a wonderful destination.


Visit this wonderful tropical island and you'll spot giant water lilies, soil in seven colors, crystal-clear lagoons, wide-spread volcano landscapes and spice markets. There is also fantastic diving.


The string of beautiful islands creating the Bazaruto Archipelago is best known for its warm, clear water for diving amongst beautiful staghorn corals and tropical fishes from tiny clownfish to moray eels and black-tipped reef sharks. There's a large protected pool for snorkelers as well. This area is also home to East Africa's last viable population of the endangered dugong (of the same family as the manatee). The islands to visit in this archipelago include Bazaruto (Indigo Bay Island Resort) and Benguerra (Benguerra Lodge), less than a mile apart (and Magaruque for day trips). These islands have high dunes, inland lakes and beautiful beaches and are home to over 160 species of birds. Fly and lure fishing is also very popular and the lodges host annual big-game fishing competitions.


Some of the richest flora and fauna to be found in the Indian Ocean is located in Seychelles. The idyllic white sand beaches, cinnamon and vanilla plantations, exquisite turquoise lagoons and endless island charm brings people back. Snorkel to see the brilliant-colored coral or walk through virgin forests to spot birds, such as the Flycatcher, and species of plants, like the "coco de mer" (double coconut) that are not seen anywhere else in the world. Seychelles is often referred to as the "Galapagos of the Indian Ocean".


Mafia is an Indian Ocean island with gorgeous islets and beaches all to one's self. It offers world-class diving (ranked among the top three in the world), snorkeling close by, historical sites and a natural, untainted culture. Lying just off Africa's original Garden of Eden, Tanzania, with its prolific wildlife reserves and national parks, Mafia is a complete experience in a single destination. Mafia has been unscathed by the crowds that now visit Zanzibar, and is perfectly situated to take advantage of all Tanzania's attractions. There are daily connections to northern Tanzanian wildlife areas (Ngorongoro, Serengeti, Tarangire, Manyara) and the south (Ruaha, Selous, Mikumi). Just an hour from Mafia, step into one of the most primal of wildlife areas, the Selous Game Reserve. Kinasi Lodge is a paradise of flowering plants and features beautiful little chalets overlooking the beach. Go fishing, windsurfing, kayaking or mountain biking. Take guided excursions to cultural and historic sites, go bird-watching and take marine nature walks, picnics on isolated islets and beaches, road safaris to explore the north of the island with overnight camping options, and boat excursions. Combined with superb food and a wide range of relaxation and therapy treatments, this could possibly be heaven.


Pemba Island is 30 miles north of Zanzibar and is famous for its spices and coconuts. Isolated from Arab and then European colonization, it has remained completely untouched and unspoiled by any modern development. The few visitors that do go to Pemba go there for its diving and snorkeling and island romance and charm. Pemba has without a doubt some of the clearest water in the world and most beautiful reefs. Although part of the Zanzibar archipelago, Pemba is a destination in and of itself with numerous surrounding islands and islets spread all along its coast. Pemba has some of the world's best diving and fishing and because it is not as traveled as its more famous neighbor, Zanzibar, it is that much more pristine.


Experience Zanzibar's mesmerizing beauty, proverbial hospitality, joyous people and variety of cuisine including fresh, abounding fruits. Stone Town, the cultural heart of Zanzibar, is a place of winding alleys, bustling bazaars, mosques and grand Arab houses whose original owners vied with each other over the extravagance of their dwellings, reflected in the brass-studded, carved, wooden doors. Visit the Jozani Forest, the only natural forest in the world where you can spot red colobus monkeys, or take a trip to the aromatic spice plantations.