There are so many places in Southern Africa that easily fall into the category of “paradise.” Not just a safari destination, although adventure can be quite addicting, there are so many places to experience in Southern Africa where visitors can truly just unwind and relax and enjoy paradise found.
When you imagine island-hopping, we bet you didn’t think of Southern Africa right off the bat… but you should. Why do you think the royal couple, Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, affectionately known as Kate, spent their honeymoon in Seychelles, just off the eastern coast of Southern Africa? Because Southern Africa is home to these African islands that are worthy of just such an island-hopping vacation.
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. This African island has World Heritage sites, proud national monuments, exquisitely beautiful national reserves, beaches, and marine parks just waiting to be explored.
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.
Here, there is also golf, horseback riding, and guided nature tours, on which you one could encounter some of the rarest flora and fauna in the world. And perhaps its greatest asset, Seychelles’ is home to a multi-ethnic society in which harmony is a way of life.
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.
One could enjoy island-hopping in the Seychelles alone between the 16 islands currently offering accommodation, which ranges from sumptuous 5-star resorts to rustic island lodges and cozy beachside bungalows, or head down to our next destination… Mauritius!
Mauritius will enchant visitors, uplift their spirits, and make them feel that they belong to the chosen few. The island is set in a turquoise sea and is an oasis of peace and tranquility. It 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 or take leisurely strolls, tempting them into 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, parasailing, and much more. Or one could simply 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 visitors could go sailing, as conditions are always near perfect, and charter a small sailing dinghy or a yacht.
Forming a luxurious backdrop to the exquisite beauty of the island are the world-renowned Mauritius hotels, each of them offering opulent accommodation and scrumptious tropical cuisine, making this the most idyllic destination imaginable.
Some of the most popular beaches of Mauritius are the Baie du Tamarin, Flic-en Flac, Cap Malheureux, Blue Bay and the Belle Mare.
The island of Madagascar is like no other place on Earth. Ifaty is located north of the capital of Tuléar, and is composed of several Vezo villages. The coral reef bordering the coastline is nearly 100 kilometers long and forms the ideal setting for a plethora of aquatic sports. It is easily accessible, and visitors could spend long balmy days frolicking in the crystal clear water washing onto long beaches of fine white sand. Choose between fun in dug-out canoes, snorkeling, or diving along the reef, or simply relaxing. Avid divers will have the opportunity to explore unchartered reef here.
Explore a whole new universe off the Malagasy shores: set sails towards an untouched environment, the beauty of which has been preserved from excessive tourism. Enjoy the sandy beaches and turquoise water, take a moment to inhale the fresh air of the sea and discover the unexpected around the islands.
There are many excursions by boat available via sailboat, speedboat, catamaran, a regular boat, and even a traditional pirogue. Malagasy waters are also among the finest diving spots on the planet. An endless array of colorful fish with exotic names continuously weaves their underwater ballet, in a landscape of shells and corals with indescribable shapes.
The southern arch, with its lost fishing villages and its waves will please surfers and windsurfers, and diving will offer unforgettable excursions under the sea, complete with its own authentic wreck beneath the waves.
Two major sites singled out for whale watching are Baie d’Antongil, which constitutes an important breeding area, and the Island of Sainte Marie where commercial observation is thoroughly regulated. And Malagasy waters also have a well-deserved reputation for sport fishing. Depending on the tide, visitors can practice handline, trolling, and cast fishing in a single day.
All these aspects make the island of Madagascar, a perfect destination for discovery and relaxation.
If starting your journey in Seychelles, the main international airport is on the island of Mahé. All flights within the Seychelles arrive and depart from here. The best way to get to the other islands is via air. From Seychelles, the national carrier, Air Seychelles, will get visitors where they want to go, along with other commercial carriers as well.
The Regional Tourism Organization of Southern Africa (RETOSA) is a Southern African Development Community (SADC) institution responsible for tourism growth and development. In part, 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. For more information about RETOSA, go to www.retosa.co.za