World renowned as idyllic beach escapes, these two Indian Ocean islands are quite distinct: here's how to choose between them.
Mauritius is one big island with a rugged interior of volcanic mountains and virgin forests. When you tire of the beach there are many activities available or you can discover the island's colonial heritage.
1. Greater variety of activities
Mauritius has a more vibrant atmosphere and wider range of activities than the Seychelles. As well as enjoying the beach you can head inland to the unspoilt Chamarel Mountains, surrounded by subtropical forest and undulating hills, ideal for cycling and trekking.
2. Huge choice of beaches and marine life
There are a wide range of white sandy beaches, clear azure waters, abundant marine life and plenty of dive sites. The island is surrounded by a barrier reef and the sea offers opportunities for everything from windsurfing to dining in a floating restaurant.
3. An ideal island for families
The ease of travel and variety of activities makes Mauritius ideal for families. You can hire a car and explore independently, discovering Mauritius' lush interior, waterfalls, colourful villages and markets, colonial mansions and many festivals. There is an endless choice of beaches for activities such as windsurfing and submarine trips.
4. Rich colonial heritage
The island has great cultural diversity with Chinese, Indian, French and African influences that reflect this melting pot of people — the Mauritians are known for their hospitality and good humour. There are tea plantations and rum distilleries to explore and beautiful botanical gardens and religious buildings to visit, all offering an insight into the island's history and heritage.
5. A good choice of accommodation
Another benefit of Mauritius is the range of hotels available. Along with the luxury properties you'll find great value local options. A particular favourite of mine is 20 Degrees South, a boutique property where you can take a private catamaran to the hotel's Governor's House restaurant.
Inland is Lakaz Chamarel, a secluded retreat that offers sweeping views over the jungle and sea. The hotel has some impressive pool villas, understated but sophisticated and each individually styled to reflect Mauritius' rich history, with epic views all to yourself.
Why the Seychelles?
The Seychelles are a collection of 115 small islands where the idyllic beaches, diving and exclusive resorts are the main draws.
1. A total escape
The Seychelles exceeds its reputation with some of the world's best beaches and resorts that pamper like no other place on Earth. With fewer visitors, smaller hotels and more islands to disperse those visitors, there's a great sense of seclusion here. In addition, most motorised sports are prohibited so there's very little to interrupt that profound sense of tranquillity.
2. Colourful villages and coconut plantations
Each island has its own unique aspects — on an island-hopping trip you can discover the spectacular wildlife and natural splendour of Praslin, the laid-back luxury of La Digue with its coconut and vanilla plantations and the winged wonders of Bird Island. On the larger islands you can enjoy jungle walks, colourful Creole cottages and delicious local cuisine.
3. A variety of wildlife
On the island of Praslin you can spot the endemic black parrot and many unusual mammals, crustaceans and reptiles. Rustic Bird Island is home to a variety of birdlife, with 800,000 pairs of sooty terns in addition to red fodies, common noddies and green and hawksbill turtles. The vibrant coral reefs offer exceptional diving and snorkelling, home to a wide variety of marine life.
4. Intimate accommodation
In general, accommodation in the Seychelles is more intimate, with smaller hotels having an authentic character and boutique feel. Service is highly personalised, private butlers are common, and many hotels have their own quiet, private beaches. It's also possible to find family-run guesthouses if you're travelling on a budget. Le Repaire is a nine-room hotel on La Digue, ideal for families and only a ten minute cycle from the beach of Anse Source d'Argent.
5. Denis Private Island for indulgence
Denis Private Island is an exclusive choice in a heavenly setting. Just a 30 minute flight from Mahé, even the trip here is spectacular. Elegant bungalows offer every comfort, the beaches have soft white sand, giant tortoises are frequently sighted and windsurfing, sailing and kayaking are on offer, as well as some of the Seychelles' best diving.