Best Honeymoon Destinations in the Indian Ocean
By Jane Anderson, Editor of 101 Honeymoons
The Indian Ocean archipelagos of the Maldives and Seychelles and the single island destination of Mauritius have raised the bar when it comes to exotic luxury honeymoons. If you have the budget, you can expect wow-factor suites and over-water villas, impressive cuisine, breathtaking spas, outstanding watersports including some of the best diving in the world and a growing emphasis on indigenous culture and conservation.
Sri Lanka too offers Indian Ocean beaches with a wealth of culture and safari added (yes, you really can spot leopard, elephant, wild buffalo and more). There are a growing number of five-star hotels and some standout architectural resorts along with an increasing choice of historic tea plantation hotels and boutique properties. You can combine Sri Lanka with the Maldives – they are just an hour’s flight apart and you can get married in Sri Lanka, which you can’t do in the Maldives.
Madagascar has a slightly more rustic standard of accommodation, but here it’s all about nature and adventure, as this is one of the world’s most biodiverse places. Check out this unique 11-night honeymoon which combines adventure with a touch of luxury.
Zanzibar offers Indian Ocean with a large influence of both Arabic and Africa with a good range of five-star hotels, amazing castaway beaches and rich history of the spice route.
Mozambique has one of Africa’s most idyllic Indian Ocean coastlines. After years of civil war, it has emerged as a stunning destination – Africa’s answer to busier and more developed destinations like Mauritius, with the added attraction of safari and beach. Hotels tend to be more feet-in-the-sand four-stars without all the slickness of the big three (Mauritius, Maldives and Seychelles).
Honeymooners should remember that all these destinations regard newlyweds as one of their most important target markets, and consequently there is much competition between resorts to provide the most memorable and romantic experience.
The key to getting your Indian Ocean honeymoon right is to choose the right island and the right resort for you. There are many tour operators specialising in the Indian Ocean who can offer good advice. I would recommend Audley Travel, Barefoot Traveller, Beachcomber Tours, Just Seychelles, Exsus, Hayes & Jarvis, Rainbow Tours, Tropical Sky and Turquoise Holidays.
This single island nation is a peaceful cultural melting pot of Indian, Chinese, African and French influences and is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It has carefully crafted a high-end tourism profile with many four and five-star hotels lining its coastline. If you want a fly and flop honeymoon with extremely high levels of service, good cuisine and wonderful spas and golf, Mauritius is the place for you. It also has a growing choice of adventure activities in its spectacular jungly domains and peaks such as mountain biking and climbing.
Resorts here have the art of caring for honeymooners and couples wanting to tie the knot down to a fine art. Care is taken to make you feel special with some resorts such as Beachcomber hotels insisting on only one wedding per day at their hotels which includes Trou aux Biches, a beautiful tropical village style resort on one of Mauritius’ best beaches. Couples can tie the knot in the branches of a banyan tree.
LUX* Le Morne is a good example of more contemporary resort which has some innovative touches such as pop up experiences such as retro-styled ice cream vendors or a cinema screening under the stars.
If you’re looking for value try the four-star Centara Poste Lafayette Resort & Spa – a luxury hotel in an unspoilt location – where a week’s half-board with flights comes in at under £1,000 per person.
This magical archipelago made up of both coral and granite islands is nature at her most exotic and lovely. This fragile eco system made up of lush mountains, impossibly white sand beaches and azure blue sea and is home to three main islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue, the latter of which has no cars. Praslin is sometimes referred to as the original Garden of Eden with its Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve, the home of the coco de mer.
Honeymooners can stay on the main island of Mahe at five-star resorts including Banyan Tree Seychelles, Constance Ephélia or the Kempinski Seychelles, or combine Praslin with resorts ranging from Raffles Seychelles to the more affordable Black Parrot Suites.
There are many smaller hotels and guest houses that have a lot of local appeal.
A major draw of the Seychelles for those who can afford it, are its exclusive private island resorts, the most sought after of which include Fregate Island Private and North Island which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2013. Both have a major eye on conservation as well as extreme luxury.
JA Resorts & Hotels recently opened Enchanted Island Resort on Round Island, a five-acre private island in the Seychelles, 15 minutes away from Mahe by boat, comprising of 10 luxurious villas, each with its own swimming pool.
Other private island resorts include Denis Private Island, Desroches Island, Sainte Anne Resort & Spa and Hilton Seychelles Labriz on Silhouette Island.
If you come all the way to the Seychelles, it’s a good idea to book a two or even three-centre honeymoon with some island hopping as each island is very different. And if you can’t afford to spend your entire honeymoon on a private island, you can add a few days at the end for a special treat. It’s also worth taking the time to explore some of the uninhabited islands such as Bird Island which is given over to conservation.
Of all the Indian Ocean honeymoon destinations, it’s the Maldives that is pushing the boundaries of luxury and fantasy. Of its 1,190 tiny islands, 200 are inhabited and 105 of those are resort islands. Tourism is the major source of income here and with little else but the beach and incredible diving and snorkelling, resorts have become increasingly innovative in keeping honeymooners entertained – be that underwater nightclubs, fabulous spas, floating restaurants or villas with glass floors so that you can view the coral and tropical fish as you pad across to your outside shower and private infinity pool.
NIYAMA Maldives is one such resort. It takes honeymoon pampering to a whole new level with secluded beach and water studios and pavilions most of which have a least one private pool. You can also spend a night on a luxurious dhoni (traditional boat) with a personal chef and butler to look after you both. Subsix is the world’s first underwater night club and the LIME Spa is open 24 hours. NIYAMA is also following the trend of encouraging guests to get more involved in marine conservation with its own marine biology lab. Huvafen Fushi is another stunning resort and one of the best for barefoot luxury.
By their very private island nature, the cost of honeymooning in the Maldives can add up as you are a captive audience for all meals, drinks and entertainment on your island. There has been a recent increase in the number of high-end all-inclusive resorts which mean that you don’t have to worry about your bill on checkout.
At Meeru Island Resort couples get four-star quality at 3-star prices – take the all-inclusive option and look out for complimentary room upgrades.
See my full list of the best Maldives islands and packages.
Culturally rich Sri Lanka lends itself to a touring honeymoon. Begin in Colombo, for example and travel to the incredible Rock Fortress at Sigiriya, visiting the world’s only orphanage for elephants en route. The World Heritage Site of Kandy is must, as is the spectacular scenery of the tea plantations and hill country. See my Sri Lanka honeymoon recommendations, or combine Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
Alternative Indian Ocean
More adventurous honeymooners will love the Mozambique for its African charm, beautiful coastal lodges and sense of discovering somewhere largely unknown. Madagascar is a revelation for honeymooners who seek nature at its most spectacular and are not looking for five-star pampering. Zanzibar is an exotic mix of Africa and Arabia with the intriguing Stone Town and cast away resorts along its coast.
Jane’s Insider tips
Whilst you can easily tie the knot on Mauritius or in the Seychelles, there are no legal weddings for foreigners in the Maldives, only blessings. Consequently many couples find that a wedding in Sri Lanka wedding followed by a honeymoon in the Maldives is a great option.
A safari combined with an Indian Ocean beach paradise is a popular honeymoon option. South Africa works well with Mauritius and Tanzania can be combined well with Zanzibar.
Let your tour operator and hotel know this is your honeymoon in advance. Good tour operators know that in the current economic climate, everyone expects value for money even at the luxury end. As honeymooners they also want you to become loyal customers. So ask for a room upgrade or even an upgrade to half board. Honeymooners often receive fruit, flowers or champagne in the room on arrival.
Look for good honeymoon packages with extra treats like sunset cruises, private dinners on the beach and spa treatments.
Get help with tour operator gift lists where friends and family can contribute to your honeymoon – Audley Travel, Just Seychelles, Exsus, Hayes & Jarvis, Rainbow Tours, Tropical Sky and Turquoise Holidays.
Last updated: 22 November 2016
More great honeymoon advice from Jane
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