From space, islands such as the Seychelles, Mauritius and the Maldives are virtually naked to the invisible eye, like mere specks of dust cloaked from civilisation. Upon closer inspection on a cruise to the Indian Ocean islands, such remote positioning seems appropriate given their revered idyllic statuses, where one can envisage their own Castaway production. Madagascar, on the other hand, does anything but conceal itself, as Earth’s fourth largest island. Its bulky frame however, isn’t vastly populated with natives or tourists - quite the opposite.
Of course, the Indian Ocean is renowned the world over as the epitome of barefoot luxury; be it as a honeymoon hotspot, the perfect location for a family break or just a complete getaway from the norm. But there are so many more layers to its flawless façade just waiting to be peeled; little secrets to be discovered the further you delve. After all, the islands boast a maritime antiquity dating back over 7,000 years, when everyone from the earliest Malagasy (Madagascar) ancestors in outrigger canoes, to Omani traders and Gujarati merchants set foot on these shores.
Collectively, it’s one heck of a melting pot, with numerous traditions, beliefs and cultures stirred in from far and wide. Asia, Africa, India and Europe have all left their respective influential stamps over time – on an Indian Ocean cruise you could find you are eating croissants for breakfast, noodles for lunch and fish curry for dinner!
The surrounding waters and vast, varied tropical landscapes provide ideal conditions for an audacious session of shark diving, marvelling at giant turtles or bird watching, to name but a few of the activities on offer. Madagascar cranks up the wildlife wow-factor; one can not only admire the lemur in its natural habitat, but also a host of other flora and fauna – 5% of the entire planet’s to be precise. For a quirkier diversion, the annual cheese-diving festivities are always guaranteed to draw the crowds.
Those seeking more than just silky sand and sunshine on their cruise to the Indian Ocean islands won’t be left short-changed. Hunt for waterfalls, jump on a quad bike, go mountain trekking, ride a horse or find your catch of the day with a spot of deep-sea game fishing. Alternatively, take time to learn more about the Hindu or Creole culture.
Everything about these pristine pockets of the world warm the soul, from the moreish meals and music, to the sites and sights. Cruising to the Indian Ocean is like peering through the looking glass, where reality is suspended in an ethereal state. Perhaps Mark Twain was right after all.