Experience true hospitality in the Indian Ocean. Picture: Maia Luxury Resort and Spa/ Giltedge Ocean Islands.
Sun-drenched Seychelles and Maldives appear the same on the surface – but on closer inspection these tropical islands nestled in the Indian Ocean are quite different. Before deciding on your holiday, make sure you know what island country suits you the best.
Maldives’ main appeal is its “one island, one resort” philosophy. With over 1000 islands, it’s the world’s most geographically dispersed country. Visitors arrive on the ‘airport island’ Malé, transferring to their island by seaplane or speedboat transfer. Seychelles, on the other hand, is mainly an island-hopping destination. Travellers start their holiday on one of the main islands exploring towns like Mahé, La Digue and Praslin to explore the French culture of Seychelles (its cuisine, nightlife and markets) as well as hike through its nature reserves. After visiting the main islands, travellers hop onto their private island.
While Maldives and Seychelles are both Ocean Islands, their appearance is quite different. Made up of coral, the Maldives hover just two meters above the sea. Some islands are surrounded by house reefs (which look like rings) that protect the islands from waves. That's why most of the world’s over-water villas are found in the Maldives.
Seychelles is a different island type entirely. Made from granite, its islands are rocky. Boulders frame shorelines and pearly-white beaches. But Seychelles’ outer islands are coral, small and flat, much like the Maldives.
In the Maldives, you go sightseeing underwater. Dive sites are everywhere. With over 1000 islands, the crystal-clear water offers high visibility. House reefs and lagoons are great for snorkelling and diving (check your resort has them!) as the colourful marine life is abundant here with whale sharks and manta rays. Snorkelling straight from the beach or your water villa is what Maldives is famous for!
Seychelles is a playground. It’s great for active travellers who want to do both land-based and water-based sports: rock climbing, hiking, and mangrove kayaking. The remote outer islands offer world-class fly fishing as well as deep water game fishing.
Things to do for kids
Both Seychelles and Maldives are the perfect destination for honeymooners but – and surprisingly they’re also extremely family-friendly. Both Indian Ocean islands do well for multi-generational travel. Your entire family will be in good hands with child-friendly activities and babysitting services.
Soneva Fushi in the Maldives, for example, is great for kids with its big treehouse, fantasy den, outside entertainment area and private swimming pool villas. The resort offers conservation activities for kids and the most delicious ice-cream parlor and chocolate room. It’s parent-approved! At Six Senses Laamu, children can take part in the children’s club, yoga classes for children, spa treatments (foot and hand massages) and children's cooking class.
Seychelles is also family friendly if you chose the right resorts! Fregate Island has a kiddies’ club for ages 3 to 12. Kids explore the Castaway Trail with giant tortoises, small animals and endemic plants. At Six Senses Zil Pasyon, there’s the Trouloulou Club for kite making, sand castle building to cupcake decorating. There’s also a bicycle that rides around the island and delivers ice-cream.
Water villas in the Maldives are built on stilts – hovering directly over the water – and are connected to jetties that stretch out like arms from the main island. Some resorts offer luxury stand-alone water villas that can only be accessed by boat. These villas have direct access to the warm, ocean; some even have decks with private swimming pools or waterslides that go straight into the ocean. “The latest trend in the Maldives is the bedroom roof that allows you to stargaze directly from your bed,” says Lylie Moolman, General Manager at Giltedge Ocean Islands. There are also options to overnight in traditional dhows (wooden boat) with all the comfort of a 5-star villa.
Resorts in Seychelles are built on a hillside or into the granite outcrops with views over the water. Seychelles’ luxury villas are hidden in the tropical landscape and are the epitome of barefoot luxury. The resorts range from luxury villas with 3 to 4 bedrooms with private pools (perfect for families looking for privacy) to beautiful one-bedroom hilltop villas with sunken baths and private infinity pools.
Both Maldives and Seychelles have great 24-hour butler services. Butlers make sure you have everything you need – be it a midnight snack or an emergency hot chocolate for the kids. Local Maldivians are friendly and eager to please, making service levels top notch. Repeat clients often request the same butler during their stay. The Seychellois are more laid back in a typical island style, and have a charm of their own. Passionate about their country, Seychelles’ locals have no problem persuading visitors that their country is the best.