Fly and Flop for Christmas 2023
If kicking back for some barefoot luxury on a tropical beach is more your kind of thing than sleigh bells and snowballs, then Christmas 2023 could be the year to plan a fantastic Indian Ocean holiday. Where better to escape the everyday (and winter) than at one of the idyllic island resorts of the Maldives or Seychelles, the byword for remote beachside bliss?
Not every beach holiday is created equal, and the same goes as with booking any African and Indian Ocean holiday: if you want to secure the best over the festive period then you need to book early. But with literally hundreds of Indian Ocean island resorts to choose from, where to start? The good news is that we know the quietest spots in the most pristine locations. Which makes dreaming of a white sand Christmas an easy dilemma to fix.
Castaway to one of the following.
Made up of over 1,000 coral islands set across 26 atolls, the Maldives is the epitome of paradise on earth. Palm-fringed turquoise seas, rainbow-coloured fish and a peerless natural beauty complete the picture.
You’ll be in the perfect place for settling on a sun lounger and not lifting a finger for a week or two – the resorts here are renowned for first-rate hospitality. But if your idea of beach nirvana is a little more on the active side, there are plenty of aquatic adventures to be had. The waters here are teeming with marine life ripe for diving and snorkelling, there’s kite surfing, paddle boarding and deep-sea fishing too.
It’s no bad thing to be working up an appetite. From experiential dining with ‘catch and cook’ fishing trips to private dining on a sandbar, the food is another reason to go. Visitors can look forward to a mouth-watering selection of both local and international cuisines and no shortage of ways to enjoy them.
For the ultimate, easy breezy fly and flop, Baros Maldives is a 25-minute speedboat ride from Male International Airport. One of the first resorts to open in the Maldives, Baros set the standard and is now the epitome of understated luxury. Located in the southern reaches of North Male Atoll, the resort is relatively small and intimate with a collection of 45 beachfront and 30 overwater villas.
With the house reef located just offshore, guests can snorkel straight from the beach, or hop on a boat to explore further afield. There are opportunities for dolphin and whale shark watching trips and sunset cruises, as well as a traditional wooden Maldivian dhoni and a luxury yacht available to charter.
The resort also benefits from a five-star PADI dive centre, three restaurants and a spa, with yoga classes offered six days a week. For those wanting to give something back on their holiday to the Maldives, there’s a resident marine biologist who’ll show guests how to transplant coral too.
Got longer to spend in paradise? Six Senses Laamu is a little further and beautifully remote, reached from the international airport via a 35-minute flight and 15-minute speedboat ride. It’s the only resort on the Laamu Atoll so privacy comes in spades. With a children’s club, junior biologists’ mentoring scheme, surfing with pros, and a large screen, open air cinema, there’s guaranteed fun for all the family.
For those who like their island paradise with a little extra, the Seychelles has to be on the go-to list. Located a thousand miles off the coast of East Africa, this remote archipelago is blessed with some of the most exquisite beaches in the world. Made up of 115 inner and outer islands, each with its own distinct character, the Seychelles provides an idyllic island-hopping holiday destination.
The vibrant island state is an endlessly fascinating cultural melting pot, with a year-round tropical climate and incredibly diverse flora and fauna. Visitors can expect to encounter free-roaming giant tortoises, tropical birds in their thousands and nesting Hawksbill turtles. The archipelago’s diverse landscape provides for a wide variety of things to do, from hiking into lush, mountainous interiors to exploring villages and indulging in the local Creole cuisine. Unsurprisingly, seafood has a massive part to play, alongside dishes showcasing a delicious fusion of spices.
There are resorts and hotels to suit every budget. We recommend starting with Lemuria on the northwest coast of Praslin Island. There are the usual luxury trappings you’d expect of a five-star resort in this part of the world: three pools, restaurants, a kids’ club and tennis courts, plus extras like an 18-hole championship golf course. One of the highlights of a stay here is the chance to see turtles laying their eggs on the beach.
Combine this with a few nights at Denis, a small coral island located 95 kilometres north of Mahé. For those who are seeking simply to relax on the beach, Denis Island resort is the definitive barefoot getaway. Sink your toes into the warm sand, sip a cocktail and switch off. However, there’s tennis, farm tours and bicycles for when the mood takes you.
This is your chance to truly detox: There’s no mobile phone signal and no in-room Wi-Fi. As desert islands come, this is the real deal.
We would be delighted to help you plan a safari encompassing any of the destinations mentioned here (or any of the many others from our little black books that we’ve built up since 1999). Our team of experts has travelled widely throughout Africa and can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris. Do get in touch – chatting to people by phone or email is what we do best. We listen, we explain, we answer all sorts of questions even those you didn’t know to ask, and finally we make suggestions. If this is your first time to Africa or your twenty first, we have a team standing by to help make the planning easy and the journey the best ever. Please get in touch whatever stage you’re at.