The East African Islands are in the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of Africa. Madagascar is the largest island, and almost a continent on its own when it comes to wildlife. Most of the smaller islands are independent nations, or associated with France, and known for their luxury beach resorts.
Comoros: Made up of four islands and filled with natural wonders like lagoons, volcanoes and unique bird and insect species, visitors need to get to Comoros quick if they want to enjoy these fast-become becoming extinct treasures. Accommodation may leave a lot to be desired here, but those with simple expectations will be more than content, with fantastic beaches and diving sites leaving little need for five-star hotel rooms.
Considered one of the world’s poorest countries, transportation links are meager, but each island does have its own airport. Relatively crime-free with a low terrorism threat, you are more likely to get in trouble over drinking a beer during Ramadan then pick-pocketed.
Madagascar: An eco-adventurers erotic dream, Madagascar has over 30 national parks and protected areas, offering plenty of opportunities to spot lemurs and orchids on any number of rainforest treks. Many of the animals and plants inhabiting the forests and coastlines of Madagascar are unique to the island.
Unfortunately, the state of roads and tourist infrastructure means that many places are inaccessible. Tour operators offer guided tours through the island’s scenic parks and forests, or you could opt for a beach vacation and enjoy the great diving and sand at Nossi Bé, the palm trees of Ifaty or a delicious lobster dinner at Fort Dauphin.
Mauritius: A melting pot of natural wonders, cultures and ethnicities, Mauritius offers more than just stunning beaches and colonial landmarks. After a long day of water sports, fill up on some Indian curry, chili cake and cut-price rum. Stay out of the sun or you may think the pink pigeons aren’t for real. Dodos may be extinct, but the mosquitoes are very much alive. The fine restaurants and hotels won’t leave you penniless, but the casino may well.
Mayotte: Mayotte consists of two islands, namely, Grand Terre and Petite Terre. The archipelago has several good beaches and archeological sites. The most spectacular attraction of the island is the Mayotte Lagoon, one of the biggest lagoons on earth.
Réunion: Hardly known by non-French persons, the island destination of Reunion in the Indian Ocean is a place of outstanding natural beauty and an integral part of France. Although there isn’t exactly a groovy beach scene, St Gilles les Bains is well-worth a visit and popular among the locals during public holidays and at weekends. Yet to be trodden by the tourist masses, French speakers will fit right in here while the rest of us dance around like monkeys trying to get understood.
Seychelles: The Seychelles have long been synonymous with luxury holidays in a tropical paradise. Visitors can relax and enjoy the wonderful beaches, turquoise seas and warm weather while paying a fortune to do so. If you’re a backpacker, forget it; this is not a place for the budget-minded. Expect to pay three times as much for a beer at your swim-up hotel pool bar as you will at the corner shop, but then again, who said paradise comes cheap?