Easy island escapes for South Africans

2015-03-10 05:51
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Considering that a large portion of our beautiful country is lapped by the Indian Ocean, it stands to reason that a tropical island escape is easily within reach. Start with these five.

1. MAURITIUS:

About the island:

This island is hot and sticky during peak season for obvious Indian-Ocean reasons,  but South African can make the most of this island any time of the year since it is so close (Just on four hours from Joburg) and especially so during the off-peak from May through to September. Its coastline is spiced-up with gorgeous resorts all the way from the north to the south, while its interior is an adventure playground. It’s quite possible to go exploring from one end of the island to the other in less in three to four hours depending on your pace.

You might not know this but, there is a strong expat community here, so don’t be too surprised when you happen to spot Woolies, Spur or the likes.

Mauritius is also a big golfing destination and extremely family-friendly if you pick the right spot – but it is undoubtedly a clear winner when it comes to taking romance to another level.

Things you need to know:

- South Africans qualify for a 90-day stay, visa free.

- Two-hours ahead of South Africa

- SAA operates daily flights to the island with twice-daily operations on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.


Resort prettiness in Mauritius.

A photo posted by Selene Brophy (@selenebrophy) on


What to do:

For the first few days you will undoubtedly want to do nothing other than soak in the sun on the ridiculously beautiful beaches or in the sublime infinity pool that seems to be a standard with most Mauritius resorts. Once you get over that, there is a lot of adventuring to do.

Check out Chamarel, home to two natural wonders: the Chamarel falls and the coloured ‘earths'. 

For some insight into the history of this island that was first colonised by the French and then the British, head to Le Morne Peninsula. Right now it is home to some seriously impressive resorts but it is also a place of sad remembrance as the name suggests, since escaped slaves jumped to their deaths at the site of soldiers, fearing they’d be captured. 

Nature lovers can indulge in Black River Gorges National Park, to explore a world of volcanic lakes, thick forests and wild monkeys in the island's only official national park.

Where to Stay:

- Zilwa Attitude - Both romantic and family-friendly island experience

- Angsana Mauritius, for an exclusive spa retreat of note

- Holiday Inn Mauritius, conveniently close to the airport

-  Voilà Bagatelle for the business traveller

- Paradise Cove, Mauritius  - Luxury Boutique stay

2. REUNION:

About the island:

In the middle of the Indian Ocean lies the Island of Reunion, like a modern day Atlantis, just waiting to be discovered. A striking first impression even before you hit its tiny runway, this island has an underlying energy that becomes palpable the more you walk, hike or canyon along its creased curves and igneous-rimmed caldera. Reunion is quite possibly unlike anything you have ever encountered before and there are many ways to find your way around this place.

Things you need to know:

- Reunion two hours ahead of SA.

- You can get there via Air Austrel

- South Africans do not require a visa to visit Reunion.

Speaking of smouldering... Sega dancers. #gotoreunion

A photo posted by Selene Brophy (@selenebrophy) on


What to do:

Visit the crater of one of the world’s most active Volcanoes at Piton de Fournaise, Experience what can best be described as a lost civilisation by hiking to Cirque de Mafate. A by far the best and most unusual experience of the island would be to canyon along Bassin la mer and Bassin la Paix, Saint Benoit or to go caving inside the a Lava Tunnel at Grand Brulé, Sainte Rose

READ: Reunion - an eruption of unusual landscapes

If there is one person to be stuck in a lava tube with, it would be @katiseekatido #gotoreunion #smashpredictable

A photo posted by Selene Brophy (@selenebrophy) on

Where to Stay:

 Blue Margouillat Seaview Hotel, Saint-Leu

 Hotel Lux lle de la Reunion, Saint-Gilles-Les-Bains

 Palm Hotel and Sap Grand’Anse, Petite-Lle

 Dan’n Tan Lontan – Kaz Zepices holiday rental

Les Corallines a Trou d’eau, La Saline les Bains

3.  MOZAMBIQUE 

Mozambique is slowly making its way up the top spots to visit list for folks wanting to enjoy a spectacular island holiday as just off its coast lies a number of islands offering beauty, superb weather, sunshine and enough food and drink to sate any appetite. Journey to the far north of the Mozambican coastline and you’ll discover the Quirimbas archipelago, a set of islands barely touched by people. Twelve major islands are surrounded by a host of smaller isles and sand bars, a large portion of which is protected land.  

You can expect anything from rural island life here to the more established experience along the Bazaruto Archipelago further to the south.

Things you need to know: 

- There is no time difference

- Various charter companies fly directly from Lanseria, while Airlink flies directly from OR Tambo.

-  South Africans allowed a 90-day visa-free stay.
 


Massinga Beach Lodge

A photo posted by nadia (@nadia_safaria) on

SEE: PICS - Hippo takes dip in the ocean off Mozambique coastline

What to do:

While it’s obvious that this is the place to make the most of all water activities such as kayaking or windsurfing, while you’re at it you may as well ride a horse across this magical island, they also have sandboarding for those who need a bit more adventure

Castello do Mar

A photo posted by Traveller24_SA (@traveller24_sa) on

Where to stay:

Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort and Spa 

White Pearl Resorts

Azura  Benguerra Resort

Quilalea Private island

Massinga Beach Lodge

4. ZANZIBAR:

About the island:

Whether it’s your first or second honeymoon or you just want a family island escape of note, this archipelago of islands off the coast of Tanzania will allow you to discover an intense contentment for living, unlike anywhere else. The two bigger islands (Pemba and Unguja) dominate the landscape with many smaller islands dotted around them. The biggest one of the lot, Unguja is generally what people refer to when they say they’ve been to Zanzibar.

Things you need to know:

- Tanzania is one hour ahead of South Africa

- 90-day stay, visa free for South Africans.

- Mango flies twice-weekly from Johannesburg to Zanzibar on a Tuesdays and Saturdays, while Fastjet also offers flights three times a week via Dar es Salaam.

What to do: 

Have a sensory assault in Stone Town. This world heritage site is part of Zanzibar’s capital city, Zanzibar City. It features a maze of alleys where vendors sell, well, everything. It also happens to be the place where  Legendary Queen singer Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara) was also spent the first eight years of his life here.  

Spice tours also come highly recommended as Zanzibar was an important stop in the space trade centuries ago. Don’t miss out on the big tortoises either.  It always seem as though big tortoises are hiding on these tropical islands? Giant Aldabra tortoises can be found on Prisoner’s Island, a 45 minute boat trip from Stone Town harbour.  The island itself has a rich history (no prisoners actually lived there for one) and the tortoises are delightful.    


Exploring Stone Town today??#africa #zanzibar #stonetown #vacation #view #instaplace

A photo posted by Karianne Johansen (@kariannejoh) on

Where to stay:

Diamonds Dream of Zanzibar 

Diamonds La Gemma dell'Est  

Sandies Neptune Pwani Beach

READ: Mauritius vs Seychelles

5. SEYCHELLES:

About the island:

Undoubtedly the furthest away but this island should definitely be on any local's island escape bucket list. With over one hundred islands in this archipelago, the Seychelles has some of the world’s most stunning beaches, fishing, scenery and everything you could think of doing during an island holiday. This Indian Ocean Island is around 1 500km off the East African coastline (near to where Kenya and Tanzania meet), and around 1 000km north west of Madagascar. Mahé, one of the most popular islands, is the largest island of the Seychelles, lying in the north east of the nation.  Praslin is the second largest island, lying 44 km northeast of Mahé.

Things you need to know:

- Two-hours ahead of South Africa

-  Air Seychelles flies direct from Johannesburg. 

- No visa is required to enter the Seychelles.


#Seychelles @traveller24_sa

A photo posted by Roy McKenzie (@roymck) on

What to do:

Tour Victoria the capital of the largest island, Mahe - this is the obvious must-do. The variance of underwater life in the Seychelles makes it one of the top scuba diving spots in the world. Enjoy the reefs – some of which are white due to natural phenomena – but also crags, drop offs, canyons and ship wrecks. Waters are at their calmest from March to April and September to October, but diving is possible all year round. 

Sainte Anne Marine National Park, is a Marine National Park with one of the largest areas of sea grass of the granitic islands where green and hawksbill turtles are often found. Bottlenose Dolphins also frequent the park. Granite Boulder, La Digue - This National Monument found at the L’Union Estate was formed round 750 million years ago. The slow cooling of molten rocks has resulted in its especially large crystals.

#EdenBleu Hotel opening tonight #EdenIsland #Seychelles @traveller24_sa

A photo posted by Roy McKenzie (@roymck) on




Where to stay:

Eden Bleu - new business hotel 

Coco de Mer Hotel and Black Parrot Suite- tranquil beach escape

Le Domaine de L'Orangeraie 

Paradise Sun Hotel Seychelles




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