Mauritius

“Mauritius was made first, and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.”
—Mark Twain

These two pieces of paradise are among the most unimaginably lovely island escapes in the world. It’s as if they were pulled right from a tourist brochure – you know, when they still printed them.

After the exhilaration and adrenaline-pounding adventures of your safari, the warm azure waters and pristine, powdery white beaches of an Indian Ocean retreat is the perfect way to indulge yourself before heading home.

Both countries have no shortage of luxurious properties, which are spacious and airy, and feature knock-your-socks-off views. Seychelles has two of the world’s most exclusive island havens. It’s all a question of knowing your way around.

Mauritius

Mauritius is pretty tempting for just about anyone: families, adventure seekers, golfers, and fishing enthusiasts. And perhaps most tempting of all if what you seek is a bit of pampering.

Its calm, clear waters, invite you to snorkel or dive in to a sea full of dazzling coral reefs, huge populations of brightly hued fish, dramatic underwater scenery, and even shipwrecks.

Here you can parasail, surf, kayak, and partake in just about any water-based sport imaginable. It’s also a great place for kiting.

Mauritius offers excellent deep-sea fishing and world-class salt-water fly fishing at St. Brandon’s, which was closed to foreigners until 2009.

You can explore the Moka Mountains via ATV, mountain bike, on foot, or on horseback. Visit the brilliantly-hued dunes known as the Terres des Sept Couleurs (Seven Colored Earths) or the excellent botanical gardens, famous for their enormous water lilies. They bloom only once a century.

The Mauritius horse racing club, the Champ de Mars, was founded in 1812, and is the oldest horse racing club in the Southern Hemisphere.

You may also want to golf here, as the island is known as a golfer’s paradise. That is, if you can find time for it.

Seychelles

If asked to pick one word to describe the Seychelles, it might be solitude.

The chain of 115 islands, many of them quite tiny, is so remote from the rest of the world (a thousand miles east of mainland Africa), it’s no wonder it was a favorite sanctuary for pirates – and their bounty – centuries ago.

The waves of the Indian Ocean lap at some of the finest beaches in the world, including Anse Lazio on Praslin and Anse Source d’Argent on La Digue.

There are tiny islands where you’ll barely see a car on the road all day and you can stroll or pedal to nearly-deserted beaches. Other islands are characterized by mountainous landscapes with lush tropical vegetation.

The Aldabra Atoll, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to the world’s largest population of giant tortoises, some as large as 550 pounds.

The surrounding underwater worlds are abundant in sea life and coral reefs. Scuba, snorkeling, and fishing are all excellent.