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Southern Sky Adventures: Islands

The Indian Ocean is the third largest body of the water in the world and nestled in its warm waters are a number of spectacular tropical island destinations. The third largest island in the world, Madagascar, offers unique wildlife and culture. Mauritius has become a haven for the more secluded, exclusive tropical beach vacation as has the Seychelles. Zanzibar’s close proximity to the mainland of Tanzania brings many tourists to its white sand and palm tree lined beaches.

Madagascar’s coastline stretches a staggering 1,800 miles and is home to a never ending series of choices for beach, sand and surf options. Crystal clear waters surrounding many smaller islands offer exclusivity, if desired. Nosy Be Island is found off the northwest coast and is the most well known of all the islands and offers a wide choice of accommodation from budget to exclusive private island resorts. Other beaches include Be Sainte Marie, Tsarabanjina,Nosy Iranja andLe Paradisier.

The coastline of Mauritius is but about 110 miles, and while smaller compared to Madagascar, the beaches provide their own appeal. A few of the favorites include Belle Mare, a white sandy beach that boasts a deep lagoon at the eastern coast. Mont Choicy is a long, beautiful beach on the northern coast and Riviere Noire is the center of deep sea fishing in Mauritius. Pointe aux Piments is quiet and cozy. It may well be Grand Baie that is one of the biggest attractions for tourists. Shopping, restaurants and a wide array of accommodation provide plenty of choices for activities over and above the idyllic swimming, diving and fishing conditions.

There is a beach for everyone in the Seychelles; for families with small children, or those seeking seclusion and solitude. From beautiful expanses of silky white sand to remote coves reached only by boat, the offerings available will fit to all particular tastes. Mahé, the largest and most commercial island in the archipelago, is only about 17 miles long but boasts 75 fine beaches that are often uncrowded, if not altogether deserted. Praslin, which has been called the “blueprint for the perfect tropical island,” also has a couple of world-class strands in Côte d’Or and Anse Lazio. When you think of Seychelles beaches, chances are the image that comes to mind is of the spectacular boulder-bordered shores at Anse Source d’Argent, on La Digue.

Zanzibar’s close proximity to Tanzania’s coast and capital, Dar es Salaam (24 miles off shore), gives it an advantage in traveling time for foreign tourists wanting to take in Indian Ocean beach time. The beaches in Zanzibar are a paradise, interspersed with picturesque fishing villages. The waters are home to excellent diving and fishing opportunities. There are more than 25 fantastic beaches in Zanzibar, and some are so peaceful and remote that the only noise breaking the silence is likely to be the ocean. At the northern tip of the island is Nungwi, approached by a road lined by banana palms, mangroves and coconut trees. This is the dhow building capital of Zanzibar island, so it is a good place to see traditional craftsmen at work.

On the west coast of Zanzibar, Mangapwani beach is worth a visit, and to the east are the beaches of Matemwe, Pwani Mchangani, Kiwengwa, Uroa, Bwejuu and Jambiani, all with stretches of beautiful and uncrowded sands.

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