Java, Praslin, Grande Comore and many more. The Indian ocean is a treasure waiting to be discovered. Not only because of the sea but above all for the beauty of its atolls. Some are popular tourist hotspots, others are unexpected, unknown paradises.  Whether you want a holiday full of surfing or sporting opportunities, or a romantic picture postcard break, at the destinations we’ve chosen especially for you, you’ll find everything you’re looking for.

Java

The most important island of Indonesia, between Sumatra and Bali, is a true jewel with various beauties in the form of its many beaches. Of these, Pangandaran is the best-known and, at the same time, the most popular with tourists from all over the world. Its long strip of beach, lapped by the clear waters of the sea, offers a warm welcome to surfing enthusiasts, but also to fans of other sporting activities, in an ideal context for hotel accommodation. 

In Batu Karas too, the sand is white and the sea is crystal clear, but the overall vibe is less commercial and there’s more room for relaxation. The same goes for Kukup Beach, a little stretch of sand hidden in a natural bay protected by a cliff, and so a haven of peace, with not much wind or storms. Instead, Parangtritis Beach offers a more spiritual atmosphere, being the venue of an ancient ceremony that reconciles men and spirits.  The sand is golden and there are dunes, and hills of tropical forest.

Another extraordinary unspoilt attraction is Timang Beach, which conserves all its natural charm.   On the other hand, Anyer Beach is the perfect place to go snorkelling and fishing, as is Merak Beach, whereas Green Canyon is a real surprise, with its streams that wind through the rocks in a multitude of colours, and the opportunities its waters offer to rafting enthusiasts.   In the south-eastern area of Java, Ranu Kumbolo is a mountain lake immersed in the forest.  And finally the Buddhist temple: Borobudur has been declared a World Heritage Site and dates back to the year 800 A.D. 

Praslin

If you’re looking for an earthy paradise, here you’re on the right track. Legend has it that Praslin is all that remains of Lémuria, an ancient continent that disappeared, similarly to the mythical Atlantis, and it still oozes some of that extraordinary lost beauty today. But its charm is also undoubtedly due to the wonder invoked by its contemporary setting. Praslin is the pearl of a stunning archipelago, the Seychelles.

About a thousand kilometres from Madagascar, 115 tiny islands, 36 of which are uninhabited.  The tropical vegetation is lush, the water is very warm, with emerald highlights, the masses of granite on the beach are characteristic, also because they change colour based on the light and the sun.

The beaches of Praslin, in particular, are dreamlike and - it is claimed - iconic because they often illustrate the idea of fairytale destinations. Of these, the most popular is perhaps Anse Georgette, a beautiful beach with pure white sand and warm waters that change colour from turquoise to green. All around it, granite rocks stand proud. An extraordinary yet also delicate environment, an ecosystem sustained by balances that the Seychelles is striving to guarantee long-term by focusing on organic materials and strict rules. From May to October is the best period of the year in which to treat yourself to a dreamlike holiday here. 

Koh Phi Phi Don

A mesmerising approach awaits those arriving in the Phi Phi Islands, archipelago of southern Thailand. Ko Phi Phi Don - together with Ko Phi Phi Leh - are still the only islands of the group to be inhabited.   Made famous worldwide by the film “The Beach” starring Leonardo Di Caprio, it offers an unrivalled spectacle with its rocks, immersing themselves in the emerald green sea. The beaches have ultra pale sand and the coral reef, like the sea beds, is unrivalled.

Ko Phi Phi Don consists of two islands joined by a strip of sand and palm trees. They are separated by a beautiful, perfectly symmetrical double bay:  Ao Ton Sai towards the south and Ao Loh Dalum towards the north. A magical place, it has still not been trampled by the exponential growth of the tourist trade and in fact maintains all its original charm intact.

The bay is protected by the natural defence of the coral reef on the western side, and this marks the beginning of the strip of sand decorated with palm trees that leads to Long Beach (Hat Yao in Thai), a fantastic beach and peaceful oasis.   This entire area is also sheltered from the summer monsoons, and the sea is always calm here.

Penang

We’re in Malaysia and the island is joined directly to the coast by the bridge of Penang, the longest in south east Asia. In ancient times, Chinese and Arab merchants flocked here, later becoming a favourite destination for British and Dutch shipping companies.  Indeed, there is no shortage of architectural evidence attesting to the influences the area has experienced over the ages, especially Georgetown, the capital. And then there are the many kilometres of beaches, the mountainous inland areas and the specialities of the local cuisine.

Georgetown is something of a synthesis of all of this, with its rich cultural and artistic heritage and its many colours and flavours. East and West meet here in this city, a World Heritage Site.   The city streets are amazingly beautiful, as are the Buddhist temples, such as the Temple of Reclining Buddha with its statue measuring 33 metres long, the third largest in the world. Or the Kek Lok Si Temple, which in turn is the largest one in Malaysia, built on a hill that is a Mecca for pilgrims.   You must also visit Teluk Bahang, the Penang National Park, which incorporates solitary beaches, waterfalls and forests inside its perimeter.  

Madagascar

Off the south western coast of Africa is Madagascar, a fantastic archipelago distinguished by its many splendid, unspoilt beaches, large coral reef and a host of natural forests with many different animal species, all of such astounding beauty that it inspired the successful animated film.     

Nosy Be is perhaps the best-known island, and it is directly linked to Italy by air. Once you’re here you can go on excursions and safaris, then have a rest in one of its many hotels. Instead, the much quieter Ile Saint-Marie, which is prone to higher rainfalls, can be reached by sea or by air with Air Madagascar. Nosy Iranja is actually two islands in one, joined into a single strip of sand by the low tide.  The ideal location for a holiday in the company of turtles, birds and fish you’ll never have seen before.

The capital city Ananarivo also reveals a myriad of jewels, with its palaces, wooden houses, parks and royal tombs, as well as the Anosy lake, in a romantic heart shape. If instead you want to go by car, take Route Nationale 8, also known as The Avenue of the Baobabs, an off-road track lined with baobab trees.   Or visit the parks: Tsingy Rouge or Isalo. And other islands: from Nosy Komba to Isla Lava

Sainte Anne Island

The first people to colonise the Seychelles settled here, on the island opposite Port Victoria, surrounded by the National Marine Park with 6 islands off Mahe, where over 150 species of fish live. In its warm waters snorkellers will come across a world of wonders, and the Hawksbill turtles consider the island the ideal environment where to lay their eggs. It takes its name from the month of July, in which it was discovered, dedicated to Saint Anne and it can easily be reached by travelling less than four kilometres from Victoria.

Rottnest Island

All it takes is just a fifteen-minute flight from Perth, Australia to reach this kingdom of amazing beaches and lush nature. Opposite the beach named The Basin, for example, you can put on your mask, grab your mouthpiece and explore the type of natural pool characterised by its crystalline water. Little Salmon bay is a long stretch of pure white sand. Cathedral Rocks is an area where you can spot seals, and instead Parakeet Bay is home to a species of easy-going marsupials named quokka, also defined as “the happiest animals in the world”.

Those who feel like going trekking can follow the Wadjemup Bldl Route near the most beautiful beaches and the lakes, with their waters that take on a characteristic pink colour due to the Dunaliella Salina sea alga.  Just one of many unique details that adds extra charm to this dream destination.   

Kangaroo Island

A nature reserve, a small oasis and the third largest island in Australia, offering magnificent landscapes. The name Kangaroo Island dates back to 1802 when explorer Matthew Flinders was struck by the large number of kangaroos that inhabited the island.  But this is not the only species to call the location home. It also hosts koalas, spiny anteaters and wallabies, not to mention sea lions and penguins. In fact all the emblematic animals of Australia are represented here.

Nias

Known as the megalithic island due to the large monuments preserved there, off the west coast of Sumatra, it is populated by the Battaks, a population with very ancient, unknown origins.  Mountainous and marshy, it is covered by a thick tropical jungle and its culture still features habits that date a long way back in time. Oddly enough, the locals detest the sea and prefer cultivating the land.  In any case, as well as its villages, Nias offers a number of stunning, absolutely unspoilt beaches such as Teluk Dalam, a heavenly bay off the beaten track. 

Diego Garcia

The atoll is located right in the middle of the Indian ocean, south of the Maldives, and in the Chagos archipelago, specifically between Africa and Indonesia. An asphalt road runs right through it, leading you to a series of services you wouldn’t expect to find: a hospital, hairdresser (free of charge!), fish restaurants. And there’s also a British navy base: the British took over this island in 1965 and later “rented” it to the Americans. Meanwhile, the area has been declared a marine reserve. The temperature is always about 30 degrees and there is always a pleasant breeze.

Pemba

The archipelago of Zanzibar offers this wonder: the green island. In colonial times, it was a regular milestone along the spice route. Its green hills and striking stretches of sandy beach enhance its charm. Manta Point is the peak of an underwater mountain with coral formations, the island of Misali is a marine park with walls that peak on the sea.  You can see manta rays in its waters. Naturally, the beaches are extraordinary, and at low tide they open up almost as far as the coral reef, giving visitors the opportunity to enjoy memorable snorkelling experiences. 

North Sentinel Island

The most difficult island to visit is this one, inhabited by the Sentinelese, the most hostile tribe to outsiders in the world, always ready to “welcome” visitors by throwing spears at them. In fact, many will remember when in 2004, they used their spears to attack a patrol helicopter sent to offer aid following the tsunami, as the scene was documented by television images broadcast worldwide. Bizarre, to say the least. The Indian government has decided not to approach the inhabitants of the island again: they do not have an immune defence system and coming into contact with foreign visitors could put them at risk of catching illnesses and becoming extinct. Despite this, the island offers a host of natural beauties well worth  mentioning.   

Grande Comore

It forms part of a very similar archipelago to that of the Seychelles due to the landscape of its natural resources. Here the natural environment is even more unspoilt and almost devoid of tourists. The archipelago is known as the “islands of the moon” or also as the “perfume islands”. And in fact scented plants such as honeysuckle, orchids and gardenia diffuse sweet fragrances through the air whereas vanilla and coconut scents are the order of the day.  An enchanted environment. The island of Grande Comore is a melting pot of different cultures featuring Arab architecture that mingles with French elegance.  If you come here, visiting the residential areas and not only the beaches, is a must. The overall experience can be unforgettable.

Kerguelen Islands

It feels as if you’re in a scene from a fantasy story: almost unknown, battered by a constant wind, immersed in an often tempestuous sea, these islands are far away from the African mainland and from Australia. The climate is oceanic and cold, and it often rains. And if the truth be told, you can see why the explorer John Cook called them the Islands of Desolation. But the chance to visit them is appealing due precisely to these exclusive characteristics, which have made them so primitive, almost unaltered by the passing of time.

Mafia

Don’t be misled by the name! This is an island of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean.  It is a destination located far off the beaten track but it offers those who do go there many examples of beauty in its purest form: an unspoilt coral reef, occasional sightings of the whale shark in the surrounding waters, the people who are happy to establish human contact and always willing to exchange smiles and treat you to unforgettable experiences. You can move around in kayaks on the local streams (an extra option for a quick visit) until you reach the sandbanks that open up between the water and the lush land, forming beautiful oases.  Or you can use a jeep and go from the village of Utende to that of Kilindoni, climbing up the dirt tracks.

Tromelin Island

The history books tell us that in 1760, the French ship Utile, carrying 150 slaves on board, ran aground on the coral reef here and quickly sank to the bottom of the sea. A few members of the crew and about sixty slaves survived. In the middle of the Ocean. It’s difficult to imagine a more complicated survival scenario. The sailors and slaves pooled their strengths, setting aside all the previous hierarchies, at least until the sailors decided to get on board the small craft they had managed to build, abandoning the slaves to their destiny, having promised them that they would return to rescue them.  They didn’t. But the slaves managed to survive anyway, whereas the sailors were shipwrecked. And a new generation was created on the island, colonising the land for a long period of time. The weight of this dramatic history is tangible to the visitor who ventures here. 

Havelock Island

A point of the Ocean in the Bay of Bengal, with beaches of unexpected splendour and forests as yet unexplored.  This is the paradise of the Andaman islands between India, Myanmar and Thailand. The island is the only one of its group equipped to cater for Western tourism. A natural paradise that was closed to tourists until 1992. In the jungle you can go trekking and spot up to 218 different species of birds, over 62 mammals, 300 butterflies and 2200 plant species.  Not to mention its many restaurants where you can savour excellent fish dishes under the blue sky.   

Koh Phi Phi Leh

We had left the other island of the archipelago Phi Phi Island in Thailand, but Ko Phi Phi Leh is also seen by tourists as an extraordinarily mesmerising place, full of very tropical, vibrant, contrasting colours.  A place where the green shade of the local vegetation meets the deep blue of the sea. Absolutely unmissable.

Bazaruto

Let’s move now to the archipelago of four islands, a distant but accessible refuge. You can get here from Vilanculos on the coast and it’s a great spot for dolphin and whale watchingDiving is the best activity to try in this part of the world, as it can reveal a wide range of unimaginable beauty.  The beaches are to die for, surrounded by many forests and some villages well worth a visit.  Always at the slow, peaceful, pace that time keeps here. Another earthly paradise.

Lamu

In Kenya there is an archipelago that is quite literally out of this world. As well as Lamu, Manda and Pate are its largest islands. But Lamu is its real cultural and political centre. In the old area the roads are narrow and the buildings flaunt a typical Arab style. At sunset, going on a boat trip is a priceless experience. You can let yourself be gently rocked by the waves until you reach the mangroves, while the night draws in, then spend the evening between a restaurant on the coast and a reasonably-priced hotel in the centre of the city.  

Pulau Weh

The most beautiful island in Indonesia? Many would say that it’s Pulau Weh. And they wouldn’t exactly be wrong, despite the vast choice that Sumatra can offer. But more so than its beaches, the sea beds of this location are the main attraction of Pulau Weh. The coral reefs surround it with their natural radiance. But it’s important to be familiar with the currents, which are very strong in this area of the sea. The fact that the water has warmed up over the last few years has caused a few problems, but the coral environment is slowly picking up again. 

Prison Island

We return to Zanzibar for an excursion to Prison Island, or Changuu, island of the turtles. It is also known in some books as the quarantine island. There are masses of turtles inside the park and they are from the colony of giant turtles that come from the Seychelles. All in all there are about one hundred of them, and the oldest ones are estimated to be close to two hundred years old. As for the reference to quarantine, this occurred in a sort of prison, which today hosts a restaurant offering Italian cuisine. 

Cerf Island

The paradise of the Seychelles also offers this island where it’s easy to come into contact with its many different species of fish.  Peace and tranquillity reign supreme here: there are no roads, just quiet beaches dotted with palm trees and enhanced by a deep blue sea.  Amazing colours that paint your holiday with a host of vibrant, magical brush strokes, among stories of the pirates who passed through these areas and - who knows?- perhaps even a few hidden treasures! 

Banguerra Island

The second largest island after Bazaruto, in Mozambique. The Portuguese explorers named this place San Antonio. Over thirty kilometres of sand on the African coast of the Ocean. Its unique features include a lodge that has hosted Nicole Kidman, obviously attracted by the primitive beauty of these areas. A pearl within a pearl.

Inhaca Island

Again in Mozambique, a piece of coast detached from the coastline and dispersed about forty kilometres away in the middle of the sea.  It is also an important marine research centre, known for its studies on the coral reef. It was declared a nature reserve in 1976 and is therefore a protected area. More than three hundred species of birds have been documented here.  

Barren Island

Another paradise-like place, located on a volcano in the Andaman Sea. The island is the part of this 2500-metre tall giant which emerges from the sea. Until a short while ago, these lands were uninhabited, but over the last period, the islands have been populated by nomads from the south west, who live in houses made of palm trees and pieces of wood.   These islands will also soon be declared protected areas. 

Mirihi

The romantic heart of the Maldives, one of the smallest islands that can be reached from Malé in thirty minutes. It’s the ideal place for couples seeking an unforgettable holiday. The island frames your feelings with its wonderful reef and picture postcard beaches.   Here, families with children will also find the right ingredients for experiencing moments of extraordinary beauty.  

Neil Island

A virgin world, deserted beaches embellished by the fronds of the coconut palms and the impenetrable forest. Wooden dugout canoes, yellow tuk tuks: here the stress of the western world is nothing but a distant memory.  A strip of white sand that stretches as far as the eye can see, before merging with the tide that comes in quickly. And in fact there are not many sections of the coast suitable for swimming. Here, you can also enjoy a unique spectacle: an elephant used for transporting wood, having a bath in the warm waters of the sea.  Truly exceptional.

Mnemba

Another small island opposite Zanzibar, it’s surrounded by a sea of amazing colours: a thousand shades of blue and green. In fact you can even see it from your plane window when you arriveUltra fine sand, cleaned by the tides: inland there are no hills, just a thick vegetation, all immersed in the usual clear, warm sea.  

Ross Island

In the archipelago of the Andaman islands, where tourism is still not highly developed, at low tide, the wonderful Ross & Smith islands are connected by a strip of sand, deserted beaches and fragile mangrove habitats.   And the only hotels here are very basic. But the bravest tourists will be rewarded by an offering of very interesting natural environments, such as the canals of the Baratang area, which can be navigated in a boat. 

Visit the islands of the Indian Ocean with Costa

This has only been a small taste of what your holiday can offer, in terms of unspoilt beaches, natural beauty, relaxing activities and a cultural tourism that broadens the mind, with its roots in history and religion. All you have to do now is choose a trip that crosses the Indian Ocean and its wonders, all waiting for you to discover them.

Set Sail with Costa Cruises