Sun-drenched Maldives and Seychelles appear the same on the surface – but on closer inspection, these two Indian Ocean destinations quite different. We explain which Indian Ocean Island, Seychelles or Maldives, is better in these 6 points.
Top Selling Point
Famous for its palm-fringed beaches and turquoise waters, the Maldives’ main appeal is: one island, one resort. You have the feeling of being a castaway on your own private island. Made up of around 1000 islands, the Maldives is the smallest Asian and the world’s most geographically dispersed country.
As the airport is located on the island of Malé, visitors must use seaplane transfers or private resorts’ speedboats to get to their island destination. Some exclusive resorts in the Maldives have their own private lounges for the seaplane transfers, where you can indulge in watermelon juice and mini-massages. It also gives you time to fill out pre-check-in documents, so that you can go straight to your villa on arrival.
Known more as an island-hopping destination, travellers to the Seychelles usually spend a couple of days on the main islands. Bigger towns on the main islands (like Mahé, La Digue and Praslin) are great for visitors who want to explore the French culture of Seychelles – and get a taste of its cuisine, nightlife, hiking in a reserve (like Vallée de Mai on Praslin) and market shopping. Once you’ve had enough of crowds and culture, you can hop to a private island.
Both islands are year-round destinations, drenched in sun and home to pearly-white beaches. But their geological make-up is rather different.
The islands of the Maldives archipelago are coral islands and only about 2 meters above sea level. Some of the islands are surrounded by house reefs that protect the islands and create calm, wave-free sea that’s perfect for swimming and snorkelling.
On the other hand, the Seychelles is made up of two main geological types. The central island group (including the main island Mahé) are made from granite – a mountainous centre with flat coastal stretches. Granite boulders frame the shoreline and the pearly white beaches. Seychelles’ outer islands are small and made of coral, and are only a few meters above sea level.
The Seychelles is a leader in sustainable tourism: with over 50% of the total land area under nature conservation. That’s a world record!
In the Maldives, you go sightseeing underwater. The marine life is colourful and, at certain times of the year, you can see whale sharks and manta rays at their feeding station. Dive sites are everywhere in the Maldives. The 26 atolls and around 1000 islands offer a diversity of diving sites, and the crystal-clear waters have high visibility! Check if your resort offers a house reef or lagoon.
If diving is not your thing, you can just as easily experience the underwater beauty by snorkelling. And snorkelling straight from the beach or water villa is what the Maldives are most popular for!
Seychelles is a playground for those seeking a slightly more active experience! The main islands are home to larger towns, and visitors will be incorporated into the Seychelles local culture and life. Seychelles is also great for active travellers who want to do both land-based and water-based sports activities: rock climbing and hiking to mangrove kayaking. The remote outer islands offer world-class fly fishing as well as deep water game fishing.
Things to do for kids
Both Seychelles and Maldives are the perfect destination for honeymooners but – surprisingly – also extremely family-friendly. Both Indian Ocean islands are great for multi-generational travel. If you choose the right resort your entire family will be in good hands with child-friendly activities.
Soneva Fushi in the Maldives is great for kids with its treehouse, fantasy kids’ den with an outside entertainment area and private swimming pool villas. The resort offers conservation activities for kids and the most delicious ice-cream parlour and chocolate room. It’s parent-approved!
At Six Senses Laamu, children can take part in the children’s club “The Den”. The five-star resort offers yoga classes for children, where children learn basic yoga poses; spa treatments, like foot and hand massages for children; and children’s cooking class.
Fregate Island has a Kids Club for the juniors in your family for ages 3 to 12. Kids explore the Castaway Trail with giant tortoises, small animals and endemic plants. Babysitters are also available.
At Six Senses Zil Pasyon, kids can join the Trouloulou Club and partake in anything from kite making, sand castle building to cupcake decorating. There’s also a bicycle that rides around the island and delivers ice-cream for both children and adults!
Type of accommodation
More than two-thirds of the world’s overwater bungalows are in the Maldives. Islands are protected by lagoons and reefs, making for calm waters. That’s why water villas in the Maldives are built on stilts – hovering directly over the water – and are accessed by jetties that stretch out like arms from the main island. Some resorts offer bespoke stand-alone water villas that can only be accessed by boat.
Furnished with all your heart’s desires, luxury villas have direct access to the warm, clear ocean; some even have a private swimming pool on deck or waterslides straight into the sea! A new offering in the Maldives is the retractable roof so that you can stargaze straight from the bed. There are also options to overnight in traditional dhows (wooden boat) with all the comfort of a 5-star villa.
Accommodation in Seychelles is often built on a hillside or into the granite outcrops with views out over the ocean. Surrounded by tropical forests, luxury villas are hidden in the endemic landscape. They’re the epitome of barefoot luxury: resorts feature luxury villas with 3 to 4 bedrooms with private pools (perfect for families looking for privacy) to beautiful one-bedroom hilltop villas, sunken baths and private infinity pools.
Both Maldives and Seychelles have great 24-hour butler services. This service makes sure you have everything you need – be it a midnight snack to an emergency hot milk and honey for the kids. Local Maldivians are super friendly and always eager to please, making service levels top-notch. It’s common for repeat clients to request the same butler during every stay.
The Seychellois are slightly more laid back in a typical island style and have a charm of their own. Passionate about their country, Seychelles’ locals have no problem persuading visitors that their country is the best!