When I dream of swimming in the crystal-clear waters of the warm Indian Ocean, relaxing on soft sand beaches, while indulging in true tropical island paradise, I look to the Maldives or the Seychelles for a premium escape. These two island oases deliver some of the world’s most exquisite natural beauty, and you’re sure to be dazzled by both. So, what are the main characteristics to consider when visiting these two slices of heaven?`
Both the Maldives and the Seychelles are picture-perfect, with pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and exciting underwater worlds to explore. Whilst the Maldives is an archipelago of tiny, scattered islands, offering remote tranquillity, the Seychelles islands are larger with more diverse landscapes and a wider range of activities on offer.
Many of the island resorts have an impressive back garden you won’t find anywhere else: house coral reefs, each home to an array of diverse and colourful marine wildlife. It’s an unparalleled haven for divers, with hundreds of different aquatic landscapes and dive sights to discover.
The Seychelles also boasts excellent diving opportunities, but the Maldives is unbeatable under the waves. When it comes to land exploring, however, the Seychelles have a lot more on offer. Take a trip out to Curieuse Marine National Park on Curieuse Island, the only place in the world where you can see the giant Aldabra Tortoise in the wild.
The Seychelles beaches range from sprawling deserts with giant boulders to soft sand shores and thick palm tree jungles. You’ll even find mountains, rain forests and nature reserves as well as the iconic seafront.
The Maldives, by contrast, are flat and even the biggest, Sun Island can be easily crossed end-to-end by foot in under an hour. While island hopping is popular in the Seychelles, the Maldives is designed for remote island rest and relaxation, rather than active exploration.
Both archipelagos have their capitals but whilst the Maldives’ capital, Malé is merely a passing through point on the way to your island resort, the charming colonial capital of the Seychelles, Victoria on Mahé Island has plenty to discover. From historical landmarks, food markets and hiking trails to buggy island tours, there is something for everyone in this quaint island capital.
The Maldives and the Seychelles are both stunning natural paradises, and when comparing the two it really depends on what kind of holiday you desire. I am an active traveller, so the Seychelles wins this round for me scoring 9.5/10, with so much to do with the Maldives close behind at 9/10 for picture perfect scenery and private tranquillity.
Food and Restaurants:
Both the Maldives and Seychelles have an internationally influenced food scene, but whilst the Maldives’ menus are dependent on the island and resort, the Seychelles have a more vibrant dining display.
Featuring an eclectic mix of cooking styles alongside local specialties such as red snapper and barracuda, the Seychelles serve delicious dishes that are uniquely Seychellois.
Head to La Grande Maison after a day spent in the capital and enjoy a daily changing menu of French-inspired dishes, live music and fabulous atmosphere amongst a tropical shrubbery setting. Bonbon Plume is best for lunch where sumptuous seafood dishes are served to your table on the sand.
In the Maldives many of the accommodation options are all-inclusive, offering resort dining alongside your accommodation. However, there are plenty of impressive restaurants across the Maldives to try if you feel like venturing away from your island.
Dine in the iconic underwater restaurant, Ithaa at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island where set lunch and dinner menus are paired with excellent wines. Head to The Lighthouse at Baros where the restaurant rises over the lagoon, and a delicious fine-dining menu is served alongside awe-inspiring views. For the romantics, private candlelit dinners are a popular option at most of the resorts.
Both places have fantastic dining options with plenty of style and flavour, but the Seychelles wins this round for me with 9/10 for variety and flexibility, whilst the Maldives scores 8/10. It has some excellent restaurants, but options are limited to location.
While the Maldives and Seychelles are known for island relaxation, you may be surprised that both have enough nightlife options on offer to keep the party animals entertained.
In the Seychelles, dance the evening away at Katiolo in Mahé or Jungle in Praslin, or try your luck at one of the capital’s casinos. For something more relaxed, go barefoot at a beach bar, and sip cocktails at sunset.
Go underground, or underwater in fact, at Subsix in the Maldives, where their underwater party is ocean blue cool. Enjoy live jazz at Kurumba or dance under UV lights at Kuredu’s White Night Party. If clubbing isn’t your style, why not watch a movie under the stars, at the Jungle Cinema, or go night fishing at Bandos Beach.
The Maldives and the Seychelles have plenty of options for those who want to carry on past dinner, but the real appeal of these places is in the beauty of the day. They both come out equal in this round with 8/10. The nightlife isn’t the main reason to visit these beautiful islands, but it is great to know the option is available.
Both the Maldives and the Seychelles have an impressive range of accommodation options on offer from family friendly and wellness retreats, to top tier luxury.
The Maldives are home to the iconic water villas, but there are hundreds of other options from which to choose, from dive-centric resorts to some of the most luxurious villas you can imagine. The JOALI hotel is one of the best the Maldives has to offer, from exquisite service, fabulous food, and enormous and lavish villas. Gili Lankanfushi is an award-winning resort with an eco-friendly ethos, or book your stay at the Heritance Aarah, and revive yourself at the Maldives first medi-spa.
Le Nautique Seychelles is a beach-front boutique guesthouse with stylish rooms and stunning views over Praslin. Bird Island is best for those who want to sleep amongst the wilderness and dream under the stars.
For a touch of extravagance, why not book a room at the Six Senses private island resort, featuring impressive waterfront villas, expert service, and a world-famous spa.
The best part about visiting the Maldives, is the chance to ride in a flying taxi that transports you to your resort from Malé Airport.
Both places have impressive accommodation options with hotels that focus on highlighting the natural beauty of each fabulous location. They come out equal here for me with 10/10 for excellence, style, and variety.
So how do these two iconic and beautiful destinations compare? In terms of numbers, the Seychelles wins with a score of 9.1/10 and the Maldives just after with 8.7/10. The Seychelles has more on offer for every kind of visitor, and can be explored with family, friends or on a romantic break. The Maldives is best for a couples’ trip, or a remote detox where you never have to lift a finger.
Why not visit both? I know you’ll be amazed at the unparalleled beauty of these tropical paradises.