News Article

A Glossary of Luxury Travel in the Indian Ocean

3 May 2024

After years spent working in the travel sector, we've encountered numerous terms and expressions that have become second nature to us. Here, we aim to shed light on some frequently used words and phrases that consistently arise when discussing travel across the Indian Ocean. While certain terms may seem self-explanatory, we hope that this list proves invaluable when we help plan your next trip! 


Private island resort: A resort that occupies the entirety of an island, with no other population or businesses.

Boutique hotel: Typically defined as a small, stylish hotel with less than 100 rooms. The term is used widely and covers a huge variety of properties. Generally used to imply personal service, smaller, more intimate settings and characterful décor.

Marine reserve: An area of the ocean where the government has imposed limits on human activity for protection and conservation.

UNESCO-protected biosphere: A strictly protected area that is a ‘learning place for sustainable development’ which ensures the conservation of the biodiversity of the area.

Atoll: A ring-shaped coral reef, island or series of islets that surround a lagoon. Commonly found in the Maldives and Seychelles.

Archipelago: A collection of islands

Coral propagation: The transplantation of coral fragments into new areas to encourage the growth of coral on degraded reefs. This is an important part of marine conservation across the Indian Ocean.

Non-motorised water sports: These included kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, windsurfing, small sailboats such as Laser’s and Hobie Cats and sometimes snorkelling equipment. Many hotels and resorts in the Indian Ocean offer these free of charge.


Board basis: Sometimes called meal plan, this is the meals included in your accommodation costs.

Half Board: Breakfast and generally dinner are included. Very occasionally you may find lunch included rather than dinner. There may be certain restaurants at a hotel, or certain dishes, that require a supplement or are not included in your board basis.

Full Board: All meals are included; breakfast, lunch and dinner. As with half board, you may find certain restaurants at a hotel, or certain dishes require a supplement or are not included in your board basis.

All-inclusive: All meals and drinks are included. Generally, this includes soft drinks, local beers, spirits and a selection of wines. As with other board bases mentioned, there may be some items, such as champagne or top-shelf spirits, which are not included.

Dine-around: When referring to a board basis, this means included meals can be enjoyed at a number, if not all, of restaurants within a resort.


Chartered flights: Certain private islands, particularly in the Seychelles, can be accessed by flights run purely for this route, and must be booked through the hotel or a ground agent.

Indirect flights vs direct flights: Direct flights are taken between your start and final destination without stopping at another destination. Indirect flights will involve one or more stops between your place of departure and final destination. This may involve changing planes. Indirect flights open up more places in the world that can’t be accessed directly and also allow you to use a wider selection of airlines.

Stop-over: The period between two legs of a journey, generally referring to a period over 24 hours. For example, travelling to the Maldives with a stop-over of 2 nights in Dubai to explore the city.

Touch-down: Sometimes called a "scale-over", this involves a short stop at an intermediate destination before continuing to your final destination without changing planes or leaving the aircraft.  Some passengers may leave or join the flight at this point. 


Sega: Traditional Mauritian music genre, which is traditionally a performance art involving music, dance and storytelling.

Sugar plantations: Sugar cane production is a major part of the Mauritian economy, and traditionally there are many individual plantations growing sugar cane across the island. These plantations had individual mills and often grand plantation houses. These days, there are few sugar mills, and larger companies own huge expanses of land for sugar production.

Aapravasi Ghat: The immigration depot for indentured labourers arriving in Mauritius from India from 1849 -1923. The site is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a museum which tells the story of indentured labourers across the British Empire.

Islets: There are around 130 small islets around Mauritius – some larger than others and mostly uninhabited. Popular islets to visit include île aux Cerfs, Flat Island and île aux Benitiers

Underwater waterfall: The often pictured ‘underwater waterfall’ off the coast of Le Morne. While it is an illusion formed from sand and silt deposits created by tides, it is still beautiful.


Seaplane transfer: With islands spread across 90,000 sq km, the best way to access many of the remote islands is by seaplane. After landing in the Maldives, guests will then wait in hotel lounges at the airport before travelling onwards. These operate between 7 am and 4 pm, and it should be noted the luggage allowance is 20kg. Many people see the seaplane journey as a highlight of the trip, as you pass over picturesque idyllic islands dotting the ocean.

Speed boat transfer: Islands which are within the same atoll as Malé and the international airport can generally be accessed by a speed boat transfer. These are more reasonable than a seaplane, and some prefer this option as it is more direct with less time spent waiting at the airport for your onward journey. It is also good to note that these transfers can operate at any time of day.

Dhoni: A traditional Maldivian sailboat used for trading, fishing and as a ferry. Traditionally they were made from coconut palm timber.

House reef: A coral reef that can be accessed directly from the island, without the need for a boat journey.

Natural island vs Man-made island: The Maldives has an increasing number of man-made islands which are created for resorts. While it might be hard to tell the difference, natural islands tend to have thicker, more varied vegetation, with taller palm trees as well as better house reefs.


Inner Islands: The Inner Islands include 42 islands, including the most populated; Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. These islands are relatively close together and visitors can easily hop between them using the ferries or a short flight.

Outer Islands: A collection of generally uninhabited islands which stretch up to 1,150km from Mahé, the Seychelles’ principal island. These islands include private island resorts and conservation research programmes, as well as an army base and a jail.

Coral Islands: There are 73 coral islands in the Seychelles, including the outer islands. They are located within the Seychelles reef plain, and unlike the majority of Seychelles islands, are not made of granitic rock. Coral islands are formed from permanent changes in the sea level and are generally much flatter.

Trade winds: There are two separate trade winds in the Seychelles. Between May and September, there are south-east trade winds, bringing disturbed ocean surfaces. And a refreshing breeze. During this time the west coast of Praslin can expect higher levels of seaweed to wash up on the beaches. Between December and February the north-west trade winds, which does bring a breeze but doesn’t affect the seaweed levels.

Aldabra Giant Tortoise: An endemic species of giant tortoise, and one of the largest tortoise species in the world. They have been recorded to live for over 250 years.

Coco de Mer Palm: An endemic palm, found naturally on select islands in the Seychelles. The coco de mer is known for having the largest seed in the animal kingdom, which has a distinct shape and can weigh up to 35kg.

Vallée du Mai: A 19.5 hectare protected forest on Praslin. The forest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it is a living remnant of ancient palm forests and the largest intact forest of the Coco de Mer palm

Sri Lanka

Cultural Triangle: An area in the centre of the island which includes a selection of Sri Lanka’s most popular UNESCO World Heritage Sites including Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla and Kandy.

The Hill Country: A mountainous region in the centre of Sri Lanka, known for its tea plantations, impressive waterfalls and quaint towns.

Sri Lankan railways: Sri Lankan has an extensive and popular railway system, with a route from Kandy to the hill country, crossing the iconic Nine Arch Bridge. Other picturesque journeys travel along the coast from Colombo to Galle.

Galle Fort: A historical fortified city, founded in the 16th century by the Portuguese, and extensively developed by the Dutch in the 18th Century. Galle Fort is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Monsoon Seasons: Sri Lanka has two monsoon seasons – ‘Yala’ which affects the southwest region from May – September and ‘Maha’ which affects the northwest region from October to February.

The Pekoe Trail: A long-distance walking trail that stretches over 300 km across Sri Lanka’s central highlands. The trail is broken into 22 more manageable stages which can be tackled alone or combined for a multi-day trek.

Ceylon Tea: Historic term to describe tea from Sri Lanka, previously named Ceylon. Sri Lanka is the fourth largest tea producer in the world.


Cirques: Réunion has three calderas, named ‘cirques’, which are formed from the collapsed volcanoes. Each of the cirques has a unique environment, with varying degrees of accessibility and dramatic landscapes.

Piton de la Fournaise: An active shield volcano in the south east of Réunion. The volcano is one of the most active in the world.

Maloya: A Réunion music genre, normally sung in Réunion Creole which uses percussion with a call and. Response structure.

Overseas department of France: Réunion is governed as a French region, one of five that are outside of France.


Port Mathurin: A village on the north coast of Rodrigues that serves as the island’s capital

Caverne Patate: An impressive cave system which tunnels 700m deep, with stalagmite and stalactite formations.

Francois Leguat Nature Reserve: A nature reserve that is home to over 2,000 giant tortoises, named after an 18th century explorer and naturalist.


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