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10 Largest Islands in the Indian Ocean You Must Visit in 2024

The Indian Ocean is the third largest ocean in the world and it covers approximately 20% of the Earth’s surface water. It is home to a diverse range of islands, each with its unique features and characteristics. From volcanic peaks shrouded in mist to pristine beaches lapped by crystal-clear waters, these islands offer experiences for adventurers, nature enthusiasts, and cultural explorers.

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List of Top 10 Largest Islands in the Indian Ocean

Let’s uncover the top 10 largest islands in the Indian Ocean.

  • Madagascar
  • Sri Lanka
  • Grande Terre
  • Nias
  • Socotra
  • Reunion
  • Zanzibar
  • Simeulue
  • Mauritius
  • Comoros

1- Madagascar

Madagascar, the largest island in the Indian Ocean, is located off the southeastern coast of Africa. Madagascar is a land of contrasts, rich biodiversity, breathtaking scenery, and intriguing history. It spans over 587,041 square kilometers. 

Geographically, Madagascar can be divided into five regions: the East Coast, the Central Highlands, the Tsaratanana Massif, the West Coast, and the Southwest. The island is characterized by its rugged terrain, with a spine of mountains running the length of the island from north to south. 

The central highlands, where the capital Antananarivo is located, are a plateau region ranging in altitude from 2,450 to 4,400 feet above sea level. The highest peak in Madagascar is Maromokotro, located in the Tsaratanana Massif. It stands at 9,436 feet above sea level.

The island is also home to various ecosystems, including tropical rainforests, savannas, and deserts. The east coast is known for its lush vegetation and is home to many of the island’s national parks, such as Lokobe, Mantadia, and Isalo, where visitors can encounter lemurs, birds, and other unique wildlife. The west coast is characterized by its dry climate and features the famous Avenue of the Baobabs, a unique land of giant baobab trees.

The historic center of the island includes the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the city of Antananarivo, where visitors can learn about the island’s unique culture and traditions.

For those seeking adventure, Madagascar offers a variety of activities, from hiking in the countryside to exploring the island’s many national parks. Beach lovers can also enjoy the island’s stunning coastline, with the west coast offering some of the best beaches for snorkeling and spotting whales.

2- Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon, is the second-largest island located in the Indian Ocean. It is strategically positioned near major sea lanes. With a total area of 65,610 square kilometers, Sri Lanka is the 25th largest island in the world by area. 

Geographically, Sri Lanka can be divided into three main zones: the central highlands, the plains, and the coastal belt. The central highlands are characterized by steep escarpments, deep gorges, and peaks that rise more than 5,905 feet. The highest point is Pidurutalagala, which stands at 8,281 feet.

The plains are flat and meet the central highlands in the southeast, where the mountain ranges appear abruptly like a large wall. The coastal belt surrounds the island and is approximately 98 feet above sea level. 

The major part of the coast of Sri Lanka is made up of beautiful sandy beaches, with popular beaches including Negombo, Bentota, Ambalangoda, Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, Mirissa, Dickwella, and Polhena.

Sri Lanka is home to many national parks, including Yala National Park and Bundala National Park, where visitors can witness a variety of wildlife, including leopards, elephants, and a wide range of bird species. The island is also famous for its tea gardens, which produce some of the world’s finest teas.

Tourists visiting Sri Lanka can explore a variety of cultural and historical sites, such as the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, the sacred city of Anuradhapura, and the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. For those interested in nature, Sigiriya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must-visit, featuring a massive rock fortress and stunning views of the surroundings. 

On the other hand, this island is also known for its vibrant food culture. The country is also home to a diverse range of ethnic groups, including Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamils, Moors, Indian Tamils, Burghers, Malays, Chinese, and Vedda. 

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3- Grande Terre

Grande Terre is a captivating destination that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and historical significance. This island is a must-visit for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the Largest Islands in the Indian Ocean, adventure, and relaxation.

Grande Terre is a vast and diverse landmass that spans approximately 6,675 square kilometers. The island stretches 150 km east to west and 120 km north to south. The highest point on this island is Mont Ross, which stands tall at 6,070 feet. 

The island is also a haven for wildlife, with numerous species of seals, penguins, and seabirds making their home here. The island’s unique geography has led to the formation of numerous bays, inlets, and coves that provide multiple opportunities for exploration and discovery.  

One of the most popular spots on the island is Port-aux-Français. This scientific base offers visitors a glimpse into the island’s research and scientific endeavors, with facilities including scientific research buildings and a satellite tracking station.

Grande Terre’s history is fascinating. It dates back to the 18th century when the French established a base here in 1772. Today, visitors can explore the island’s historic sites, including the ruins of the old French base and the remains of the island’s former whaling industry.

4- Nias

Nias Island is located in the Indian Ocean off North Sumatra. Nias is approximately 120 kilometers long and 45 kilometers wide at its widest point, covering an area of 5.121 square kilometers. It is slightly smaller than Bali and larger than Lombok, which makes it a moderate-sized island in comparison to other islands in Southeast Asia. 

One of the most striking features of Nias is its megalithic culture, which has been preserved due to the island’s relative isolation. The architecture of the island reflects its distinct cultural legacy, with traditional homes built on piles and decorated with artistic carvings. The island’s people are a mix of animists, Christians, and Muslims.

Tourists visiting Nias are drawn to its famous surfing spots, particularly Sorake Bay, which is internationally renowned for its world-class waves. The bay is home to two consistent, high-quality surfing areas, Asu and Bawa, which attract surfers from around the world. 

Nias offers a variety of other attractions for tourists. The island is home to the Museum Pusaka Nias, which houses over 6,000 objects related to Nias’s cultural heritage. 

Nias is also known for its diverse festivals and celebrations, with the most well-known events such as Stone Jumping, a ritual in which young men leap over two-meter stone towers. These cultural events offer visitors a glimpse into the island’s traditions and customs.

For those seeking relaxation and natural beauty, Nias offers a variety of beaches and islands. The north coast is home to 46 beaches with a combined length of over 70 kilometers. The island’s interior regions are also home to numerous rivers, waterfalls, and lakes.

5- Socotra

Socotra Island is located in the Arabian Sea, off the coast of Yemen. The island is famous for its landscapes, abundant wildlife, and diverse plant species. Socotra’s land spans over 3,796 square kilometers.  

Socotra is a remote island with limited transportation options and infrastructure. It is approximately 240 km east of the Horn of Africa and 380 km south of the Arabian Peninsula. The island has a range of landscapes, including sandy beaches, large mountains, deep valleys, limestone caves, and desert plains with large dunes. 

The hot, dry climate creates a harsh environment, but it has also allowed for the development of unique plant and animal life found nowhere else in the world.

One of the most iconic features of Socotra is the Dragon Blood Tree, an unusual tree species that is native to the island. These trees shaped like mushrooms are used by locals to make perfume, dye, and even medicine. Another unique feature is the Giant Sand Dunes at Arher Beach, which offer a challenging climb for visitors. 

Snorkeling in the Dihamri Marine Reserve is a great way to explore the vibrant coral reefs and discover diverse marine life. Visitors can explore the island’s cultural heritage, which includes a mix of African, Arab, and Indian influences, and participate in local festivals and traditions.

Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a chance to explore a truly alien-looking place on Earth, Socotra is a destination that offers something for everyone. 

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6- Reunion

Reunion Island is the sixth-largest island in the Indian Ocean. It is an overseas region of France, located in the east of the island of Madagascar and southwest of the island of Mauritius. Reunion covers an area of 2,512 square kilometers. Most of its population resides in the northern part, where the capital city of Saint-Denis is located. 

One of the most striking features of Reunion Island is its volcanic heritage. The island is home to two prominent volcanic formations: Piton des Neiges, a dormant volcano, and Piton de la Fournaise, an active shield volcano. These volcanoes have shaped the island’s geography and continue to influence its ecosystems.

Reunion Island is also known for its diverse flora and fauna. Visitors can explore the island’s lush rainforests, where they may encounter rare birds, tree ferns, and other exotic plants. 

For those seeking adventure, Reunion Island offers canyoning in the Trou de Fer, a canyon more than 800 meters deep. Here, visitors can experience the thrill of rappelling down waterfalls and exploring the island’s dramatic landscapes.

Reunion Island is also known for its cultural heritage. The capital city of Saint-Denis is a vibrant hub of local life where visitors can explore its architectural sites, museums, and festivals to get a glimpse into the daily lives of the island’s population.

7- Zanzibar

Zanzibar is officially known as Zanzibar City. It is the largest city, main port, and administrative capital of Zanzibar. This island is the autonomous part of Tanzania which spans over 2,461 square kilometers. 

The island is mainly low-lying, with its highest point being 390 ft. Zanzibar is also known as the Spice Islands due to its historical significance in the spice trade.

Some of the famous spots for tourists include Stone Town, which is the historic center of Zanzibar City. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is famous for its narrow, winding streets, colorful houses, and historic buildings, many of which date back to the 19th century.

For history enthusiasts, there is a historical palace called “Mtoni Palace”. This palace was built in 1828 and was the residence of Sultan Seyyid. Explorers can also take guided tours to learn about the different spices grown on the island and their uses.

8- Simeulue

Simeulue Island is situated off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. Simeulue Island is the largest island in the Mentawai Islands, which spans over 2,310 square kilometers. 

The island boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with white sand and crystal-clear waters. The beaches are often deserted, allowing visitors to enjoy a peaceful and serene atmosphere. The island’s northern coast is also popular for its stunning sunsets. 

The island’s waters are filled with a variety of fish species which makes it a popular destination for fishermen. The island is also home to several species of sharks, including the rare and endangered hammerhead shark. Visitors can also spot dolphins, whales, and sea turtles in the waters around the island.

In terms of culture, Simeulue Island is a unique blend of traditional Indonesian and Mentawai customs. The island’s inhabitants are primarily of Mentawai descent, and their culture is deeply rooted in the island’s natural environment. 

9- Mauritius

Mauritius is the ninth-largest island in the Indian Ocean. Mauritius is the third largest island in the Mascarene Islands, after Madagascar and Réunion. Its land area covers 2,040 square kilometers. 

Mauritius is situated off the southeast coast of Africa and the east coast of Madagascar. The island is surrounded by a coral reef, which protects the island from the open sea. Its highest point is Mount Piton.  

Mauritius’ climate is tropical, with two main seasons: a warm, wet summer from November to April and a cooler, dry winter from May to October. The interior of the island is covered in rainforests, savannas, and wetlands.

Tourists visiting Mauritius can explore a variety of famous spots on the island. One of the most popular destinations is the capital city, Port Louis. It offers a combination of colonial architecture, bustling markets, and vibrant street life. 

Another must-visit spot is the island’s northwestern coast, which is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world such as Grand Baie and Tamarin Bay. 

The island is also home to several national parks, such as Black River Gorges National Park and Le Morne Brabant National Park, where tourists can spot species such as the Mauritius kestrel and the Mauritius fody. 

The island’s largest religious group is Hindu, followed by Christians, Muslims, and others. The island’s most famous festival is Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, which is celebrated in October or November each year.

10- Comoros

Comoros is a fascinating destination known for its features and diverse culture. The Comoros are made up of the three main islands of Grande Comore (Ngazidja), Mohéli (Mwali), and Anjouan (Ndzuwani). This land is influenced by Arabic, French, Malagasy, and African cultures.

Geographically, the land of Comoros spans over 1,862 square kilometers. The capital city of Comoros is Moroni, which is located in Grande Comore. Visitors can take guided tours to explore all three islands. 

These three islands are home to several species, including lemurs, fruit bats, and civets, as well as unique plants such as jasmine, and lemongrass. The Comorian waters are also home to the coelacanth, a rare fish. 

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The Indian Ocean is home to several beautiful islands, each with its unique history. These islands offer a range of experiences for tourists, from stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters to diverse cultures and vibrant festivals. They are also home to a variety of endemic species which makes them ideal destinations for nature lovers, explorers, and adventurers. So pack your bags and get ready to discover the wonders of these incredible islands!


1- Which is the Largest Island in the Indian Ocean?

Madagascar is the largest island in the Indian Ocean, covering 587,041 square kilometers. 

2- Which is the Smallest Island in the Indian Ocean?

Maldives is the smallest island in the Indian Ocean. 

3- Which Ocean has the Maximum Islands?

The majority of the world’s islands are found in the Pacific Ocean. Over twenty-five thousand islands span the Pacific Ocean. 

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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