The islands and beaches of Madagascar
By Martha Hales
Madagascar is bursting with unique species and unusual landscapes. You could lose days investigating a single corner of this fascinating island and the welcome is perpetually warm and effusive. But did you know that Madagascar is also an amazing beach destination? The options for grabbing some time ocean-side are many and varied - each one more heavenly than the last. Here are some of our favourites from the countless islands and beaches of Madagascar.
A map of the bay of Diego Suarez (a.k.a. Antsiranana) is impressive enough, with its tiny outlet to the open sea and its immense cloverleaf shape scattered with islands.
When you actually arrive at this, the most northerly point in Madagascar, you will be greeted with a unique seascape where conical islets poke out of the clear water of the bay and the shore is fringed with myriad beaches. The diving and snorkelling opportunities are superb, and the refreshing breeze which blows here from June to October is a treat for wind and kite surfers.
The original Madagascan resort island drips with luxuriant tropical flowers and the air is softly scented with ylang ylang. Despite its popularity, for many this is paradise found. Lapped by the ultramarine waves of the Indian Ocean, the balmy weather and sugar-white beaches are enough to satisfy beachcombers and watersports fans alike. If the perfect horizons start to pall, there are inland forests to hike through, villages to investigate and many satellite islands to visit where you could find yourself chatting with islanders or even spotting a lemur or two.
Lounging peacefully on the western edge of the island, facing the Mozambique Channel, this fishing community forms the hub of a curved stretch of coastline studded with enticing sandy beaches and great surfing spots. Popular for local seaside breaks and backpackers looking for a cheaper beach destination, this is not the most luxurious Madagascan beach destination. However, it makes a good place to hit the beach or catch some waves in this part of the island.
The first spot that the French laid claim to, this island is still popular with French visitors and it isn’t hard to see why! Île Sainte Marie is a 60 kilometre long tapering finger of lush forest lying off the north eastern shore of Madagascar, home to paradise beaches and a bewitching tropical languor.
From July to September the famous humpback whales come calling, making Île Sainte Marie the best place in Madagascar to whale-watch.
The steeply sloping flanks of the Nosy Mangabe island reserve are thickly forested and despite the relatively modest size of the island - barely five square kilometres - packed with exotic wildlife. Visit on a day trip or stay the night at a castaway campsite where a picturesque waterfall provides an unbeatable spot for your morning shower! Hikes include a gentle path which runs behind the beach and various trails leading up to the summit offering great views. Wildlife includes the elusive aye-aye, as well as numerous species of lemur, frogs, chameleons, lizards and many exciting species of bird.
Rising in a perfect cone from the waters between Nosy Be and the mainland, Nosy Komba is a worthwhile day trip from Hell-Ville. Rising over 500 metres from the waves, it is a dramatic sight and a great place to see the black lemur (Komba) for which the island was named.
This exclusive peninsula in the north-west of Madagascar is a real beauty. The beaches are powdery and white, the palm trees rustle overhead in an inviting fashion and all is well with the world. Resorts here excel in barefoot luxury, offering a divine beachside retreat with all the facilities you could ask for.
Make it happen
So, see something that takes your fancy? Whether you’re enchanted by rare wildlife, or are desperate to get your toes into all of that white sand, our local experts in Madagascar are here to make your holiday daydream into a reality. They are brilliant at planning the very best tailor-made holidays, so don't hesitate to get in touch. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office, please call +44 (0) 117 325 7898.