Explore a whole new universe off the Malagasy shores: set sails towards an untouched environment, the beauty of which has been preserved from excessive tourism. Enjoy the sandy beaches and turquoise water, take a moment to inhale the fresh air of the sea and discover the unexpected around the islands.
In the far North of Diégo Suarez, many excursions are available: ship out from the Baie du Courrier and its desert islands towards the Cap Sébastien and its moorings, and then proceed to Nosy Lava, the northernmost island of the Mitsio islands. This archipelago is worth the detour before heading towards Nosy Be and its neighboring islands. From the “Perfume Island” starts a new adventure… Why not a loop around Nosy Mamoko, Kisimany, the Baie des Russes, Nosy Iranja and Sakatia? The Radama Islands are a paradise where the water slightly darkens only during rainy season.
Day excursions to the small islands around Nosy Be, or special trips are available, through various means of transportation: in a sailboat, a boat, a traditional pirogue, a speedboat, or a catamaran.
Put the western fast pace way of life behind and enjoy the virtues of farniente, the stunning sunsets, the starlit nights, and the intimacy in a warm atmosphere sprinkled with endlessly-renewed sensations.
Malagasy waters are among the finest diving spots on the planet. An endless array of colorful fish with exotic names continuously weaves their underwater ballet, in a landscape of shells and corals with indescribable shapes. Dive among the clown fish, the butterflies, the lions, the unicorns, the napoleons or the surgeon-fish, but also manta rays and one of the biggest fish in the world, the harmless whale shark.
Everything will encourage you to relax or to dive. On coasts or at sea, the spots are located in three main areas: The South-West, Nosy Be and Sainte Marie. The southwest has the world’s third largest coral reef, offshore from Tuléar. The Baie de Saint Vincent: “banyans land”, the bay of Ifaty and the reef of Andranobe are very popular diving spots. The southern arch, with its lost fishing villages and its waves will please the surfers and windsurfers.
Nosy Be’s natural diversity and magnificent coastline makes it an impressive marine exploration site. Beginners and advance divers alike will be pleased to encounter the Black Coral (for level II divers), with its colonies of black coral which can grow up to 1,5 m high, and its impressive tubastrea blossoms. For beginners and all levels, the waters of Tanihely will reveal rich colors and a wide variety of marine species. For the most advanced, the diving centers offer unforgettable dives and excursions.
Last but not least, Sainte Marie and its famous Île aux Nattes, its 2 sites outside the lagoon and another one beneath the wreck. The Island of Sainte Marie or Nosy Boraha, is a little tropical paradise on the East coast of Madagascar. Its authenticity stems from its lush lagoons, the likelihood of seeing humpback whales… and why not, sip coco punch in front of the sea at sunset!
All these aspects make the island the perfect destination for discovery and relaxation.
Tuléar has the world’s third largest coral reef. Rabesandratana, a great figure in Malagasy oceanography describes it in his own words as: “an 18 km-long and 1 to 3km-wide barrier reef. The coral reef is the Vezo’s (people from Tuléar) treasure”.
Mangily, Anakao and Nosy Ve, three very popular sites will cause you enjoy the sea. The Ifaty lagoon, 40km from Tuléar, in the Gulf of Mozambique, is also appreciated for its beaches: a haven between the turquoise water of the lagoon and the inland southern dry forest vegetation.
Diving centers open all year-long. However, the best period for diving is from April to mid-January.
SURFING AND WINDSURFING
Grab your boards!
Madagascar has idyllic sites which will please curl fans. In Fort-Dauphin, Vinanibe boasts the most beautiful waves of the region, and its nautical centre displays good logistics and accommodation infrastructures. 300Km from Antananarivo, Lavanono has hosted an international contest. Be prepared for a difficult access and compulsory camping, but the “Promised Sea” has to be deserved!
For kite and windsurfing, Tuléar holds the best conditions: magnificent landscapes, waves and… more waves generated by the southern hemisphere swell, in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.
The deep waters of the Mozambique Channel are approximately 12 km offshore from the barrier.
The ideal place for an introduction to surfing is in Mahambo, in the North of Tamatave: it boasts appropriate safety equipment, instructors, beach guards and surfing standards inspired by those of the most advanced countries. In the Baie des Sakalava, near Diégo Suarez, windsurfing is a hit: trade winds blow more than six months a year.
The best surfing season is from April to late August. During this period, the air temperature lies between 29° and 32° Celsius, and the water is 25° Celsius. There is no wind, or very little off shore. The other months: water is 25° to 29° Celsius and the air 32° to 40° Celsius or more. Relative humidity is 35 to 60%. Very little swell in February and March, but each year is different… In general, swell occurs every year, with cross-shore (slightly off) wind in the afternoon, which is perfect for kite surfers and surfers.
From nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, the Indian Ocean was a whale hunting area. Since 1979, it has become a whale sanctuary. The Malagasy humpback whales come from Antarctica where they spend all summer gorging on krill. Around June, the lactating females and their calves born the year before are the first ones to arrive after a 5000km journey. To tourists’ delight, the observation season extends until September.
It is all the more interesting that humpback whales are the most talented in jumping, also called “breaching”. They can thrust their body entirely out of the water, and dive back in in a huge splash. Though no one really knows why whales stick their tail fins above the surface of the water, this facilitates the photographic identification of each individual. Whales can be seen off the shores of Nosy be, Tuléar, Fort-Dauphin or Morondava. Two major sites, however, are singled out: Baie d’Antongil, which constitutes an important breeding area, and the Island of Sainte Marie where commercial observation is thoroughly regulated. The Association CETAMADA, consisting of Indian Ocean’s marine mammals observers and conservation specialists, as well as the Tourism Operators’ Group offer scientific tutorial cruises from July 1st to September 30th. This is a specific migration period for whales, which come into the channel of Sainte Marie to mate and give birth. On board, you will be provided with explanations, and the chance to attend conferences.
Malagasy waters have a well-deserved reputation. With their great diversity of species and numerous sport fishing sites, they attract many professional and amateur anglers. The beauty and the magic of the setting will take you through an extraordinary adventure.
Nosy Be and its region is undoubtedly the hotbed for modern sports fishing. Depending on the tide, you can practice handline, trolling and cast fishing in a single day. Warning to enthusiastic fishermen: sea creatures will test you to your limits well before you reach that of the local fishing potential. The most interesting catches are Yellow-fin Tunas (April-May), Barracudas (from September to May, with peaks in October and February), Bonitos, Dorados, Sailfish, Trevally Ignobilis, Dolphinfish, blue and black Marlins, two other species of Marlins, Wahoos, and dozens of species of sharks, including the dreadful Tiger shark. In different sites, many centers use the most advanced fishing techniques. Some hotels have also integrated fishing into their list of activities. Alone, as a couple or in a group of fellow fishermen, come and experience the famous “Mora Mora”: a Malagasy way of life, which loosely translates into: “take your time to live”!!