Disappointment is off the table wherever you are going on a beach vacation around the Indian Ocean, yet some destinations are under the shadow of others like Zanzibar. What most of us don’t know is that Madagascar has the longest shoreline than all the other African countries, with many white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters waiting for curious travelers.
Most of Madagascar’s best beach spots cluster on the northwest coast of the country, while a significant portion of them in the small islands off the mainland. What makes these beaches iconic are the coral reefs surrounding the area, which keep the water calm, sheltered, and extremely clear. Although the country is still struggling with poverty and HIV, the beach and diving tourism is emerging quite fast. Here, you will find an unbelievable amount of opportunities for water sports, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and whale spotting.
Here is a list of 8 best beaches you must visit in Madagascar. As we present this article to you, we are trying to resist the strong urge to book a flight ticket to Madagascar!
Translating to Big Island in English, Nosy Be is the most popular tourist resort in Madagascar, and one of the world’s oldest islands. Don’t mistake Nosy Be for a laid-back beach destination, as you will come across adventurous activities that will bring you face to face with some otherworldly species. These species include the smallest chameleons and frogs, barely an inch long, as well as an endangered whale species called Omura. That’s not all; the island’s capital Andoany is nothing short of Havana, with its vintage cars, colonial architecture, and organic-food markets. Although the island has its share of turquoise beaches, it is also a base for visiting the smaller islands.
Situated on the northwest coast of Madagascar, Anjajavy is the perfect meeting point of the beach and the bush. It stands out for its rare dry forest classified by WWF as a global priority for conservation because of the many rare animal and plant species. For swimming and snorkeling, you can visit the 400 m long beach, or explore the surrounding coral reef with the guided tours of the luxurious resort Anjajavy le Lodge. Speaking of which its dazzling infinity pool is something you should not miss.
Just like Nosy Be, Nosy Komba is also an island off the northwest coast of mainland Madagascar, but it is a much less inhabited version. It is also known as the island of lemurs due to the abundance of a lemur species called Macaco. The island has many small and uninhabited beaches instead of one wide beach, so you don’t have to stick to the same spot during your visit. Regardless of which corner of Nosy Komba you end up, the transparency of the emerald waters is unmatched. In Nosy Komba, you will be almost cut off from civilization, as the island has no electricity except for Tsara Komba Lodge that is only accessible by boat.
If you are looking for a tranquil beach well-protected from rough seas, this is the place to be. Situated in the northeast of Madagascar, this small beach destination also intersects the mouth of Onibe River. The calmness of the sea is due to the 150 meters-wide coral reef that surrounds the beach. It makes the beach very suitable for snorkeling and observing marine life, which has a unique variety of species due to the river flowing into the ocean.
Ille Sainte Marie
Ille Sainte Marie is a long and thin island near the north-east of mainland Madagascar. This island used to be a regular checkpoint for pirates sailing around the area since it was reasonably flat. You can even visit the cemetery dedicated to those pirates. In addition to the historical value, the shoreline is surrounded by many coral reefs excellent for snorkeling and spotting turtles. Because the coral reefs protect the shore from sharks, a particular species of whales called Humpback Whales come to this area for breeding, which means whale-spotting is on the menu.
Ile aux Nattes
Imagine an island with no use of cars, and so small that you can walk around it in only two hours. With only 3 km of diameter, Ile aux Nattes is one of the tiniest islands around Madagascar. Not only that, but it is not so accessible since the only way to reach the islands is to paddle with the traditional canoes from Sainte Marie. It might seem like the island lacks touristic activities, but its inner and outer coral reefs make it ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving. The highlight of the reefs around the island is the abundance of Humpback Whales migrating annually from Antarctica. If you don’t want to do diving, you can also join the boat tours with boats that have a glass bottom.
Although its name sounds rather stressful, Salary is one of the most tranquil fishing villages on the southwest coast. The town is accessible only by two means of transportation- bush taxis and the traditional canoes called a pirogue. Tribes of nomadic fishermen sail off from the white-sandy beaches into the lagoon to catch fish. Consequently, this location is the best spot for eating local and fresh seafood. The pristine beach in the town is nearly five km long and is full of white dunes that contribute to the beauty of the scenery.
Who knew that a small island in Madagascar has an architectural wonder designed by Gustave Eiffel? The famous lighthouse is so prominent that you can view it from every corner of the island, yet the island remained unspoiled despite such an iconic landmark. Nosy Iranja comprises two smaller islands connected by a thin sandbar, meaning you can walk between the two islands. It may not be a popular tourist destination, but it certainly is popular among Caretta carettas coming here to lay eggs.