The island of Nosy Be is easily accessible and the most popular area for a holiday in Madagascar. Drawn by its beaches, the beautiful sea and its diving opportunities, the balmy Nosy Be, Mitsio and Radam archipelago and the prospect of island-hopping, the range of accommodation and some nightlife, visitors come to enjoy all the ingredients for a beach holiday on an exotic tropical island.
Nosy Be, which means Big Island, is a good choice as part of a family holiday in Madagascar. In addition to the sun, sea and sand, there are lemurs to watch in the Lokobe Reserve, abundant chameleons, the scent of ylang-ylang and vanilla, a market where you can bargain for spices, sacred lakes, villages and forests – all within easy reach of your hotel.
Nosy Be was a sparsely populated outpost of the Boina Sakalava kingdom until the first half of the 19th century, but is now a lively beach holiday hangout. The main beach sites are on the southwest coast, at Ambatoloaka and Madirokely, and along the west coast to Andilana. The former are busy, by Malagasy standards. On the west coast, from Djamanjary south, the beaches shelve too gradually for good swimming.
The beaches of the north coast are lovely and still almost deserted, protected by the difficulty of access: it is a 20-minute boat journey from Andilana or a bumpy journey of up to an hour from the airport (through Sambirano forest) to the northern coast. There are several good hotels here.
A pretty island a few kilometres from Nosy Be, Nosy Komba is best known for its Black lemurs. Nosy Komba is probably the most visited of the islands around Nosy Be - the day trip to visit the lemur watching site at Ampangorina is one of the most popular excursions from Nosy Be. We book this tour with some misgivings because of the lemurs being perhaps too habituated. That said they do generate revenue from tourism.
This is the side of the island we like the best. Anjiabe is an unspoiled village where people look at you with friendly curiosity and are happy to stop and pass the time of day. The standard of education in the local primary school is impressive. The beaches are clean and both owner-run hotels are small. Between the two is a cove from which you can snorkel. The lemurs in the (secondary) forest above are free and healthy. Coffee is cultivated and life goes on as it always has, in the tiny hamlets hidden in the forested slopes.
Nosy Tsarabanjina is a private island 40 nautical miles northeast of Nosy Be, in the Mitsio Archipelago. It is a small and beautiful mountainous island, fringed by white sand beaches and encircled by coral reefs. Its luxuriant vegetation includes baobabs and pachypodium. You have a fair chance of sighting the critically endangered Madagascar fish eagle and the lovely Madagascar paradise flycatcher. Constance Tsarabanjina Lodge is a wonderful choice for honeymooners.
There is plenty to keep visitors occupied in this archipelago. For starters, ethically managed Whale watching excursions are on offer by reputable organisation Cetamada, which from October to December can also arrange for wildlife enthuaissts to swim with Whale sharks. They'll also be able to show you pods of Dolphins at their wildest - exactly as it should be.
On Nosy Be itself, Ambaro Ranch offers excellent horse rising excursions, catering for beginners and those of advanced ability. We visited their well-maintained stables in late 2018 and were impressed. And our guests have thoroughly enjoyed the excursions.
Scuba divers would to best to choose the friendly Sakatia Lodge as a base, as it has what is arguably Madagascar's best diving centre. (NAUI). They offer a variety of diving courses, from Introduction courses to Advanced Diver, Dive Master, Nitrox Diver and Night Diving. With them, divers can enjoy exploring some 20 sites.
- Exquisite, wildlife-rich rainforest at Andasibe-Mantadia National Park - see Lemurs, Chameleons and rare birds
- Sample Malagasy culture in Antananarivo
- Sublime, sunny Baobab Beach
- Rare Sambirano Domain wildlife - lemurs, chameleons and more
Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina is a boutique beach hotel on the beautiful private island of Nosy Tsarabanjina in the northwest of Madagascar. Edged with dazzling white sand beaches and encircled by coral reefs, Tsarabanjina provides a setting of great natural beauty in which to relax after a tour of Madagascar's national parks. It's also ideal for a luxurious yet off-the-beaten-track honeymoon. Stay...
Eden Lodge offers the best of Madagascar in one location:exotic wildlife,excellent snorkelling and adeserted sandy beach with magnificent baobabs. Standing under traditional Malagasy thatched roofs, eight stylish safari-style tents are spread out along a beach on Madagascar’s north coast, close to Nosy Be, but removed from its hubbub. Accommodation The rooms are well finished with four-post...
Tsara Komba is a very stylish hideaway situated on the beautiful island of Nosy Komba in north west Madagascar.An area of secondary forest has been transformed into a lush and beautiful tropical garden featuring eight stylish bungalows, perfect for a romantic retreat.The site was chosen for its exclusivity; and the hotel is small to ensure privacy and a discreet, personal quality of service.Accomm...
A lovely, small property with 8 rooms, the family-owned and run Antoremba Lodge is at a secluded, white sand beach about 15 - 20 minutes by speedboat from Ankify jetty near Ambanja in the Sambirano Domain.The spacious, airy rooms were constructed utilising natural materials. They are tastefully furnished. Massages are on offer.Antoremba’s location makes it the ideal base from which to take v...
Sakatia Lodge is a great value beach property, away from the hustle and bustle of busy Nosy Be. Situated on the southern-side on the island of Nosy Sakatia, this highly popular lodge is a favourite with divers.AccommodationThe lodge has four nature bungalows, four ocean view bungalows, a private family bungalow and a beachfront villa. Each room is simple in design with an en-suite bathroom and pri...
We like this small, interesting boutique property which is set in a verdant garden at the Befefika beach. For those who need an overnight stay close to the Fascene International Airport, this is the place to choose. Its five stylish bungalows, one suite and a villa are decorated incorporating Malagasy and Indonesian style elements. At the Arthur restaurant, the chef conjure up delicious meals com...
On the same stretch of coastline as the Vanila Hotel, the recently opened independent, owner-run Exora Beach offers the same level of comfort and a great location for those with time on Nosy Be. Accommodation is in the form of 24 rooms and suites, from where there are lovely views over the bay towards Nosy Sakatia opposite. Rooms are all en-suite, airy with elegant, modern decor incorporating int...
- Luxuriant rainforest at Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
- Tsingy limestone pinnacle-fields and caves at Ankarana
- Rare wildlife including lemurs, chameleons and endemic birds
- Relaxing at remote and secluded Baobab Beach
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