5 of Madagascar’s Most Amazing Beaches
The world’s fourth-largest island, Madagascar has more than 3,000 miles of coastline and 250 islands. So while tourists are mainly lured by the appeal of completely unique wildlife, the beaches are unbeatable (and generally bereft of crowds). With so many talcum-soft white-sand beaches available, picking one may seem daunting. Here are five unique spots to experience the true Madagascar.
1. Nosy Be
This small island off the northwest coast of Madagascar is perhaps the most popular (and certainly most developed) beach spot in the country. Indeed, Nosy Be means “big island” in the Malagasay language. You’ll find al fresco seafood restaurants, accommodations ranging from rustic to luxe and sprawling vistas of still, turquoise blue water. When you tire of the sand, head by canoe to the Reserve Naturelle Stricte de Lokobe, which is dotted with pythons, lemurs and frogs in every hue of the rainbow.
2. Ile Sainte Marie
If you want to share a patch of beach with nothing other than scuttling crabs, sand dunes and coconut palms, head to Ile Sainte Marie. This slender island just five miles off the eastern coast of Madagascar is dotted with beaches that are as breathtaking as they are empty. There’s a sizable corral reef and intricate coves to explore, as well as nearby hiking trails in the Ikalalao Forest when you want to move inland. The island’s rugged interior is dotted with small villages that are easily accessible from the shore, as Ile Sainte Marie is a scant four miles wide.
3. Nosy Komba
A volcanic island to the north of the mainland, Nosy Komba has earned the nickname “the island of lemurs” thanks to the many black lemurs found here. The beaches here are dotted with deserted coves, thanks in part to the hillside topography, that make for a fun diversion. When hunger finally forces you from the ocean’s edge, you can wander to one of the island’s many fishing villages for a meal. Ampangorinana, the island’s main town, is equally known for its shopping options, as local merchants line with streets with handmade wood carvings, embroidered linens and woven baskets.
4. Masoala National Park
Though visitors in search of the best sand and sunlight might favor other beaches, this coastal national park wins in terms of wildlife. From the coast, you can often spot humpback whales on their summer migration into Antongil Bay. This annual migration, from July to September, marks their breeding period as well. From the water, you can snorkel past hundreds of types of color fish and curious sea creatures that dart in and around the park’s corral reef, or rent a kayak to paddle along the shore.
Also known as Foulpointe, this coastal town is flanked by pristine, powder-soft beaches that draw visitors from across the island. Also a draw: the many sharks that swim offshore here (the coral reef acts as a natural barrier, offering protection to swimmers along the shore). The reef also minimizes the waves that reach the beach, which means the water is completely calm for beachgoers. Boat trips are abundant for those wanting to glimpse a fin from the water or take panoramic photos of the island from offshore.
Madagascar is home to an overwhelmingly diverse wildlife, yet animals aren’t the only reason this island country is worth visiting. It also offers some of the best and most memorable beaches in the world.