When we think of exotic tropical retreats, we often think of Tahiti, the Virgin Islands, the Caribbean, and the Bahamas. But what many beach-lovers don’t know is that the Nosy Be Archipelago in the northwest region of Madagascar is one of the most remote and exotic tropical destinations in the world.
The Archipelago is a chain of small islands that are known for excellent snorkeling and scuba diving, remote beaches, fishing opportunities, and lemur trekking safaris.
Unlike the Caribbean and other tropical getaways, the tourism industry is not as built up in Nosy Be and although there are a variety of luxurious accommodations, they are still not as over-the-top-lavish as some that you might find in more touristy tropical retreats. But this is what gives the Nosy Be Archipelago its charm and sense of authenticity. Every traveler who comes through this area experiences true Malagasy hospitality and becomes immersed into the culture and lifestyle of the people.
So what exactly does a trip to Nosy Be look like? We break it down for you below:
Getting there: There are a variety of flights that fly directly to the Fascene Nosy Be Airport, including flights from Rome, within Madagascar, and the mainland of Africa, as well as Mauritius.
If you plan on visiting the mainland of Madagascar first, there are several Madagascar destinations with direct flights to Nosy Be via Air Madagascar.
Staying there: There are several three-star and four-star accommodations offered on the islands of Nosy Be (there are no five-star). The ones we recommend are Amarina Hotel, Tsara Komba, and Heure Bleue.
Amarina Hotel is a beautiful and luxurious property, located on a private beach, and is comprised of charming bungalows that open right out onto the water. There is a spectacular pool, bar area (perfect for enjoying sundowners, overlooking the beach), and semi-outdoor dining area that serves up excellent cuisine. Note that there are lots of Italians who stay at Amarina Hotel, so you’ll find that the staff, as well as most of the guests, speak Italian, as well as French and some English.
Tsara Komba is another exquisite property that sits along a small, unspoiled beach. The island is quaint and exclusive, and the property is located in such a way that the only tourists you see are the few staying at the hotel. This is a fantastic spot for honeymooners and couples looking for complete privacy and a romantic setting. The suites are all spacious with a private deck, overlooking the ocean, sitting room, bedroom, and en-suite bathroom.
Things to see and do:
- Hike along the wildlife-clad island of Nosy Komba (also known as Lemur Island) where you can witness black lemurs, chameleons, exotic insects, and exceptional flora. You can even meet up with Madame Yvonne who explains the usages of plants for medicinal purposes.
- Visit the village of Ampangorina to purchase locally made crafts, including colorful tablecloths, wood carvings, jewelry, and more.
- Walk around the vibrant market on the main island of Nosy Be to witness traditional daily village life. You’ll even have the opportunity to purchase vanilla, which is one of Madagascar’s most famous exports.
- Sip on sundowners at the top of Mont Passot—the highest peak in Nosy Be.
- Scuba diving and snorkeling adventures are extremely popular in the Nosy Be waters, with a wide variety of marine life to see, including colorful reef fish, stingrays, parrotfish, zebra fish, sea turtles, starfish, anemones, and lively coral.
- For the avid fishermen, a fishing excursion around the islands of Nosy Be provides fantastic game fishing opportunities. Some of the fish you might catch include swordfish, marlin, African red snapper, king mackerel, wahoo, dolphin, and more.
- Enjoy a quaint picnic of freshly caught seafood and traditional Malagasy cuisine on the island of Nosy Tanikely.