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Sainte Marie (Nosy Boraha)


map Sainte Marie
  © University of Texas

History  |  What to see and do  |  Ambodifotatra  |  From Ambodifotatra to Albrand tip  |  East and south of Sainte Marie  |  Island aux Nattes


Ile Ste Marie, or Nosy Boraha, is a narrow granitic island 57 km long 8 km off the east coast of Madagascar. It is composed of a main island and several small islets. Its lush vegetation interspersed with many small villages, the kilometrical sandy beaches shaded by coconut palms, its bays and coves protected by coral reefs have turned this tropical dream island in is one of the most popular beach spots Madagascar has to offer. An atmosphere of peace, tranquility and pure natural beauty prevails on the island, a feeling definitely emphasized by the joie de vivre of the Malagasy. Cycling is the most popular means of transport of getting around. Another way to move further is on board of a traditional pirogue. It can take you to beautiful deserted little bays overgrown with tropical vegetation. Sainte Marie boasts numerous stunningly beautiful beaches and secluded coves, fringed with coconut palms. Most hotels are along the coast south of Ambodifotatra, where the beach is narrow but pleasant. The north-western part of the island is quieter, but more difficult to access. The east coast is relatively rugged and - until recently - undeveloped. It offers some of the better beaches, particularly on the Ampanihy Peninsula, which is separated from main island by the long Baie d'Ampanihy. A big warning: swimming in the beautiful turquoise the lagoon is not easy, due to the shallowness of the water. The best swimming beaches are located in the Northern and Western coasts, as well as in the islet aux Nattes.

Sainte Marie
Evening light    © Madagascar Travel Guide

Sainte Marie has a good developed touristy infrastructure with a large number of hotels and service providers. Despite this, visitors’ flow is here rather restrained in comparison with Nosy Be. The higher numbers of tourists come here between July and August to contemplate the ballet of the humpback whales (see below). This is when humpback whales migrate to the area annually for mating and giving birth.

Rain can be expected year-round on Ile Sainte Marie. Climatic conditions are more stable from September to December. It is at this time, that nature lovers will enjoy the most the exuberant nature and these delicious small creeks. For outdoor-lovers, the island is crossed with tracks, and offers many opportunities to explore on foot. To get a glimpse in the fauna and flora of the Indian Ocean, one of the most rewarding sites is the island "aux Sables", bordering the Ankarena beach, with a beautiful forest vegetation and the seafront cave, imbued with mysteries. The 400 ha forest of Ikalalao is the remnant of the original primary forest and is remarkable for its many orchid species. It contains at least three species of lemur, including the mouse lemur, Microcebus, and the larger Fat-tailed dwarf lemur. Endemic chameleons are also well represented. Ambodena is a larger, secondary forest containing a wealth of birds, geckoes, chameleons and arboreal frogs. Lemurs include mouse lemurs, the White-fronted brown lemur, Grey gentle lemur, and the beautiful and vulnerable Black-and-white ruffed lemur, which is not only threatened by loss of habitat but still hunted for its meat. On the east coast of the island, the forest of Ampanihy contains forested sand dunes and a rich mangrove system. The mangroves can be explored by pirogue. Marine turtles come to nest on the beach at Cocoteraie. Visiting the nesting sites provides an income for the villagers who guard the nests as an alternative to consuming the sea turtles and their eggs.

The coral reefs offshore offer excellent snorkelling and scuba diving. You can observe a diversity of coralline formations within the shark-free lagoon with just a mask and snorkel. Divers will find the combination of healthy coral, abundant tropical fish, marine turtles and the wrecks of pirate ships make very rewarding diving. The Pagodas’ unusual formations contain a variety of coral species. Groupers, morays, lobsters, sea turtles, and skate are sighted (to 12m). The Soanambo reef, a reef containing black coral, lies two miles offshore with crocodile fish, skates, morays, large shellfish and sponges (to 28m). Pointe Albrand is a sandy sea bed strewn with granite boulders where you may encounter grouper, grey shark, rays and barracudas (to 20m). The wreck of the Cocoteraie is an easy dive with a fantastic sunken ship, soft corals, lobsters, fusiliers, lion fish and large groupers (to 15m); the wreck of the Leopard is a challenging dive, with large tuna, snapper, groupers and dolphins (to 34m). Some of the best coral formations are around the small islet, Ile aux Nattes, to the south of Ste Marie.

People's lives on the island have not changed much since the old days. The rhythm of life is given by the sun and by small-improvised bands playing homemade instruments. You will have the opportunity of sitting on the beach, listening to a small band playing Malagasy music and treating yourself to one of the best coconut chicken dishes in the whole of the Indian Ocean.


History

The history of Sainte Marie Island is a mixture of legend and reality. The second local name of Nosy Bohara, Nosy Mbavy (which means “the women’s island”), refers to a legendary myth that reconstructs the origins of the island. According to the story, which any inhabitant of the eastern coast will be able to tell you, once upon time, a certain Ibrahim or Abraham, who must have been a Jew, landed on the island. He was immediately attacked by groups of women from whom he eventually managed to escape. He met an old woman on a small island. She took pity on that exhausted, shipwrecked man, hid him and provided him with food and water. Full of gratitude, the man blessed the old-woman: She and her descendants would never go without water. Suddenly, a spring gushed forth near the old woman’s house.

That’s why some historicians have suggested that the first settlers of the island were Jews or Yemenites. Another legend about Nosy Boraha, which recalls Christians of the biblical myth of Jonas, tells that a villager, named Boroha, was driven off the coast by a whale but was rescued by a dolphin that brought him back to shore. 

Sainte Marie beach
© Madagascar Travel Guide
Whichever the first inhabitants of this tropical paradise were, the mixed-race population of the island does show of the varied origin countries of the first settlers. More certain historical facts ensure that the first Europeans came here at the end of the 16th century. Probably the most fascinating story is that of the English pirate Thomas White, who was married to a princess from the east coast of Madagascar. Their union gave birth to a mixed-race dynasty, the Zanamalata. Ratsimilaho, their son, united the coastal tribes in a new ethnic group that he called the Betsimisaraka (“the inseparable”) and expanded the influence of his kingdom even until Mahavelona.

From 1685, the isle Ste Marie was the centre of piracy in the Indian Ocean. From the shelter of the island’s bays, pirates plundered ships returning from the Indies laden with riches.. Sainte Marie provided the buccaneers with secure shelters, from there they could plunder approaching galleons filled with spices and treasures from India and carry out repair works upon their vessels. According to some historians, the number of pirates that found shelter on Madagascar’s east coast reached about 1,000. Several authentic pirate vessels still lie within a few meters of the surface in the Baie des Forbans. Two of these have been tentatively identified as the remains of Captain Kidd's Adventure Galley and Captain Condent's Fiery Dragon.

The pirates’ cemetery at Baie de Forbans, just south of Ambodifotatra, stands guard over their memory. Visitors can still uncover pirate tombs signified by their traditional symbols: a skull, tibias and swords. The utopian pirate republic of Libertatia was also rumored to exist in this area, although the republic's existence, let alone its location, has never been proven.

The island came under French rule in 1750 and vestiges of French colonial rule may be found in Ambodifotatra. In this regard there is also another legend. According to the tradition, princess Betie, daughter of King Ratsimilaho, had fallen in love with a former French soldier called La Bigorne. In order to marry him, she decided accept the French rulement, when a certain Gosse, agent of India Company, was mended to regain possession of the island (Gosse was killed by furious villagers in 1754 as he profaned the tomb of Ratsimilaho. His successor, De Valgny, was much more respectful and locals accepted his government.) Sainte Marie became finally a French possession with Sylvain Roux, who planted a flag on October 15, 1818.

What to see and do

Bicycle rides will give you the opportunity of getting to know better the local population. On your way, you will discover charming coves, buccaneer tombs or blooming orchid bushes clinging to the trunks of age-old mango and jackfruit trees. Almost all hotels offer a bicycle rental service. Check the bicycle of your choice before renting it!

  • Whale watching
Humpback whale Sainte Marie
The ballet of a humpback whale  © Association Megaptera
In winter (from June to the end of September), the sea around Sainte Marie offers one of the most natural fascinating spectacles in the world. Large groups of humpback whales (Megaptera) make their annual migration from the Antarctic to the sheltered waters around Ile Ste Marie where they calve, nurse their young and engage in their spectacular courtship rituals between the end of June and September. 
In winter, humpback whales stay and eat in cold seas. At the beginning of spring, after the birth of their calves, they move to tropical seas in order to mate close to the coasts. They will stay there up to the end of summer and start their way back to cold seas and abundant food. These creatures can grow up to 15m in length and weigh 45 tons, yet they seem incredibly gentle and peaceful as they slip smoothly through the waters. Mothers swim close to their new-born children, shepherding them through their first migration.
For months, humpback whales can be seen wondering in the ocean as they move and jump out of the sea in the narrow canal that separates the island from the mainland. You can see them everywhere from the island but the best way to see is going aboard a fast motor launch with a whale watching specialist. The reputable hotels as well as some operators on Ile Ste Marie arrange whale watching tours that adhere to the regulations to avoiding stressing the whales. Sometimes you are invited to collect data about the behaviour, whale songs, diving length, location, etc. for the world data base. Serious operators are members of the associations Cetamada and Megaptera. Prices from 25 € per participant.

  • Diving & snorkeling

Together with whale watching, diving is the most popular activity in Sainte Marie. You find a list of specialised tour operators on our section Diving & Snorkeling

Ambodifotatra

What to see  |  Where to sleep  

Ambodifotatra (12km from the airport) is the largest and most developed settlement of the island and  offers banking and shopping facilities, a hospital for emergency medical treatment, water sport, some nightlife and a market where you can buy anything ranging from a bunch of fresh bananas to a hand-woven scarf or local artwork. It really just consists of one long, dusty main street extending from the harbour. Thursdays and Tuesdays are market days in Ambodifotatra, although some stalls are open all week long. On market days, you can shop for anything from delicious fresh fruit to some amazing handcraft.

What to see

  • The Catholic church

Sites of interest include Madagascar's oldest Catholic church, which dates from 1857 and was a gift to the island from Empress Eugéne of France, and a granite fort (1753), which is now closed to the public. Access to this somewhat mysterious place is, albeit, difficult and absolutely impossible on foot whilst high tide. Even during dry season, though short enough, the stones over the passage are very slippery as the ocean covers them on high tide.

  • The old fort

Built on top of the hill, it is now occupied by the Malagasy army. Its main gate still shows the insignia of Louis XV, the King of France and Head of the West Indies Company. The fort served once as a prison at the time when the island was the destination for convicts. The East India Company built the first building in 1753. The other constructions were added in 1870. Near the fort gate Sylvain Roux is buried.

  • Isle aux Forbans

This tiny, circular shaped island was once the celebration place for meetings held by pirates and also the place where buccaneers divided their loot. One can still recognize the ruins of a arc-shaped on the island. Maybe the a mark that indicates the presence of hidden treasure? The mystery remains unsolved.

  • The pirates’ cemetery of Saint-Pierre

Located on a peninsula south of the bay, this is the primary touristy site for visitors searching for the tombs of the many pirates, smugglers and slave traders who ended their days on this island.   There are mostly graves from 1800s but only one with the classic skull and crossed bones. The cemetery is also nicely located, overgrown by some mysterious kinds of plants and with the view to the pirate island where you can find many tombs in ruins, some of which date back to the early eighteenth century. To get there (use better a bicycle) take the road to the South and turn left after the dam. Young children will be waiting for the traveller to offer themselves as guides. They will show you the most curious epitaphs. Tip is as always at your discretion.

  • Ilot Madame

At the entry of the “Baie des Forbans”, astride the dike joining the south of Sainte Marie to its main city Ambodifotatra, is located an islet of which the charming buildings and monuments bear a part of the island's history. This place was the home of the King Ratsimilaho's girl; Princess Betia. Formerly named" île aux cailles ", the French Sylvain Roux, renamed it "”Ilot Madame" in 1820 in honour for the King of France's girl. This small islet hosted throughout the centuries many vessels. We still see some remains of a pier more or less abandoned. History enthusiasts will take a look at the former Governors’ residence of, which dates from 1871.

Where to sleep (prices from 2013)

Chez Alain
3 simple bungalows, with cold water and sharede toilet. Basic, clean and cheap. Meals served.

Hôtel Hortensia
Phone: + 261 20 57 403 69
On the main street, 12 large, comfortable and clean rooms
, some with sea view, with private bathroom and hot water from 11 € for a double and 20 € for four people. Good restaurant. Ideal for boat departures.

Hôtel Zinnia
Phone: + 261 (0) 57 400 09
6 comfortable bungalows with fan, shared bathroom and hot water next to the harbour.
Price for a bungalow 17000 Ar
Price for a double room 19000 Ar
Price for a triple room 22000 Ar

La Banane
Phone: + 261 (0) 32 022 80 26
Mail: michellabanane@yahoo.fr
Central located, basic but clean rooms with hot water and shared bathroom. Bed in a dorm for 15,000 Ar, double room for 30,000 Ar 

La Bigorne
Phone: + 261 20 57 401 23
2 bungalows and 2 rooms from 14 €, with hot water and private bathroom; very nice and comfortable. The restaurant serves excellent food. Recommended!

Le Drakkar
Phone: + 261 57 400 22
8 simple bamboo bungalows by the sea side in a beautiful setting from 14,000 to 20,000 Ar, 1 km north of the village. Cold water only.


From Ambodifotatra to Albrand tip

  • Anjahana

The oldest clove distillery of the island still operating.

  • Marine tip

Follow the road to the north-west. The Marine tip is a rocky promontory with a beautiful view overlooking the entire Ambodifototra Bay.

  • Antanandava (12 Km)

Nice waterfall where swimming is possible

  • Ambatoroa 

Major village in the northern part of the island, located 3 km south of the hotel La Cocoteraie.

  • The sailors  cementery

Located near the village of Ambatororoa. Each carved statuette, called "Tsangambatana", stands for a sailor lost at sea Traditional ceremonies in memory of ancestors are held once a year. In occasion of this special event the statuettes are then dressed with a traditional "lamba"

  • The Albrand lighthouse

5 km from Ambatoroa. The lighthouse dates of 1931 and consists of a metal tower, 14,5 m long. The lighthouse once operated by a kerosene lamp. It is possible to access the bridge by an interior staircase and visit it, asking before the keeper. You will be rewarded with a magnificent view over the whole island.

  • Sacred pool

In the north of Sainte Marie, near Ambodirano village, not far from the Cocoteraie hotel, expanses of hot waters are separated from the Indian Ocean by a granitic gate of about hundred meters. During each tide, the sea fills these natural basins by crashing against the rocks' belt. These pools are sacred so bathing there is fady! A wooden mast (called Fanasina) is being erected to remind visitors to respect the locals customs

Where to sleep  (hotels in alphabetical order, prices from 2013)

Middle class  High end

Middle class hotels

Absolute Paradise
Phone: + 261 20 57 900 20
Web: www.absolute-paradise.com
Mail: absolute-paradise@wanadoo.fr
5 modest but comfortable bungalows in a green and peaceful location by the beach. Good food served on a terrace with great views.
Price for two people 27 €

Betty Plage
Phone: + 261 20 57 400 66
Comfortable and big bungalows on the seashore. Very beautiful location and an excellent restaurant.
Double bungalow for 20 €, familiar bungalow up to eight people fro 37 €

Chez Emilie
1 km from Hôtel Atafana. Comfortable bungalows with cold water. Food is excellent!


Hôtel Atafana
Phone: + 261 20 57 040 54
Web: http://atafana.chez-alice.fr
Mail: hotel_atafana@yahoo.fr
13km north of Ambodifotatra. It offers 9 charming and really comfortable bungalows set on an spectacular private bay. Ideal for snorkelling, whale watching, walking or relaxing. The restaurant serves tasty and inexpensive food. Very good price-quality relationship. English spoken!
Single bungalow for 17 €, double for 26 € and familiar for 34 €

Ilot Mouettes
Phone: 57 401 00
4 modest bungalows on a beautiful beach. The food is inexpensive and delicious.


La Cocoteraie Robert
Phone: + 261 20 57 401 70
15 nice and big bungalows in a magnificent and quiet location by the beach from 18 € a double . Different excursions and transfers offered. Very good food. Good value!

La Crique
Tel: + 261 20 57 909 63
Mail: lacrique@moov.mg
Website: www.lacrique-saintemarie.com
12 beautiful bungalows set on a marvellous private bay. The location is superb! Ideal for relaxing, snorkelling and whale watching. Meals are good (11 € for a menu). This place usually gets full in the high season during the breeding of the humpback whales so try to book in advance. Bungalows have different prices starting at 19 € for a double (hot /cold water, shared /private facilties)

High end hotels

Masoandro Lodge
Phone: +
261 20 22 640 53 /54
Mail: info@hsm.mg
Web: www.hsm.mg
Located 15
km north from Ambodifotatra, this Ecolodge consists of 18 pleasant and nice bungalows, 6 "de luxe" and 12 standard, on a beautiful bay with a charming private creek surrounded by a tropical garden. Well situated for whale watching. All possible excursions and delicious meals offered. Price for two people from 35 € to 92 € per person depending on the season and the bungalow category. Very good value!

Natiora Residences
Phone:
+261 20 5790656, Handy: +261 32 7196456
Web: www.natiora.com
Email: residences@natiora.com
Located 18 km. north from Ambodifotatra, this new accommodation offers a sustainable and ecological option and lies in a superb location by the small wonderfull Andaptsara Bay, between a 700 m. long  beach and a  tropical forest. The beautiful villas from two to eight people are equipped with all comforts and have a large terrace with sea views. The garden is incredible and the stuff really helpful. Price between 33 to 100 € pro villa and day, depending on the season and the number of guests.

   

East and South of Sainte Marie

The mangrove forest of Ampanihy, on the east coast, is a wonderful natural site. This lagoon, whose mangroves form a long vault under which one can sail as in a vegetal tunnel, is fed by a source of submarine fresh water which according to an old legend was discovered following to a friendship of a man with a big fish. Access to the village of Anafiafy, the starting point of the dugouts.
mangrove Sainte Marie
© Madagascar Travel Guide

The zoological and botanical park of Endemika, on the road to the south, opens Mo-Sa from 8 am to 12 am and 2 pm to 5 pm. You will find turtles, chameleons, lemurs, snakes, frogs and orchids. Admission is Ar 10 000 per adult, half fare for children.

  • Islets aux sables

These two islets that bathe in the Southeast of Sainte Marie beyond the coral gate are nearly inaccessible during the southern winter because of the wind. Thus, during the rest of the year, deserted and preserved from human presence, these islands constitute a magnificent one-day excursion for a picnic and for snorkelling. With immaculate white sand, they are surrounded by crystalline water whose funds are marvellously suitable to scuba diving.

Where to sleep (South of Ambodifotatra) 

(hotels in alphabetical order, prices from 2013)

Budget  Middle class  |  High end

Budget accommodations

La Baleine
Phone: + 261 (0)32 40 25 718
Mail: lantoualbert@moov.mg
Web: http://www.hotel-la-baleine.com
10 rustic and welcoming bungalows on the beach. Several activities and transfers offered (free transfer to arrive). Very good food.
Double bungalow from10 to 14 €, familiar from 17 to 22 € depending on the facilitiles

Le Galion
Phone: 57 400 36
Charming and clean rooms with sea view. Nice setting.
Price for two people 18 € with breakfast

La Palourde
Phone:+ 261 20 57 403 07 / 032 40 500 03
Seven clean and comfortable bungalows with hot water and private toilets on a beautiful beach for 14 € for two and 26 € for six people. Very good and inexpensive meals

Manaos Gargote
Phone: 032 40 019 94
5 basic but welcoming bungalows without electricity and shared toilets for 12,000 Ar. Camping is permitted. Restaurant serves tasty meals.


Middle class hotels

Chez Pierrot
Phone: + 261 20 57 401 43 / 032 02 040 55
Mail: chezpierrot@moov.mg
Eight bungalows, some with private bath and hot water, some with cold water and shared toilet on a nice location by the sea. Good restaurant and friendly atmosphere. Very good price-quality relationship.
Double bungalows from 22 €, familiar for four people from 43 € 

Chez Vavate
Phone: 57 905 66 / 32 41 151 13
Mail: vavate@mel.moov.mg
8 comfortable bungalows with private toilet and hot water next to the airport on a magnificent location (incredible views!). The restaurant is very good.
Price for a double bungalow is 30 €

Hôtel Orchidée
Phone: 57 400 54
12 bungalows and 5 rooms on a beautiful beach. Comfortable and clean, with hot water, private toilet and AC. Good value.

Libertalia
Phone:+ 261 (0)32 02 76 323/324
Web: www.lelibertalia.com
Mail: reservation@lelibertalia.com
9 large, clean, well furnished and pleasant bungalows on a fantastic location. Many activities are offered. The restaurant serves tasty meals (half board optional). Book in advance because it is very popular. Very good price-quality relationship. Recommended.
Double bungalow from 31 to 40 €, familiar up to 8 people from 46 to 65 €, depending on the season.

Ravoraha Ecolodge
Web: http://www.ravoraha.com
Mail: info@ravoraha.com
Located on the southest point of Sainte Marie and next to the airport, this beautiful hotel is composed by 8 charming bungalows with all facilities, terrace facing the sea, minibar, safe, fan. The nice restaurant serves tasty local and European meals, several activities offered. Apart from the superb location and good service, there is another great reason to stay here: they really try to show guests local culture and meet local people from the village by the hotel.
Double bungalow 30 to 34 €, family bungalow from 47 to 56 € depending on the season.

Vanilla Café
Phone: + 261 20 57 403 05
Web: www.vanillacafe.com
Mail: ylang2@wanadoo.fr
Pleasant bungalows on a fantastic beach, with private bath and hot water. There are several activities offered (including whale watching). The restaurant is excellent! Very good price-quality relationship.
Price for a double bungalow icl. breakfast 25 €, familiar bungalow for five people 60 €

High end hotels

Hôtel Lakana
Phone:
+ 261 (0)32 07 090 22
Web:www.sainte-marie-hotel.com
Mail: lakana@moov.mg
16 simple but charming and very comfortable bungalows on a fantastic setting, 5 km from the airport (the only over-water bungalows in the whole island are here). Many activities and excursion offered. Very good meals and a friendly stuff. Recommended.
Double bungalow between 35 and 50 €, familiar bungalow between 62 and 89 € depending on the season

Les Bungalows de Vohilava
Phone: 57 040 65 / 32 047 57 84
Web: www.vohilava.com
Mail: vohilava@gmail.com
5 large, pleasant and very comfortable villas up to four people on a small and beautiful beach 3 km from the airport, all with private bath, hot water, small salon, terrace and hammock. TV with DVD player, Internet, bar, massages. A lot of excursions offered. Excellent restaurant. Good quality report.
Price for a whole villa from 57 to 88 €

Princesse Bora Lodge
Phone: + 261 20 57 04 003 / 032 07 09 048
Web: www.princessebora.com
Mail: resa@princessebora.com
20 luxurious and beautifully designed bungalows next to the airport on a beautiful beach with coconut trees. It is with no doubt the best hotel in the island. All comforts: great pool, Jacuzzi, a brand  new huge spa offering aromatic natural baths, good wine and incredible meals, an excellent service and all possible excursions!
Price per single bungalow with half board:
9 comfort Villas from 72 to 105 €,  6 luxury Villas from 92 to 133 €,  5 executive Beach Villas from 155 to 200 €; all prices depending on the season

Soanambo Hôtel
Phone:  + 261 20 22 640 53 /54
Web: www.hsm.mg
Mail: info@hsm.mg
48 new "prestige" rooms located on a magnificent setting on a long beach surrounded by coconut trees. This high standard resort made of purple wood has all comforts to offer: Pool, traditional massages, international cuisine and a wide range of excursions.
Price for two people from 55 € to 90 € per person depending on the season

Vanivola
Phone: + 261 (0)32 423 57 67
Web: www.vanivola.com
Mail: info@vanivola.com
9 high-standard bungalows and 10 rooms, all spacious, clean, comfortable, well furnished and decorated, some with terrace and sea view. Great setting, nice pool, cabaret bar, all kind of activities and excursions. The restaurant is fabulous, the meals are superb!
Bungalow for two or three people 66 €, familiar bungalow for four or five people 94 €
Room for two or three people 50 € with terrace and 25 € without


Where to sleep (on the Eastern coast)

Budget acommodations

La Mangrove Gourmande
Basic but nice bungalows and good food. Really cheap!

Hôtel Lagon Bleu
Simple but clean rooms by the beach near Marofilao.

Middle class hotels

Boraha Village
Phone: + 261 20 57 912 18
Web: www.boraha.com
Mail: borahavillage@live.fr  boraha@moov.mg
12 charming, very comfortable and pretty decorated villas with impressive sea view surrounded by a huge garden. All villas equipped with hot water, private facilities, safe, terrace, hammock. Great variety of activities offered (whale watching, pirogue, diving, trekking). Superb restaurant!(half board optional) 
Price per person on a double bungalow from 25 to 34 €, on a familiar one 19 to 23 € depending on the season.

Bungalows Paradis D’Ampanihy
Phone: + 261 20 57 042 06
Basic but welcoming bungalows on a beautiful, quiet and really green setting by the river at Anafiafy. Shared shower. Very good food.
Double bungalow 10 €, familiar 14 €

Mora Mora Hôtel
Phone: + 261 20 57 91 378
Web: www.moramora.info
Mail: moramora@moov.mg
11 pleasant and well furnished bungalows by a private beach with a beautiful garden. Satellite TV, reading room, a telescope. Specialised in watersports and whale-watching.
The restaurant serves delicious Italian and Malagasy dishes. Very good price-quality relationship.
Double bungalow for 37 €, triple 47 € and familiar 52 €

Piment Vanille
Phone: +261 20 57 908 07
Web: http://location-ile-sainte-marie.net
Not far from the airport, 2 houses with all comforts on a beautiful beach. Price per person from 15 to 20 € a day

Island aux Nattes

Where to sleep and eat

Although very small, this tiny island has everything travel brochures are made of. Unspoiled tropical beaches with fine white sand,  coconut and other palm trees scattered along the shore, and a turquoise lagoon protected by coral reefs inhabited by a variety of exotic marine life. The "hotels" on Nattes are simply small groups of individual bungalows made of palm wood and thatched with palm leaves, and a shaded "restaurant" area. There are no cars, but lots of soft sand, and the water is bath warm. Off its idyllic beaches are some of the best reefs in the Malagasy region. The only way to reach the island is by lakana (traditional wooden canoes) from Sainte Marie. A number of lakanas are always on standby on the beach just south-west of the airport runway and the trip across only takes about four minutes and cost about Ar 5000. During low tide a reasonable good swimmer can swim across the narrow channel (about 300 meters) separating the two islands. The island’s name hat its origins in a tree called “nanto”, which has formerly abounded there and which wood, always used in navy carpentry and for the construction of ships. This tree species has now completely disappeared from the island.

Aux Nattes
Island aux Nattes © Madagascar Travel Guide

The smallness of the island allows to walk it easily around in a couple of hours and so is Aux Nattes an ideal destination for a one day excursion from Sainte Marie. It is better to start walking on the western coast (take the right  trail when you coming from Sainte Marie). As soon as you reach the Hotel Lemuriens the trail goes back along the eastern coastline. A well-known landmark is the Fanilo Blevec lighthouse, which, although not in use anymore, is closed to the public. The lighthouse stands on the top of a hill, which offers a panoramic view of the long coral reef and its remarkable diving sites.  Along your walk, you can swim, or have pick-nick on any of the astonishing beautiful beaches anywhere. Maybe you are able to find the group of black and white lemurs which has been settled here or even of the rarest orchids worldwide: The Queen of Madagascar (Eulophiella Roempleriana) which blooms from November to January lives in swampy areas and grows in the tops of a pandanus. The spectacular rose purple flowers are up to 10 cm. This flower is very rare preserved and cutting it down is strictly prohibited.

When bathing be cautious against “mokafao” (sand fleas), which is frequent in the western beaches. The bite of the sand flea can be very painful. Please do not confuse sand fleas with sand flies, which also occur here but mainly in dirty waters around local villages. They also bite and inject microscopic eggs under the skin (usually under the flat feet). If infected, you will need to remove the disgusting eggs with a needle.

Where to sleep and eat (hotels in alphabetical order, prices from 2013)

 Some of the accommodations below were severely damaged by the Ivan hurricane 2008

Budget

Chez Regine
Phone: + 261 20 57 042 14
6 basic bungalows with cold water and shared or private toilet on an outstanding beach. Really popular amongst backpackers. Very friendly and relaxed atmosphere with Caribbean ambience. The restaurant prepares delicious and inexpensive meals. The octopus with coconut milk is fantastic! Very recommendable address.

Chez Tity
Phone: + 261 57 040 19
Modest but nicely decorated bungalows. Very friendly atmosphere and good food.
Double bungalow for 12 € with shared toilet and 18 € with private one, familiar for 26 €.

La Bonne Etoile
Phone: + 261 (0) 32 40 69 143
15 basic but nice bungalows on a beautiful location. The restaurant with sea view serves inexpensive and fresh meals. Price a double bungalow is 22,000 Ar with shared toilet and 30,000 Ar with en-suite facilities.


Middle class


La Petite Traverseé
Phone: + 261 57 040 61
Comfortable bungalows with magnificent views of Sainte Marie.
Price for two people from 42,000 Ar to 56,000 Ar

Ecolodge Les Lémuriens
Website: http://www.les-lemuriens.com
Mail: info@vanivola.com
6 pleasant bungalows located on a beautiful bay, well decorated and furnished, all with hot water. There are several lemurs in the magnificent tropical garden! The restaurant "Le Lemurien Gourmand" is very famous and the meals are just delicious!! Bungalow for 30 € per night.

High end

Baboo Village
Phone: + 261 57 042 07 / 032 04 79 126
Web: www.baboo-village.com
Mail: info@baboo-village.com
14 charming bungalows, well furnished and tastefully decorated in the middle of a tropical garden just over the sea, with an impressive view of Saint Marie. Many activities offered (whale watching, pirogue, kayak, volleyball, badminton, renting of vehicles, beauty care, massages). There is also a wood carving workshop. Very good restaurant. Very good price-quality relationship!
Price per person in a double bungalow with half board 40 €, with full board 52 €
Price per person in a single bungalow with half board 52 €, with full board 65 €

Maningory
Phone: + 261 20 57 040 69 / 57 902 58 / 032 07 090 05
Web: www.maningoryhotel.com
Mail: maningoryhotel@moov.mg
7 pleasant, comfortable and well equipped bungalows, with hot water, on a beautiful beach ideal for snorkelling. It is the main location on the island for whale watching, scuba diving and fishing. Excellent meals!
Single bungalow for 37 €, double bungalow for 42 €, triple for 52 € and familiar for 65 €

Meva Paradis
Phone: + 261 (0) 32 46 802 81
Web: www.mevaparadis.com
Mail: hotel@mevaparadis.com
8 beautiful and well furnished bungalows (6 double and 2 family bungalows) on a tropical garden by the beach next to Maningory. The main house is really nice (there are 2 guest rooms with shared toilet), with a bar and a restaurant with great meals.
Double bungalow 42 €, familiar bungalow 62 €, guest rooms in the main house 22 €

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