Who doesn’t love beach holiday – the chance to bronze yourself until even your grandmother doesn’t recognise you, sip cocktails to your heart’s content or to simply enjoy a good book. When people think of the best beach destinations in and around Africa, places like Mauritius, Zanzibar and Cape Town come to mind. But what if we were to tell you that the best beach destinations of Africa actually lie just off the continent? Madagascar, is home to more kilometres of seafront than any other African nation, with amazing hidden gems of white sand beaches.
Manafiafy is one of the smaller, lesser known beaches of Madagascar, situated on the South East coast of the island on a sheltered, forest-fringed bay. It’s ideal for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of your typical holiday resort. There is one small hotel, the Mahafaly Beach & Rainforest Lodge, which offers a wide range of beach activities including whale watching, snorkeling and canoeing.
As one of the smallest tourist islands that surrounds Madagascar, Tsarabanjina has to be one of the most scenic islands in the Indian Ocean. Surrounded by crystal clear water, and only accessible via boat, the island has just one lodge which is the epitome of barefoot luxury. The island is roughly 40 kilometers from Nosy be.
Situated at the edge of a National Park of the same name, Anajajavy beach is characterised by 400 metres of white sand. Great for those who are fearful of the ocean or are not strong swimmers as the beach’s lodge has a beautiful infinity pool. Adding to its charm is that one does not have to venture too far for superb snorkelling because the beach is surrounded by some of the most spectacular coral reefs of Madagascar.
Nosy Komba is another island that makes it onto our list. Situated between the tourist hot spot Nosy Be and mainland Madagascar, this oval-shaped volcanic island is home to several stunning beaches and lodges. The island is great if you have a sense of adventure running through your veins as Nosy Komba has numerous uninhabited coves to explore as well as paths that lead inwards to the island’s hills with a wide variety of birds, chameleons and black lemurs. If you plan on visiting, don’t forget to check out Tsara Komba Lodge. Be warned: this beach lodge is only accessible by boat.
Nosy be is perhaps the most famous and popular tourist destination in Madagascar. One of the larger islands surrounding the coast of Madagascar, Nosy Be means ‘big island’ in traditional Malagasy. Thanks to the island’s wide variety of spices, it is often referred to as Nosy Manitra that translates to ‘scented island’ in English. The island makes our list due to the sheer number of picturesque beach locations. It recently garnered international attention as one of the few places to spot one of the rarest animal species on the planet, the Omura whale, which was only officially classed as a species in 2003.
Ile Sainte-Marie – Princesse Bora Lodge
Ile Sainte Marie, also known Nosy Boraha is a long thin island situated on the North East coast of Madagascar. This is a popular destination for snorkelers and divers as the island lagoon is incredibly rich in underwater fauna, and protected from large predators such as sharks. The island has also become a hotspot for whale watching due to the substantial groups of humpback whales that use the islands protective geography for breeding and raising their young.
Île aux Nattes
Île aux Nattes (Pronounced “eal oh nut”), also sometimes called Nosy Nato, is a small 3-kilometer-wide island situated at the southern end of Sante Marie. If you are looking for a typical tropical paradise, this is your best bet. The island had a wide range of activities including whale watching, fishing and snorkelling. The Hotel La Petite Traversee is the main lodge on the island that offers travellers everything a little paradise could. They even have a glass-bottom boat for those who might not be too keen to snorkel.
On the South West coast of Madagascar lies the small fishing town of Anakao. This beachside town and its surrounds make the perfect tropical holiday getaway. Resorts such as the Anakao Ocean Lodge situated on Andovoke Bay hosts a wide range of tourist actives such as surfing, kite-surfing and jet-skiing. What we love about this particular beach is that it’s of the beaten track, and displays a kilometre and a half a near perfect half-moon white sandy beach.
This destination is made up of two charming islands connected 30 miles south of Nosy Be by a thin stretch of sand, and is often referred to the island of turtles. This is due to the fact that turtles commonly lay their eggs on the islands’ white beaches. The 1500 m stretch between the two islands is only exposed at low tide. Taking a stroll along the sandbank, taking the occasional dip in the crystal clear water is an unforgettable experience. The Northern Island is home to a quaint light house designed by French architect Gustav Eiffel. A place you do not want to miss if you are planning to visit Madagascar.
The last beach on our list is near the town of Mahavelona, on the mouth of the Onibe River, on the North East coast of Madagascar. Thanks to the reef system about 150 metres off the coast, the beach is protected from rough seas, and the offshore water is perfectly calm as a result. Ideal for those looking to get in some serious tanning and R&R.