Nosy Be offers everything unique to Madagascar: seafood, beaches, chameleons, lemurs and excellent beach hotel accommodation.
Fertile soil produces healthy crops of ylang-ylang flowers that give off a strong scent and have earned the island the nickname of ‘Perfumed Isle’.
The most popular attraction here is the watersporting. With little islands around Nosy Be giving some of the best diving in Madagascar, there are a good number o diving companies. Yachting and deep-sea fishing are also high on the list of things to do, with some truly spectacular big-game fish around the island giving a challenge for those looking for one.
On the island itself there are several small towns, including Hell-Ville, a smart town with plenty of places to eat and a lively nightlife. Every May the Donia music festival is held. This is a four-day celebration in which groups from all over Madagascar, as well as the Seychelles, Mauritius and Réunion come to perform. This is a large party with good music and a large crowd to help you get into the swing of things – the local way.
The western coast is the sandiest part of the coast, and there are plenty of good beach hotels to stay in. Areas which are recommended include Andilana to the north, the most beautiful part of the island. Ambaro is next on the list, and there are beautiful gardens to walk through as well as plenty of places to relax in the sun. Djamandjary is a small town with igloo-shaped cement structures that were once cyclone-proof housing which were abandoned because they didn’t collapse as the Madagascans were expecting them to! Ambondrona and Madirokely is quiet and secluded, and it is possible to eat elsewhere then come back here to sleep at night. The main area for foreigners is Ambatoloaka; once a charming fishing village it now has a lively nightlife and is the best place to come if you are looking for a party.
Excursions on the island include a trip to the highest point on the island, Mont Passot. On the way up there are views of deep-blue crater lakes which supposedly have spirits – and crocodiles – in them, and it is almost impossible to get down to them due to the steep sides of the craters. It is only possible to hike up here at the moment, as the road was destroyed in a cyclone.
The only protected area on Nosy Be, Lokobe is a Strict Reserve, which has a buffer zone visitors can enter to view the village life on Nosy Be. There are two villages here, and guides are available who will tell you about the local wildlife in the Malagasy way. Several animals are seen here including black lemurs, ground boa and panther chameleons.
Ambanoro is the site of the former Black Lemur Forest Project, and the scenery around the area makes it worth a visit. It has the ruins of an ancient mosque which is half-hidden by huge sacred fig trees, and an elaborate Indian cemetery.
Two islands just off the shore of Nosy Be are Nosy Komba and Nosy Tanikely; the main attraction of Nosy Komba is the black lemurs, whilst Nosy Tanikely has a marine national park that makes it attractive to snorkelers and bird enthusiasts.
Nosy Komba is the place to go if you want to get close to the lemurs and observe their behaviour and mannerisms. It is fairly safe to hand feed them, and they will even sit on your shoulders if you let them; this is perfectly safe providing you remember they are wild animals, and take care not to make them feel threatened. The villagers provide a spectacular display of tribal dancing for visitors, and sell a variety of interesting handicrafts and produce which can be found nowhere else.
The Nosy Be archipelago has plenty of other islands, of which there are too many to name. They are perfect for divers, with a huge variety of different habitats that make exciting and inspiring diving.
Ask an expert
We've helped first-timers and seasoned travellers in Africa since 1995. We can help you take advantage of mainstream options.
Better still we'll show you how and where to step off well beaten paths for the more interesting journeys.
Drop a note right here...