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Tulear is a town centred on St Augustine’s Bay with aesthetically planted trees, rich marine life allowing good snorkelling and diving. The beaches to the north and south of the town are covered in fine white sand, and coral reefs beyond the beaches with plenty of interesting marine life to explore, are the main attraction.
In and around the town there are some good restaurants that sell basic but tasty food for a good price. There are extremely good fish restaurants, and several clubs that run dancing competitions!
Sightseeing in the town is good, with a small museum which has some interesting exhibits including a Mikea mask, which is a rarity in Madagascar (is has real human teeth). There is also an exhibit on erotic tomb sculptures. Everything is well labelled in French and English.
The Musée de la Mer has a coelacanth that is now the only one you can view in Madagascar. Thought to be extinct for hundreds of years, the rediscovery in 1938 of these prehistoric fish of which the first fossils date back to 410 million years ago, set the world talking.
For lambas, mohair rugs, herbal remedies and local fruit, the market is an excellent place to visit, whilst for handicrafts there are stalls on the Boulevard Galieni.
Sailing and surfing are also common past-times with many good quality offshore reef breaks for surfers. This is the best place in Madagascar for surfing as it is exposed to the swells that sweep up past South Africa. It is possible to get guides to show you exactly where the best places to go are, and you have a choice of accommodation in Ifaty or Anakao as well.
Around Toliara there is a botanical garden which has 900 plants, of which 90% are endemic to the region. Arboretum d’Antsokay was established in 1980 and if anybody is interested in the fauna of the area (and its accompanying flora), this is somewhere that is not to be missed. There is an abundance of birds and reptiles, and it is one of the best place to see the birds of the spiny forests as in most other areas of Madagascar the forest are getting much smaller.
Finally in this area are a number of tombs, with Masikoro, Mahaflay and Bara tribe tombs in the area. Large, rectangular and flamboyantly painted with scenes from military life, the Tombs of Andranovory are an interesting place to see purely for these decorations. A few mermaids, Rambos and a scene from Titanic are thrown in as well. Another tom known as King Baba’s Tomb is known for the funerary objects displayed, including an urn and a huge bell that is cracked. The spiritual importance of this place is obvious when you see the respect the local people pay to it, and you can only approach with feet bare.