Monday, 1 November 2004

Ile Sainte Marie, Madagascar

Ile Sainte Marie is a small island about 60 km long and 7 or 8 km wide off the north east coast of Madagascar


In the Malagasy language the island is known as Nosy Boraha ("nosy" means "island").

Map of island
(black line = surfaced road)

We flew to Toamasina (Tamatave) from Reunion Island, stayed there overnight, then took a short one-hour domestic flight to Ile Sainte Marie. 

coming in to land

The airport is in the island's south, and our hotel, the Princess Bora, was quite close to the airport. Transfer to the hotel was on a zebu cart!

our airport>hotel transfer

room veranda


The island is quite well-known for humpback whale watching between June and September, however as we were there in October it was too late to see any. It's possible to scuba-dive all year round however.


There are only about 10 km of surfaced road on the whole island, so the best way of getting around is by bike (short distances), motorbike, or 4x4 for longer distances.

roadside view

One of the attractions of the island is an even smaller island to the south called Ile aux Nattes.

going to Ile aux nattes

A short boat hop across, it is an idyllic island with lush vegetation, no cars and basic accommodation and eating places. 

Ile aux Nattes vegetation

Ile aux Nattes

lighthouse, Ile aux Nattes (Madagascar's first)

view, Ile aux Nattes

dragonfly

We also saw some paracress growing there, which is a plant used in  Madagascar's national dish, romazava. Paracress is quite unusual as it has the particularly of numbing your mouth when you eat it.

Romazava


We also saw some lemurs, an animal Madagascar is famous and unique for.

Lemur on Ile aux Nattes

Lemur on Ile Ste Marie


Ile Ste Marie used to be a famous site for pirates in the 17th  and 18th century, and apparently some of them are buried in a local cemetery.


Pirate cemetery


local children

All too soon it was time to leave and head back to  Reunion, but we would love to go back to Ile Ste Marie one day.




Acknowledgements:
The first two images (the maps) of this article come from http://bougetonile.com.

Useful links about Ile Ste Marie:
Cetamada - Association for the protection of marine mammals around Madagascar