Madagascar Diving Holidays in Nosy Be, Ile Sainte Marie and Ifaty
Madagascar definitely deserves its growing popularity with keen divers. The islands off Madagascar are famous for their white beaches and warm, translucent waters brimming with colourful reef fish. The Mozambique Channel separates Madagascar – the fourth largest island in the world – from Africa. It is filled with some 1.500 miles of pristine coral reefs. Most notably, the waters around Madagascar have the highest coral diversity of the western Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. Marine life includes trigger-fish, eagle rays, damsel-fish, barracuda, and reef sharks. Invertebrates include sea stars, anemones, and sea urchins. Manta rays and whale sharks may also be spotted in season.
Madagascar diving holidays are usually concentrated around the islands close to Nosy Be in the north-west. This is the best area overall – especially Nosy Tsarabanjina, Nosy Tanikely and Nosy Sakatia. The coral reefs here are healthy and full of colour. The islands have escaped the coral bleaching found in other parts of the Indian Ocean. (Researchers believe that it is the cool water currents from adjacent deep ocean areas which have countered the global warming effect.)
Madagascar Diving Holidays – what is the best time?
April to May and October to December are probably the best times for diving in Madagascar, with the calmest water and best visibility. September to December offers the greatest likelihood of spotting whales and turtles. Avoid the heavy summer rains (usually late December until March). Heavy swells make it difficult to get to remote dive sites and offer reduced visibility. Cooler waters from June to September increase plankton levels which in turn reduces visibility. (But the upside is that whale sharks are more likely to be spotted during these months.)
Madagascar Diving from Nosy Be
The island of Nosy Be itself does not have great diving opportunities. However, Nosy Be has a number of dive schools which offer excursions to the superb dive sites at the marine reserve. These excursions take you around Nosy Tanikely as well as Nosy Mitsio and Nosy Sakatia. You may like to stay at Sakatia Lodge to be based right at the heart of the action.
Wreck Diving off the Ile Sainte Marie
Spotting tropical reef fish and wreck diving are both on offer at Ile Sainte Marie. The Ile aux Nattes to the south of Ile Sainte Marie offers some of the best coral reefs. Divers enjoy seeing the turtles, skates and morays around Ile Sainte Marie. But the island’s pirate history means that wreck diving is also an option, as several pirate ships foundered in the bay.