Ile Sainte Marie

An island paradise perfect for relaxation, seasonal whale watching, and just playing in the ocean.


Ile Sainte Marie Hotels

Ile Sainte Marie, off the east coast of Madagascar, is the ideal spot for a beach holiday after enjoying  a lemur safari. The picturesque island of Sainte Marie boasts scenery to rival the Seychelles. Lovely bays protected by soft coral reefs with quiet white sandy beaches. The tropical climate creating verdant green vegetation. Add in a mysterious pirate history and it has romance written all over it.

Hotels on Madagascar range from the stylish Princess Bora Lodge, to eco-retreats to simple family-friendly resorts. Chat to us about the possibilities.

Ile Sainte Marie is only 60 km long and just 7 km at its widest point. It’s an idyllic spot with a cute little airport at its southern tip. This offers 50 minute flights direct from the capital Tana. There’s only one town on the island and the hotels and beach resorts are all small-scale and low level.

Outside of the Ile Sainte Marie hotels, English is not widely spoken on the island. But many people speak good French.

Madagascar - Ile Saint Marie Princess bora lodge

Ile Aux Nattes

To many people this little car-free island off the south tip of Ile Sainte Marie is even better than the main island. The circumference of the island is just 8km, and it takes just three hours to walk around it. You can stay at one of the small guesthouses but most people just come for the day to enjoy the white sandy beaches, orchids and seafood restaurants. The best beach is at the north of the island, crystal clear and shallow water, calm tide, soft sand – absolute paradise!

Access to Ile Sainte Marie

The easiest option is to fly in and out of the island via the tiny airport in the south. But many people opt to combine the Eastern Highlands with a meander up the scenic east coast. And then you take the ferry (1 to 1½ hours depending on the seas) for some beach R&R at the end of your trip.

Turtles off Ile Sainte Marie Madagascar


Why you may love it

  • Laid back charm with only low key development.
  • Pousse-posse (bicycle taxis) are a charming way to get around, or take a bike ride yourself.
  • Great diving and snorkelling off the island at nearby coral reefs.
  • Ile Sainte Marie is one of the best spots for whale-watching in Africa, from June to September.
  • Experience divers can dive amongst the sunken pirate ships from the 19th century.
  • Take an excursion to the romantic car-free island, Ile aux Nattes.

When to visit Ile Sainte Marie

December to March

Rainy season

The East coast of Madagascar has quite a different climate to the western and southern parts. Here, the south-east trade winds release their moisture as they encounter the eastern side of the island. So it rains throughout the year. Summer months bring the most rain with rain either every day or every other day. Temperatures are hot and humid with warm sea temperatures.
MAX TEMP 30 ℃ / 86 ℉
MIN TEMP 23 ℃ / 73 ℉

April to May

Good time to visit

This is a good time to visit. However, the afternoon rainclouds continue.
MAX TEMP 29 ℃ / 84℉
MIN TEMP 21 ℃ / 70 ℉

June to August

Start of whale season

This is a great time to visit. Although the afternoon rainclouds continue, the sea temperature remains warm at 26c. Between July and September there are plenty of humpback whales to be seen as they come from the Antarctic ocean to breed. They like to hang out in the channel between the island and the main coast.
MAX TEMP 25 ℃ / 77 ℉
MIN TEMP 17 ℃ / 63 ℉

September to November

Best time to visit

Great time to visit with a combination of whale sightings and best weather. This is probably the driest time on the island with afternoon rain-showers every second day on average, and these are the sunniest months. It gets hotter and more humid towards the end of the year.
MAX TEMP 28 ℃ / 82 ℉
MIN TEMP 20 ℃ / 68 ℉

Start planning your dream trip

Find me the best in for

Need a little help? View our Safari Guide to help you get started

Sakatia Lodge review

I really enjoyed my family’s stay at Sakatia Lodge. In fact it really grew on me as we spent time there. It’s a family-run lodge with a very friendly team and a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere. You really did feel part of the family in a way. Everything was kept very clean and neat yet the lush tropical vegetation was all around you.

The snorkelling was excellent. I particularly loved the fact that we saw green turtles every time we went snorkelling.  This was a magical experience. One minute you are snorkelling quietly, focused on the coral and the fish. Next minute a massive green turtle comes swimming by, does a double-take and then calmly swims past. Magical!

The beach was pretty enough but not the best beach in Nosy Be. However if you take the morning pirogue trip, you can spend time at one of the nicest beaches in the islands, a deserted expanse of golden sand with a sleepy little fishing village tucked behind.

There’s a coral reef right in front of the lodge which you can swim out to. Its important to note that there is a big tidal range (the case for all of Nosy Be). This means that at high tide, this is a long swim out to the reef so we recommend snorkelling closer to low tide, where you can also walk around the bay so that you start your swim closer to the reef.

The lodge was chosen for the proximity to this coral reef and so it faces east towards the mainland. This means that your view is over water to the distant lights of Nosy Be and not vast expanses of open water. We didn’t mind this but its worth noting.

The food was fine but not as amazing as some of the reviews suggested. It is a set menu with no real choice so if you are someone who only eats certain things, then I would recommend discussing the menu ahead of time as they are happy to make substitutions.

I am not a diver but my kids loved diving with Jacques and it’’s clear that this is a major drawcard of Sakatia Lodge.

Cedarberg : Kate Bergh
Did you know
  • HistoryPirates cemetery with skull & crossbones on the graves
  • WildlifeTop place to see humpback whales (June to Sept)