An island paradise perfect for relaxation, seasonal whale watching, and just playing in the ocean.
Ile Sainte Marie, off the east coast of Madagascar, is the ideal spot for a beach holiday after enjoying some wildlife 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.
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.
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!
You can fly in and out of the island a tiny airport in the south. But many people meander up the east coast. And then take the ferry (1 to 1½ hours depending on the seas) for some beach R&R at the end of their trip.
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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.