Ile Sainte Marie

An island paradise perfect for relaxation 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 your wildlife experience. It’s known for its diving and whale-watching in season.

Ile Sainte Marie boasts scenery to rival the Seychelles: lovely bays protected by soft coral reefs, quiet white sandy beaches, verdant green vegetation created by its tropical climate. Add in a mysterious pirate history and it has romance written all over it.

The island 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 resports are all small-scale and low level.

White Madagascar beaches

Whale watching on Ile Sainte Marie

Every year from July to September, humpback whales migrate in numbers into the bays of Ile Sainte Marie, with many staying to give birth or to look for mates. Indeed Ile Sainte Marie is one of the best spots for whale-watching in Africa. The best way to see them is to head out by boat with a marine biologist and their research team. These trips head out from Princess Bora Lodge, but other hotels also offer whale-watching.

Other activities on Ile Sainte Marie include diving from the coral reefs, snorkelling and excursions to the smaller islands of Ile aux Nattes or Ilots aux Sables. You can also enjoy cycling and hiking around the island. Inland the main forest on Ile Sainte Marie is known for its orchids and the small spice farms are alive with the scent of cloves, cinnamon and vanilla.

Best time to visit Ile Sainte Marie?

The only drawback of Ile Sainte Marie is that its tropical climate means that there is no real dry season.  However, rainfall is generally at night and interspersed with calm sunny weather. Cyclones occur from December to March, though not every year. But they can be violent so it’s best to avoid these months. The coolest months are from May to September. And the main rainfall is from late June to mid August. The driest months are  September to November. Plus outside of the hotels English is not widely spoken on the island. But many people speak good French.

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 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!

Ile aux nattes beach

Check out Ile Sainte Marie hotel options below under Where to Stay

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