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 warm 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.
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. Plus in season, you may also be able to spot Manta rays and whale sharks.
Diving trips are usually based on the islands close to Nosy Be in the north-west of the country. This is the best area overall - especially Nosy Tsarabanjina, Nosy Tanikely and Nosy Sakatia. The coral reefs here are healthy and full of colour. Plus the islands have escaped the coral bleaching found in other parts of the Indian Ocean. (Researchers believe that the cool water currents from adjacent deep ocean areas have countered the global warming effect.)
You can also find excellent diving off Ile Sainte Marie in the east. And around Ifaty near Tulear on the southern coast.
What is the best time for diving in Madagascar?
April to May and August to November are probably the best times for diving holidays in Madagascar. This gives the calmest waters and so best visibility. You have the greatest likelihood of spotting whales and turtles from July to November..
Avoid the heavy summer rains usually between January and March. Heavy swells make it difficult to get to remote dive sites. And also reduced visibility. Cooler waters from June and July increase plankton levels which in turn reduces visibility. (But the upside is that whale sharks are more likely to be spotted during these months.)
Diving in 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. You can head to Nosy Tanikely as well as Nosy Mitsio and Nosy Sakatia. You may like to stay at Sakatia Lodge so that you are based right at the heart of the action.
Wreck Diving off the Ile Sainte Marie
Ile Sainte Marie offers tropical reef fish and wreck diving. 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.
See our Main Page on Luxury Diving Holidays around Africa for more destinations.
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- Best TimeJuly to November for visibility and whales
- Whales34 different species of whales & sharks in Madagascar