Nosy Be

Nosy Be is a small island a few kilometres off the north-western coast of Madagascar. It’s Madagascar’s quintessential beach-holiday destination, with a delightful climate almost year-round and white-sand beaches so pure they squeak. Its coral reefs are colourful and prolific and the tropical waters, warmed by the Agulhas Current, beckon you in. Inland, forested reserves and lush ridges are home to island birds, peculiar reptiles and lemurs, making Nosy Be an unmissable destination for sun seekers and nature lovers alike. On its south coast, the small port town of Andoany (more commonly known by its former French name, Hell-Ville) connects Nosy Be to mainland Madagascar by ferry. It’s awash with bright colours, tuk-tuks, old colonial buildings and busy markets selling fresh seafood and spices and everywhere the hypnotising scent of ylang-ylang blossoms drifts through the air.

enter image description here

Highlights

Go snorkelling or scuba diving: Nosy Be’s inshore waters are shallow and protected by colourful coral reefs, making this one of the safest swimming spots in Madagascar and perfect for families. The majority of hotels and seaside resorts provide gear and offer snorkelling excursions for all ages, while many also organise scuba-diving trips for more adventurous guests. Marine highlights include hawksbill-, loggerhead- and green turtles, which swim through the underwater meadows and use beaches on the nearby archipelagos for nesting. Reef visitors include clownfish, pufferfish, batfish and butterflyfish and lucky divers might spot dolphins, humpback whales or even a whale shark at the right time of year.

Hire a scooter:

There’s something particularly exotic about exploring an island with the wind in your hair and Nosy Be is the perfect place to do it. The island is circled by a ring road so it’s almost impossible to get lost. It also gives you the freedom to explore some of the lesser-visited bays and for budget travellers it’s much cheaper than paying for a taxi.

Visit the markets:

A visit to one of the markets in Hell-Hell-Ville is an incredibly fun excursion filled with just the right mix of chaos, exotic sights, smells and sounds. It also gives you the opportunity to buy arts and crafts directly from local artists and support the local economy.

enter image description here

Charter a boat:

Get even closer to Nosy Be’s incredible marine life by hiring a live-aboard catamaran and spending several days exploring the nearby islands of Radamas and Mitsios. Catamarans are available for groups or families with exclusive service (you won’t be sharing with strangers) and generally come with their own private chef. Whale watching excursions can also be arranged, while deep-sea fishing is a year-round activity with kingfish, sailfish, wahoo, mackerel and yellow-fin tuna on the bill.

enter image description here

Go hiking in Lokobe National Park:

For landlubbers, Nosy Be’s Lokobe National Park offers a magical mix of island flora and fauna which visitors can spot on one of three hiking trails. These range from an easy one-hour forest meander to a more challenging three-hour route. There’s also the option to hire a pirogue (small dugout canoe) and explore the shores of the park from the water.

Practical information

  • Nosy Be shares a microclimate with the north of Madagascar, largely dominated by the Tsaratanana Massif. This gives it year-round sunshine and daytime highs that rarely dip below 20°C (68F). It also means that rain can fall at any time of year, but the showers don’t usually last longer than a few hours. Unlike much of Madagascar, where prices for accommodation are listed as ‘per room’ the prices for accommodation on Nosy Be are generally quoted ‘per person.’ Keep this in mind when comparing quotes and always ask before booking.
  • Most travellers arrive by air, on local flights from Antananarivo or Antsiranana, or on long haul flights from hubs such as Johannesburg or Paris. These direct flights allow travellers to avoid the potential hassle of flying via the mainland, but as such are hugely popular and get booked up very far advance.
  • Nosy Be is extremely safe and the people are incredibly friendly and helpful but it’s still best to avoid walking alone after dark, or flashing valuables. There are opportunists everywhere.

Our Recommended Itinerary

11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure

day 1

  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure

day 2

Antananarivo to Miandrivazo
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure

day 3

Miandrivazo to Masekampy

day 4

Tsiribihina River Cruise

day 5

Arrival in Bekopaka via Belo sur Tsiribihina
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure

day 6

Bekopaka | Visit Tsingy of Bemaraha National Park
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure

day 7

Bekopaka | Kirindy forest
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure

day 8

Kirindy forest | Morondava via Baobabs Alley
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure

day 9

  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure
  • 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure

day 10

Last day of adventure

View Full Itinerary

You might also like

Nosy Boraha (Îl Sainte-Marie)

Nosy Boraha (formerly and still more commonly known as Îl Sainte-Marie) is a sliver of paradise off Madagascar’s northeast coast. A notorious pirate hideout in the late 17th century, it’s believed that this tropical islet once provided shelter for almost 1000 marauders. They would shelter in its calm bays between escapades into the Indian Ocean, plundering vessels as they returned…

Madagascar in February

Madagascar’s rainy season continues throughout February and there is high chance of heavy rain across most of the country. This is also the month with the highest risk of cyclones. Many lodges and hotels along the east and west coast remain closed during this period although even in these rainy months there are some sunny days. Average midday temperatures are between 25°C (77°F) and…

Madagascar in January

January is midsummer in Madagascar. In the northern and eastern regions, this is characterised by heavy rainfall – up to 340mm have been recorded on the east coast during the month. It’s a continuation of the ‘wet season’, which starts around the end of November and lasts well into March. It’s significantly drier in the south and southwest but there is still rainfall throughout…

Solo travel in Madagascar

Travelling alone can be daunting regardless of where in the world you go. On a remote island with a beleaguered infrastructure, it can seem all the more formidable. The good news is that Madagascar is absolutely fantastic for solo travellers. But that’s only provided you take one essential item: the right (casual) attitude. With a laid-back approach and, especially, a relaxed notion of…

Madagascar in June

June is the coldest month in Madagascar, but daytime temperatures along the coast remain pleasant, only sometimes dipping below 20°C (68°F). The arid south is particularly cool in the late afternoons, while the highlands are even cooler, with days seldom topping 21°C (70°F) and dropping close to freezing in the evenings. It’s also relatively windy in the highlands, which makes for…

Madagascar in May

May marks the start of a stable and dry southern winter. There’s no rain at all on the west coast from May until November and average daytime temperatures rarely stray outside 20°C (68°F) to 25°C (77°F). Many wetlands, marshes and deltas are still swollen from the rains, but access gets much as the month progresses and conditions are generally pleasant and sunny in the highlands,…

Popular Madagascar Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

 | North Madagascar Diego Suarez and Nosy Be Beach Tour

North Madagascar Diego Suarez and Nosy Be Beach Tour

Two of Madagascar's most popular destinations are yours to explore in this relaxed beach-based itinerary...

 | The Wild South Madagascar Tour

The Wild South Madagascar Tour

Take a Madagascar island adventure holiday and be one of the few to explore this mystical place...

 | Tropical East Madagascar Tour

Tropical East Madagascar Tour

With its spectacular rainforests, beaches and waterways, this former pirate hideout offers a relaxed ambiance and more than enough activities to keep guests occupied...

 | 11-Day Western Madagascar Adventure

11-Day Western Madgascar Adventure

One of the absolute highlights of this trip is a visit to the famous Baobab Avenue where you can watch a breathtaking sunset....