When you think of a beach holiday you usually think about Maldives, Mauritius, the Caribbean or some islands in Southeast Asia. Only a few consider the wilder African coast, facing the Indian Ocean. Yet this area offers some of the last few unspoiled beaches that are the closest thing to heaven that I have experienced. Starting from the eastern coast of Mozambique to the island of Zanzibar on Tanzania, the Seychelles and several spots on the coast of Madagascar. When I was planning my trip to Madagascar I was going to travel south initially in the direction of Ranomafana to Isalo all the way to Toliara, which is also home to beautiful beaches. However one day a photo popped up showing Nosy Iranja, an island off the North West coast of Madagascar. This island was so beautiful that I changed all my plans in order to get to it! Travelling to the North of Madagascar is much more difficult; less infrastructure, less touristic, less options for accommodation, etc. Yet I was determined to go there anyway and make my way to the beaches in the area. These are the places we visited while in the North:
This was our base for the beach part of our trip in Madagascar. Why we chose Nosy Komba instead of the more popular Nosy Be? Nosy Komba is less touristic, it felt like having a private beach without paying for it. As soon as we got here I could not stop smiling. I couldn’t believe we were actually here. The colours of the sea are so incredible that I felt that I was in a dream! Moreover our accommodation was a bungalow facing the ocean. We had the choice of two beaches, either a small one to the right of our bungalow or a bigger one to the left where sometimes we met some locals. On the beach to the right we never met anyone else. On this island we went exploring on foot and we went snorkeling in the coral reef. You do not need to book any excursions here to dive in the coral reef as it is located at around 10m from the shore. Simply the perfect ending to our trip in Madagascar!
The most awaited part of our trip to Madagascar was finally here! This is the reason why we modified our itinerary. Getting to Nosy Komba was not easy at all and most of all it was expensive (compared to local standards). Usually the trips to Nosy Iranja depart from Nosy Be which is more touristic so we had to book a transfer by boat to Nosy Be first. Nosy Iranja consists of two islands connected by a sand bank that disappears with the tide. The island is not completely deserted because some locals live here and you can choose to spend the night in huts (obviously very basic yet expensive accommodation). The entire day costed us around €125 for two people including the private transfer to Nosy Be, the boat ride to Nosy Iranja (around 2 hrs away) and an awesome lunch on the beach. I would have even paid double the price for this experience as this island was the most beautiful place I have ever been to!
Nosy Be is the main island of the area. You have to get here in order to catch your flight since this is the only airport in the area. The airport is an international one since there are some charter flights to Paris and Rome (most of the tourists that seem to visit Madagascar are French and Italian). As we were here there was a strike and we were risking of being stranded here as the Malgasy were protesting against the blacklisting of their national airline which is forbidden to fly to Europe. Well to be honest, given the security at their airports I do not blame the European authorities. While we were at the Nosy Be airport we practically had no security checks as the man who was supposed to check our bags (they do it manually here of course) got carried away while talking to a young blonde European, as the people were lining at the gate. It was funny how this guy did not seem to care at all as the metal detector kept on beeping as people were accessing the gate.
Should I go back I would spend at least two nights on Nosy Be as well to explore well the island, as we only had one afternoon to go around and of course we did not see a lot of the island. It is busier than the nearby Nosy Komba and you can visit the local markets and go on a tour around the island (maybe hire a bicycle or a scooter).