Ile Sainte Marie

This cliché of a tropical island is home to endless desert beaches overhung by coconut palms, bays protected from sharks by coral reefs and a relative absence of unsightly tourist development.


Here is a cliché of a tropical island with endless deserted beaches overhung by coconut palms, bays protected from sharks by coral reefs, hills covered with luxuriant vegetation and fantastic whale-watching in season. Although developed for tourism, it has been done in a tasteful, low-key way and the island maintains a traditional ambience: most of the hotels are small-scale with rustic bungalows. Travellers love it: ‘As soon as we saw the island from the air, we were ready to ditch our travel plans and spend the rest of our trip nestled in paradise. Everything about the island is intoxicating: the smell of cloves drying in the sun, the taste of coco rum and the warmth of the sea.’ In addition to this heady, holiday atmosphere, Ile Sainte Marie is the best place in Madagascar for whale-watching.

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