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Sainte Marie in paradise

Such a name could suggest a place near Europe or the Americas. However, this island is closer to Africa and belongs to Madagascar. It is Sainte Marie Island in the Indian Ocean, and it truly earns its name as a paradise of purity, serenity and beauty.

Let’s stick with the paradise theme and say that the feeling of abnormality experienced here is the result of its diverse, heavenly creatures.

Be ready to see fauna completely different and mostly unknown to us, or at least seen up close for only the first time: chameleons, lemurs, radiated tortoises, atypical frogs, geckos, butterflies by the million, jellyfish, humpback whales. These creatures are totally protected from sharks, since they have elected to live on the coast of Madagascar that is free from those predators for an unknown reason. Can we blame them? Certainly not!

We can’t say the same for human “sharks,” since the island used to be a hideout for pirates who generated legendary love stories with Malagasy princesses. That was not so long ago!

Eyes wide open

Sainte Marie has very attractive flora: orchids, such as the famous Queen of Madagascar, mimosa, mangroves, raffia, ravenalas, known as the Traveler’s Tree and other precious woods, such as rosewood. Spices, which have made the fortune of many Europeans as well as the East India Trading Company, grow in abundance here: clove, cinnamon, vanilla, coffee and pepper. Sugar, rice and manioc plantations are also very prosperous.

Its environment of bays, coves and creeks, together with its inlet linking it to the tiny Ile aux Nattes all add to its charm, which has so far been spared from mass tourism.

To eat and to drink

All that you can dream of: lobster en masse, crayfish, crab, shrimp, tuna, swordfish, etc. As for meats, there is chicken, pork… and zebu, similar to beef, often prepared as Romazava or Ravitoto, traditional Malagasy stews. Malagasy red, rose and white wines are mellow and foie gras is delicious! And all of this is served alongside the melodious sound of the valiha, a traditional string musical instrument made of bamboo.


Even though the weather is comfortable year-round, with the thermometer ranging from 20 and 30 degrees Celsius, it is recommended to avoid the heavy rains and cyclones of December and March. April to September would be the ideal period to visit.

Where to stay?

It is most popular to stay in the lodges.
On Sainte Marie Island, why not stay at the Vanivola? On l’Ile aux Nattes, why not try the Cocolodge, which is directly on the beach?

Daily shuttles will meet your desire to discover the civilization of the city’s centre, while allowing you to take a glimpse of the lovely lobster fishing villages.

A paradise, truly!


Research and French original: Sylvie Berthiaume

Translation: Christiane Théberge






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