There are little islands off Nosy be, including Fanikely and also Tanikely – great for snorkelling and Nosy Komba, too. Tanikely is one of the best sites for swimming with turtles in the mornings, and then have a picnic lunch on a shell festooned beach followed by a well deserved siesta under a palm tree (which of course you have earned using up all that energy!).
Informal Madagascar beach lodges are often only accessed by boat, so the emphasis is on removing ones shoes before you step on land – actually leave your shoes off for your whole stay- one island insists on this! The white, pristine beaches of Tsarabanjina invite you to chill, relax, don’t do a thing except read, have a dip and eat, or on the other hand learn some water sports, go diving and fishing, and maybe in season - go whale watching.
Enjoy peaceful, beach relaxation time surrounded by a jungle of tropical, colourful flowering plants - frangipane and hibiscus and vanilla vines growing in tropical gardens, perhaps on a lovely Indian style daybed. As the tides rise, listen to the water lapping at the base of the dining room veranda that stands over the beach between the mangroves as you dine and indulge in a fresh seafood dinner. Thatched parasols are set beneath the palm trees which will rustle through the day and send you to sleep at night.
One of these island hotels has a tiny coral and shell covered isle about 10 minutes across a short stretch of water from the hotel, far enough away to provide privacy and your own bit of Robinson Crusoe. This has a coral beach and mangroves (so do take your shoes with you as parts of the coral can be very sharp). But from the sandy shores you can dip into the water and snorkel from here, have a breakfast or even spend the day and the staff will collect you later in the afternoon.
More beaches lie off the eastern coast on Isle St Marie, a narrow isle known for its diving and whale watching excursions. There is a lot to see and do on the island on days when you want to be more active, like visiting the private cemetery- fascinating, and likewise Masoala Forest on the mainland is home to a variety of wildlife – so super for the adventurer and then chill out on remote and isolated beaches, swim and kayak.
Beaches north of Tulear have attracted visitors for many years, but many of the corals are bleached in along this coast, so it is better to visit those in the north and around Diego Suarez a well as the isles.
Somewhere we love is Manafiafy, east of Fort Dauphin - complete paradise, but different – this is not about white calm pristine beaches with the obligatory hammock, but rather about remote coast, swamplands with travellers palms and mangroves, 100 miles of deserted beaches, specialist wildlife, whale watching in season, gorgeous food and accommodation.
With a backdrop of the Anosyen and Vlhinena ranges, which are separated from the coast by 20 kilometres of mangroves forests and lagoons, vivid red and yellow pitcher plants sit in open savannah, and small holdings tended by local farmers are framed against endless miles of beaches. No one for miles - just you and a handful of local fishermen. Take a walk on the rocks looking for little fish in the seawater filled pools where crabs can be seen and where kingfishers swoop down. Here the local fishermen harvest mussels off the rocks and sell them in Manafiafy.