Sainte Marie, Reconnect with authenticity in this haven
The island of Sainte Marie, also called Nosy Boraha, is a destination still spared from mass tourism. It is highly appreciated for its idyllic setting comprised of dream beaches, forest trails, exceptional diving spots, lush vegetation, and quality seabeds. Protected from the sharks, humback whales visit its waters to mate and give birth during the breeding season.
To take you to Sainte Marie (SMS), Tsaradia has 3 scheduled flights per week at the departure of Antananarivo (TNR) and up to two scheduled flights per week at the departure of Toamasina (TMM).
Sainte-Marie island, a place with rich history
Sainte-Marie island welcomed its first visitors around year 1506. Portuguese navigators arrived on the island on a day of reckoning, escaping a shipwreck. When they arrived on the island, they named it in honour of the Virgin: «Santa-Maria».
Sainte-Marie island is located on the shipping lanes where ships were transiting from India. The island became a hideout and a refuge for pirates until year 1726. During an expedition in 1999 and 2000, American archaeologist Barry Clifford and his team discovered five pirate ship wrecks in the seabed of Sainte-Marie. Today, it is possible to visit them during underwater dives.
Sainte Marie is an island renowned for its pleasant and friendly inhabitants. Today the island has a population of about 27,000. The main town of Sainte-Marie is Ambodifotatra. Half of the island is francophone, and a large part of tourist guides speak English. The small island of Sainte Marie lives from tourism which is the first source of activity and income for the inhabitants.
A flagship destination in the East of Madagascar, the island of Sainte-Marie, with its tales, legends and beliefs is still well preserved from mass tourism, making it an ideal destination for travellers seeking tranquility.
Sainte-marie a paradisiac destination
Sainte Marie offers a tropical and idyllic landscape. It is the perfect place to relax. If you want a dream place and aspire to calm and rest, you will be seduced by the coastline of Sainte Marie, its sea with turquoise and translucent colors, its white sand beach set with a row of coconut trees. To the north and west of Sainte Marie visit natural swimming pools, or explore the primary forests of Ste Marie to discover the rich flora and fauna of the island. For a complete disconnect, opt for a sea excursion. Go scuba diving to discover underwater treasures, or simply escape to the sea while enjoying the passage of humpback whales.
Sainte-Marie, an island with rich biodiversity
Explore the tropical forests of Sainte Marie :
Sainte-marie is an authentic sanctuary for fauna and flora. This is illustrated by the three main forest ranges of the island: Ampanihy Forest, Ikalalao Forest, and Ambohidena Forest.
The Ampanihy Mangrove Forest covers 11.4 km2. It is the least visited given its isolation and its location on the slightly wilder coast of the island. However the bay of Ampanihy has a huge mangrove forest that you can travel in traditional canoe. You will see the various mangroves where the roots come out in the open air.
The Ikalalao forest is a perfectly preserved secondary forest. Extending over 15km2, it is accessible by the Antanandava waterfall. This rainforest is home to a natural corner that deserves a little detour. Do not hesitate to take a walk in this rainforest to discover the riches it contains.
The Ambohidena forest is also home to a rich fauna and flora on 8km2. There are dozens of palm species (such as the Dypsis santa maria, an endemic esopee), trees of rare species such as rosewood, and several varieties of orchids such as the black orchid. Many chameleons of all sizes also live there. You can meet the smallest chameleon (the Brochesia minima a dwarf chameleon, the smallest in the world) or the chameleon of Parson (the second largest in the world). You can also come across parrots, parakeets, bats, and night lemurs like Microcèbe de Boraha or Microcebus boraha. A small nocturnal lemur endemic to Ste Marie.
Sainte-Marie Island and its tourist attractions
There is no shortage of activities on the small island of Sainte-Marie. Here are the highlights of the Sainte-Marie island :
The oldest church in Madagascar is in Sainte Marie :
The sainte marie's church of Ambodifotatra is a historic monument. It is the oldest Catholic church in Madagascar. The church was built of cut stone and dates from 1857. It is located on a hill at the southern exit of the island.
Albrand Lighthouse :
Albrand Lighthouse was built in 1931. It is located 5 km from Ambatoroa. By accessing the albrand lighthouse, you will have the best view of the island with a splendid view of Sainte Marie.
The natural swimming pools of Ambodiatafana :
It is a corner of paradise consisting of three 3 wave pools. They form the natural pools of Ambodiatafana. The swimming pool of Antsarirabe is suitable for swimming, the swimming pool of Antsarirakelitry is a sacred place where sandals are not allowed and where coins are thrown with a wish. The third pool to the south is a small lagoon where the current is particularly strong. The locals strongly advise against swimming.
The "île aux nattes" (Island of Pigtails) or Nosy Nato
The "île aux nattes" is a small island located south of Sainte-Marie and accessible by canoe. The island is home to the famous ancient pirate cemetery with rich 18th century stories and legends.
The "île aux nattes" fascinates for its heavenly beach. It is the dreamed place to completely disconnect from the world. The "île aux nattes" has an endemic flora. You can see the "Queen of Madagascar", an orchid endemic to the "île aux nattes". This orchid grows in the houppier of the leaves of the Pandanus. You will also see the "periwinkles of Madagascar" a plant known for the treatment of cancer.
The humpback whales
When we talk about Sainte-Marie or Nosy Boraha, we immediately think of the whales. These mammal are the emblem of Sainte Marie. They even speak of the Sainte Marie island as the capital of the cetacean enthusiasts.
Indeed, Sainte Marie Island receives every year from half of June to September the famous humpback whales (megaptera novaeangliae). One of the largest migratory species.
Travelling from Antarctica, the humpback whales get in the protected waters of the Canal de Sainte Marie to breed or give birth. Humpback whales can approach up to 100m from shore and can be seen from the beach. An extraordinary spectacle offered every year to the residents of the island.
Since 2015, an event is held annually on the island of Sainte-Marie: "the whale festival". An event organized jointly by Cetamada, the Sainte-Marie tourist office and the local population that celebrates the migration of whales in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. The festival also aims to highlight the protection of these marine mammals and their environment.
Information about the climate of Sainte-Marie :
Sainte-Marie enjoys a tropical climate. Sainte-Marie is a city where precipitation is higher in summer (December to May) than in winter (June to September). Sainte-Marie has an average annual temperature of 23.7°C. The temperature ranges from 21°C to 27°C.
Swimming in Sainte Marie
The annual water temperature in Sainte-Marie (Indian Ocean) averages 25.90°C and can reach 28°C in July.
How to reach Sainte Marie ?
To reach Ste Marie, take a 1h flight from Antananarivo. TSARADIA also offers flights to Sainte Marie from Toamasina during certain periods.
You can also opt for the boat from Toamasina, or from Mahambo and Soanierana Ivongo north of Toamasina. It takes at least 3 hours to reach Sonierana Ivongo.
Visit Sainte Marie
Local travel guides are available to fully visit the island of Sainte Marie and enjoy your stay.
Accommodation in Sainte Marie
Sainte Marie is one of the destinations in Madagascar offering the best hotel services at an excellent value for money. The choice is wide and you have a good chance of finding the hotel of your dreams, and at your budget. Most hotels in Sainte Marie offer complete services (airport shuttle, Wi-Fi, swimming pool, restaurant, bar, diving activities, massage service etc.).
Madagascar Airlines flights to Sainte-Marie
To Sainte Marie (SMS), Madagascar Airlines offers up to 3 flights per week from Antananarivo (TNR), and up to 2 flights per week from Toamasina (Tamatave - TMM).
Book your flight ticket now, and take advantage of the cheapest fares to Boraha Island.