Sweetness of live
Laying along the north-east coast of Madagascar, Sainte-Marie was our first stop, sailing from Mauritius. It’s 27 000 welcoming inhabitants and its warm atmosphere made our two weeks there the perfect place to start our adventure. Far from the recurrent violence of the main cities, Sainte-Marie is safe, even at night.
However, its history was not always so quiet, being the perfect shelter for famous pirates such as Thomas Bew, Thomas White, La Buse or David Williams, during the 17th century. Ships coming from the Indies loaded with spices and other valuable goods was their perfect prey. On the small island of Forbans you can still see graves in the pirates cemetery.
Nowadays, the only visitors in addition to the tourists, are the impressive humpback whales that come to breed a few kilometers from the coast. Coming far from the south, where they spent the southern summer, they choose Sainte-Marie channel every year (from mid june to september) to give birth. Being the first touristic attraction, under the control of Cetamada association, the humpback whales are respected, and whales safaris are well controlled.
Promoting sustainable tourism is clearly the option chosen by the island. Hotels are mostly small infrastructure with simple amenities but authentic charm whose architecture blends perfectly into the island vegetation.
For those looking for complete disconnection, ‘l’île aux nattes’, a few meters from the southern of Sainte-Marie joinable only by pirogues, is the perfect place. No roads, no vehicles, only tracks to discover the island and its small villages. A few small hotels has established themselves and offers exceptional settings like ‘Les Lémuriens’ in the south.
Far from any over fishing, the sea here is generous. The typical pirogues are easily filled with fish and shellfish. Cooked on wood fire, with fresh pressed coconut milk, paprika, ginger and garlic…
So, for those who want to escape from the stress of big cities and look for real change of scenery, Sainte-Marie is the destination. We loved this island.
Our TO DO LIST
- rent a 4×4, motorbike or a scooter and go along the east coast (be careful is offroad)
- take a tuk tuk to the north on the paved road of the west coast
- be amazed by the whales bridal ballet. Contact Cetamada association
- try a slipper lobster with coconut milk at Joelle and Charlin’s small restaurant (‘Le Plaisir’) on the road from Ambodifotatra to the south, or a ravioli garnish with zebu at the Idylle Beach restaurant in town
- spend a few days at ‘lyle aux nattes’ and take the time to get lost in the trails of the small island
- if you’re lucky, go for some beers at Ockie’s bar (‘La petite Traversée’) on a full moon party