Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, is located off the southeast coast of Africa, in the western Indian Ocean. The coral reef stretching over 450km along its southwestern coast (the fifth largest reef in the world), but also the numerous islands and islets scattered along Madagascar shoreline makes it one of the region’s best snorkeling destinations. Whale sharks, clownfish, manta rays and sea turtles are among the underwater fauna you might expect to encounter while snorkeling the island.
Madagascar is a paradise for snorkelers. Its reefs are renowned for being populated by nearly 300 coral species and 400 tropical fish species, including clownfish, lionfish, angelfish, butterflyfish, and Napoleon wrasse.
Sea turtles have commonly seen grazing on the seagrass meadows, while manta rays can be spotted in some specific locations. Madagascar is one of the rare destinations where you can easily snorkel with humpback whales: during the whale migration season, from late August to early December, these fascinating animals are seen on an almost daily basis.
The Nosy Be archipelago, Ste Marie Island, and the Southwest coast of the main island (North and South of Tulear) are the three hotspots for snorkeling in Madagascar.
Laying off the northwestern coast of Madagascar, the Nosy Be area hosts dozens of good snorkeling spots, on the main island but also on the neighboring islands and islets.
The seagrass beds of Nosy Sakatia (frequented by sea turtles), Nosy Fanihy, Nosy Iranja and Nosy Vorona all offers excellent shore snorkeling, but the mass tourism has contributed to the deterioration of the coral reefs in some areas.
Nosy Tanikely, covered by a marine reserve and hosting some of the healthiest corals of Madagascar, is renowned to be the best snorkeling site in the area.
Off the east coast of Madagascar, Ste Marie Island, and Île aux Nattes, fringed by a lagoon on their eastern side, are also a great options. The southwestern coast of Madagascar, edged by a coral reef, is the best snorkeling on the shoreline of the main island.
Around Tulear, head to Ifaty, Mangily, Belo-sur-Mer, or Nosy Ve (a tiny islet located in front of Anakao) to explore one of the largest barrier reef in the world.
Madagascar is a huge island with a varied climate. In Nosy Be, the climate is tropical, hot, and humid all year round, with a drier season from May to October, which is the best time to visit.
The east coast (where Ste Marie Island is located) is the wettest, and the southwest (including the barrier reef) is arid. Avoid the rainy season, from December to February, when rains occur almost every day and cyclones sometimes hit the island.
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Can be seen almost everywhere; very common in Nosy Sakatia seagrass beds. Frequently spotted in Nosy Tanikely.
Common on many spots; frequently sighted in Nosy Be area, especially at Nosy Sakatia and Tsarabanjina
On most of reef spots; common at Tsarabanjina and Nosy Tanikely.
On all spots
On all spots, even a few meters from the beach
On all spots, but can be hard to see
On all reef spots
Resort island edged by coral reefs
Marine park with vibrant coral reef and sea turtles
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