Diego-Suarez: a beautiful coastal city
Located at the northernmost tip of the Big Island, Diego-Suarez or Antsiranana stands out for its beautiful bays and lagoons. It is the perfect place to enjoy a peaceful stay in Madagascar while discovering an extraordinary underwater world. It is one of the country’s flagship destinations, not only for its enchanting charm, but mainly for its friendly and hospitable inhabitants.
Antsiranana, meaning “the place where salt is produced”, inherited the name of two Portuguese explorers named Diego Diaz, who arrived in 1500, and Fernando Suarez who landed on the bay in 1506. In 1885, in the time of the Protectorate, the French installed a military base there. Several British soldiers died during Ironclad operation in 1947, and were buried in the downtown cemetery. This locality served as a fleet base for the French until 1973.
Diego-Suarez is a cosmopolitan city where a friendly population lives under a calm and peaceful environment. Located in one of the largest and most beautiful bays in the world, Diego-Suarez is one of the Big Island’s top destinations.
Arranged in a checkerboard structure during the colonial period, the city is composed of two levels:
- The old city: concentrated around the village of Antomboko, consisting of about twenty huts
- The new city: composed of the former colonial city located in the lower part of the town, and of the new added districts that extend from Tanamabao I to Mahatsara.
Diego-Suarez is close to Amber Mountain and is surrounded to the east by the Indian Ocean and to the west by the Mozambique Channel. It consists of four magnificent coves, including the Andovazaha Bay where the famous Sugarloaf is located, the Cul-de-Sac Gallois and the Thunder Bay. Between the white sandy beaches, the Amber Mountain tropical forest and the tsingy of Ankarana, Diego Suarez is truly a land of discovery.
Between May and November, the climate is dry and becomes much wetter from December to April. The average temperature is 26°C, and can sometimes rise up to 30°C. Wear a large hat and sunglasses, mosquito repellent cream, sunscreen and light clothing during your stay in the city.
Little known fact: the bay of Diego-Suarez is the second largest in the world after Rio de Janeiro. A rocky islet lies in the middle of this, which is also called Sugarloaf. In downtown, Renault 4 cars (old French cars) are not running unnoticed. They are mainly used as taxis. The city has perhaps the largest per capita concentration of Renault 4 cars in the world.
- Kitesurfing on Sakalava Bay
- Walk through the city’s narrow streets to appreciate the charming colonial architecture and the hidden treasures of craft workshops.
- Discover the market, a dynamic place where all the inhabitants meet, to enjoy a brochette dish or find spices to accompany your dishes.
- Explore the bays, including the “Sugarloaf”, to contemplate the beauty of nature and take postcard-like.
- Learn deep-sea fishing or diving in Antsiranana Bay.
- Enjoy a relaxing day at Ramena beach and discover the fishing village.