Nosy Be - Guide Madagascar - Détours Madagascar

Nosy Be

This volcanic island is located in the northwest of Madagascar and is nicknamed the island of perfumes. It is famous for its dream beaches bathed by a transparent sea, its shallow seabed, its small paradisiac islets which are sunny almost all year round…. Nosy Be makes you dream!

Nosy Be’s History

The island's history began long before colonization, when Nosy Be was known as "Assada" or "Sada" around the 9th century. Around year 900, the Arabs who periodically visited the island to get supplies created the first trading post: Mahilika. Thus, in 1200, Mahilika became Madagascar's most important city.

Following Mahilaka's decline in 1400, the Indians decided to settle in Ambanoro. It was only in 1839 that the French discovered Nosy Be Island when they were looking for a new military port to replace Port-Louis (Mauritius). Navy infantry captain Pierre Passot was in charge of the mission. Passot, assisted by sailors and a missionary (Father Dalmond) chose Nosy Be’s safest harbour, in which he founded a military post, which he named Hell-Ville in honour of the Bourbon’s governor. Nosy Be was quickly colonized and became an important trading post on Madagascar's west coast in the 19th century.

Discover Nosy Be

Sea side:

  • Beach: Green turtles are present on the island all year round, while hawksbill turtles come here from October to February to lay their eggs. It is necessary to leave early in the morning to observe these marine giants at Nosy Tanikely or Nosy Sakatia’s underwater reserve. Snorkeling and picnic lunch await you.
  • Diving: There are also many diving sites with very colourful seabeds, rich in an extraordinary aquatic fauna that thrives in the heart of a magnificent coral reef: turtles or whale sharks can be regularly observed.
  • Cruise: A cruise aboard a sailing boat or a dhow allows you to visit charming islets for more authenticity. You will discover dream beaches, traditional villages and wild bays.
  • Deep-sea fishing: Sea excursions are also an opportunity to engange in deep-sea fishing: jacks, swordfish, marlin, yellowfin tuna, dog tooth tuna, etc.
  • Passage of whales, dolphins… Some service providers offer a hydrophone to listen to humpback whales singing (from July to September) or dolphins' communication calls. It is also possible to swim nearby.

Land side:

  • Lokobe National Park: The island culminates at Mount Lokobe, an extinct volcano at an altitude of 455 metres; Mount Passot is 329 metres high. Its sacred lakes of volcanic origin, its primary forests, including the Lokobe reserve, are home to remarkable flora and fauna.
  • NosyTanikely National Park: This small island is a paradise for diving enthusiasts! There are sting rays, clownfish, butterflyfish, etc.
  • Other private parks: It is also possible to visit private islands, including Nosy Antsoha, home to a lemur nature reserve. Here, the newlyweds may want to rent a perched cabin called the "Lov Room".
  • Mount Passot: this site is the most visited on the island due to the magnificent views of the crater lakes, lush vegetation and the sunset with village entertainment.
  • Plantations: Nosy Be is also famous for its plantations of vanilla, cloves, coffee, cocoa and especially Ylang Ylang. And let us not forget the sugar cane plantations for sugar and the famous Malagasy rum’s production. Ambanja is among other things an excellent destination to visit the plantations and distilleries.
  • Population and traditions: It is resolutely cosmopolitan, even if the main ethnic groups are the Antakarana and the Sakalava. The Marodoka village offers the opportunity to discover the island's cultural richness, with its Swahili and Indian influences among others. Traditional dances and music will liven up your tour!
  • Festivals: Attending the Donia festival in May is the best way to discover the kindness and hospitality of Malagasy people. This event brings together Malagasy musicians and other artists from the Indian Ocean.

Accommodation by the sea

  • This small and very pleasant island on the Mozambique Channel is bathed in sunshine and softness. It is a charming destination that perfectly combines exoticism and comfort. There are hotels offering small bungalows on the beach as well as large concrete complexes. Its paradisiac white sandy beaches and turquoise waters are ideal for water sports and idleness.


NosyBe has a humid tropical climate, with a dry season between April and December and a wet season between December and March. Its annual rainfall is 2200mm, with an average annual temperature of 26°C. In general, the destination enjoys 320 days of sunshine per year.


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