Looking for paradise in Madagascar? Look no further, Ile Nattes is calling your name. This small island that is directly next to the more commonly known island of Ile Saint Marie, is simply paradise. It is affordable, has a small village that retains its Malagasy traditions and culture, it’s very clean, friendly, and best of all, it has gorgeous beaches.
How to Get Saint Marie and Ile Aux Nattes
To get to Ile Aux Nattes, you must first get to Ile Saint Marie. Most start this journey from Tamatave (Taomasina). From Tamatave, you can book directly with companies who will then have private bus transfer to Soanierana Ivongo. Then you take a ferry across the channel to Ile Saint Marie. If staying one night in Tamatave, stay at Hotel Eden and eat at La Terrasse. Book with Cap St. Marie. They have an office in Tamatave, or call beforehand to make a reservation. They will pick you up at your hotel at 5:45 AM and bring you to their office for payment.
COST: 80k Ariary one way, or 140k Ariary when you buy round trip tickets
Get a rickshaw for 10K Ariary to the South Point, where you take a Pirogue boat ride (2K Ariary) across to Ile Nattes. Get a drop off directly to your hotel for around 15K Ariary total. Welcome to Paradise. There are no cars or roads on Ile Nattes, so if you get dropped off just across the channel from Saint Marie, follow one of the two paths depending on which side of the island you are staying on. Turn right for Chez Sica, which a 20-minute walk on the path leads you to your oasis. Several Bungalows with hammocks and patio’s overlooking the stunning ocean immediately grab your attention. The welcoming hosts, quiet private beach, and the chill vibe will make you want to stay for weeks.
Food in Ile Nattes
Chez Sica offers breakfast only, but they do have a self-catered kitchen, which is rare for Madagascar. You can always eat out at the several restaurants on the island. You also can bring food to cook. The village in Ile Nattes does not have much to buy and basic staples are expensive (for Madagascar standards), so bring everything from Tamatave. Here you will have the best variety and prices to choose from. If not, you can stock up at the market in Saint Marie but their selection will be more limited than Tamatave. On Ile Nattes, you can get bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, carrot, onion, ginger, beans, eggs, coconut, pasta, and cooking oil.
During the season from June through September, humpback whales migrate from Antarctica to Ile Saint Marie to calve and mate before heading back to the chilly waters. You can go on a whale watching tour. Ask the hotel to help book for you, as they know different boatmen with small motor boats who will take you out for 75K Ariary per person. This is a bargain compared to the 120K Ariary prices with the large boats and companies in Saint Marie. Prepare to get wet on these small boats, but the upside is you will likely get very close to the whales, where the bigger boats tend to stay far away. Leave in the early morning for the best chance to see the whales, while your tour should last around 3 hours.
Stay 2 nights in Saint Marie at the end of the trip, giving you 1 full day to explore Saint Marie before your early morning departure the following day. When going back to Tamatave, the boat leaves very early (5:30 AM) from Ile Saint Marie, so you should stay the night near the ferry before your morning departure.
Rent a scooter for 25K – 35K Ariary for the day. Drive all the way to the end of the road in the north of the island (35Km). Stop at the cascade waterfalls (about half way) and an abandoned lighthouse that you can explore. Near the main town of Ambodifototra, check out the Pirate Cemetery just past the second bridge going to the South Point (2K Ariary Entrance Fee).
Where to Stay
Stay in Ile Aux Nattes: Chez Sica 35,000 Ar bungalows with shared bath
Stay in Ile Saint Marie: La Banane 30,000 Ar private rooms
Eat in Ile Saint Marie: La Cambusa has amazing pizza and homemade pasta, from 10K Ar
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