SAINTE MARIE ISLAND
(or Nosy Bohara. MADAGASCAR)
Sainte Marie Island is located 8 km off from the east coast of Madagascar on the Indian Ocean, 40 minutes' flight from the capital city Antananarivo and about 2 hours' ferry from the mainland.
The name Sainte Marie was given by Portuguese sailors in XV century. They discovered the island on the Assumption day during a shipwreck and they gave it the name of the saint of the day: “Sainte Marie”. A legendary myth tells that a man called Ibrahim landed on the island and he was attacked by a group of women. That is the reason why the island is known as Nosy Mbavy (which means “the women's island”). The Malagasy name Nosy Boraha (Ibrahim's island) is less used.
It is a narrow and long granitic island (60 km long and 5 km wide) covered by a luxuriant primary forest made up of coconut palms, ravenala or “the traveller's palm” (symbol of Madagascar), perfumed carnation trees, many orchids species (the most famous is the queen of Madagascar).
The island contains many species of lemur, chameleons, turtles and wealth of birds. From July to September the coast becomes the residence of big humpback whales that during their migration, take their shelter to calve and couple, creating the most fascinating spectacle for the tourists.
Sainte Marie Island is also fascinating because of its history. In fact it was the centre of piracy and it provided groups of buccaneers and pirates from all over the world with secure shelters (William Kidd and Robert Cullford) and they plundered ships from the Indies laden with riches.
The island is to be seen also for the excursions and activities that are organized on land by off-road vehicles, quad and motorcycles. The sand islets can be reached by boats or pirogue (traditional wooden canoes).
Through mangroves and breath-taking views you arrive in white beaches washed by an emerald sea and protected by the coral reef.
The best season to visit Sainte Marie goes from May to January, when the climate is dry and the temperature is 25-30° C.
Watch the island of Sainte Marie on the map