Diego Suarez, located in the north of Madagascar, was named after a Portuguese explorer. There is influence from Arabic and Indian architecture, with a beautiful bay and surrounding area. The north of Madagascar is a much more chill vibe than most of Madagascar, a lovely break from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the country.
Make sure to come on a Sunday, when everyone heads to Ramena for a big day of partying. Diego is a great city to explore, has some of the best food in the country, and has some amazing parks to explore.
Read on to learn how you can split your time between Diego Suarez and Ramena to get a full week of activities in the area. Enjoy your trip!
Content and photographs provided by Yana Kogan and Timon.
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5 Fun Adventures to Have in Diego Suarez
1. Take a Walking Tour of Diego Suarez
- Check out the food stalls just off Rue Colbert
- Walk down to the abandoned military hotel at the end of Rue Colbert
- Head over to Point Joffre overlooking the Port and Bay
- Head down to Le Melville restaurant for a sundowner, for the best rum arrange in Madagascar
2. Go on a Day Trip to Tsingy Rouge and Amber Mountain National Park
Combine Tsingy Rouge and Amber Mountain into one day for a perfect adventure, while saving on hiring a 4×4 car for the day. The tour will leave early in the morning from Diego around 7 am and you will return in the evening sometime between 6 pm and 8 pm depending on your hike at Amber Mountain.
One of the main highlights of Madagascar was Tsingy Rouge. Unlike Tsingy de Bemaraha, Tsingy Rouge is situated in a lovely canyon, with several viewpoints to see the colors and shapes beneath you. The red and white coloration makes for lovely photos. There is a short walk down to a section where you can walk up to the red rock formations.
Amber Mountain is a large mountain rainforest that is 40km from Diego with very lush green plant life and lots of animals. You can choose from several hikes to go on, including a short, medium, or long walk. The cost is different depending on the length of the hike which includes a guide.
Book with Toto Circuits Diego. They have an office in Diego at 08 Rue Sadi-Carnot Place Kabary or contact them at 00261 32 05 597 75. At the time of writing, the costs were as follows:
- 4×4 Car hire for the day 250,000 Ar
- Tsingy – 10K Ar at park entry
- Amber Mountains MNP Ticket 55,000 Ar pp
- Guide 50,000 Ar – 75,000 Ar
3. Visit the Emerald Bay
This beautiful bay is just a short boat ride from Ramena. Come for a day trip to enjoy one of the best beaches in Madagascar. Your boat will bring you right to this beach where you can relax, lay in the sun, or chill under the cover of your private “hut.”
Your team of fishermen will go out fishing in the morning and return at lunchtime to cook an excellent meal. You will leave around 2 pm to head back to Ramena to finish your tour. Booking from Diego will include transfers to and from Ramena.
COST: 70,000 Ar per person book with Toto Circuits Diego which includes a private transfer from Diego. You can also book in Ramena with several boatmen near the pier the day before you would like to go on the excursion, for 60,000 Ar.
4. Hike to the Three Bays
The Three Bays is located on the Indian Ocean coastline near Ramena. You can start this hike in Ramena and hike entirely on your own to Sakalava (4-5 hours). This is a good option, then you can hire a taxi to return to Ramena.
Another option is to hire quads for the day, which take you to several bays, including Sakalava starting from 80 Euro. For the hike, head to the beach in Ramena and turn right. You can stay on the beach until you reach the military guard post. Pay a 10,000 AR entry fee for non-nationals to the military complex. You can walk around and explore the abandoned complex. Make sure to go to the fortress with old canons above a very scenic rocky beachfront.
Continue on the trail, which will split. Stay on the left to go to the abandoned lighthouse and see great views down the coastline. The trail will continue walking through the forest until you reach the first bay.
From the first bay, you can walk entirely on the beach or a path right off the beach to Sakalava. The best section of this hike is after the second bay, on the long stretch to Sakalava Beach. Finish at the very large Sakalava Bay, where it is well-known for Kite Boarding. Head to the Sakalava Lodge at the end of the beach, enjoy a refreshing drink and ask them to arrange for a Taxi or car hire back to Ramena.
COSTS: 10,000 Ar per person entry at old Military complex if hiking from Ramena to Sakalava. From Sakalava, you can hire a taxi or private car for 30,000 Ar to 40,000 Ar. Quad tours start from 80 Euro.
5. Attend the Ramena Sunday Party
Every Sunday, all of the locals head to Ramena for a beach party. Start your day around noon or 1 pm, where you can join a buffet and live music lunch at one of the several stalls. Join the relaxed environment and buffet at Badamera, which includes appetizers, entrees, and desserts with live music. Following a much-needed siesta, head down to the pier for where the real Sunday party gets rowdy and the drinks flow until 10 pm.
Where to Stay in Diego Suarez and Ramena
Budget Stay in Diego Suarez: Hotel Belle Vue has private rooms with a shared bath for 25K Ar ($7 USD)
Mid-Range Stay in Diego Suarez: La Belle Aventure has private rooms from 85k Ar ($25 USD)
Eat in Diego Suarez: La Cantine, entrée’s from 7K Ar to 12K Ar ($2 – $3.50 USD)
Budget Stay in Ramena: Badamera has bungalows from 25K Ar to 50K Ar per night ($7 – $14 USD)
Mid-Range Stay in Ramena: Hotel Lakana Ramena has nice bungalows for 100K Ar ($30 USD)
That’s it – we hope you have a wonderful time in your Diego Suarez Adventure!
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