Travel Guide for Ile aux Nattes, Madagascar

Travel Guide to Paradise: Ile aux Nattes

Looking for paradise in Madagascar? Look no further, Ile aux Nattes is calling your name. This small island is directly next to the more commonly known island of Ile Saint Marie. It 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.

Ile Aux Nattes: Paradise
Paradise on Ile aux Nattes

Content and photographs provided by Yana Kogan and Timon.

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Complete Guide to Ile aux Nattes

Getting There

How to Get to Saint Marie

Ile Aux Nattes: Madagascar

To get to Ile aux Nattes, you must first get to Ile Saint Marie. Most start this journey from Tamatave (Toamasina). From Tamatave, you can book directly with companies who will then have a 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

How to Get to Ile aux Nattes

Ile Sainte Marie: Private Beach
Private Beach at Chez Sica

Get a rickshaw for 10K Ariary to the South Point, where you take a Pirogue boat ride (2K Ariary) across to Ile aux 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 aux 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 is a 20-minute walk on the path that leads you to your oasis.

Several Bungalows with hammocks and patio’s overlooking the stunning ocean immediately grab your attention. The welcoming hosts a quiet private beach, and the chill vibe will make you want to stay for weeks. 

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Food in Ile aux Nattes

Sainte Marie: Bungalow
Chez Sica Bungalow

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 aux 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 aux Nattes, you can get bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, carrot, onion, ginger, beans, eggs, coconut, pasta, and cooking oil. 

Things to Do in Ile aux Nattes

Go Whale Watching

Ile Aux Nattes: Whale Watching
Whale Watching

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, whereas 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 three hours.

Stay in Saint Marie

Ile Sainte Marie: Waterfalls
Cascading Waterfalls

Stay two nights in Saint Marie at the end of the trip, giving you one 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. 

Sainte Marie: Madagascar
On Top of the Abandoned Lighthouse on Saint Marie

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 halfway) 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 in Ile aux Nattes

Sainte Marie: Pirate Cemetery
Pirate Cemetery on Saint Marie

Stay in Ile Aux Nattes: Bamboo Village is a good choice if you’re looking for a budget stay. And Maningory is a bit more expensive but offers more amenities.

Stay in Ile Saint Marie: If you want to splurge for a few nights, a stay Princesse Bora Lodge & Spa will be an experience you’ll never forget!

Eat in Ile Saint Marie: La Cambusa has amazing pizza and homemade pasta, from 10K Ar

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That’s it – we hope you enjoy the beautiful island of Ile Aux Nattes!

Planning a trip to Madagascar? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!

About the Author:

  • Yana and Timon

    Yana & Timon met at college in Boston, Massachusetts. After graduating, they started their professional careers. They moved to San Francisco in 2010, a city they loved living in for nearly six years.

    After working and saving up money for several years, they quit their jobs and set off on an adventure of a lifetime. They started living a nomadic lifestyle in December 2015 and have not looked back since.

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