Nosy Be is one of the islands of the Mitsio archipelago off the northern tip of Madagascar, and, with its beautiful sea and sandy beaches, is the country’s most popular holiday spot. The island offers great diving and fishing, as well as island hopping, or you can visit the lemurs in the Lokobe Reserve, explore the sacred lakes, villages and forests, smell the exotic perfume plants growing on the island including ylang-ylang, vanilla, lemongrass and patchouli, and bargain for spices in the local market.
The one place I can whole-heartedly recommend is a small beach hotel on a private island in the Mitsio Archipelago off the north-west coast of Madagascar, 40 miles from Nosy Be. The Tsarabanjina Hotel has 25 comfortable A-framed chalets split between the north and south beaches of the island and is surrounded by acres of lovely lush vegetation and crystal clear waters. The thatched chalets are set under palm trees, and all have a private terrace looking out to sea. They have a bathroom with shower and a separate loo, and ceiling fans in the bedroom. The sand is white and the water clear, and there’s fantastic snorkelling only yards from the shore, where you can see lovely corals, fish, sea fans and even turtles. The emphasis is on relaxation but for the more active there are plenty of things to do with windsurfing, water-skiing, catamaran sailing and volleyball. There are daily trips to islands and snorkelling excursions, excellent scuba diving and deep-sea fishing. Massage and reflexology are also on offer. The restaurant and bar areas are on yet another beach where you can watch the sun set and have a game of backgammon while the barman mixes a mean cocktail. The house speciality, an exquisite banana or spiced rum, is the perfect way to round off the evening. The food is high quality French cuisine. There is an a la carte menu at dinner with delicious seafood and a large buffet at breakfast and lunch. This is a beautiful beach destination, totally unspoilt and the perfect place for relaxing after a safari in southern Africa.