The Beautiful Islands of St. Marie & Ile aux Natte

ile natte madagascar beach view
View of Île aux Nattes from the bay.

            I took my last vacation in Madagascar on two small islands off the eastern coast of Madagascar; Île Sainte-Marie and Île aux  Natte.  St. Marie has been on my ‘To Do’ list since I first arrived in Madagascar and I was extremely happy to finally get the chance to see it.  The island, though it brings in a lot of both international and Malagasy tourists, doesn’t have too much of a touristy feel to it and one can easily get away and be immersed in the Malagasy way of life there. 

sainte marie madagascar malagasy house beach
Malagasy house on the beach in Sainte Maire.

Once a haven for Pirates, St. Marie still has that rustic tropical island feel that the pirates once inhabiting her coast must have felt centuries ago.  One can easily fill as if you have fallen back in history as you stroll down the winding palm tree lined roads that circle the natural bays there.  Overlooking one of these bays, upon a hilltop, the island still has a pirate cemetery!

sainte marie madagascar pirate cemetery
Pirate cemetery on Sainte Marie.

sainte marie madagascar pirate grave
Pirate grave with skull and crossbones in Sainte Marie.

St. Marie sits divided from Madagascar, with a channel on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other.  This channel between Madagascar and St Marie is well known for whale watching and brings tourist from all over the world to see the humpback whales up close.  Tour boats to see the whales run out of both St. Marie and Île aux Nattes and on any given day during whale watching season you are sure to see any number of them.  On my excursion I was lucky enough to see both adult and young humpbacks and the adults weren’t only swimming, but also breaching and slapping the water with their fins!

sainte marie madagascar humpback whale breaching
Humpback whale breaching in Sainte Marie.

sainte marie madagascar humpback whale slapping water
Humpback whale slapping the water in Sainte Marie.

Just south of St Marie is the extremely beautiful and exotic Île aux Natte.  I think that it could be easily argued that Île aux Natte has the most beautiful beaches in all of Madagascar.  It is the very definition of an exotic island; palm trees reaching for the tropical sun over white sand beaches, overlooking clear blue shallow water.  Couple all of that with some Malagasy rhum, food, and all of the Black and White Ruffed Lemurs that run freely on the island and you have yourself paradise! 

ile nattes madagascar beach view sainte marie
Beach view on Île aux nattes looking towards Sainte Marie.

Whether you are looking for some down time on a beautiful beach, whale watching, immersing yourself in some Malagasy culture and life, getting up close to some lemurs, or just want an island get away, the islands of St Marie and Île aux Nattes is for you.

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