Approximately 63 km long, 5 Km width and 180 km surfacee, the island of Sainte Marie is surrounded by smaller islands and located North-East of Tamatave and close to the eastern coast of Madagascar, approximately 8 km. It can be reached by air from Antananarivo (a mere 50 minutes flight), or by boat from Tamatave.
The island was originally called Nosy Boraha, but the Portuguese navigators who settled there in the beginning of the XVI century called it Santa Maria.
Sainte Marie is still not a tourist destination and thus is still unspoilt. Most of the sixteen thousand inhabitants continue to live according to the customs and traditions that was characteristic centuries ago when the island was a famous shelter for pirates: they live in huts, fish and cultivate their land rising and go to sleep according to sun light as did their ancestors before them.
The island is still unknown to mass tourism and therefore it’s perfect for lovers of quiet and relaxing atmospheres, of nature and wildlife, where it is easy to find and admire palm forests, coconut trees, Ravinala and Raffia, cloves, vanilla, cinnamon and orchids which grow in abundance, as well as the whitest beaches and an emerald sea, protected on the eastern side by the coral reef.
The island is prevails a sense of peace and tranquillity and the beauty and joy of its inhabitants render it unique; a quality much appreciated by visitors.
The island is covered by large spaces occupied by tropical forests, home to the lemurs and it’s also the place where the rare black orchid blooms; even the most demanding and experienced visitor can not but be moved by this sensational gift from Nature.
The east coast is protect by a one splendid coral reef; and on the headland facing Madagascar humpback whales, in large numbers, are sheltered from July to October, when they come to mate and feed their calves.
The sea rich with an immense variety of fish will satisfy the wildest expectations of any sub-diver.
The capital city of Sainte Marie is Ambodifotatra (video)
which is situated in the south of the island, 12 Km from the airport and 32 km from our Resort.
Here you can visit the most ancient catholic Church of Santa Maria, constructed in 1857, the stronghold fort, whose door still bears the coat of arms of the King of France, Louis XV, there are also the remains of the East India Company’s port.
The Island is also called the Pirates island because it was inhabited by famous pirates of the Caribbean and the Island of Tortuga.
They made their headquarters here between the end of the XVII and beginning of the XVIII centuries because the island was on the main route to India.
According to some writers nearly a thousand pirates lived here at one time, and some curious legends are still spoken about today.
Some of the pirates graves can be visited and in fact it is still possible to discover tombs with picture engravings and incisions.
A true tropical paradise, Sainte Marie can be visited using several forms of transport such as bikes, scooters or small canoes (video)
to visit the small villages and be in contact with their hospitable inhabitants.