What’s so great about scuba diving in Madagascar?
Madagascar is an amazing country to explore. The culture is vibrant, the people are welcoming, the tropical atmosphere omnipresent. Even so, it cannot be fully appreciated without scuba diving.
I posted recently on Learning to Scuba Dive in Corfu, my first introduction to diving. The reefs surrounding Madagascar, however, far exceeded my expectations. It enabled me to connect with the rich, natural ecosystem in unimaginable ways, becoming part of the abundance of life.
Whether a prolific or novice diver, Madagascar has to be considered simply unmissable. Beneath the waves lies a spectacular treasure of hidden coral reefs, sheer rock formations, and impeccably clear waters.
Veritably exploding with fish, and other species, the raw presence of dazzling colours and shimmers is overwhelming. Fully appreciating the grandeur of Madagascar can only be achieved through venturing into the warm ocean.
Nosy Be, Madagascar
My journey to Madagascar was hosted by Frontier, affording me the delicious opportunity of enjoying scuba diving at various sites from their beach camp. Sadly, this volunteer charity fell victim to the pandemic, though plenty of memories remain.
There were several associated responsibilities I was held to, though diving was most fun. Our primary purpose was conducting research into population numbers of the different species occupying the surrounding reef, to gauge their health, and the impact of human traffic. This was also vital in feeding global estimates for various species.
Most of the sites were relatively shallow, between three and six meters. I occasionally struggled to manage my buoyancy at these depths, but there were positive aspects. Not only did it prevent the requirement for a safety stop when ascending, temperatures were higher, and by the lower pressure our air survived longer, allowing some dives to surpass the hour mark. Being submerged this long was spectacular, admiring the brilliant variation and, though populations have depleted in recent years, most numbers are still healthy.
Alongside a countless number of fish, including the typically elusive lionfish, we also witnessed a number of turtles, wonderfully graceful in motion.
At the deepest site, plummeting to fourteen meters below the surface, vivid sponges erupted from the murky sands at the bottom.
Scuba diving in Tanikely was very special. As might be evident, visibility could be occasionally impaired by the sandy base of the sites I explored around Nosy Be. Here, however, visibility was flawless, easily fifty meters in any direction, before melting into a deep blue. Understandably, Tanikely is often mentioned as a must-see destination for any Malagasy visitors.
Naturally, we were also blessed with enormous fish reserves. It was impossible not to be surrounded on all sides by fish encompassing the entire colour spectrum – an octopus even performed a brief cameo, before ducking back between the rocks.
Non-divers can, of course, still enjoy the unbelievable waters, more-than-accessible to any prospective snorkellers. Given the thriving ecosystem, several microscopic jellyfish also inhabit the surface, close to the sunlight, so it might be best to come prepared with a wetsuit as protection. It also allows for more time in the water without growing cold.
The pristine beaches and sands are remarkable by their own right. Tanikely National Park includes a watchtower, requiring a short and non-strenuous climb to visit, situated next to a small museum charting the most common species.
Alongside Iranja, an isolated sand spit within Malagasy waters, these two are, for me, the very definition of picturesque, tropical paradise. Boasting the very best of beach living, I doubt I’ll ever forget watching shooting stars in a perfect night sky, cosily ensconced by the temperate breeze.
Ambatoloaka, Nosy Be
Hell-Ville might be the capital of Nosy Be, but Ambatoloaka is more tourist-oriented. There’s a central strip with numerous bars and restaurants, alongside various other attractions. Thankfully, regardless of your accommodation, the towns are roughly only a forty-minute tuk-tuk ride apart (depending on your number of passengers).
It was here I had an entirely unique experience, through Forever Dive, operated by a lovely pair of French expats. We embarked on our dive at 9pm, my first night dive.
The inky blackness casts an entirely different shade (literally) over your surroundings, generating an ominous sensation in the eerie darkness.
The waters around Madagascar are relatively heavily trafficked by boats, being the only method of connecting most of them. This does prove detrimental, in producing background noise pollution, which travels especially well underwater. Though audible during the day, it’s entirely absent at night.
Many large crustaceans proved more active during these hours, startled momentarily by our torches. We also stumbled across a few slumbering fish, and even one dozing turtle. With all light extinguished, flickering bio-luminescence also became visible.
Madagascar is great.
It really is an incredible place. It’s warm, always buzzing with activity, and bears witness to daily, dramatic, and blazing sunsets. I have previously discussed the other activities I enjoyed, but the scuba diving was so remarkable it deserves special attention.
Not only is the wildlife abundant and beautiful, several species are also completely unique and worth seeing. Lemurs are perhaps the most famous, especially the ring-tail, though this still includes a number of different sub-species, as well as countless animals available nowhere else in the world.
It’s a fantastic country of luscious blues and greens, and highly recommended from me.
Thanks for reading! Exploring Madagascar was an incredible adventure, and I can’t wait for more journeys in the future. Where are you hoping to travel next? If you enjoyed these, check out my other travel posts. I also regularly post short stories and social commentaries, so check them out!
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