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Diving in Madagascar

Diving in Madagascar

Quick facts

  • This is a malarial region. Avoid insect bites by wearing long sleeves and trousers and using effective insect repellant, particularly at dusk. Check for up-to-date information before travelling.
  • BE AWARE: Lariam (mefloquine) is an anti-malarial drug used in regions of the world where chloroquine resistant falciparum malaria is prevalent. e.g. East Africa, South East Asia. Possible side effects of lariam such as dizziness, blurred vision and a disturbed sense of balance are common and could cause problems for divers. These effects can often imitate or even worsen the symptoms of DCI. There could also be confusion between the side effects of lariam and the symptoms of DCI or nitrogen narcosis resulting in a misleading diagnosis.
  • Cholera is present. Never drink unpurified water. Bottled mineral water is readily available throughout the country. Seek advice before travelling.
  • Avoid ice cream and yoghurt.

When to go

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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What to see

Language:
French, Malagasy, English
Currency:
Malagasy Ariary
Time:
GMT +3
Climate:
Hot & subtropical
Natural hazards:
Monsoons bring storms and cyclones to the east and north from December to March.
Diving season:
Year round
Water temperature:
28C/83F (Jan-March)
25C/77F (July-Sept)
Air temperature:
21C/70F (Nov-April)
15C-20C (May-Oct)

Calendar

For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.

Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

Country

Clown Fish [courtesy Oliver Payne]Madagascar is a country that occupies a large island of the same name, located in the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of Africa. Geography was never my thing either... click here.

Deforestation is putting many species under strain in Madagascar It is thought to have more critically endangered and endangered primates than anywhere else in the world having lost about 90% of its original vegetation.

The best diving is to be had around the islands and islets surrounding Nosy Be on the north and west coasts. There are also some good diving sites in the south of the island and dive operators operating there, mainly around Ifaty.

Every year, 10% of the world's population of humpback whales migrates to Madagascar's waters. From June to September, the whales come from the Antarctic to breed in Madagascar's warmer waters. During this time they provide viewers with a magnificent mating display. By the end of August females give birth, and it is not unusual to see the mothers swimming with their calves.

Whales can be watched from Isle Sainte Marie, Tuléar, Fort Dauphin, Nosy Be and in the Antongil Bay, which remains one of the world's best places to see these imposing yet graceful creatures.

[Thanks to Oliver Payne for the photograph]

Getting there

  • The island of Ste Marie, off the east coast, for wrecks.
  • Ile Aux Nattes, a small island to the South of Ste Marie for coral formations
  • The Pagodas, an accessible, large coral formation (to 12m) with rays, lobster, tortoise and the range of coral species;
  • Paroi des Merous (to 40m), a site for experienced divers only, offers some exciting diving.
  • Further north, around La Cocoteraie, Anivorano Rocks offers diving on granitic rocks with barracuda, (to 20m); the wreck of a fishing boat is an easy dive (15m) providing magnificent photo opportunities; and
  • Pointe Alebrand (to 20m) is a beautiful dive, a sandy bed with granite boulders, grey shark, rays, barracuda. Humpback whales migrate past the island from July to October.
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