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Diving in Madagascar

Head off on an unforgettable adventure in search of untouched corals, humpbacks and whale sharks.

Diving in Madagascar

Quick facts

Madagascar is a country that occupies a large island of the same name, located in the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of Africa.

As large as France, the country also includes smaller islands just offshore form the mainland, including Nosy Be and many smaller islands such as Nosy Iranja, Nosy Tanikely and Nosy Boraha. Due to the size of the island, the country boasts a plethora of different landscapes making it the perfect destination for adventurous divers. From dense jungles, to open plains, dry shrub lands and beautiful beaches, you'll be amazed with the diversity you can find with the right guide to help you make the most out of your trip.

Despite Madagascar's beauty, it is the 4th poorest nation worldwide. For that reason, it is not recommended to head off the beaten track alone, or stroll around at night. However, if you can stick to some basic safety precautions, a trip to this remote country could be one of the best natural adventures of your life!

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. However, this area is generally preserved for coral protection and conservation research, with significant international research going on in the area. 

Every year, 10% of the world's population of humpback whales migrate 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.

Recommended training

We recommend you get your PADI Deep Diver certification, as well as the Project AWARE Specialty. Both of these will help you get the most out of Madagascar's underwater treats in a sustainable, responsible way. 

When to go

Diving throughout the year is great, with the exception of January till March when intense rains come and halt water-based activities, and make getting around the island very difficult.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Where to dive

Due to the remote nature of Madagascar, there is often just as much to see during the surface interval as thier is during the dive itself. It's not uncommon to see whales, whale sharks or dolphins if you keep an eye on the horizon!

Humpback whales migrate past the island from July to October.

Whale sharks are around between September and November.

Hammerhead sightings are most common between December and January.

Equally, the fact that many dive sites remain unexplored means you're often better off throwing your plans away and leaving your encounters up to fate (or your experienced dive guide) - you never know what you will encounter... 

    USD 860Per person for 7 nights for 2 divers
    USD 720Per person for 7 nights for 2 divers

    These are a few hotspots that any thorough diver would not like to miss; 

    The Wrecks - a shrimp fishing boat sunk between Nosy Be and Nosy Tanikely, teeming with colorful reef fish.

    Shark Point - a deep dive site with a submerged plateau. A great dive for deep divers, as you can hover below the strong currents and watch great numbers of sharks glide by. 

    Nosy Tanikely National Park - a protected island and surrounding reef teeming with healthy corals and all manner of vibrant reef life. 

    Further to the above, keen divers may be interested in researching; 

    • 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.

    What to see

    Giant turtles, rays, scorpion fish, grey sharks, hammerheads, lobster, barracuda and a great variety of sizeable and impressive hard and soft coral species are not uncommon. 


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

    Most likely sightingsPossible sightings


    French, Malagasy, English
    Malagasy Ariary
    GMT +3
    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)

    Other attractions

    Madagascar is rich in unique flora and fauna, whether it's the cute limas, iconic boaab trees or expertly disguised chameleons, its worth taking some time to explore above land as well as below the waves. Those staying on Nosy Be in search of forgotten paradise should also make time for a day trip to Nosy Tanikely Island, or the sand bank at Nosy Iranja. Both islands are without any real tourism infrastructure, and offer a true escape complete with fine white sand, lush vegetation, friendly locals and many excellent snorkelling opportunities. 

    Getting there

    • 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.


    Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

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