Some of Madagascar’s best beaches (and snorkeling) are found at offshore islets. On the east coast, just south of Ile Sainte Marie, head to Ile Aux Nattes (keep your eyes seaward for migrating whales during the summer), then make your way north to the tropical isles of Nosy Be (Andilana beach is a favorite) and Nosy Tanikely, where the attractive beach borders a reef-rich marine preserve.
A favorite stop on nature tours, the Berenty Private Reserve near Fort Dauphin is (by Malagasy standards) an easy-to-see treasure trove of wildlife. The broad trails are mostly flat, the guides are top notch, and the reserve’s dry woodlands and bush are home not only to troops of lemurs (ringtails, browns, and Verreaux’ sifakas among them) but an amazing variety of birds (including the white-browed owl) – as well as the Madagascar fruit bat. And rest easy: The reserve is also the site of one of the island’s more pleasant lodges.
The lilting sounds of the rich Malagasy musical heritage burst onto the world music scene in the early 1990s with the release of a CD, A World Out of Time, that featured some of the island’s finest musicians. The music, centered on dance rhythms that borrow from both the African mainland and Indonesia, is hauntingly lovely – especially in the hands of such masters as Rossy, D’Gary, and the group Tarika Sammy.