Madagascar is larger than most people think—at nearly 250,000 square miles, it is the 47th largest country by size. With this much land—and, notably, a lot of sea access—the country offers a range of unique experiences for locals and travelers alike. Below are my five favorite places to visit in Madagascar.
Avenue of the Baobabs: If you don’t know what a Baobab is, don’t worry—you’re not alone. Baobabs are large, unusual trees endemic to the island of Madagascar. It is an endangered species threatened by the growth and development of agricultural land. These trees have massive, cylindrical trunks that can measure up to three meters across. Covered in smooth, reddish-grey bark, they can be almost 100 feet tall. The Avenue of the Baobabs is a prominent group of these trees lining the road between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina in the Menabe region of western Madagascar. The landscape draw travelers from around the world; if you find yourself in the area, this is something you do not want to miss.
Beaches: Madagascar is an island—it goes without saying that this country offers some of the most beautiful and accessible beaches in the world. From Nosy Nato, a classic tropical island with white-sand beaches, to Anakao, an iconic stretch of turquoise water and pearly sand, you are never far from an unforgettable beach scene.
Big Tsingy Stone Forest: This natural attraction is one of the main draws for Madagascar’s environmental tourism. The Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve is located near the western coast of Madagascar, and it is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is the world’s largest stone forest, filled to the brim with spiked towers or eroded limestone. Despite the area’s cold and inhospitable appearance, it is home to several types of bird and lemur.
Whale Watching: Travelling to Madagascar is not often associated with whale watching. However, this country offers some of the most spectacular views of humpback whales in the world. Head to the eastern coast to visit Saint Marie between June and September to see these massive mammoths breach throughout the day.
Antananarivo: This city, the capital and largest in Madagascar, is one of the most interesting places on the island. Nearly three million residents comprise the metropolitan area, and it is home to the largest number of universities, nightclubs, art venues, medical services, and other social service institutions on the island. Between the Botaical and Zoological Garden, Andafiavaratra Palace, and the Pirate Museum, a trip to this wonderful city is well worth the stop.