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This is the twentieth in a series which introduces and describes the various dive services and sites for worldwide liveaboard dive safaris. The focus in this one is on Madagascar liveaboards.
In addition to this liveaboard series, the best worldwide dive resort locations and services are reviewed in their own series. To check them out, or other liveaboards, click on Liveaboards/Resorts on the menu at the top and choose a title.
Have you ever been diving in Madagascar before? If so, I’d love to know about your experience. What dive shop or liveaboard did you use? Which dive spots are the best and what are the conditions there regarding the visibility, current, water temperature, sealife attractions, etc.? Please post your response in the comments section at the bottom and we’ll all learn something we can use.
Scuba Diving Madagascar
The scuba diving of world renown on Madagascar takes place around Nosy Be in the far northwest coastal area. Although Nosy Be is a relatively thriving metropolis with a number of dive shops and dozens of hotels, most of the islands are sparsely inhabited by people who have remained fairly true to their original cultural values without many outward signs of westernization. The reefs are rich and well preserved and spread a fair distance to the north and south of Nosy Be.
The two liveaboards operating in the area both run cruises to the south to the Radames Archipelago, which consists of 4 main islands. On land, there are idyllic sandy beaches, tropical vegetation, and small traditional fishing villages. The seascape in the Mozambique Channel where the archipelago is situated is typified by beautiful, pristine hard and soft corals with diverse marine life. The dive sites are all located within a few minutes of the islands and range in depth from 12 to 80 m (40 to 260 ft). The huge sea fans and macro life are fascinating to behold along with pelagics including dogtooth tuna and bonito, inhabitants like Napoleon wrasse, giant grouper, whitetip and hammerhead sharks and schools of fusiliers, barracuda, and jacks, along with hawksbill and green turtles.
One of the liveaboard vessels also runs safaris to the Mitsio Archipelago running to the north of Nosy Be. It is made up of 5 islands and is known for its clear water, secluded bays, and basalt rock formations. Similarly endowed with a pristine coral reef and great diversity of macro and large-scale sea life, it is remembered for its large sea fans, plate corals and leopard and grey reef sharks.
In both itineraries, there is great variety in the substrate which includes shallow reefs, walls, canyons, caverns, swim-throughs, and shipwrecks. Mantas and devil rays are expected sightings, as well as dolphins, whale sharks in October and November, humpback whales from August to November, and Omura’s (dwarf fin) whales from October to December.
There is suitable diving for all levels of scuba diver and snorkeler. Strong current is possible on some sites, better suited for the more experienced. Many stops are made for interesting excursions into the local island cultural scene and beautiful flora and fauna.
Water temperature ranges from 24-29°C (75-84°F) and visibility from 5-30m (16-100ft), but usually better than 15m (50ft). Daily high air temperatures are 30-32°C (86-90°).
Madagascar’s Best Liveaboard Dive Boats
The two boats serving the Madagascar diving are very different.
The MV Galatea is a more traditional, full service, 30-meter yacht that spends most of the year cruising the Seychelles. They take a two-month hiatus from their itinerary there to go the relatively short distance down to northwest Madagascar to dive. To see my post on Seychelles liveaboards, please click here:
Ocean’s Dream is a 13-meter catamaran that provides a little more spartan experience luxury-wise but is a specialist, diving Madagascar with two itineraries 10 months of the year.
Both make a point of making many stops at the islands to tour the natural environment and meet some local people where they live.
- MV Galatea
- Oceane’s Dream
- March to January dives Madagascar
- Two 6 day itineraries
- Mitsio itinerary: Ambatoloaka Beach, Nosy Be, Tetons, Basalt Organs, Tsarabajina Island, Bench Little Beaver, Nosy Lava Island, Bench of Ankarea, The Brothers, Sakatia Island, Bench of the Unicorns, back to Ambatoloaka Beach
- Radames itinerary: Ambatoloaka, Nosy Be, Russian Bay, Drooping Kalakajoro west, Anchorage Antanimora, Banc du Cyclone, Diving Garden Suzanne, Antanimora Island, Antanimora, Greg, Drooping Berafia west, Baramahmay, Roches Gabriel, Iranja Turtle Island, Nosy Iranja, Russian Bay, Tanikely Island, back to Nosy Be
- Beach visits
- 4 double cabins each with bathroom
- Dining room, kitchen, and a lounge
- Second dining area outside
- Daily housekeeping
- Local and vegetarian food
- The crew speaks English and French
- Diving is included in the price
- 5 crew including 1 dive instructor
- Snorkel friendly
|MV Galatea ||Oceane's Dream|
|Length||30 m||13 m|
|Equipment||€10/dive||To Be Arranged
|Diving Package||€180/6 dives||No Extra Charge|
|Dive Courses On Board||Yes||To Be Arranged|
As you can see there are limited options and places available on these two liveaboard boats. They provide the best opportunity to dive a number of dispersed dive sites, but may not always be available in your time frame and circumstances. Nosy Be has a number of dive shops operating there and at least 37 hotels to service divers. If you would like to check local accommodations in Nosy Be, here is a website that can organize your arrangements.
With the pristine coral reefs, biodiversity including manta and devil rays, whale sharks, dolphins, pelagics, intriguing macro critters, reef tropicals, and fascinating onshore scenery, as well, there are many excellent photo opportunities. For information and reviews of dive cameras, click here:
Scuba Diving Trip Insurance
A cushion for emergencies provides peace of mind when on vacation. I recommend this diving insurance as they have worldwide coverage and provide scuba divers a quality insurance and medical assistance service.
Feedback and Comments
I hope you found this post on Madagascar scuba diving interesting and useful. If you have any questions or ideas, please feel free to share them in the comments section. I’d love to know of any experience you have. If there is no comments section directly below, click here: >>comments<<