We know what you’re thinking. ‘Nosy Be?’ Madagascar’s most popular tourist spot actually translates as ‘Big Island’ and is a fixture on many cruises which explore the African continent. It certainly is big on natural wonders and amazing wildlife and is an enduring destination with visitors.
6 hours in… Nosy Be
If you’re visiting Nosy Be for the first time on your cruise, you need to decide which of the island’s most celebrated citizens you want to spend time with, whether that be the Lemurs in-land or the whales in the water.
Lokobe Nature Special Reserve is the place to head if you want to spend some time with the island’s lovable Lemurs and encounter some of Nosy Be’s other diverse wildlife too. The island’s fauna is understandable protected, meaning that large parts of the island are off limits to visitors, however the Special Reserve offers the chance to see them in their natural habitat. Expert and informative guides will point out various species of animals, not just lemurs, so expect colourful frogs, snakes and lizards too. It’s important to note that the park is larger than a zoo and a fair amount of walking is involved as you’ll trek from one place to the next to see these fascinating creatures in the wild.
As you’ll have surmised from its name, Lemuria Land is the go-to place if you want to see the biggest concentration of these intriguing mammals up close and importantly, if you have limited time in port. While admittedly not the completely natural environment that is offered in Lokobe, Lemuria Land does have large open spaces for most of the lemurs to live and also offers you the chance to feed the lemurs and of course, have your picture taken. Interestingly, Nosy Be is also known for its Ylang Ylang perfume production and there’s the chance to learn more about its manufacture and of course get a sample of the unmistakable fragrance during your visit to Lemuria World, as there is a distillery there too.
Whales are just one of the captivating denizens of the deep that you can see off the coast of Nosy Be and whale watching expeditions are always popular. Understandably Scuba is big business here, with numerous diving opportunities for both novices and more experienced divers. As well as whales, there are rays, sharks and turtles to discover, as well as all manner of colourful fish, which swarm over the island’s beautiful coral reefs, which are understandably the focus of many dives.
If you’re paying a return visit to the island, there are plenty of opportunities to experience more of its indigenous wildlife – especially on dives and boat tours, as there’s always something new to see. Similarly, the Special Reserve occupies a large area so there will no doubt be plenty of new opportunities for discovery on a return visit.
Can’t keep away?
If Nosy Be has wooed you with its boundless charm, you could spend some time exploring its smaller sub- islands and Nosy Komba, Nosy Tanikely, Nosy Sakatia and Nosy Iranja are all bountiful with natural wonders, with boat tours available to one or more of them.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that there’s not much going on in the way of nightlife on Nosy Be but in fact, Taxi Be is a lively music bar on the island where there’s always something going on and where the most popular beverage is naturally the island’s home-distilled rum, which is made using the native sugar cane.
Don’t even bother!
…trying to feed any lemurs you encounter on your travels in the Nature Reserve or elsewhere. Lemurs have a balanced natural diet and though you may think you’re treating them or doing them a favour, upsetting their regular diet will do more harm than good.