Located off the eastern coast, Madagascar is approximately the size of France. For about 80 million years, Madagascar had been isolated from the rest of the world. Due to this, the island of Madagascar is known as the eighth continent, prominent for its exotic fauna and flora. More than ninety percent of its wildlife is only found in Madagascar, making the island truly incredible.
The topography of the island ranges from dense jungles, majestic mountains, stunning beaches, and arid canyons. In its forests, diverse species of wildlife and birdlife thrive while islands are marked by coastlines lined with ancient baobabs. Whether you are in need of a quieter vacation or adventurous water activities, Madagascar caters to everybody. Aside from nature, the capital city of Antananarivo offers a blend of colonial history, modern cuisines, and fine culture.
However, there are other dozens of smaller islands in Madagascar that are worth visiting. Here are the top 7 unique smaller islands in Madagascar:
Situated off the northwest coast of Madagascar, the Nosy Be Island is one of the largest and busiest. It is also one of the main islands of Madagascar among the many others. Because of the scents of ylang ylang which is a tropical tree, spices, and sugar cane, Nosy Be is often referred to as the island of perfumes. The island overflows with thick forests, volcanic lakes, and exceptional biodiversity. Its forested reserves are home to island birds, lemurs, and unique reptiles.
Nosy Be’s white-sand beaches and pristine waters are extremely relaxing. Its shallow waters are protected by coral reefs, making it safe for scuba diving and snorkeling. Some of the marine life spotted underwater are green turtles, hawksbill, pufferfish, clownfish, and more. At the right place and time, lucky divers can even spot dolphins and humpback whales. The Lokobe National Park in Nosy Be is perfect for hiking and spotting various species of wildlife.
Hundreds of years ago, Nosy Boraha which is also known as Sainte Marie, served as a hideout for pirates. The island’s structure made it perfect for ships to hide. After the French colonists took over during the 19th century, they ruled over Nosy Boraha until its independence in 1960. Today, the island is a beautiful tourist destination in Madagascar.
Nosy Boraha has long, palm sand beaches, rustic lodges, world-class hotels, and tropical rainforests. The whale season on the island offers views of Humpback whales filtering between Nosy Boraha and the main island. As they drift quite close to the shoreline, the whales can be spotted even while sitting leisurely outside of the hotel. Along with snorkeling in the secluded bays, tourists can even explore the island’s main hub, and laze around near the southern tip of Nosy Boraha.
Also known as Nosy Ambariovato, Nosy Komba is a volcanic island. It is situated in the northwest between Nosy Be and mainland Madagascar. The island is covered with dense vegetation and appears in the shape of a turtle shell. The island is composed of numerous rocks, mainly slate and granite. These rocks serve as a reminder of the volcanic past and safeguard the island when the waters become rough.
Visiting Nosy Komba offers the opportunity of spotting varieties of lemurs in their natural habitat. Moreover, tourists can enjoy many activities on the island such as excursions, hiking mountains, scuba diving, and whale shark watching. The thick forests and clear waters of the island houses several endemic species of tropical plant, marine, and animal life.
Nosy Hara or Nosy Hara National Park is a small uninhabited limestone islet. It is located off the northwest coast of Madagascar. Brookesia Micra, the smallest known chameleon, is found on this islet. Nosy Hara is a lesser-known island that displays rich flora and fauna. As it holds the most exceptional seascapes in the world, Nosy Hara was declared a marine national park in 2012.
The elongated islet is characterized by marine Tsingy and gorgeous white sand beaches. Activities to enjoy at Nosy Hara are rock climbing and scuba diving.
Out of all the islands in the Mitsio archipelago, Nosy Mitsio is the only inhabited island with the exception of Tsarabanjina which is now owned by a hotel. Due to its idyllic location, the island has powder-white beaches, aquamarine waters, lush coconut palms, and bountiful marine fauna. As the island lies just 70 km north of Nosy Be, it is only accessible by boat.
Glimpses of green turtles and bottlenose dolphins are common while diving under the waters of Nosy Mitsio. Moreover, the island has important seabird colonies with large numbers of tropicbirds and frigatebirds spotted across the archipelago. The island is rural and serves as the perfect place to get away from civilization.
Nosy Iranja, a well-known island in Nosy Be’s archipelago, provides a unique and amazing experience for visitors. It is made up of two smaller islets which are Nosy Iranja Be and Nosy Iranja Kely. Both the islets have beautiful landscapes and pristine blue waters that surround the lagoon. The island has rich biodiversity including a tropical forest and marine as well as land faunal and flora. Nosy Iranja is also called the Turtles Island as they are frequently seen.
Nosy Iranja offers a wide variety of activities, due to its excellent geographical location. Alongside resting on the beach, tourists can enjoy a dhow cruise, try windsurfing, jet ski rides, snorkeling, and scuba dive into the fish populated lagoon.
A small island located in Antogil Bay, Nosy Magabe is two kilometers offshore from Maroantsetra. The island’s dense vegetation uncovers hidden coves and large boulders, one of which displays a rusty shipwreck. Nosy Magabe is proudly known as the crown jewels of Antogil Bay due to its rich ecosystem.
Nosy Magabe is a rainforest reserve and sanctuary, protecting the endangered aye aye, the long-fingered lemurs. The island is also the best place to see other species of lemurs such as the brown mouse lemur, white-fronted brown lemur, and black and white ruffed lemur. As there is a lack of predators, reptiles and amphibians thrive on the island including the leaf-tailed gecko, several types of chameleons, and frogs. Nosy Magabe also has a few well-maintained trails, where one leads to the summit of the island while the other ends up near Plage des Hollandais beach.
Make sure to include these smaller islands of Madagascar in your bucket list for an ‘out of-the-way’ travel experience.
If you loved reading this story, then subscribe to our blog here (it will ask to verify your email) to get inspiring travel stories and trivia delivered to your email. Stories about wildlife trivia, cultural experiences, curated luxury hotel lists, underrated places to travel, polar journeys and much more.