Madagascar’s idyllic islands host an array of tranquil and easy reef dives full of tropical fish and turtles. Discover dramatic underwater topography, wrecks and gorgonian forests perfect for photographers or just watch pilot and humpback whales, plus abundant whale sharks passing by.
Diving in Madagascar
Madagascar is a nature lovers’ heaven, boasting plenty of healthy reefs, colorful tropical fish, pelagics, turtles, dolphins and even whales. Divers of all levels can explore many endemic species on some of the longest coral reefs on earth.
Madagascar, situated off the east coast of Africa, has four main diving areas; Nosy Be, the Mitsio archipelago, Sainte-Marie Island and the archipelago of the Radames.
Nosy Be, has diverse waters with beautiful coral and topography. You can find plenty of fish, and even mantas and whale sharks among the many dive sites, which also include walls and wrecks.
East of Madagascar, Sainte-Marie, is a hotspot for humpback whales and southern whales during their breeding season.
Diving is available year-round, with plenty of dive centers and dive resorts to cater to your needs. Most diving is done by boat for easy access to dive sites, but for the best experience, many opt for liveaboards.
Best time to dive
The best time to go entirely depends on what special creatures you want to encounter, and what temperature pleases you. Madagascar enjoys a tropical climate, and generally has two seasons; a comfortable dry season from May to October, and a rainy season which is humid and hot, running from November until April.
Sea temperatures normally don’t fluctuate a lot throughout the year no matter the season, ranging between 24°C (75°F) to 29°C (84°F). November sees the highest water temperatures, which can peak around 32°C (89°F).
The visibility is mostly good all year round, and divers can see most marine species during every season. But for extra special encounters, such as humpback whales, July to November is the time to visit. For whale sharks and manta and devil rays, go between October and December.
Types of diving
Diving in Madagascar offers beautiful reef, wreck, wall and cave diving, all usually by boat.
Many sublime coral reef dive sites can be found all over Madagascar, but in particular around Nosy Be. Other vibrant reefs can be enjoyed around the islands of Nosy Tanikely, Nosy Sakatia, Nosy Miitsio, Nosy Iranja and Nosy Komba, with boat trips departing from Nosy Be to these spots.
For unforgettable wall diving, head to Greg Wall, which is famous for its dramatic wall. There’s also a cave in this site, for those who wish to explore further.
For wreck enthusiasts, one of the best sites is the Mitsio Wreck, just south of Nosy Be. Sunk to create an artificial reef, it’s an easy site that’s teaming with life, including schools of small and large fish, eels, and even stunning macro life such as frogfish.
What to see
Madagascar is vast and hosts extremely rich, diverse marine life no matter where you dive. All year round divers can observe an array of hard and soft corals, sea fans and anemones, all while enjoying encounters with a myriad of tropical fish, angel and clownfish, schools of larger fish, such as barracuda and trevally, and a wealth of macro life, from nudibranch and shrimp to frogfish.
That’s not all, as divers can meet turtles, dolphins and pilot whales and even a ton of shark species, like hammerheads and black tips. Depending on the season, you can also see humpback whales from July to November, and whale sharks, devil and manta rays between October and December.
Best places to dive
There are too many amazing dive spots all over Madagascar, but to name only a few,
Tanikely Marine Park
Nosy Tanikely Marine Park is perfect for beginners and advanced divers alike. It offers enchanting, easy diving with corals and fauna, colorful fish, exciting creatures from frogfish, eels and groupers, to barracuda, stingrays and turtles.
Accessible by boat from Nosy-be, Manta Point is a cleaning station where these majestic rays gather and put on a show. You can watch as cleaner and juvenile fish pick parasites and bacteria off the mantas. You can spot devil rays, groupers, tuna, and occasionally whale sharks.
The Gran Banc Exterior is a must for shark lovers, where many species can be encountered, including reef sharks and hammerheads. This site also boasts amazing topography, including a large drop off and an amazing continuous barrier reef.
Lastly, for an absolutely unmissable dive, head to the Gorgonian Fan Forest, which promised an eerie, alien planet-like experience, where you can spot turtles, stingrays, and even seahorses hooked to the sea fans.
The Radames Archipelago features dramatic underwater topography and structures, such as tunnels and arches. With plenty of prolific marine life to discover here, divers will not be disappointed.
The diving around the Mitsio Archipelago has been well preserved and is very tranquil, thanks to its remote location and lack of human activity. Best accessed via a liveaboard due to its remoteness.