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Western Madagascar – The secret surf spot you perhaps didn't know existed

David Harris-Burland

There’s nothing better than discovering a deserted beach, grabbing your board and getting out on those waves. However, that idyllic vision is sometimes hard to achieve in reality. All too often, popular surfing beaches are over-crowded, which mars the whole experience.

You’ll be pleased to know that there are some hidden gems out there; and few destinations are as quiet and unspoilt as Western Madagascar. Here’s more information.

What’s so special about its beaches?

If you’re keen to have a break from the Europe’s best surf and windsurf spots, then look no further than Western Madagascar – though make no mistake, this location is well off the beaten track.

It’s one of the world’s last truly unspoilt destinations, and if you’re looking for amazing surfing, you’ll want to head to the south-west of the country. Be aware, many of the beaches can only be reached by boat, so you’ll need a local guide to take you.

·       Ifaty beach. Looking for unbelievable breaks, with few other people around? Head to Ifaty beach. The waves are at their best around the coral reef that lies offshore, which can only be reached by hiring a canoe (with a local to accompany you). Although it’s not suitable for beginners, if you’re an experienced surfer, you’ll find these breaks to be world-class.

 

·       Ambila Lamentsa. This expansive stretch of coastline is good for surfers looking for a more varied experience. There are some calmer areas for newbie surfers, and some tremendous waves for those who are more confident. Please note, sharks may be present in these waters.

 

·       Lavanono. If you’re looking for a more laid-back ‘day at the beach’ vibe, then Lavanono is a good bet. The water is blissfully warm, and if you love snorkelling, you’ll enjoy exploring the corals and rocks. The surf is also nice and accessible for people of all levels of ability.

 

·       Corre. Sometimes called ‘Big Dong Left’, this beach can be reached via Tamatave on the west (just south of Toamasina). It’s an excellent ‘all-rounder’ for beginners and experts alike.

How to get there?

Madagascar isn’t the easiest place to reach, but it’s well worth the effort. There are regular flights from Heathrow, so that’s not the issue. What you’ll need to be prepared for is some serious bush driving when you arrive. But hey, that’s part of the fun, right?

Most of the roads leading to Western Madagascar are basically dirt-tracks, and it can take as long as a day to get to your destination. We strongly recommend hiring a local driver to transport you. If you want to explore the islands offshore, then you’ll need to set aside another few hours to travel by boat.

Where to stay?

If you want a truly authentic experience, try camping. Some of the tribal groups are happy to have visitors stay with them, and they’ll also educate you about their culture and traditions. Otherwise, there are hotels, wildlife lodges and guesthouses in the region, with some being close to the beaches.

When should you go?

For the best surf, you’ll need to visit Western Madagascar from March to September. The low-pressure systems set in, which produces great swells from the South Atlantic. However, it is possible to surf all year round, as tropical cyclones often produce good waves too. Please be aware that most of the hotels close from December through to April.

The best of the weather is in May to November, when conditions are pleasantly warm and dry. From December to April, the temperatures soar and the rains arrive, though the western side of the country is usually drier.

Ultimately, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime destination that you’ll never forget. Madagascar is a tropical paradise, full of dense rainforests, expansive national parks, exotic wildlife and fragrant smells. (Check out Copycat Fragrances for perfumes that take you right back to those musky, orange-blossom-filled evenings!). It’s not an easy place to get to, nor is life easy when you get there – but that’s very much part of the unforgettable experience. 

(This post was written by and sponsored by Copycat Fragrances)