Nosy Be, a large volcanic island eight kilometres off the north coast, is the country’s most popular location for visitors, who come seeking beach relaxation and to explore the surrounding smaller islands such as Nosy Komba, Nosy Sakatia and Nosy Tanikely. It is intensively cultivated with plantations of coffee, cinnamon, cocoa, ylang ylang and vanilla, leading to its unofficial name, the Perfumed Isle. Stunning viewpoints can be accessed overlooking eleven crater lakes, the jagged coast, and the sea towards the Radama Islands to the south and Mitsio archipelago to the north.
Certain areas are lively with bars and restaurants, while at others it is possible to find privacy in secluded coves lined with palm trees. Nosy Be supports some remarkable fauna, including a miniature frog which grows to around 1cm long and the world’s smallest chameleon, roughly the length of a fingernail. Black lemurs can be found in Lokobe Reserve, a patch of protected rainforest in the southeast of the island.