If you’ve got an interest in whale-watching, now is the perfect time to see these magnificent creatures up close. Madagascar’s whale watching season is just about to kick off, with hundreds of humpback whales migrating from the Antarctic to the warm sheltered waters in Sainte Marie (also known as Nosy Boraha), off the Eastern coast of Madagascar. Whales can be spotted from almost anywhere on the coast, giving this region some of the best whale-watching opportunities around. And don’t forget Madagascar’s interior, where you’ll spot some of the most incredibly diversified wildlife on the planet.
There’s an historic element to the region too, as Sainte Marie was a popular base for pirates throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Forget Pirates of the Caribbean, this is a little more authentic! Sainte Marie became something of a pirate capital, as it was relatively close to the trade routes frequented by ships returning from the Indian subcontinent. The numerous bays and inlets protected ships from storms and detection from prying eyes, and pirates would have had easy access to abundant fruit and fresh water too.
In the bay of Sainte Marie’s main town of Ambodifotatra is the île aux Forbans, which reportedly provided refuge to a veritable who’s who of 17th Century pirate society. William Kidd, Robert Culliford, Olivier Levasseur and Thomas Tew are all said to have lived here at some point, and several pirate wrecks remain, though they are now submerged. The legendary utopian pirate haven of Libertatia is also supposed by some to have existed in the area, but good luck finding it! Neither its existence nor its location has ever been proven.
Thankfully, the scourge that is piracy is no longer a threat in these waters, meaning you can sit back, relax and enjoy the humpbacks in peace and quiet. A dash of rum is still perfectly acceptable though!