Sainte Marie island

“The pirates island”

Strange destiny of that island where no point is more than 3 km from the sea, and of which a facetious spirit said one day that it had the profile of an illustrious General! Sainte Marie is in fact an archipelago consisting of a great land and 7 islets whose names are as many reminders of a history and a nature far from commonplaces: the islet Madame at the entrance of the Ambodifotatra bay, Forbans island in the middle of the same bay, Whale Island to the east, the 3 islets to the Sables, natural barriers to the swell, and especially the Nattes island in the south.

Sunset on Sainte Marie island, Madagascar

Once upon a time. From the mists of those days before the days when everything was still legend, Sainte Marie has especially retained two. That of Boraha or Raborahigny, a shipwrecked man miraculously saved by a ray-shark that would also have sprung for him the sacred source of Ankobahoba. That of Tanazy, whale hunter and harpoon launcher skilled, which earned him his nickname "Mpitoraka Trozona". Later, when the disciples went to sea, the women separated from their babies until they returned, it was said, so that the whales did the same with their whale calves. This time is no longer because today Sainte Marie and the whales are the best friends in the world, a little thanks to the cloves, a providential tree that has radically changed the habits of life of the ancient hunters. Asking for little care, he gives cloves after 5 years and this until the canonical age of 100 years! You only have to know how to pick them in time, otherwise they turn into flowers, then into red fruits.

Le lagon de Sainte Marie island, Madagascar

La Buse, Tew, David Williams, Thomas White, Captain Kidd, all these great names of piracy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries have, at one time or another, established their quarters on Sainte Marie Island, to install there definitively. Vestiges of their ships lie still a few meters in depth around the island which even has its cemetery of pirates.

Island of the tree of the traveler whose fan-shaped silhouette populates all the hills, sanctuary of the rarest varieties of orchids ranging from the purple, unusual with its floral stalks exceeding the meter, to the black orchid that develops only on the palm raphia, Sainte Marie yesterday as today is above all in symbiosis with the sea.

Landscape de Sainte Marie island, Madagascar

Sainte Marie is an immense natural aquarium where, around the islets as on the east or on the fringing reefs, divers have the choice of the best spots in the middle of a rich and abundant underwater fauna. Some, like under the wreck of the Cocoteraie, offer opportunities for descent in the night. Magic guaranteed! And then, we will not tire of talking about it, there are the whales that make the show from July to October. With Baja California, Mexico and the St. Lawrence River, Sainte Marie is one of the few places in the world where they can be observed in such good conditions. They stay here 4 months, the time for the whale calves to be weaned and ready for the long journey back to the Antarctic waters. Curious giants of the seas whose life is divided between warm winters and cold summers ...

South of Sainte Marie island, the ile aux Nattes a green setting in an immense lagoon surrounded by coral reefs. A small paradise of barely 2.3 square miles that had its "emperor", so crowned because of his name, Napoleon. Died in 1986 at almost 80 years, he was the pioneer of tourism on Island aux Nattes, adored by all for his tastes, his guestbook that everyone was required to fill, and his delicious coconut chicken.

Try to remember "akore nagninare", to pronounce "akôr nàgne naré". This simply means "good morning" in the Saint-Marien dialect, and will credit you with a surprise effect be worth every glossary!

Text: Thompson Andriamanoro
Photos Pierre-Yves Babelon
Thanks to Princesse Bora Lodge & Spa

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