An archipelago situated off the north-west coast of Madagascar, Nosy Be is one of the most popular tourist destinations within Madagascar which is entirely due to the beauty of its beaches and the landscape which surrounds them.
With a name which translates as `big island’. It is located just a few kilometres off the coast of Madagascar and forms part of the Mozambique Channel which separates Madagascar from the African continent.
Although Nosy Be is the largest island in the archipelago, there are several equally beautiful islands nearby, and the name Nosy Be is also generic, describing the region as well as the main island.
The island boasts a fairly benign tropical climate and with its superb location the region is by far Madagascar’s most popular beach-resort, having direct flights to several European destinations and Johannesburg, South Africa. Despite Nosy Be being a popular destination it remains a largely sleepy place and laid back place where the main industries are still the sugar cane plantations and rum distilleries.
The main town on the island is officially called Andoany, but it is still more commonly known as Hell-Ville. Whilst the name suggests that the town may be an unpleasant place, the genealogy of the name can actually be traced back to a prominent woman, Anne Chretien Louis de Hell, who was the wife of a French governor.
The architecture of the town is predominantly French Colonial, and it does have some lovely old buildings along its main waterfront promenade, which these days have a sort of decaying, weary look about them. About 30,000 people live in the town, which is situated on the main harbour, but it is definitely not the main reason for people visiting the region.
Tourists go to Nosy Be for the beaches, islands and water sports.
Nearby are both the Radama Islands, which are south of the island, and the Mitsio Islands which are in the north. The most popular islands in these groups are Nosy Komba, Nosy Mitsio, Nosy Sakatia, and Nosy Tanikely, which are all easy to reach by boat and are much sought out by those who wish for more privacy.
Nosy Be is a volcanic island which has several volcanic peaks and there are eleven crater lakes spread through the island. As part of Madagascar the islands have an abundance of unique wildlife, which includes lemurs, chameleons with their extraordinary ability to change colour suddenly and Stump-Toed Frog which is the world’s smallest frog and which can be found only on Nosy Be and neighbouring Nosy Komba.