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Diego Suarez (Antsiranana)/Madagascar

Introducing Diego Suarez (Antsiranana)

Diego is far from the prettiest spot in the region, but its central location – almost equidistant from the beaches and national parks – makes it a good place to anchor oneself. Plus its wide streets, old colonial buildings and generally sleepy feel give it a languid, genteel air only experienced in the tropics. This is a slow-moving place where nearly everything shuts for most of the afternoon, and the residents still indulge in long afternoon naps. Recently, however, Diego has picked up a bit of steam – a little too much for the tastes of some locals – as an increasingly popular port of call for cruise ships. On days when the big boats anchor, Diego’s usually quiet restaurants and shops become packed with loud crowds jabbering in a dozen different languages.

There are no beaches in Diego itself, but there are plenty of very good ones in the vicinity. The town is cheaper than Nosy Be, and offers sporty travellers lots of opportunities to explore the surf and turf.