The Emerald Sea

On the northern side of the entrance to the Baie de Diego Suarez lies the gorgeous Mer d’Emeraude (Emerald Sea), a sheltered bay of the Indian Ocean with the colour and translucence of a rare gemstone. The shelter is provided by a series of small islets, which make ideal picnic stops and have good swimming and snorkelling.

Thanks to this idyllic setting, La Mer d’Emeraude has become a popular day trip from Diego Suarez. Standard packages include transport to Ramena (30 minutes), the sailing from Ramena to La Mer d’Emeraude (about an hour in a local sailing boat), three hours on an islet to sunbathe, swim and snorkel (equipment is normally included) and a lunch that includes alcoholic drinks (for two Ar176,000). If you're on a budget, consider arranging your own transport to Ramena by taxi-brousse or charter a taxi for the day (Ar120,000) and then hire a boat from an operator at the beach. Do check the boat, though: the sailing from Ramena to La Mer d’Emeraude can be very rough between May and November when trade winds are strong, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to get wet. Make sure you arrange this excursion with a reputable agency.