The walk from Baie de Sakalava (the southernmost of the three bays) to Ramena has become a popular excursion. 'Les Trois Baies Circuit' takes roughly half a day to walk from one end to the other, more if you include stops for swimming and/or a picnic. Many tour operators in Diego offer it as a package, with transfer from Diego in 4WD, drop-off at one end and pick-up at the other, plus a guide and a picnic on the way.

Around the lighthouse at Cap Miné, you’ll come across rusting military installations (cannons, bunkers, buildings in ruins) dating back to WWII. The cape dominates La Grande Passe, the entrance of the bay of Diego Suarez, and waves crash below the cliffs with thunderous might.

The area between Cap Miné and Ramena is a military base and you’ll need to pay an admission fee (Ar5000 per person; Ar2000 for a vehicle) at the main gate.

If you’re staying in Diego, a cheaper way of doing it is to charter a taxi for the day (Ar90,000), have it drop you off at Baie de Sakalava and then pick you up in Ramena (or vice versa). It’s recommended that you take a guide (Ar50,000; ask at your hotel or the tourist office), as the route is not always obvious and there have been muggings in the area.

Swimming & Water Sports

Between December and March, when the wind has died down, swimming in the three bays is blissful: beaches are deserted and the sea is calm, with a translucent, pale turquoise colour that contrasts with the dark blue of the depths. There is good snorkelling too. Baie des Dunes is the most sheltered of the three main bays.

From April to November, when the winds blow so strong you’ll struggle to retain ownership of your hat, the Baie de Sakalava is a prime kitesurfing spot. The two hotels based in the bay offer equipment rental and courses.