Nosy Be has a plethora of activities. Most are sea-based (diving, snorkelling, fishing, day trips to islands etc), but operators also offer activities exploring the island’s beautiful hinterland including Parc National Lokobe.
Nosy Be and the surrounding islands are home to a rich diversity of marine life and offer world-class diving. Boxfish, surgeonfish, triggerfish, damselfish, clownfish, yellowfin, barracuda, eagle rays, manta rays and humpback whales (July to September) can all be spotted. Around Nosy Sakatia you will see turtles in the marine protected zone as well as clownfish, barracuda and perhaps dolphins and whale sharks.
On average, visibility on dives is about 15m year-round – much more on good days. The best months are April to December. July and August can be windy, especially to the north around Nosy Mitsio. The best months for seeing whale sharks are October and November, while manta rays are more prevalent from April to June and October to November.
Most operators run daily morning trips long enough for two dives, with boats leaving around 8am and getting back in time for lunch. Prices are about €50 for a baptême (first dive), €38/70 for one/two dives, and €50 for a night dive. Many operators also run all-inclusive, catamaran sailing trips (two to five days) to surrounding archipelagos such as Nosy Iranja, Nosy Mitsio and Nosy Radama, with two dives a day (€400 to €850, depending on the number of people on the boat, the length of the trip and the number of dives).
Courses are conducted in French or English, with many staff also speaking Italian. A PADI course costs around €400; it’s best to book certification courses in advance.
Nosy Be has a recompression chamber at the hospital, Centro Sanitario Santa Maria della Grazia.
Snorkelling is best at Nosy Tanikely, Nosy Mitsio and Nosy Sakatia. All tour operators on Nosy Be run trips to Nosy Tanikely, generally combined with a visit to Nosy Komba.
Nosy Be is visited by humpback whales, Omura whales and whale sharks at various times of year, plus there are populations of green turtles, dolphins and rays that live permanently in the region. Mada Megafauna Association has established codes of conduct when approaching these animals and organises educational programs, research projects and observations largely funded by visitors taking part in excursions organised by Les Baleines Rand'Eau.
If you've ever dreamt of a tussle with a giant trevally, these are the waters for you. The best time for fishing is March to June and October to December. Fishing excursions aren’t cheap – expect to pay at least €600 per day per boat, including equipment, for up to four people. Sakatia Lodge and operators such as Tropical Fishing specialise in sport fishing.
Quad bikes are a great way to explore Nosy Be. Popular routes include a circuit around the crater lakes and Mont Passot, remote beaches in the north, and cocoa plantations to the south. Nosy Be Original hires out quad bikes. Some hotels also have their own quads and offer excursions to their guests.