- There are four main shuttle boats from Soanierana-Ivongo to Ambodifotatra on Île Sainte Marie. All have offices on the waterfront in both towns.
- On average boats leave Ambodifotatra around 6am and Soanierana-Ivongo around 10am. Crossing time is 1¼ hours for the fastest boat, Melissa Express. Transfers from Tamatave take another hour.
- There is usually a price reduction of Ar10,000 on a return ticket.
- Before sailing out to the island, passengers are asked to go to the gendarmerie (police station) across the street from the Hôtel Les Escales to register.
- If you have no reservation, make sure you know when the boats leave (all in the morning). Arrive early to get your pick of the litter. There’s not a lot to discriminate between them except when they depart (departures take place over an hour or so) and how long they take (Melissa Express saves a half hour on the slowest alternative). The important thing is to assess which boat will arrive first.
Taxis-brousses depart Tamatave for Soanierana-Ivongo (Ar10,000, three to four hours) around 6am every morning. However, they are not necessarily coordinated with boat departures, so you could end up getting stuck in Soanierana-Ivongo. It makes more sense to book a transfer with your boat company. Returning to Tamatave, vehicles wait for the arrivals from Île Sainte Marie, so a taxi-brousse makes more sense. For taxis-brousses going north, inquire at the station.
The RN5 north from Soanierana-Ivongo to Mananara and Maroantsetra is a Pandora’s box of potential delays, as well as a tremendous 4WD adventure. A private 4WD will cost Ar2 million, though this could be negotiable if you bargain hard.