As a long-time B&R guide, trip planner and all-around globetrotting enthusiast, I’ve been lucky to have seen many spectacular, soul-stirring places throughout the world.
My recent visit to Miavana Madagascar, a luxury eco-resort on Nosy Ankao island, added another destination to my list. It also added a few more superlatives to my vocabulary. Like: utterly unique, phenomenal and jaw-droppingly gorgeous.
Here’s a snippet of what I experienced during my stay. And I hope from the depths of my stirred soul; you’ll get to experience, too.
Caressed by a patchwork of turquoise hues, Miavana sits on a virgin island, Nosy Ankao, located off of Madagascar’s northern tip: a location that allows guests to experience the country’s biodiversity, without the logistical challenges you would encounter on the main (is)land.
The resort makes it easy to explore the north using Miavana as a base. I hadn’t fully appreciated how easily accessible places like the Amber & Ankarana National Parks would be; destinations I could never consider during a stay on the mainland, due to the difficulty in getting there.
The Miavana is an excellent option for families, honeymooners or anyone looking for an exclusive resort off the coast of Africa or the Indian Ocean islands. You can consider it a year-round destination – but keep in mind the rainy season is January to April. April onwards is a safe bet in terms of weather.
Madagascar’s Unparalleled Biodiversity
From the world’s tiniest chameleon to the Crowned Lemur conservation efforts and the many turtles in between, Miavana’s raison d’etre is clear, making this more than your average beach destination. During my visit, I gained a real appreciation of how special the environment and wildlife here is.
Of course, Madagascar’s unofficial mascot, the lemur, is a crucial part of any visit. Nosy Ankao is known for the endangered Crowned Lemur, which you can spot on a stroll through the island’s forests. For more lemur adventure, they offer treks on the mainland via a helicopter excursion.
I also had a brief swim with dolphins. They were hunting, but we got to be with them for a short while before they charged off. During whale season, whales can be seen breaching in front of the lodge, and you can catch whale sharks at various times throughout the year, too.
The Activities at Miavana
Kite-surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, snorkelling and scuba – the well-rounded activities at Miavana cover water, underwater, land and air.
You can set sail on fabulous boat excursions to other islands in the archipelago and snorkel at different sites, and anglers can cast their reels for some ocean fishing.
No matter what you choose, the lodge’s guides are passionate and engaging. The calibre of the staff here is truly beyond compare: they would probably go to the ends of the archipelago to please every guest. Plus, the naturalist guides are like walking encyclopedias!
Villas with one, two or three bedrooms come with a lounge area, butler service, a stocked kitchenette and a private, sea-side pool. These guest sanctuaries are spacious, with the smallest coming in at a generous 450 square metres (4,843 square feet).
The decor is reflective of the beachy vibes that permeate the throughout the island: bright and fresh, with crisp whites, pops of blue and ocean views at nearly every turn.
For families and large groups, each villa has an additional bathroom along with a study which can be flipped into a kids room. Guests can navigate the resort and explore the island using the property’s complimentary bicycles or electric buggies.
Getting to Madagascar’s Miavana Luxury Resort
There are two ‘launching’ points from the mainland to Nosy Ankao. I flew from Johannesburg to Nosy Be, but the other option is to head to Diego Suarez from Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital.
From Diego Suarez or Nosy Be, the Miavana’s helicopters whisk you away. The helicopter ride was an unexpected highlight for me; I saw more of Madagascar’s diversity during the 1-hour flight from Nosy Be to Nosy Ankao than I did during my entire 15-day research trip last year!
The pilots give brilliant commentary as you swoop past points of interest. You gain a tremendous understanding of the country’s biodiversity as you fly over so many different landscapes – from sea to tsingy (karst mountain formations) to agriculture to seaweed farms, forest and mangroves.
The helicopter flights give you great insight to the northern region and the complexities of the island’s biodiversity, history and social-economic challenges.
Continue your travels in Africa
A retreat at Miavana works well as an add-on to either an East Africa or Southern Africa safari experience. Take a look at my trip portfolio for inspiration: I’d be delighted to speak with you about any of these destinations, too!
Miavana also works wonderfully as a stand-alone destination lodge. My suggestion is a 5 to a 7-night stay.
With its ample activities and serene setting, you can create your own adventure here that’s at once exhilarating and effortless.