Masoala Peninsula

Forest pools, kaleidoscopic coral and endless sands


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Jutting out of Madagascar’s northeast corner is a peninsula with never-ending stretches of spotless beach, where rainforest meets the Indian Ocean. It’s gloriously wild and remote, and hard to reach (there’s no road in). Most get here by boat -- a two-hour ride from Maroantsetra -- after flying in from the island’s capital, Antananarivo. This, and because there are only a couple of places to stay, is why it remains so unspoiled.

Those who make the trip can watch humpback whales and kayak among dolphins and green turtles. Rivers flow into the sea, their cascades creating natural swimming pools deep in the forest. There are also many strange animals and plants in the jungle, including 10 species of lemur and the beautiful star-shaped flowers of Darwin’s orchids, which are notably pollinated by moths with exceptionally long tongues.

The peninsula is a colossal national park with vast tracts of primary rainforest and marine parks. Beneath the water it’s alive with fish and colorful coral undamaged by man. Hikes along the coast-hugging forest path lead to little hidden coves protected by dramatic, jagged rock formations. Masaola is a place of sun and rain -- with magnificent rainbows -- but it never pours for long and each month offers a different natural spectacle, although the cyclone season from January to March is best avoided.

Photos: imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo, Artush/ Shutterstock, Artush/Shutterstock, Zdenek Maly / Alamy Stock Photo

Did you know?

The endangered Madagascan serpent eagle is endemic to Masoala and the only place on the island where it thrives.


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