Surfing hasn’t really taken off in Madagascar yet and is undoubtedly one of the best-kept surfing secrets on South Africa’s doorstep, where the window of opportunity is limited to the relatively short stretch of the Indian Ocean between South Africa and Madagascar. Madagascar gets the same swells that feed the breaks of South Africa and later Indonesia.
With uncrowded waves from Fort Dauphin in the south to Morombe in the south-west, new surf discoveries are being made all the time. Madagascar’s coastline is rated as possibly one of the world’s last unspoilt surfing destinations. Madagascar has a coastline of 4,828 km and offers many rewarding surfing opportunities on all its coasts. There are some known spots, some secrets, and some places just waiting to be discovered.
The best time for surfing in Madagascar is from March to September when southern Madagascar gets most of its swell from low-pressure systems, which move up from the South Atlantic. Waves can still be enjoyed at other times of the year from swells that are generated from tropical cyclones.
The south-west is Madagascar’s surfing paradise. Near Ifaty beach there are incredible breaks. Ifaty beach lies on the south-west coastline of Madagascar. Many high quality breaks can be found in the offshore coral reef, which are only accessible by hiring a pirogue and a skipper. The direction of the prevailing swells tend to be lefts but some rights are also present. This spot has world-class quality waves for more experienced surfers. The only real hazard are the coral reefs and sharp rocks at the bottom of the reef.
In the south, Lavanono (pronounced Lava-nu) boasts regional classic waves that need to be experienced. The water is warm – but also features corals and rocks. The surf is suitable for all surfers.
On the west coast, Ambila Lamentsa is another great surfing spot. The long stretch of coast (approximately 8 miles) offers waves for surfers of varied experiences. There could be dozens of quality waves along this largely unexplored stretch. Sharks are said to be present.
Other known surfing spots visited by a lucky few are:
Ankaninoof (alternative name: Vohibola) – This spot is only accessible by boat from Tamatave, following the river of pangales and is advised that only experienced surfers tackle these waves as the breaks are powerful and consistent. Rights and lefts can be found and surfers need to look out for sharks.
Corre (alternative name: Big Dong Left) – Suitable for all surfers with standard quality waves. This spot is accessible via Tamatave on the west coast, which is located south of Toamasina.
Flame balls – In this spot, world-class waves can be found but only the experienced surfer. This spot can be found in the Anakao area offshore behind a sand pit and can only be accessed by boat, with hazards such as rips and sharks.
Please note: Surfing in Madagascar without a motorboat is difficult. There are no roads for travelling overland on the south-west coast, the area is arid and remote, and waves break on coral reefs up to 4 km away from the mainland. A gun (or semi-gun) and your favourite shortboard are the right equipment. Bring extras boards, leash, wax and ding repair kits because surf shops are non-existent.
Other activities to do in Madagascar: