The dock is within walking distance of town.
Printable map to take along on your cruise.
Diégo-Suarez, now known as Antsiranana, is a town on the northern tip of Madagascar, on an inlet of the Indian Ocean. The town, which possesses one of the finest natural harbors in the world, is a naval base and fuelling station and the third-largest port in the country. The bay was the site of a French pirate colony, Libertalia, at the end of the 17th century; the modern town was founded in the 1800s. From 1885 to 1895 it was the capital of the French colony of Diégo-Suarez. The area south of Antsiranana is dominated by the forested Tsaratanana Massif, which includes the highest mountain in the country. Nearby are the Ankara caves and an interesting nature reserve.
The city, built around the bay, has a modern and well-kept appearance, but the impression one gets is that the population is not very numerous. The area is famous for its fishing products and handicrafts made of zebu horn and sea turtle shells. Its handicraft men continue a long tradition and manage to create exquisite objects. The best handicraft shops are the ones that belong to Moussa Feno - the slope that extends from the Hotel de la Poste to the Customs office - and Patricia Bardu. A visit to the great market where a great many handicraft men, fishermen , and farmers sell their products will give you a very animated picture of the economy of the province of Antsiranana.
Leaving Antsiranana's bay, you will see on your left the Emerald Sea and a series of small white sand idyllic coves that reflect in an emerald green sea. There are other coves on the other side of Diego Suarez's bay that bears fascinating names such as the Pigeons' Bay, the Duns'Bay, the Sakalava Bay. In the latter, there are three islets but also the Hotel Club Baie des Sakalava, a tourist resort with 1O bungalows in a bay open to the winds and big waves of the Indian Ocean that make this place one of the best surfing spots in Madagascar. You can get there by sea or by the road that leads to Ramena. Another interesting trip you can make is the one leading to the town of Joffre and to the Roussets Reservation on Amber Mountain - 30kms to the southwest from Diego. In the surroundings of Joffre, where the French used to spend their holidays to escape the scorching heat that prevails in Diego Suarez in the summer, vegetation changes and becomes quite lush and one will find a great many flowers. When the French left the country, the village quickly declined and its hotels are now closed. The Roussets Reservation spreads over a surface of 18.200 hectares. In the Amber Mountain National Park, vegetation is exuberant thanks to favorable climatic conditions: tropical climate with wet heat.
The unit of money is the ariary. This unit preceded the French rule, and Malagasy franc notes had the value in ariary printed on them too (50000 francs = iray alina ariary = one million ariary). The ariary is worth about half a U.S. cent.
The remarkable thing about Madagascar is that the entire island speaks one language: Malagasy, (pronounced 'Malagash' or even 'Malgash', not as the spelling suggests) an Austronesian language. Because the island is so large there are many different dialects. The Merina dialect is the "Official Malagasy" of the island and is spoken around highlands of Antananarivo. Most Madagascans, however, speak Merina across the island.
French is the second official language of Madagascar. The government and large corporations use French in everyday business, but 75-85% of Malagasies only have limited proficiency in this language. Madagascans assume that all foreigners are French speakers and therefore can speak several different phrases. Attempts by foreigners to learn and speak Malagasy are liked and even encouraged by the Malagasy people.
The third official language is English, though very few people speak English. It became an official language in 2007.
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