Whale watching & the honeymoon suite at Villas de Vohilava on Ile Sainte-Marie

One of the most amazing activities on Ile Sainte-Marie in Madagascar is a whale-watching tour The beautiful animals live part of the year near Ile Sainte-Marie, where you can see them well. In this blog, I will share our experiences with hotel Villas de Vohilava and the most amazing activity we did there: a whale safari in Madagascar!

Whale watching on Ile Sainte-Marie in Madagascar

After two days of travel, of which we spend the last bit being seasick on a boat that seems to have become a toy of the sea, we arrive exhausted at Villas de Vohilava on the island of Ile Sainte-Marie. There, however, we are received so warmly and well cared for that we voluntarily board a boat again the next day. Wondering why? Then read on!Vilas de Vohilava

Honeymoon suite at Villas de Vohilava

When we are being dropped off by tuk-tuk in the pouring rain at Villas de Vohilava, manager Kate is ready to welcome us. Immediately our backpacks are taken from us and we get a big hug. Kate, from the island of Réunion, speaks good English and makes us feel at home right away. She runs this beautiful hotel together with the French owner Henri. With a welcome drink in hand, we are taken to our bungalow: the honeymoon suite. In the middle of the room is a large four-poster bed and when you open the doors a view of the ocean accompanied by palm trees is waiting for you. This place is just the definition of a paradise!Villas de Vohilava

Whale watching tour on Ile Sainte-Marie

After a good night’s sleep and a nice breakfast, we are ready to board a boat again. The waves are still quite high and it is drizzling a bit, so why on earth are we voluntarily on a boat? With a very good reason: to spot whales! One of the main reasons why we initially decided to go to Madagascar is because an enormous whale migration passes by here every year. Ile Sainte-Marie is known as the best place to spot humpback whales. The beautiful animals are here from the end of June to the beginning of October to mate and give birth to children.

Wondering if a trip through Madagascar is expensive? Read more in our Madagascar budget blog!


Jumping whales on Sainte-Marie

We are accompanied by researchers from the Cétamada organization. It is still early in the season, they say, but after ten minutes we are already lucky and we see water spraying over the sea in the distance, a sign that a whale is below the surface. While we are on our way to the place, we suddenly hear a loud noise next to us. Less than ten meters away from the boat a huge humpback whale jumps out of the water. Nobody has his camera ready and we look at the beautiful spectacle in disbelief!

A little later we see even more whales, sometimes they are in a pair, other times they are by themselves. Of one, we only see the back, it is asleep. But two others join our boat for a long time, sometimes they jump out of the water, then again they raise a fin or their head above the water. We always stay at a suitable distance, more than 100 meters from the animals, but they are so large that we can see them well. Four hours later we are ashore again, thrilling about what we just saw! Seeing whales is a dream come true, but we never thought we would get such a beautiful show. The researchers say that it is very exceptional to see five whales so early in the season and so close. They are also happy about the results they have achieved in their research!

Cétamada: the whale organisation of Madagascar

The owner of our hotel, the jovial Henri, founded the Cétamada organization on Ile Sainte-Marie. An organization that aims to ensure that whale watching is conducted in a responsible manner, without the whales being affected. They also conduct research on whales, their migration patterns, their forms of communication and their lifestyles. We are lucky that we could join the researchers, they tell us everything about the humpback whales, collect skin flakes from the sea to find out more about the whale in question and let us listen to the sounds that the animals make.

Tip: Do you want to spot whales on Ile Sainte-Marie? Check-in advance if the organization with which you book is affiliated with Cétamada so that you are sure that the whales do not suffer from the whale safari For more information about Cétamada, take a look at their website.

Ultimate relaxation on Ile Sainte Marie!

After that amazing morning, we take the time to relax. We stay here for six nights, so we really have the feeling “nothing is necessary, everything is allowed”. Villas de Vohilave has a long pier that runs into the sea, perfect for enjoying the sun and reading on soft beds.Villas de Vohilava

Often after breakfast, I start working for a few hours, in the afternoon we go to explore the island. In this way, we visit the pirate graveyard, swim in the natural pools or cycle to the city. It really feels like a vacation during our trip. To celebrate our 10-year anniversary, I treat Ries (and myself) to a duo massage at Vanille Beaute. For an hour we are completely pampered, so relaxing!

After six wonderful days, it is, unfortunately, time to travel further. We don’t want to leave at all, it’s much too nice here. One thing is certain: Ile Sainte-Marie will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Ile Sainte-Marie in Madagascar

True paradise can be found on Sainte-Marie. This is one of these places where you want to completely change your travel plans immediately upon arrival so that you can stay here as long as possible. The island is not (yet) too touristy, has beautiful beaches and aquarium blue water. For me this is the definition of a tropical island, hardly any cars, you can buy coconuts everywhere and the sound of the waves is never far away.

The full travel guide on Ile Sainte-Marie: All you need to know about Ile Sainte-Marie in Madagascar!Ile Sainte Marie

Villas de Vohilava: a beautiful boutique hotel in Ile Sainte-Marie

Villas de Vohilava is located in the south of Ile Sainte-Marie, about seven kilometres away from the port and capital Ambodifototra. A great location, withing fifteen minutes you are in the city to do some shopping. But you are also just 10 minutes away from the airport and the boat that goes to neighbouring island Ile Aux Nattes (both are located on the southernmost tip of Ile Sainte-Marie).

Hotel on Ile Sainte-Marie: Villas de Vohilava – Bungalows and a restaurant

Villas de Vohilava has large family bungalows and bungalows for two people. Each bungalow has a bathroom with hot water and a wonderfully soft bed. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in La Varangue restaurant. Fresh pizzas baked in a brick oven, or tasty Malagasy dishes. Because of the conservation of the sea, there is no fish on the menu. My favourite dish here is the breakfast (petit déjeuner). Warm baguette, fresh pain au chocolat and local fruit with boiled eggs and a great cup of coffee. Before breakfast, we often go for a run, after which we are so hungry that we leave nothing from the breakfast behind.

Unique activities on Ile Sainte-Marie

In addition to whale watching safaris, Henri also has a diving school (Bora Dive) and a kite school (Bora Kite). You can rent a bike, scooter or quad at the hotel and there are canoes that you can use (for free). It is also possible to take a massage (Vanille Beaute).

Do you also want to stay at Hotel Villas de Vohilava? Then click here to make a reservation directly. In the low season (January to June) the price of the honeymoon suite where we stayed is €39, in whale season (July to September) it is €73, and in high season (September to December it is €45).

For more information take a look at the website or contact Kate:

Hotel Villas de Vohilava
Ile Sainte-Marie
Phone number: +261205790016
Website:  www.vohilava.com
E-mail address: vohilava@gmail.com

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* We stayed here on invitation of Villas de Vohilava, however, everything above is true to me, as always I reflect my own opinion and experience.

1 Comment

  1. by Alberto on 15 July 2023  20:01 Reply

    Thanks for your great content! I'm planning a trip to Madagascar, but unfortunately I don't have 2 months so will need to decide between some places. Between Ile Saint Marie and Andavadoaka (Olobe Lodge) which one would you recommend? We are looking for beautiful beaches to just chill for 4 days or so.

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