Princesse Bora Lodge & Spa
Sainte Marie Island was used by 17th century pirates such as Captain Kid as a hideaway on the spice route.
There's more comfortable accommodation nowadays though, in the shape of the Princesse Bora hotel, which has 15 circular bungalows with thatched roofs set in the garden near a swimming pool, sandy beach and lagoon.
The hotel restaurant is one of the best on the island and guests can enjoy delicious Creole, French and Malagasy influenced cuisine.
Activities include quad-biking excursions to see the pirates' graveyard, and Ambodifotatra, the island's tiny capital. Also available are snorkelling, diving and whale-watching trips, and there is a spa where an assortment of treatments and massages inspired by ancestral African traditions are on offer.
Why We Love It
Guests arrive and depart from the hotel in ox carts to the Sainte Marie Island airstrip.
Vakona Forest Lodge
Vakona Forest Lodge is a very comfortable lodge with 22 en suite cottages built on a hillside, some of which have views across a lake. Some of the spacious cottages even have attic rooms reached by a spiral staircase, making them perfect for families.
The main building has been thoughtfully designed as an octagonal reception area, bar and lounge-dining room with a huge log-fire in the middle. The hotel also has a swimming pool and squash courts.
The hotel can arrange horse riding and forest trekking in their own own private reserve, Analamazaotra, but just ten minutes away is the main event - the Perinet Special Reserve, a must for anyone interested in the flora and fauna of the eastern rainforest.
The 810 hectares Reserve is home to the largest of the lemur family, the Indri Indri. Most people see indris in Perinet, and if you are unlucky enough not to see them you will certainly hear them. Standing about three feet high, with barely visible tails, black and white markings and surprised teddy-bear faces, the indri looks more like a gone-wrong panda than a lemur.
Perinet is also a good place for bird watching, with Madagascar green sunbird, cuckoo-rollers, blue pigeons, couas, Madagascar falcon, vasa parrots and many others resident here.
Why We Love It
The grounds are beautiful and well worth a wander. There's a fun night walk you can do after supper.