Romantic visit to the pirates cemetery

 
According to numerous ship-logs and tales, around a thousand buccaneers must have used the island of Sainte-Marie as their hideout during the 17th and 18th centuries. The presence of shipwrecks in Ambodifotatra Bay is consistent with these
stories. Attracted by the beauty and serenity of the island, famous pirates such as Christophe Condent, John Avery, Thomas Tew, the Hawk and Thomas White settled in Sainte-Marie. The strategic location of the island, close to all main trade routes of the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, made it a freebooter’s haven of choice. Up to 20 pirate vessels must have chosen the island as their home port.
 
Many buccaneers also chose to be buried on this island and so the "Pirates Cemetery" developed on a hillside overlooking the southern part of Ambodifotatra Bay. The oldest tombs date back to the 18th century. Among green foliage, the burial places of notorious pirates can be found, their names engraved on black tombstones, often decorated with a carved or drawn skull and crossbones, the notorious pirate symbol. This burial site, perched on the heights of Ambodifotatra, is accessible for a small entrance fee given to the site's watchmen. In return, visitors can ask for a guided tour. At the highest point of the site, there is a ruin in the form of a circular arc, like a door frame overlooking the void. Should we consider it a landmark with a hidden meaning and go for a treasure hunt?
 
This article was featured in Prime Magazine August 2018

Useful Information

When to go

The island of Sainte-Marie enjoys a tropical climate. The warm season lasts from January to April, the temperate and humid season from May to August and the dry and mild season spans from September to December. The best time to stay is between July and November, coinciding in part with the passage of whales offshore.

How to get there

By air with Air Madagascar (departing from the capital Antananarivo) or by crossing the sea for two hours from Soanierana Ivongo.

Where to stay

For a stay in Sainte-Marie, there are plenty of options in terms of accommodation. Take your pick according to your budget: Princess Bora Lodge & Spa, Soanambo Hotel, Riake Resort & Villa, Masoandro Lodge.

Where to eat

For snacks, Ravoraha, Cambusa, Bigorne and Varangue are among the best restaurants on the island. Also almost all hotels provide a catering service.

What to see

If you stay on the island between July and October, you don’t want to miss a "whale safari". A day's hike is also essential to explore the museum on the islet of Madame. You can add another unforgettable memory to your stay by visiting the first Catholic Church of Madagascar, overlooking the port. Go to the island of Mats for another amazing change of scenery.