Cool Things to do in Anakao, Madagascar

Anakao is a small fishing village with a population of 3000 residents located in Southwest Madagascar. The climate is very arid, therefore the living conditions are comfortable in the winter months and very hot in the summer months. The local villagers are indigenous to the area and they are known as the Vezo. Anakao, Madagascar best things to do takes advantage of the unique natural environment and local Vezo culture!

Ride the Zebu Cart to Anakao

Entering and leaving Anakao village requires a boat because there is no airport or viable road access. However, that means traveling to Anakao will provide a great introduction to the history of Madagascar.

The ubiquitous zebu cart is used to get you from the beach in Toliara to the boat which transports you to Anakao beach Madagascar. Then you are again transported ashore by zebu cart upon arrival. They do it the old fashioned way in Madagascar and it is all part of the journey!

Zebu carts such as this are used to transport visitors to Anakao.
Approaching Anakao Beach in zebu carts.

World Class Surfing Near Anakao, Madagascar

Anakao beach is surrounded by reefs and this creates some great surfing potential. The world class surfing breaks located about 5 kilometers from Anakao beach Madagascar are accessible only by boat.

The prime surf spots are named Jelly Babies and Flame Balls. These are located in the vicinity of Nosey Ve island. Nosey Ve will make a great excursion after your morning surf session – more on that later.

Anakao, Madagascar Map
Anakao Madagascar Surfing Map

Flame Balls Surfing Logistics

This break is farther away from Anakao beach Madagascar compared to Jelly Babies. Additionally, the break at Flame Balls is fickle and conditions can change quickly. The location is at the north end of Nosey Ve Island and the powerful waves come charging in from Antarctica during winter months. As a result, the waves wrap around Nosey Ve and break on the reef to the north.

Nosey Ve Island is basically an exposed sandbar that is lodged into the Vezo Reefs located offshore from Anakao. As a result of the waves wrapping around Nosey Ve, their redirection usually optimizes the wind direction which tends to turn onshore mid morning. The turning of the waves minimizes the impact of the wind change for surfing. However, it can make traveling by Madagascar dhow very problematic! In fact, one morning we sailed the dhow to Flame Balls and it took 5 hours to return because the wind had changed!

The Surfing Legend of “Flame Balls”

As the name implies, Flame Balls has a rather interesting story behind it. Apparently, there was this French guy who went surfing there and he was hurled off of a giant wave. As a result, he landed on his surfboard and one of his testicles was ripped off in the process. Sounds painful!

The good news is that the guy was able to make a come back and keep surfing with only one testicle. However, the end of the story is bitter sweet. Unfortunately, the bad news is that he was killed a couple years later in another surfing accident in Madagascar – c’est la vie!

Good Surfing at Jelly Babies

The other good surfing spot near here is Jelly Babies. Jelly Babies is located on the southern end of Nosey Ve and it has more direct exposure to the swell. Because I was traveling by dhow, Jelly Babies was more easily accessible from my Anakao beach hotel. However, the quality of the waves at both breaks was heavily dependent on the tide, time of day and the wind direction.

It helps to stay in the area for a few weeks and this makes it easier to predict where and when you need to be for some good surfing.

Surfing Anakao Madagascar, Jelly Babies
Surfing at Jelly Babies 5 kilometers offshore from Anakao, Madagascar.
Riding Waves, Anakao Madagascar, Jelly Babies
Riding another wave at Jelly Babies.

Visit Nosey Ve

Located very close to both of the Anakao surfing locations is a small deserted island – Nosey Ve. As a result, it is a great place to stop for lunch after surfing.

Walking to the beach at Nosey Ve

Nosey Ve can be circumnavigated in about an hour and there are lots of photo opportunities including the nesting red-tailed tropic birds and sailing dhows.

Red-tailed tropic bird flying around Nosey Ve
Red-tailed tropic birds seen nesting at Nosey Ve.

Peter Pan Hotel Anakao, Madagascar

Anakao hotels are an eclectic collection ranging from so called “Madagascar resorts luxury” to low end Anakao Madagascar hotels such as Longo Vezo.

Fortunately, moderation can be found at Peter Pan Hotel. Peter Pan Hotel is a restaurant and hotel that is run by an Italian ex-pat named Dario. They have excellent pizza there and Dario also keeps a good supply of cold beer on hand.

Due to my very negative experience up the beach at Longo Vezo, I left Anakao after only a couple weeks. I hesitated to return even though the surfing was great. Fortunately, by surfer word of mouth in Ifaty and also Fort Dauphin I was informed of this alternative arrangement. Therefore, I returned to Anakao Madagascar and I stayed there for an additional 2-3 weeks.

Dario once boasted to me that he owns a herd of 12 zebu although he did not keep them near the hotel.

Peter Pan hotel Anakao Madagascar
Photo of Peter Pan Hotel and restaurant located on Anakao beach Madagascar.
photo of Dario owner of Peter Pan Hotel Anakao Madagascar
Photo of Dario the owner/manager of Peter Pan Hotel in Anakao Madagascar.

Excellent Fishing in Anakao, Madagascar!

Fishing is excellent in this area of Madagascar. The dhow can be fitted with a trolling motor and that worked out very well.

Nice trevally fishing Vezo Reefs Southern Madagascar
Photo of me and a nice trevally I just caught while out fishing on the Vezo reefs.

These fish were not easy to identify because the locals told me they were some kind of tuna. However, I thought that they looked a lot like wahoo.

Tuna Fishing Vazo Reefs Madagascar
The first mate and I posing with the morning’s catch near the Vezo Reefs a few kilometers offshore.
Catch of the day.

Find Madagascar Animals in Anakao

We had some serendipitous encounters with the unique wildlife that exists in Madagascar. This includes an awesome encounter with the unique Madagascar chameleon.

Chameleon, Anakao Madagascar
Our encounter with this friendly chameleon was pretty amazing. I found it walking through the sand alongside the path to my bungalow.
Chameleon Photo
The ability of the chameleon to change colors was incredible. It seemed to blend right into this bush within a few seconds.

We also had a really cool encounter with a miniature nocturnal lemur one night while we were relaxing on the porch. There was some commotion on the ceiling and when I turned on the light I noticed there was a lemur that had wondered in to try and find some insects.

Photo of miniature nocturnal Lemur Anakao Madagascar
The miniature lemur wandered around the rafters under the porch in my bungalow looking for insects to eat.
miniature nocturnal lemur in Anakao
Photo of miniature nocturnal Lemur

Vezo Cultural Tour in Anakao Village

The Vezo fishing village is a maze of pathways and it is built on sand.  “Tabaka” is what the Vezo call kaolin powder and the local women put it on their faces to provide protection from the sun.

Vezo Villager Anakao, Madagascar
Local Vezo woman with kaolin powder on her face seen walking around in Anakao village.

Shark Fishing on the Vezo Reefs

Sharks make a lot of people nervous and for good reason. However, in this area there is a lot of natural food for the sharks to eat. Therefore, it is very unlikely that a surfer, diver or fisherman would accidentally be targeted in a shark attack.

The locals tell me that there has never been a shark attack around Anakao, Madagascar. However, there is no denying that the big sharks are prowling in the area.

Even with the reassurances of the locals there is still a moment of reflection after you have been surfing all morning and then you see them hauling huge sharks up the beach!

Big shark caught near Vezo Reefs
In Anakao village the main line of work is fishing. This includes big sharks! Vezo kid poses for a photo with the shark his brothers just caught in the local waters.
Big Sharks caught on Vezo Reefs
It was a common sight to see the Vezo bringing in sharks that they caught in the area offshore from Anakao, Madagascar.

Additional Attractions Near Anakao, Madagascar

Although there are some unique Madagascar animals and plants around Anakao, it is a very good idea to visit Tsimanampetsotsa Nature Reserve. This is a world renown nature reserve in southern Madagascar and you will find all the best Madagascar flora and fauna located here.

Transportation to the park can be procured in Anakao for a day trip. The drive to Tsimanampetsotsa is about 2 hours each way and you will also get to see the Madagascar countryside. It is a great way to experience the real Madagascar and also see some of the world renown Tsimanampetsotsa Lake flamingos, ring-tailed lemurs and fat baobab trees. Check it out it is well worth it! 

Fat baobab tree at Tsimanampetsotsa Nature Reserve.

Travelers to Anakao, Madagascar

Overall, I am pretty happy with my extended stay in Anakao, Madagascar. As mentioned there is an assortment of Anakao hotels to choose from. Transportation to and from Anakao beach Madagascar is more efficient because of the speedboat operated by Anakao Ocean Lodge. However, I decided not to stay there because of the outrageous Anakao Ocean Lodge price.

The Anakao Ocean Lodge seems to aggressively recruit bourgeoisie French guests that like the allure of Madagascar hotels luxury! However, Anakao Madagascar IS NOT a luxury destination. If not for the surfing, fishing and Madagascar animals there is really no reason to come here. Unfortunately, encounters with pompous clowns in Anakao is unavoidable e.g. Longo Vezo. If it is luxury you are after, check out my Antananarivo post.