The idea of visiting Madagascar popped up as I was on the lookout for a remote, paradise-like place to windsurf and wing foil every day, one with warm waters and scenery beautiful to photograph. A place to soak up culture, with consistent wind and waves for daily training and -very importantly - not crowded. Madagascar has been on my bucket list for a while already, and when talking about it with some friends (Victor Fernandez, Antony Ruenes, and Jules Denel who are also incredible windsurfers) they encouraged me to go. If you think my search criteria was demanding, I assure you my expectations were more than surpassed by this magical place. I couldn't have chosen better. Madagascar has it all.

Separated from the African continent by the Mozambique Strait, Madagascar stands out as a hidden gem in the wide expanse of the Indian Ocean. As the fourth largest island in the world, it includes nearly 5,000 kilometers of pristine coastline to lose yourself in its turquoise and emerald waters. 

Positioned near the popular neighboring islands of Reunion and Mauritius, Madagascar is directly exposed to the swells and trade winds of the Indian Ocean. Since this island is much larger than its neighboring others, and because it holds endless capes and reefs to explore, the potential to discover multiple surf and wind sports spots is huge. In fact, it’s something I can't get out of my head!

Also called  "A World Apart" for its distinctive evolutionary path, Madagascar serves not only as a haven for biodiversity but also as a utopia for enthusiasts of adventure, wind, and waves. 

I suggested Chiara Socin join me for the trip. I didn't know her personally, but she is also a Duotone team rider and a super talented photographer. As expected from another adventurer and ocean lover, she didn't hesitate for a second to say she would go. It was going to be perfect: we would windsurf and wing foil while taking photos of each other in paradise. Not a bad plan. So there we were, the two of us with all our boards, heading into an unknown location, to live a unique experience without even knowing each other well yet! 


After a bit of research, it was clear that the most consistent spot for wind and waves in Madagascar was the Emerald Sea. This is a lagoon located north of Madagascar which blends as many shades of green, turquoise, and blue as is possible to imagine. Protected by dreamy islets and coral reefs, the Emerald Sea is twelve kilometers in length by three in width, and invites you to explore it from end to end.

When we arrived in Diego Suarez in the northern part of Madagascar, Chiara and I saw the traditional Malagasy* (see note) fishing boats with their beautiful sails all around the coast. What we discovered right then is that these boats aren't just used for fishing; they are the primary means of transportation for goods and taking tourists on scenic tours. Our final ride to our destination was going to be in one of these incredibly beautiful wooden boats.

As soon as we arrived at the boat, we were handed warm raincoats even though there were calm seas and it was twenty-seven degrees celsius. Chiara and I exchanged glances with a hint of skepticism. We sailed upwind in the calm, flat sea. Upon reaching the opening of the Diego Suarez Bay, however, the wind began to blow around 35 knots. The crew aboard our boat lifted the sail in those high winds without hesitation. 

Chiara and I may not have known each other well, but we instantly connected and - oftentimes - no words were needed. That day, we looked at each other with big eyes as the boat began sailing full speed between splashes across the wind. As the Malagasy leaned more and the splashes intensified, our faces lit up with delight. When reaching your holiday spot involves sailing with 35 knots on a traditional Malagasy fishing boat that’s listing heavily, you already know the adventure promises excitement! 

At the entrance of the bay, just before gliding into the lagoon of the Emerald Sea, the local whales extended their greeting. Could our welcome be any better? We then crossed the long lagoon of the Emerald Sea to reach Babaomby, sailing downwind fast, navigating gracefully between islands, channels and shallows. Once within the lagoon, the water's hues evoked our laughter, like children. We exchanged glances again with enormous smiles on our faces, affirming "We've reached paradise!" This is how this trip of a lifetime began. 

Sailing from Diego Suarez Bay to the Emerald Sea on a traditional Malagasy felt like a journey through time. We were mesmerized by the boat’s beauty and impressive functionality, details, and operation. There were other boats sailing all around, with colorful triangular sails hanging from diagonal masts—barely treated tree trunks, but well chosen for their flex and length. There was much bustling activity, with no trace of any other modern vessels. The captains greeted each other with smiles while navigating through islands, channels and shallows. Sailing to Babaomby was an experience in itself.

*Malagasy: a native or inhabitant of Madagascar



Wind statistics don't lie. Babaomby in Madagascar ranks in the Top 10 windiest spots on the wind lover's “Windguru” app. Ninety-eight percent of days on Babaomby have winds exceeding 20 knots. To us, that meant fun was guaranteed. The windy season is long in this region, starting in April and wrapping around the end of November. During Babaomby’s windiest months - July and August - the average wind speed hovers around 30-35 knots, blowing from sunrise to sunset and sometimes even through the night. Consequently, wind swells hitting the reef deliver wave after wave. On that trip in August, we sailed with a 3.4m windsurfing sail or 3.0m Wing at least 50% of the days. Other wind loving heavier riders opted for 4.2 or 4.5m sails.

If you thrive on riding strong and catching air in your maneuvers, August is a perfect time in this special zone. If you prefer lighter winds for freeriding in more moderate conditions (20-25 knots), you may want to avoid the summer months, although mornings tend to be calmer, perfect for individuals who are still learning or venturing into new wind sports.

Daytime temperatures in Madagascar usually hover around 30 degrees, but with the wind, it never feels hot. Nights are cool, perfect for comfortable sleep. The water temperature ranges from 26 to 28 degrees celsius. Whether in a swimsuit or a shorty, you're good to go. Chiara and I felt we’d arrived in paradise.

Due to the geography of the Emerald Sea as a lagoon surrounded by dunes and mangroves, reefs, islets, and channels, and due to its changes in depth, it can seem as if the wind, waves and currents have a life of their own. This set up offers changes in direction and acceleration zones that only make this spot richer and more interesting in varying conditions. In just a few kilometers from base camp and within navigable distance, you can enjoy ramps for jumps in both directions, beautiful wave riding, wind swells for downwinders, or flat water fun with more or less texture and chop. On the Emerald Sea, it is a lot of fun to sail around every corner with consistent wind, in a vast and safe lagoon with just your friends around. In fact, it's priceless!

The wind conditions are world class here, and the nature in this remote corner of Madagascar is stunning. The diversity of landscape and color in the Emerald Sea is unparalleled. Rivers, mangroves, baobab forests, dune beaches, sandy islands, wooded isles, diamond-shaped eroded islets, crystal-clear beaches as well as milky water areas that contrast with the intense dark turquoise in the deeper areas - each element adds to the vibrant tapestry. On land, there are lemurs watching you with their large eyes, and in the water, turtles come out to greet you. Humpback whales are visible just beyond the reef, mesmerizing you with their jumps and repertoire of splashes. It's a profound, Eden-like spectacle to explore, all within reach from your windsurf, foil or SUP board,



The Emerald Sea is not only a wind machine, but it also offers all kinds of interesting conditions for a variety of watersports. It doesn't matter if you are into riding waves or performing tricks, Babaomby has it all. Chiara was more into wing foiling on flat water and I was more into windsurfing the waves, and even so, in the same spot, we both could do what each of us wanted. Also, a strong benefit was the fact that we could safely reach all the spots by sailing. This  was amazing! When the wind blows strong on the Emerald Sea, you reach every corner of the lagoon quite fast. It was awesome to just cruise around, go on excursions, and even spend the day island hopping. 

Toreky Island:  The Jumping Paradise

About seven minutes sailing across from the Babaomby lodge, there is a rocky islet guarded by seabirds called Toreky Island. Surrounding the islet is a reef which is covered, even at low tide, to ensure waves every day. We loved this spot since it always worked! Toreky is a safe and super fun spot with big ramps to practice your starboard tack side to side-on jumps. The waves break right next to the island, while everything around it is flat, perfect conditions for gaining speed and hitting the ramp at full throttle. At Toreky, unbelievably, there are waves ALL the time! When windsurfing at low tide, the waves are even hollower, and there's still enough depth in the jump area. This spot is incredibly consistent, always offering ramps between 1 to 2 meters. It's ideal for jumping, but you can still ride the waves, too. Super fun for both wing foiling and windsurfing.

Sailing in pristine conditions such as these and looking around to see only your mates is an exuberant experience. Sometimes the sheer excitement had Chiara and me bursting into fits of laughter. Locals love jumping here, and we all motivated each other to try harder and go bigger. 

Suarez Island:  Waves and Whales

Suarez Island with its beautiful white sand sits in the outer area of the lagoon with several small islets separating it from the reef. On its shore, local sailboats and day-trippers gather to enjoy the day and savor freshly caught fish. The colors in this little corner of the planet are truly unique; for some reason, it has a different kind of light.

The reef is considered the best wave riding spot in the area by the locals. Sometimes, local kiters and windsurfers come from other northern areas to spend the day and wave sail here -  but generally - on a day-to-day basis, there are hardly any visitors. The wind is side to side-on starboard tack. This wave is one of the reasons I wanted to go to Babaomby. I wanted to train on the same tack as the Aloha Classic in Hookipa, Maui, and I did indeed find the similarities. At Suarez Island, there are super fun days with waves opening up for multiple turns on my windsurf board. Some of the locals love the outer reef at low tide where there are waves like rolling mountains, conditions that are perfect for winging. For windsurfing, I found the outer reef sometimes a bit too side-on and choppy. Personally, I loved to surf the inside reef at medium to high tide when it is fully covered enough not to touch the bottom. The wave bends when it reaches this part of the reef, becoming more side to side-off, the wind is a bit lighter, and the wave becomes hollower with a cleaner face. The reality is that moving around this same reef, you can enjoy it on almost all tides. You can reach this spot in one upwind leg straight from the lodge.

Suarez Island is the only spot where you are outside the lagoon.That means you can even sometimes sail alongside whales that are migrating from Antarctica to Madagascar for reproduction and breeding. This northeastern zone is a hotspot between June and September for whale migration. When it happens, all of the riders just want to watch the show. Seeing a humpback whale up close from your board is such an incredible experience. I had a great mix of emotions: fear, excitement, nervous laughter, and gratitude. We all smiled at each other!

The Pass :  For a Change

The Pass is a spot more suited for windsurfing as it is super shallow to wing foil. It sits right at the southern edge of the lagoon close to the opening of Diego Suarez Bay. The Pass is upwind, where the reef plays it so there are areas where you can also jump porttack. One thing about this spot is that the wind is very side-on and the water quite shallow, but if you ever feel like changing tack, you definitely have the option here.

La Piscine :  As Flat and Pristine as it Can Get

La Piscine sits in the flattest and clearest water I've ever seen in my life. I'm passionate about wave riding, and yet I enjoyed spending a lot of time at this special spot just for the pleasure of gliding in such clear, beautiful water. Arriving at the swimming pool, there are many colorful coral heads to sail around and in between, they’re like a tropical underwater maze. With the foil you need to find your way carefully, but the water is so clear that it’s pretty easy to follow the reef. Along its shoreline, La Piscine is so pristine and flat and the sand is so white that - believe me - you see your own shadow chasing you! It is a cool and unique experience. This was definitely our favorite place to shoot photos as the colors and water were absolutely stunning.

The wind is on the lighter side at La Piscine than in the rest of the lagoon, and the water is super flat, making it a paradise for freestyle, freeride, or slalom riding, and ideal for any individuals who are learning to windsurf or foil. At low tide, the water becomes as smooth as glass.

The lodge organizes boat trips to this area, but you can also get there by sailing on your windsurf board or wing. It's a long and fun downwind. Sometimes the lodge will organize a picnic there, so you can enjoy hours in paradise hanging out with your new friends.

Paradise:  The Deepest Blue

Paradise, as our friend Nico Martin named it, is an area of the lagoon upwind from the lodge. It sits in front of a tiny village on a beach filled with mangroves where children bathe, play, and chase their toy boats at full sail. These boats are built with pieces of wood and plastic bags, and the kids make them sail like seasoned sailors. They tension the sails with threads and put weight in the hulls with stones to adjust them to the wind intensity and navigation angles. Men fish here, and women wash. The children command the beach, but everything is in harmony, where smiles and curious glances are exchanged. In front of this beach called Paradise, the lagoon holds the deepest turquoise blue I have ever seen. The water is so crystal clear that every fold on the surface casts a shadow on the white sandy bottom. It is a very strange sensation. We were all gliding, shouting with excitement, and smiling from the soul, knowing that at that precise moment, it was not possible to be any happier. 

Flat and Safe Zones

Outside of these specific zones, the rest of the Emerald Sea lagoon is quite flat and deep enough to not have to worry about touching bottom with the foil or your fins. In many areas you can stand. Right in front of the lodge, the water is flat and the wind is side shore and consistent, perfect for practicing skills or having windsurfing, kiteboarding or winging lessons.


After riding waves at the reef, Chiara and I always loved to stop on Suarez Island beach where it is sheltered by the wind. This spot is incredibly beautiful and calm. Somehow, the colors on Suarez have a completely new spectrum, as if your eyes unlocked a new feature or depth of color. Surrounded by corals and a couple of little islands, you get a prime view of the waves on the outer reef. This place is where local boats bring tourists from time to time to spend the day and have freshly caught grilled fish with tasty coconut rice. When those  traditional colorful boats are all anchored by the beach, it is a very picturesque scene. 

Suarez Island was our place to chat and share with our new friends and the locals about our recent session, to talk about our visions of life, about our cultures, food, family, and friendship. Chiara and I had  enjoyable and deep conversations on this beach with many of our new friends. It was always magical.



Babaomby Island Lodge is located on the northernmost peninsula of Madagascar, right at the entrance of the stunning Bay of Diego Suarez—the second largest bay in the world. To kick off your trip, you navigate through it, setting the tone for the adventure.

When reaching your holiday spot involves sailing with 35 knots on a traditional Malagasy fishing boat, you already know the experience promises excitement! And if it's meant to happen at night because of the tide, magic takes hold of the moment. You watch the sail glide against the deepest black sky filled with stars, while smiling and feeling so fortunate. Excitement fills every inch of your being.

The Babaomby Island Lodge is no doubt the place to be at the Emerald Sea. This charming eco-lodge, nestled in paradise, is truly a water lover's dream, mainly because it was designed by one. When Nicolas Martin visited Madagascar for his first time to windsurf, he saw the potential of the Emerald Sea. He built this beautiful lodge right in front of the best wave in the windiest area of the country, where visitors were able to reach the waves and return from the reef in one session. It doesn't get any better than that!

The lodge is carefully thought out, designed, and constructed to minimize natural and visual impact. I felt it was exquisitely decorated with every detail considered. Chiara and I had a super cool tent right by the water, and as we strolled from our cabin to the beach, we passed through the botanical gardens with beams of light making their way through tropical plants, while wild lemurs observed us. It was such a different experience from any other trip I’ve taken. The Babaomby Island Lodge made it feel like we were staying in the wild, but we were also very comfortable. 

Fresh food arrives daily by boat, at the mercy of the tide. The logistics are no joke, so all meals are scheduled in advance. Bread and croissants are baked fresh each morning in a wood-fired oven. Each meal is delicious, including fresh vegetables from the garden or market and fish straight from the sea. Sharing a table with other adventurous people from different walks of life and nationalities adds to this enriching experience. Conversations, ideas, and connections arise that may stay with you forever. 


In Diego Suarez, I found that there's a relaxed and festive atmosphere. The Malagasy people are cheerful, and vibrant. They wear smiles that light up their faces, and wear the most beautiful garments. Style matters here, and the local’s clothes display vivid colors flawlessly, with not a single wrinkle; everything in their outfits is perfectly coordinated. Local hairstyles and face paintings are also very beautiful. These people are stunning inside and out! 

The locals were friendly and open with us right from the start. They were curious to know about us and our culture, and enthusiastic to share about themselves. They wanted us to experience the true Madagascar, in depth. All the children played together while the adults looked out for everyone, like one big, interconnected family.

Even in the markets we had a great time.  We were a bit shy taking photos at first, but it turned out everyone encouraged us to take them. We posed together—us with the locals, with chickens, with vegetables etc.  It was so much fun. Everyone has a great sense of humor!

One sunset, on our way to the beach in Diego going for dinner, Chiara and I were fascinated by how lively the streets were. Children were running along the beach near the bars, playing and chatting, while moving to the rhythms that filled the air. They may not have realized it, but they are dancing while playing.  Music and rhythm are in their DNA, and live music is everywhere. When you visit, you will see how well they dance.  

Here - like nowhere else I’ve traveled before - I felt like the local people looked directly into our eyes, and we could  feel them, and see them. There were no language or cultural barriers to overcome, the connection was deep, sincere and tangible.



Babaomby is perfect for traveling with a group of friends or family, even if each person has a different skill level or practices a different wind sport, because the spot offers a variety of conditions. But if you're traveling alone, this is also a fantastic option as you'll meet people at the lodge with whom you'll connect and share interests. You can chat during meals, join group excursions, and toast with a couple of rhum arrangé in the evenings. During our stay we met many people from solo riders to couples and families. We shared a lot of good cheer together and had a lot of fun!

Babaomby Island Lodge is definitely a dream for water lovers seeking adventure, who don't mind taking a bit longer to get there because the reward at Emerald Sea is paradise on earth. This place is for nature lovers and for those who want to sail all day long, every day. It is for travelers who want to experiment with tasty, fresh foods, dance to new rhythms and share laughter and conversations with the locals. Madagascar is for travelers who enjoy getting mesmerized by beautiful, lush landscapes and vibrant colors of nature. And, it is for people who wish to live a truly unique experience and make friends for a lifetime.

Our trip was a total success. The Emerald Sea was windy every single day for a month! Chiara and I had so much fun, we met so many new people, and most of the time, we were laughing and shouting from excitement like kids, absolutely loving every single moment. The two of us got on super well and made a great team for our photo projects. The fact that the place was incredibly stunning helped a lot too.

But like with every great trip, there is an end. Our month in Madagascar went by too quickly. Due to the tides, our departure was at night. Magic took hold of the moment as we were sailing back to Diego Suarez with so many beautiful memories. Both Chiara and I were smiling even though we had heavy hearts because of what we were leaving behind. But this moment was possibly the best of goodbyes. We watched the sail glide across the deepest black sky filled with stars, while again smiling and feeling fortunate, thanking the universe and life for everything we had just lived. 

I have to say it was hard to leave this paradise and our many new friends, but I have no doubts that we will be coming back!


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- Daily trips by boat around the Emerald Sea lagoon, picnicking on its islands

- Visiting local markets and second-hand clothing markets in Diego

- Exploring the baobab forest and mangrove rivers in the Emerald Sea

- Dining and dancing on Sundays in Ramena, in Diego Suarez Bay

- Going out on Wednesdays to Diego Suarez to see local Salegy dance contests

- Exploring the natural parks in the area, hiking, and discovering endemic plant species, lemurs, chameleons

- Nighttime animal watching excursions

- Multi-day excursion to Nosy Be for diving

- Whale watching and swimming with whale sharks on Sainte-Marie Island.


Babaomby Island Lodge has a wide range of equipment available for rent, but it's always a good idea to contact them in advance to ensure they have what you need.

For lessons, the location is ideal and safe, and the instructors are highly experienced. They even have a jetski for security.

If you prefer to bring your own gear, check with the Babaomby Lodge about the right equipment and sizes on the month of your visit and the discipline you plan to practice. As a reference, in August, I mostly used a 69l board with a 3.4 or 3.7 sail for wave riding. Others often used boards around 80l with 4.2 or 4.5 sails.


- Sunscreen

- Insect repellent

- Shorty or a 2.2 fullsuit if you're learning

- A puffy jacket or windbreaker. Evenings can be cool if the wind picks up.

- Spare parts for anything you consider hard to replace.



Fly to:

- Diego Suarez (Antsiranana) (+ 30 min transfer)

- Nosy Be (+ 8h transfer to Diego Suarez)

- Antananarivo + Internal flight to Diego Suarez (+ 30 min transfer)

The lodge can arrange transfers to Diego Suarez and the boat (1h) to Babaomby.


- To Antananarivo: Air Madagascar, Air France, Ethiopian, Ewa air, Air Austral.

- Antananarivo - Diego Suarez: Tsaradia

- To Nosy Be: Neos (direct from Milan)



No doubt, the best is Babaomby Island Lodge. Comfortable, authentic, charming. Convenient location, just in front of the best spots. Amazing food and the best crew!




Written by, Maria Andres
Photos: Pandora Ciara Socin, Babaomby Lodge Crew, Maria Andres


check out:  Mauiritius:  Waterlover's Paradise