Anakao – or more precisely the twin fishing villages rather endearingly named Anakao A and Anakao B – is one of Madagascar’s most beautiful beach destinations. It is situated on the southwestern corner of the island 40kms south of the town of Tulear, and its relative isolation has helped preserve its pristine environment. It is characterized by crystalline waters, stretches of powdery white sand, low, turquoise green scrub and colorful canoes gliding in a shallow lagoon.
Most of Ankao’s inhabitants belong to the Vezo clan - meaning ‘the people of the sea’. They are skilled fishermen, trawling in the day’s catch from colourful canoes similar to the Malay-Polynesian variety; that is, a hollowed out tree trunk, brightly painted and with a small sail. The Vezo people’s way of life has changed little over time; Men fish with lines, nets and spears, whilst women trawl the reefs for octopus and sea cucumbers. Trade in fish brings in a meager living, which is supplemented by tourism. Exploring the Vezo’s culture and craft is one of Anakao’s main attractions. In the village of Anakao B there is a Vezo cemetery, and between the dunes you may spot fossilized eggshells left by the now extinct Aepyorni, or ‘elephant bird’.
On Anakao’s horizon breakers crash into the extensive corral reef which protects the lagoon, Due to the predictable tides and winds, Anakao is gaining a reputation amongst fans of water sports, particularly for windsurfing, kite-surfing and surfing. Scuba diving and snorkeling are also popular, particularly around the outlying islands of Nosy Be and Nosy Satrana. From July to September large groups of humpback whales make their annual migration from the Antarctic, passing along Madagascar’s eastern seaboard through the Mozambique Channel. Nosy Be is a popular spot to view this magnificent spectacle.