Located on the Indian Ocean, in the northern channel of Mozambique, between Madagascar and Africa, Mayotte is, in many ways, a magical destination. Petite-Terre and Grande-Terre, the 2 main islands that make up Mayotte, will seduce travelers in search of nature and traditions, demanding magnificent underwater playgrounds but also fine gourmets. Discover the 10 good reasons to make Mayotte your next holiday destination.
1. The most beautiful lagoon of the Indian Ocean
The lagoon of Mayotte is one of the largest in the world but also one of the most beautiful. Its double reef barrier extends for nearly 195 km long, measuring 100 to 500 meters wide and is between 3 and 15 km from the coast.
The first barrier is only 200 meters from the edge and is therefore accessible to all swimmers who take the trouble to reach it. Diving in Mayotte allows you to observe a tropical fauna and flora of great beauty with a totally different ecosystem day and night. Mayotte has the distinction of having up to 4 meters difference between the low and high sea. In case of high tide, you will be able to admire the corals in the open air. The temperature of the water in the lagoon remains very pleasant year-round oscillating between 24 ° and 30 ° C. For the clarity of the waters, favor the months of June, September and October.
2. Fabulous passes
Who says lagoon, says magnificent passes. There are twelve along the double barrier reef. The most famous, the S pass is a geological and biological curiosity that explains its international reputation. It is a popular site for scuba diving in Mayotte because it offers a wide range of depths and underwater landscapes, allowing the observation of rare species such as Napoleon fish, large rays, sea turtles or sharks. Passes, from 60 to 80 meters deep, are most frequently recommended for experienced divers as the currents can be strong during periods of high tides.
3. Trips at sea rich in sensations
The lagoon, passes and areas off Mayotte are the gateway for 24 species of marine mammals. Many local structures and dive centers therefore offer day trips to observe this wildlife.
Dolphins are one of the essential species of the lagoon and several colonies of dolphins live there all year long. Bottlenose dolphins and humpback dolphins remain inside the lagoon. On the other hand, long-billed dolphins, Fraser dolphins, Electra dolphins and spotted dolphins evolve outside the lagoon. For the latter species, large groups of 500 individuals are regularly seen by tourists.
From July to October, the lagoon of Mayotte holds many surprises. Humpback whales come back from Antarctica and come to give birth in the warm waters of the lagoon where they find peace and protection for their calves. It’s an unforgettable sight in many ways.
4. Biodiversity still preserved
Mayotte has an extraordinary biodiversity, one of the richest in the world on and under water. The island has many reserves to protect, as much as possible, its tremendous heritage.
On land, there are about 140 bird species, 15 mammal species and dozens of reptile species.
Underwater, there are 250 different species of coral, 760 species of tropical fish and no less than 3,616 marine species, but this figure is obviously largely underestimated.
Mayotte also hosts a small dugong population, estimated at less than 10 individuals, and therefore critically endangered. Sea turtles – green turtles and hawksbill turtles – are also part of the lagoon’s flagship species and, as such, are protected.
Sharks are also well represented in Mayotte: 24 species of sharks inhabit the waters of the island including the gray reef shark, white tip shark but also, occasionally, the hammerhead shark or the bulldog shark.
Finally, from February to June, you can swim with manta rays. These sea creatures that can reach 7 meters wingspan for a weight of 1-ton, elect residence in the lagoon. Equipped with mask-snorkel fins, you can approach and observe them while they feed in the transparent waters of Mayotte.
5. A reduced number of tourists
Mayotte attracts every year “only” 60 000 visitors on a territory of 376 km2. A calm, wide open spaces, intoxicating scents as well as the wild nature which reserves multiple adventures!
6. An island shaped by volcanoes
Mayotte is the result of the union of two volcanic buildings formed about 15 million years ago. The island is a real pleasure for the eyes as it offers a wide range of colors: ferralitic shores, cultivated valleys, ridges, black rock reefs, white beaches and islets, rare geological formations such as padzas, lush forests… The 2 islands that make up Mayotte also offer themselves to hiking. In Petite-Terre, the brave ones will join the Dziani Dzaha, volcanic crater become lake which one can make the turn and admire on the east side the Coral reef. On Grande-Terre, two peaks await climbers: Mount Combani in the center of the island and the imposing Mount Choungui to the south, at the top of which you will discover a magnificent 360 ° panorama.
7. Mayotte, cutting edge on ecotourism
Tourism is an activity that can generate a number of nuisances for wildlife. In Mayotte, none of this, tourist structures offer nature outings highlighting the respect and preservation of local fauna and flora. On the program: distillation of ylang flowers, salt harvest, visit of the remains of a sugar factory, hiking or web-climbing, discovery of the historical and religious heritage … The excursions are diversified and represent very well the authenticity of the island and his people. They bring real novelties and unforgettable sensations.
8. Refined gastronomy
Traveling abroad is synonymous with culinary discovery. Mayotte is a perfect example of blends of Mahoran and African flavors. On the menu: “mabawa”, grilled chicken wings, “mataba”, cassava breasts cooked in coconut milk, or fresh fish such as grouper, swordfish and grilled kaffir lime … The local cuisine is varied and tasted in the many restaurants of the island.
9. A country with a rich past
Anchored in its regional environment, the island has, during more than 10 centuries of history, undergone influences African, Eastern, Indian, European and Malagasy. The first inhabitants arrived from Africa and Madagascar settled in the 8th century. In the ninth century, Arab merchants created the first trading posts and introduced with them Islam on the island. From the thirteenth century, the island comes under the clan of clans from the Swahili and South Arabian coast, and in the sixteenth century, Shirazian migrants establish on the island sultanates. A large division will reign over the archipelago of Comoros. Then comes the era of “fighting sultans” and then Malagasy invasions. Adriantsouli, former king Sakalave converted to Islam, who proclaimed himself Sultan of the island, gives the latter to France on April 25, 1841. You will witness, during your journey of this rich past by visiting the archaeological sites of Dembeni, the Minaret of the Mosque of Tsingoni, the shirazi mausoleums of Tsingoni or the former prefecture designed by Gustave Eiffel to name a few.
10. Welcoming people
The discovery of inhabitants is one of the most important aspects of travel. The Mahorais always reserve a warm welcome to their guests to the rhythm of the dances and songs inviting them to share, with enthusiasm, a privileged moment of local folklore.
If there are performances not to be missed during your trip, the first of them would be the discovery of Mahoran rhythms and dances. Mayotte knows different kinds of music including “m’godro”, local music inspired by salégy or saleg, a Malagasy music. The dances are many and varied. The best known is the “m’biwi” which owes its name to the instrument made of two pieces of bamboo struck together. Also worthy of mention are Le Chigoma, a dance celebrated on a wedding occasion, the Deba exclusively reserved for women during the Brandra-Bandra festival and the Wadaha with Bantu origins, which is danced with a pounder and a mortar.
Women attach great importance to their beauty. They wear the Saluva, a large cotton tube tied around the chest, elegant dress of the Mahoran woman par excellence. They also bear on the face, the m’zindzano, paste made from sandalwood worn as a full-face mask or in delicate decorations to emphasize the fine features of the face.
With so many assets, the island of Mayotte and its inhabitants hope to count you among their future visitors very soon!