Azure waters, undulating dunes, mangroves, and coastal plains merge around Madagascar’s city of the sun, Toliara. An 18km-long reef offshore is a superb diving and snorkelling spot and travellers will be delighted at the local, rustic charm found in Toliara – unmarred by the burgeoning tourist industry of the north. The city is also an ideal stopover for those travelling to and from Fort Dauphin to pick up supplies and break the journey.
Sprawled across Madagascar’s southwest coast, Toliara has other names as well. Before independence it was known as Tuléar, while many locals today refer to it as the ‘white city’ due to the light shades that most of the buildings are painted in. Remnants of French buccaneer occupation in the 17th century can still be seen in parts of town in the crumbling remains of European buildings.
Visitors can enjoy diving, snorkelling, and sunbathing, while the nearby Museum of Arts and Traditions, and the Museum of the Sea are sure to entertain for an afternoon. Buy a souvenir at the Shell Market in town, or take a quick drive to the Masikoro Tombs outside the city. Toliara Airport receives daily flights from the capital and Fort Dauphin.
- 18km-long and 3km-wide reef offshore is part of one of the largest coral reef systems in the world and is terrific for diving and snorkelling
- Ifaty beach is known for its startling beauty
- Up-and-coming destination that is still relatively uncrowded and offers good value for money
- Visitors can enjoy seasonal whale-watching from the coastline
- French buccaneers developed the town in the 17th century
- Toliara Airport services daily flights from the capital and Fort Dauphin