Belo-sur-Mer, a pleasant Vezo fishermen village
One of the few ancestral cradles of Sakalava Menabe, Belo-sur-Mer is a popular place for tourists and holidaymakers visiting in Morondava. How many people have fallen in love while contemplating the natural beauty of this land of ethnic Vezo, you will be immersed in the culture Vezo. Far from the classic tourist routes, you will discover the authenticity of an ancestral way of life. Belo-sur-Mer is a pleasant Vezo fishermen village. Visitors that come here are greeted by a wonderful many kilometers long beach of bright white sands and an amazing transparent sea of emerald waters. You will enjoy the laidback atmosphere, the great red sunsets and the adorable locals that have known to keep the authenticity of an ancestral way of life.
Life is organized around the shipyard and traditional fishing. Sakalava are avid fishers, who use outrigger canoes of the same design as those used by proto-Malagasy when they made their voyages across the Indian Ocean.
This coastline is dominated by coconut palms, strange changing tidal lagoons and the largest mangrove forests of the western Indian Ocean. The village of Belo-sur-Mer, its palm groves littered with half-constructed boats of all shapes and sizes, impresses in terms of the way it is maintained: clean and organized - evidence of a proud people! The children beg not for money but for pens and sweets. The adults all appear seriously busy with routine tasks. Women sit behind tall rough picket fences, made of widely spaced sticks which surround their wood and palm-thatch homes.
It's hard to get there, but once there, your efforts will be rewarded: an adorable bay with its sandbanks facing the sunset, and, from mid-June to September, whales, less than expected than in Sainte-Marie, but equally majestic frequent more regularly attend of the beaches, good chance to see them. Surrounded by great activity in sea, Belo-sur-Mer facing each other with several coral islands located about 18 kilometers. Around and between these islands, offers a diving exploration to enjoy beautiful coral flower and a fixed intense life. Great diving excursions will show you the abundant undersea life of this coast. Reef sharks, turtles, stingrays, barracudas, shellfishes, and even unexpected encounters with humpback whales on their way to their birthing grounds are some of the fascinating experiences of this paradisiacal spot of earth.
ENJOY THESE… experiences:
While staying at Belo-sur-Mer, there are a lot of possibilities of activities, for a week-end, a week or more, close to Belo or further away. Forest trekking, sea cruises through islets, diving can all be performed in Belo-sur-Mer, and also:
*The beach of course and the sea (22 to 33°C depending on the season). Cristal clear waters from the Mozambique canal are reachable very close to hotels, it is a natural kind of swimming pool with sand floor, protected from waves by a bar of polished rocks where birds like to stay.
*Visit of Kirindy Mitea National Park (1h30 by a speed boat or 2h30 by a vehicle 4x4). Visit this beautiful national park on any leg of your safari to discover a particularly eco-sensitive transition zone for three ecosystems – spiny desert, dry forest and mangroves. Heaven on earth for anyone with even one photographic gene. Good for those who want exercise and to get close to nature.
*Snorkeling. A simple mask and snorkel will allow you to discover the beautiful seabed. You will be able to contemplate the marine fauna and flora, with a little luck and dexterity you will be able to perhaps catch a lobster.
*Cruise to the strip of coral islands. These beautiful coral islands are about 1h30 by sea from Belo, it can be reached by motor boat or in a traditional way: by sailing pirogue! Turquoise sea, white shining sand, dark blue sky. This is the perfect shot of postcard, with coconut trees bathed in incredibly clear turquoise water. You may meet, in this recently created marine national park, the last nomad people who are fishing and drying their catches. Coral banks host a very varied fauna for snorkeling and scuba diving (possibility from time to time to benefit from a qualified instructor, organizing outings).
*Fishing. Underwater fishing or trolling. For fishermen, the waters are very good.
*Visit Menaky Bay. A nice excursion on foot (1h30 through the beach or in the inland route – some springs of fresh water in a tropical landscape), by speedboat, or on a sailing pirogue. At the bay entrance, quiet and deep water allows beautiful observations of seabed (snorkeling kits available). The inlet deepens in a mangrove for those who like to kayak during high tides (in polyethylene canoes, 2.78 m long). There arrive dhows sailing down to the «port au sel» to load salt sacks from the saltworks. You may cross one, two or even ten boats, with crews bivouacking while they wait for favorable tides. From the «port», it is possible to walk (3 hours round walk) or with a 4x4 vehicle to visit the works.
*Visit mangrove. We also offer trips kayak (provided) or canoe or sailing pirogues in the Mangrove, to better glide over the water between mangroves trees, the arm of the sea allows you to explore the interior of the land. Try not to make too much noise to watching the fishing birds in the middle of the mangroves.
*Visit Antsira salt works. The two large Antsira salt works, crossed by the track arriving from Morondava or from Ifaty-Mangily, are also interesting to visit (3 hours by foot for experienced walkers, with ideally a return by a 4x4 vehicle or by foot but via Menaky bay: 4 hours). The salt works are still run as in the old times, by progressive overflowing basins, until the last where the salt is harvested with a crowbar or pickax. Quite a lunar view, refreshed by a nice walk in the dwarf baobabs park with many species endemic to the Menabe.
*Guided tour of the shipyard. An easy walk on the lagoon side offers the possibility to see those shipyards. More than twenty schooners, with their two equal masts, are under construction, or, during raining season, under repair or being caulked. Belo-sur-Mer a unique village in which boat builders still construct boats the way the European pirates did hundred years ago. It is the only remaining monument to the Veso boat building craft long forgotten elsewhere in the world. The Veso boats reflect their origins and their pirate heritage. In the tradition of Michelangelo, the Veso boat artists seem to entice the exact shapes of timbers needed for the hull of the boat out of mangled tree trunks that perfectly fit their purpose every time. Choosing the timbers is a time-honoured and unrecorded art that appears to be handed down the generation and survives nowhere else in Madagascar except in this one remote village. The boat launchings are celebrated by local feasts where the entire village joins the clan which is the owner of the boat to tow the boat down to the sea, with songs and conch music.
*Sea excursions offer as well, depending on chance and appropriate season, the opportunity to observe dolphins and whales. With a little luck we may be able to see dolphins or humpback whales from June to October.
*Finally, why not organize a beach volley game or pétanque, fly kites on the desert beach or just borrow a book from the library, take a cool drink while playing cards, chess or darts or enjoy a massage.
Watch more photos about Belo-sur-Mer here.