This is a French island that few people actually know. Located at about 1400 Km northwest of Reunion Island and 300 Km from the Malagasy territory, many people wonder where Mayotte is on a world map! This small island paradise, as I like to call it, I lived there for almost four years. This small island in the Indian Ocean, located in the Mozambique Channel, between the African continent and the island of Madagascar, has in my eyes everything one could love about a tropical island. I present to you the things to do on the island of Mayotte. If you are preparing your trip, I invite you to read the article “When to go to Mayotte?” Come on, let’s discover one of the least known overseas departments.
I will purposely not talk about the recent situation on the island, that is not the point of this article. The problems of illegal immigration, slums, the living conditions of the population, departmentalization, delinquency, and recurrent general strikes are, however, real issues. For all that, the problems seem to be generally ignored for the moment…
So, no, life is not “all pink and beautiful” on the island of Mayotte, far from it, but it remains engraved in my heart as an extraordinary experience that I had the opportunity to live. The territory is complex, on the border of two worlds, one of which is the Union of the Comoros, just opposite, 70 km north of Mayotte. Even if the situation today is not easy for the island, I wish for all the Mahorais living on the island that the situation will improve in the very near future.
In the meantime, I hope that this article will encourage people to come and discover this island which remains in my eyes a pearl of the Indian Ocean. Even today, I find myself saying “if there weren’t so many insecurity problems on the island, I would spend my life there”! Here are, according to me, the must-see places in Mayotte.
If I had to answer the question “what to do on the island of Mayotte”, the answer would be obvious. This will probably be the subject of a full article, but diving in Mayotte is in one word GRANDIOSE. I had the opportunity to dive a lot on the island during my first stay. I went through more or less every dive spot on the island and I must admit that even after diving in other parts of the world, Mayotte remains superior to many places. French Polynesia for example is very rich in “big fish”, but the biodiversity remains very poor.
On the program: great diversity of corals, tropical fish everywhere, various marine mammals, in short, an exceptional seabed as I have rarely seen.
During your visit to Mayotte, discover the beautiful beaches of the island. To name only the most famous: the beaches of Ngouja (south of the island), Sakouli beach, Sohoa beach (west coast) or Boueni beaches, remain places to visit without a doubt during your tour of the island! This is the opportunity to go with your snorkeling gear and discover the beautiful underwater world of the island (corals, crabs, anemones, various fish, etc.). The continental slope of Sakouli beach is particularly beautiful.
Among the nice things to do on the island of Mayotte, meet the lemurs. These animals, which look like small monkeys, can be found all over the island. The famous N’gouja beach is the easiest spot to observe them. Many tourists and locals feed them bananas, so they are used to them. You can also see them in the center of the island in the forest or simply in the city center walking on the wires… A nice encounter with a very docile animal overall!
Among the must-sees in Mayotte, swimming with turtles remains a must-do. I have never seen a place in the world where you can swim and approach turtles in their natural environment. The beach of N’gouja (the same as the lemurs) is really famous for that. Take your mask and snorkel (avoid the low tide), and go discover this wonderful world! Of course, you will often come across turtles while diving…
It is clearly a must on the island of Mayotte. Several providers offer day trips on the lagoon around the island. Everyone has their preferences but I particularly recommend Mayotte Découverte, Planète Bleu or Lagon Aventure. The days are more or less the same and you will generally have the opportunity to go around the island and look for dolphins, manta rays or whales when the season is right. In any case, you will take advantage of this day to sunbathe, discover the superb beaches of the North or South of the island, do some snorkeling, all this accompanied by a good local meal! Depending on the providers and the tides, they will also take you to visit the mangrove!
Well, okay, climbing is a big word because the second highest peak of the island (594m), behind Mount Benara, is accessible from the village of the same name Choungui. Depending on your condition, the hike can take about an hour. The view from the summit is breathtaking, a true 360°. In fact, I wrote a full article on “A hike to Mount Choungui”.
The island of Petite Terre (where the airport is located) is home to a superb natural site, Lake Dziani. This site is a crater lake (maars). Two others, partially collapsed, are visible from the top of the site. The tour of the lake is done without particular difficulty and you will have a breathtaking view of the lagoon and the beaches of Moya. I recommend doing the tour early in the morning, early enough before the sun hits too hard.
This is an outing I had the opportunity to do several times when friends or family visited me. All you have to do is rent kayaks on the beach of Sakouli, on the east coast of the island and set off (depending on the tides) for 30 minutes of kayaking in direction of the islet. The ideal is to prepare a picnic and eat on site. There, you will enjoy small beautiful white-sand beaches but above all, one of the most beautiful snorkeling sites on the northeast coast of the islet.
And yes, among the essential passages of the island of Mayotte, brochettis remain a must. Personally, I used to go there once or twice a week. The idea is simple, plastic tables and chairs, and on the menu chicken wings (Mabawa), meat and fish sticks, all served with “Chaoula” (manioc, sweet potato, breadfruit) and “poutou” (local chilli pepper). You will find them all around the island, more or less elaborate, more or less frequented by mzungus (as foreigners are called in Mayotte). It remains a very good way to eat local and economical.
For all tourists passing through Mayotte, I recommend renting a car for at least one day, and going around the island to admire all the views overlooking the lagoon. The most beautiful places remain in my eyes, the north of the island and the magnificent views of the M’tzamboro islets, from the village of the same name. The south of the island is also beautiful and offers all along the road, superb views of the beautiful colors of the lagoon.
And yes, it might sound silly to say, but if you are a little bit curious and enjoy seeing local life, how people live, what’s going on in the “city center”, a walk from the city center to the seaside is quite nice. Everything is very close anyway! Take an hour to discover Mamoudzou market which is quite nice to see. There, you will find everything and anything: fruits, vegetables, clothes, fish, etc… It is also an opportunity to taste the fresh juice of star fruit, soursop and other local fruits.
One of the nice things to do on the island of Mayotte is to explore the island of Petite Terre. Start by barging from Mamoudzou (yes taking the barge, a kind of local ferry between the 2 islands, has become a verb on the island!). There, you can walk, hitch-hike, or rent a bike. Go around the island to appreciate the local life of this little piece of island. End your day trip on the beaches of Moya, in the north of the island.
South of the island is the Saziley islet, a perfect islet of white sand as one would almost dream of. Not much to do here except to laze with your feet in the sand. I had the opportunity to go there several times on day trips by boat, even with a friend’s boat or to spend the evening of a New Year’s Day. Be careful however if you decide to bivouac on the islet, the tidal range is high in Mayotte (4m more or less) and the islet can be covered by the sea at high tide. I have friends who have been trapped before!
Accessible from a bumpy road (at the time) on the crossroad leading to the village of Vahibe, the site exudes a peaceful atmosphere in the heart of the Mahoraise forest. You simply feel good there, with the cries of birds and lemurs that resonate. This is the opportunity to relax in this small paradise far from the city and the noise. Take a moment to enjoy a good fresh juice and some homemade cakes. For lovers of nature and peace, you can spend the night or the weekend. Here is their website!
Among the nice things to do on the island of Mayotte, crossing the island by Quad allows you to have a very good view of the center and the forest of the island. You can rent a quad for a few hours and set off with a guide to discover the trails in the interior of the island. It’s a change from the beach and it’s quite nice to do!
Even if the island of Mayotte is clearly more oriented beach and diving than mountain, there are some nice walks to do there. I told you about Mount Choungui above, but you can also climb to the highest peak of the island, Mount Benara, but also go on the “Marches d’Acoua” hike. In recent years, there could often be concerns of insecurity in the area. So, I recommend going with several people, in groups.
The Oulanga Na Nyamba association allows you, after registration, to attend this surreal spectacle of the spawning of green turtles. Let yourself be tempted by this superb experience!
Don’t expect a huge botanical garden. It is good to spend an hour strolling in a quiet place with some beautiful trees and shrubs. Nothing exceptional per se, but on your tour of the island, you can stop there for a short break!
This restaurant in downtown Mamdouzou is an institution or almost. It is in my opinion, one of the only tables on the island where we are never really disappointed. I advise everyone to go and eat there one evening. Very nice atmosphere and very good food.
The last thing I found nice to do on the island of Mayotte is to go and have breakfast at the Sakouli hotel. The setting is beautiful and you will have the opportunity to enjoy the infinity pool with a view on the magnificent lagoon. To spend a few hours, it is really great.
To get to the island of Mayotte from France, you will need a minimum of 550€. Flights can go up to 1000€ depending on the season. The main airlines are Kenya Airways, XL Airways and Air Austral. There are direct flights from Paris regularly. Find the cheapest flights here. I usually use this flight comparator to look for cheap flights.
If you are looking for a rental car on the island, I usually compare prices on this site to find the best deals.
That’s it, I’ve come to the end of this article. I hope I gave you the desire to come and discover this beautiful island that will remain in my heart for a long time. Even if the context of the island is not simple, don’t hesitate! You can see that there are quite a lot of things to do on the island of Mayotte, right?
Moreover, if you like islands and the African atmosphere, take a trip to the beautiful island of Ibo in Mozambique.
Have a nice trip in the Indian Ocean!