Diego Suarez

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The town of Diego Suarez, or Antsiranana, is located in the north of Madagascar in the world's second largest natural bay with the picturesque Nosy Lonja (Sugarloaf island). Diego Suarez is named after the Portuguese explorer Diego Diaz who came to Madagascar in 1500 and the sailor Fernando Suarez who arrived at the bay in 1506. Unfortunately Diego Diaz was rather cruel to the locals and sold them into slavery.

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Although since 1975 the official name of the town is Antsiranana, literally meaning "that is at the seaside" in Malagasy, many people still refer to Diego Suarez. In 1885 the French Navy built a military base on the location, given the strategic importance of a deep-water harbour.

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During World War II Diego Suarez was under control of the French Vichy. In 1942 Britain and The Allies occupied Diego Suarez to prevent the Japanese warships and submarines from entering the harbour. Hundreds of British soldiers fell in the Battle of Madagascar. Until 1973, Diego Suarez served as a port to the French fleet of the Indian Ocean.

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The colonial influence of France and particularly of its navy, which occupied Diego Suarez until 1973, is noticeable in the city's architecture. Straight and parallel roads lead visitors along impressive stone buildings with columns and large balconies, decorated public gardens and incredible views of the bay. The city has its own special character, which can not be found elsewhere in Madagascar.

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Today Diego Suarez is Madagascar's 5th largest town and after the capital Antananarivo the most modern in terms of lifestyle, shops and entertainment. The locals are a vibrant mixture of Antankarana and Sakalava, Indians, Arabs, Creole, Chinese, Comorians and French. Most tourists discover only Colbert Street, which is framed by large, colourful colonial brick buildings with verandas. Most hotels, restaurants, tour operators and handicraft shops can be found along this street. The area south of Foch Square is more Malagasy, with local stores, street markets and the big fruit and food market. The entire town will go to sleep between noon and 3pm with its peak of awakeness during night time.

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The climate around Diego Suarez is hot with seven months of dry weather a year. From May to October a trade wind contributes to a pleasant temperature. Almost all rain falls between end of November and April. In those months the landscape turns from beige and brown to lush green. However, bird lovers will enjoy the dry season as birds are more visible then.

Town Hall
Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Administrative block
Former Governor's Palace
Ny Havana building

Places to visit

There are quite a few attractions in Diego Suarez which are worth a visit. Since 2010 handwritten information boards describe in French, Malagasy and English monuments and other places of interest.

Joffre Square
Marine Hotel
Bazary Be - Great Market Place
Foch Square
Kiosque à Musique

Day Excursions

The surroundings of Diego Suarez offer some of the most beautiful natural landscapes of Madagascar. For the active travellers there are many opportunities for trekking, climbing, swimming, snorkelling, diving, kite-surfing, fishing, bicycling etc.

Tour operators

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Madaway Tours is a tour operator on Rue Colbert.

Diego Raid
Quad and 4x4

Toto Circuits Diego
Excursions & tours by 4x4 in the region of Diego Suarez

Bicycle hire and repair

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Diego Cycles is a bicycle repair and hire service at the big market place. However, the available bikes are likely cheap Chinese imports.
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Alain runs a small bicycle repair shop. The repair shop may look a bit messy, but the work done is of quality and inexpensive.

Tel: +261 (0)32 78 496 26 (mobile)

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Madabike are stable and lightweight mountain bikes available for rent in Diego-Suarez with optional add-on side panniers and front box, GPS, tents and solar panels.
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Magasin Innova is a spare parts store in Diego-Suarez for bicycles and motorcycles including accessories.

Tuk Tuk driver

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Tel: +261 (0)32 91 694 14 (mobile)

Restaurants and bars

La Cantine
Small but excellent restaurant with a genuine Malagasy kitchen close to Grand Hotel on rue Colbert.

Bar Sambirano
A small bar/restaurant at the end of rue Colbert.

La Rosticceria
Small Swiss-owned restaurant, bar and hotel.

Gargote Samiah
Lunch restarant. 100% Malagasy.

Drinks terrace

Lounge and shisha bar with good cocktails and delicious bar food.

Le Taxi Be
Bar & nightclub

Le Ponton
Bar & restaurant

Le Balafomanga
Malagasy - Créole - Seafood

Pizzeria SU & GIU
Pizza - Pasta - Salad

San Diego Rock Café
Pasta - Pizza - Burger - Icecream - Café

La Terrine d'Argent
French food, homemade cooking, small informal restaurant with a few tables only. Rue Colbert, enter through small corridor in front of Le Colbert restaurant.


Allamanda Hotel
Rue Richelieu - Ville Basse
Tel: +261 (0)20 82 210 33 / +261 (0)20 82 231 47 / +261 (0)32 07 666 15 (GSM)
Email: hotelallamanda@gmail.com
Website: allamanda-hotel.com

Hotel Concorde
Rue Colbert

Hotel Le Petit Paradis
Rue de la Prison
Tel: +261 (0)32478913

Victoria Hotel
Rue Rigault 201
Tel: +261 (0)34 11 225 44
Website: www.hotelvictoriadiego.com

Hôtel de la Baie
Route Ramena, Diego Suarez
Tel: +261 (0)32 5077736 / +261 (0)32 6445782
Website: hoteldelabaiediego.com

Perle de la Baie
Tel: +261 (0)33 18 826 73 (mobile)
Email: perledelabaie@gmail.com
Website: perledelabaie.blogspot.com

Kartiffa Hotel (14 rooms)
Tel: +261 (0)32 04 185 83 (mobile)
Email: toto@kikoohotel.com
Website: www.kikoohotel.com/kartiffa-hotel-diego-suarez.html

Hotel La Terrasse du Voyageur
Tel: +261 (0)34 20 061 04 / +261 (0)34 20 061 06

Hotel de la Poste
Tel: +261 (0)32 04 785 75 (mobile)
Email: contact@diego-hoteldelaposte.com

Hotel de la Poste Ocean
Tel: +261 (0)32 04 785 75 (mobile)
Email: contact@diego-hoteldelaposte.com
Website: www.diego-hoteldelaposte.com

Grand Hotel
Tel: +261 (0)20 82 230 63
Email: grandhotel_diego@yahoo.fr
Website: www.grand-hotel-diego.com

Hotel Le Colbert
Tel: +261 (0)20 82 232 89
Email: hlcdiego@moov.mg
Website: www.hlcdiego.com

Central Hotel
5 Rue Lally Tollendal

Kilao's Hotel
Route de la Pyrotechnie
Tel: +261 (0)34 47 379 07 / +261 (0)32 88 842 27
Email: kilaoshotel@gmail.com



  • SOTROMI (Société Tropicale Minière Madagascar)

Internet Access

Boat services

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Samy Express

Passenger boat transfers between Diego Suarez, Vohemar, Sambava and Antalaha
Tel: +261 (0)32 52 429 17 (Patrica)


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Diego Concept is a digital business communication service, printing, web design etc.

Tel: +261 (0)34 47 374 79

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Super Forme is a small and very reasonable priced fitness centre in Diego Suarez.
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Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Diego-Suarez is the main chamber of commerce for the Diana Region.
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Madahoufi is a general convenience store and Shipchandler in Diego-Suarez.
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Coiffeur FAIDOUANE is a barber and piercing service in the Tanambao district or central Diego-Suarez.

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Diego-Mobile is the most well-equipped smartphone repair shop in Diego-Suarez.

Tel: +261 (0)32 462 7305

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La Maison du Sport is a sportswear shop in Diego-Suarez.

Tel: +261 (0)34 10 880 57

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SECAMAD is a an exporter of single-source Sambirano cocoa with a production facility in Diego Suarez.

Map of Diego Suarez

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External links