Sunset on a beach with palm trees and two men walking
Coast & seascapes,  Happy Place Happy Space,  Madagascar,  People,  Travel galleries

Gallery: sharing a beach

Eden Lodge, on Baobab Beach in the north west of the country, where we spent our last few days in Madagascar, is definitely not such a spot, and I was very glad of it. Yes, it feels like a special place to stay, in a barefoot low-key eco-friendly way. You arrive by boat; no roads serve this isolated spot. Your home is a well-equipped tent, tucked among the trees that line the beach and shaded by a substantial thatch. You spend your days relaxing, swimming or snorkelling, maybe exploring a bit, and your evenings enjoying unpretentious but delicious meals with good wines and cocktails.


You are not alone here. At one end, only a hundred metres or so from the lodge’s main dining area, is a small fishing village. The beach is full of activity throughout the day. Fishermen launch their small boats and (hopefully) return with their catches. Schoolchildren follow the water’s edge on their walks to and from the village school at the other end of the beach. Local women pass, their loads effortlessly balanced on their heads, a feat that never fails to impress me.

The owners show real respect for those who call this place home, and take their responsibilities as ‘invaders’ very seriously. The lodge has created lots of employment opportunities for locals. Before it was established the village was tiny, with no school and high levels of illiteracy and poverty. Since the arrival of the lodge and the employment opportunities it offers, the village has grown as word about those opportunities has spread. Residents encouraged relatives and friends to come and settle here so they too could benefit.

Today the village is well-supported by the lodge. Every family has at least one family member employed there so everyone benefits financially. The lodge buys fish and other produce from the local people. Back in 2010 it financed the building of a school and employed a teacher. Since then two more schools have been opened which together have around 150 pupils from several villages in the area. And whereas in the past the village was isolated and totally self-reliant, nowadays they benefit from regular supplies arriving on the lodge’s boats.

So although I sometimes felt a little guilty at having the luxury to be able to travel here and then sit around doing relatively nothing, while they worked hard and lived a very simple life, that guilt was assuaged by the knowledge that my visit was helping them directly.

Below is a selection of photos taken over the four days we spent here, many of them from the terrace outside our tent. While I almost never promote individual hotels and accommodations here, I feel a link to this special spot is more than justified on this occasion (and no, I’m not on commission):

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given how much I loved this spot, I’m sharing it with Ju-Lyn for her Happy Place, Happy Space challenge!

Tents beneath thatched roofs on a beach

Our home on the beach

Beach with wooden shacks and line of trees

Baobab Beach

Simple wooden homes on a beach with backdrop of forest trees

The local fishing village

Simple wooden homes by a stream

Another view of the village

Simple wooden homes and a boat on a beach

Village homes

Simple wooden boats on the sand, one with sail unfurled

Two men by simple boats on a beach and a small group of children

Sunday morning on the beach

One of the girls seems to be wearing her Sunday best

Group of young people and children standing by a boat pulled up on a beach

Unloading a boat

Simple boat with furled sail and family on board

A passing boat

A local boat ferrying passengers between villages

Woman with children walking by the sea and palm trees

A local family

Women, and often older brothers and sisters, carry little ones on their back in a sling

Woman with children walking by the sea

Another family

Two women walking along the shoreline, one with a bundle on her head

Two women walking along the shoreline, one with a bundle on her head

Two girls carrying large sacks on their heads

Large group of schoolchildren in uniform walking along the shoreline

Two girls and a boy in school uniform on a beach by the sea

I visited Baobab Beach in November 2023


  • equinoxio21

    Very nice. Don’t feel guilty. You have the “privilege” to travel, enjoy it. Remember that without you (or me 😉) the local fishermen villages would not have this opportune source of income…
    (I hope my youngest daughter doesn’t see this comment, she is very strong on the notion of “Privileged” and Intersectionality…)

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you 😀 That was my point really – staying in an ethically minded property like this you can enjoy the privileges of travelling without feeling guilty because you know the money you spend will (largely) benefit the locals, whereas if you stay in an international chain or all-inclusive resort most of your money goes to corporates and shareholders who don’t need it even a fraction as much!

      • equinoxio21

        Very true. We just spent my birthday with the whole family on the pacific coast. A place called Puerto Escondido. It used to be a low-key, surfer, hippie, student place with very little tourism. Very nice place, though we hadn’t been in… 20 years. It has changed wonderfully. A good example of well-planned development. No big chain hotels. No high-rise buildings, just very nice little (3-5 floors) hotels, nice restaurants… And clearly all the local people are getting jobs, when their perspective 20 years before was.. to toil the earth and grow corn.
        had a splendid time and will certainly go back. (Though Madagascar is beckoning…)
        Be good.

  • Ju-Lyn

    Wow, that is really exclusive accommodation with a local flavour. We spent our honeymoon decades ago in a place very similar to this, complete with a hut just for ourselves. It is so nice that you have access to the village and that they have a symbiotic relationship with the lodge.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Yes, I could see you two enjoying it here, though you’d probably get bored after a few days. But it’s possible to be more active than we were, with hikes in nearby nature reserves, snorkelling and kayaking. All we did was a night walk in the forest behind the lodge and a day trip to Hellville on Nosy Bay, which was really good – post on that to come in due course!

  • lisaonthebeach

    Wow, this is amazing and beautiful. When you mention the fishing village I expected something bigger, these are wonderful photos! How many people live there? When we went to Sandals in the Bahamas I felt bad watching the employees cleaning the kelp off the beach each morning. What a job. But the staff were so friendly and appreciative. We went on a bus tour in Nassau and was told the tourists provide like 70% of the business for the town. Thank you for sharing, Sarah!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thanks so much Lisa 😊 I think the village must extend further back from the beach than my photos suggest, judging by the number of children heading back there after school, but we didn’t like to intrude. We stayed in a Sandals years ago (in Cuba) but I confess I don’t like those all-inclusive resorts – they’re too big and I feel cut-off from the local environment I’ve come to see and experience, even if you can do trips out. Although having said that, all meals were included here, we only paid for drinks and excursions. But with only 8 tents it certainly didn’t feel impersonal and as you can see we were living almost among the locals, albeit at a much higher comfort level!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Susanne 😊 Yes, a great place to relax – we could have done more (we did do one trip) but I wanted a break for my bad leg after all the walking earlier in the trip!

  • margaret21

    This does look a holiday spot where you can afford to feel guilt-free. I know the life of the villagers must be hard – often drudgery – but it does look a beautiful place when they d have moments of ‘down time’.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Yes, I hoped they found the time to appreciate their surroundings – somehow I got the impression that they did. I wish now I’d asked some of the staff at the lodge but although we talked with a few I never thought to ask that particular question!

  • Alison

    Looks absolutely beautiful Sarah, and nicely written. As you say without this lodge there would be no work or school, so it’s good to hear about people giving back. I’m sure you felt well and truly relaxed at the end.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Yes, it was a great spot in which to unwind. I’m not usually one for lazing around on a beach but this one had enough activity and variety to keep me entertained between outings 🙂 And I loved the atmosphere around the lodge!

Do share your thoughts, I'd love to hear from you!