""Spicy" and fragrant Toamasina city" Toamasina by Norali

Toamasina Travel Guide: 39 reviews and 70 photos

Hmmm... Douceur de vivre

Well, what to say?

Toamasina is for me a city valuable for its "douceur de vivre"... Just the contrary of Tana. Not that I don't like my birth city, I love it. But Toamasina is just different. With its large streets, the city was built like many cities in the island (and unlike Tana), with this cross-ruling system so as to have streets perpendicular one to each other. Large avenues and boulevards are edged with palmtrees and jacarandas. Its current architecture was designed by the French settlers. A reason for those colonial-style villas, with lush gardens, hidden behind jacarandas and "flamboyants" trees.

Don't ask me other names of flamboyant except the scientific name "Delonix Reagio". I haven't seen it in my French dictionary, I had to browse the web for that. Flamboyant tree is an ornamental tree with flamboyant green leaves and bright red-orange flowers. I am fetching a pic and would show you.

BTW, I would like you to forgive me for not having that much pics of Toamasina city since I used to stay there but at that time, I was not a VT member and didn't care about shooting. "All in the head and heart" *LOL*

Commerce in the port city

While wandering in the streets of Toamasina, you would notice that among its inhabitants are Chinese community members. In fact, Toamasina counts the largest Chinese community in Madagascar. They go well along with Malagasy people. Many Malagasy families have Chinese "connection" somewhere since they use to mix together so as to give birth to "metisy sinoa", partly Malagasy and partly Chinese outsprings. For me, this is the most adaptive community we have. They still strongly stick to their tradition but include and welcome foreigners, Malagasy in this case.

Off course, there are Malagasy people as well there. They are mainly Betsimisaraka, "the many who will not be separated", with Merina, Sakalava, Antandroy, Karana (of Indo-pakistanese origins) communities... and french.
Those communities have derived from their ancestors' settlement in the area. They used to trade.

Commerce, it's really the city is all about since it is the first port city of Madagascar. Vanilla, cocoa, clove depart from there to Europe, America... Basic commodities enter from there: rice, oil (fuel)...
Oil refineries are there as well as some industrial plants in Toamasina suburbs.

Ahhhh! You won't miss it! Pousse-pousses (ricksaws) abond in this city. A ride in them is charming as well as informative since "drivers" know about every corner of their city.

One thing worth noticing: no beggars here!

Nightlife, nightlives

A lot to say about that. Rather talk about "nightlives" instead of "nightlife".

A first type of nightlife is nightlife at seafront or in the streets. People watch sunset, then prepare for campfire, with guitar serenade, harmonica and good friends around. This is my fave.

A second one is nightclubbing. And Toamasina city abonds in clubs of all classes. I did it once in another seafront city that is now sought-after by tourists and holidaymakers. I was not that comfortable. We landed in a tiny club in Mahajanga area (another city in the West). Round 10 pm, I saw local girls, all parked in front of a huge mirror, trying to fix last details before male tourists arrived. I eventually noticed that women/girls there all had this strangely fussy look... And only female holidaymakers (like me and my friends) looked casual ... As male tourists, white men, arrived bit by bit, our local "hosts" made tremendous efforts to stick with male tourists. Danced a few times, drank few glasses (sometimes even not) and went out. All that at warp speed pace!!
I guess it's not love at first time, otherwise one would have known that this is THE place to be for bachelorettes. Call it whatever you want.. but for me it's dangerous, both for your health, guys, and for them as well.

In fact, the sadest story is that they all looked young, even younger when shadows of make-up fainted.

Later, I read here and there that several clubs in Madagascar had to close since they were caught to "host" little girls of, say, 12. I am not here to judge but since kids are concerned, I think I have to raise my voice on such a subject. I would say that prostitution is everywhere, in Europe as well as in the US and Asia... But, PLEASE, be careful with kids!

Besides, in Madagascar, Aids seems not to be hugely spread except within prostitution communities (including prostitutes' families). Beware of lonegoer girls. Malagasy girls use to go out accompanied with male friends, relatives or boyfriend. Quite only those who "sell their company" go alone in clubs. For sure, you would have not felt as attractive than there...

Above all:
- you don't have to sleep with local "petites" to enjoy your stay and discover this marvellous country. Riding pousse-pousse would inform you more on hidden jewels! ;
- you don't have to hop into bed to help poor people earning their living. They are enough NGOs and associations whom you may give a help;
- you don't have to sleep and risk your health to have fun!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Joyful, lively city. Coastal city style as for setting. No beggars. Smell of sea, spices, frangipani !
  • Cons:Prostitution of all kinds (see my intro text' s last part)
  • In a nutshell:Go there to have fun in a busy but cool place!
  • Last visit to Toamasina: Jan 1995
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (34)

Comments (12)

  • shipman's Profile Photo
    Mar 24, 2006 at 6:14 AM

    Got to this site by 'accident'. Being originally from Antwerp, now in Poland, I regret partly that I did not take that other job in Madagascar!

  • belgianchocolate's Profile Photo
    Oct 12, 2005 at 10:50 AM

    pate de banane (banana paste, yummy) and bonbon-coco ---this makes me drool already a little bit. ;-)

  • nada1712's Profile Photo
    Apr 9, 2004 at 11:44 AM

    Fantastic insight and wonderful documentary on Toamasina.! Best wishes Nada

  • Knoto's Profile Photo
    Dec 17, 2003 at 6:12 AM

    What a Page!!! I`m really impressed!!! I think I must put these little Island on my Wish List!!! Perfect!!!

  • whitecliff62's Profile Photo
    Dec 5, 2003 at 11:36 AM

    Just what i could do with now is to lie on a beautifull beach like that one and as you put it, smell the sea,

  • myriam_c's Profile Photo
    Oct 5, 2003 at 2:30 AM

    Your pages make me dream ... Beautiful !!

  • patrikske's Profile Photo
    Jul 9, 2003 at 10:22 AM

    Great Toamasina page !

  • aussirose's Profile Photo
    Jul 9, 2003 at 8:40 AM

    What an adorable page!! I yearn for summer now!! I love the beach scent, the sound of waves and frangipanis and Jacarandas :o) And we call that flame tree - Poinciana - I love them too. Cheers, Ann :o)

  • cadzand's Profile Photo
    May 31, 2003 at 1:17 PM

    I can smell the spices, hear the sea, feel the atmosphere through your pages. I love reading them.

  • dabuwan's Profile Photo
    May 30, 2003 at 3:55 PM

    Another great page, Norali. And I like so much your writing and your statements at the end of the intro. Madagascar must be really a beautiful country. Nice to read your youth memories.


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