When is the best time to visit Madagascar? We recommend visiting mostly during the dry season from April to November. But some areas are wonderful year-round (central highlands, north and south).
Madagascar is located in the Southern Hemisphere with reversed seasons compared with Europe or North America: our winter is their summer and our summer is their winter. The island has a tropical climate, rainy along the east coast, arid in the south-west, and temperate in the mountains. Inland highlands have a cooler climate compared to the coast.
Although quite stretched, the country is influenced by the same weather panthers throughout the year, with the exception of the eastern coast where it rains much more due to the trade winds. The dry season is from April to October or from May to September in the north. The rainy season is from November to March, the rainfall is higher and the country would be hit by cyclones, especially the Eastern part of the island. The good news about the rainy season is that the rain happens mostly in the afternoon, so even in the wettest months one will have sunshine, at least in the morning.
Central Highlands and Interior Mountains
Places: Antananarivo, Antsirabe, Fianarantsoa, Antoetra, Andringitra
The Central Highlands have a mild climate and are good to visit year-round. The average daytime temperature ranges from 21°C in the summer to 15°C in July and August. In winter, at night, it is pretty cool, the weather at times can descend below 5°C from mid-May to September-October.
During winter the temperature in the mountains can drop below 0°C. Tow not so pleasant things are that in the dry season dusty winds can happen on the plateau and in the rainy season, the rains can make it difficult to get around on unpaved roads. The most of rain occurs from November to March. The best months to visit the inner regions of Madagascar are April, September and October.
Places: Diego Suarez, 3 Bays, Masoala, Tsingy Rouge, Amber Mountain, Emerald Sea
The climate of the north-eastern tip of Madagascar is dry and windy, exposed to the trade winds. The rainy season, starting in December and ending in March, can last a bit longer in Masoala, till the end of May. Temperatures range from 27°C to 32°C in the wet season and 18°C to 22°C in the dry season. The sea is good for swimming year round (sea water – 25°C). The best months to travel in the north-east is from June to November when it rains less. Strong winds blow from July to October (“varatraza” season) making the sea rough. During this time it is recommended to rather stay around the 3 Bays and not take trips to the Emerald Sea. Kite-boarding and other wind-based sports are best from July to December.
Places: Nosy Be, Nosy Komba, Mitsio Archipelago, Ankarana, Ankify, Mahajanga
On the north-west coast it is hot all year round, but it rains more than on the north-eastern tip on the island. Temperature drops a little from June to September, especially at night (min.19°C).
The rainy season is from November to March with a warm and humid air. January and February are the rainiest months. Mahajanga is much drier than Nosy-Be, and from May to October, it almost never rains here. Swimming is good year-round with pleasant temperatures of the water.
Places: Tsingy de Bemaraha, Morondava, Avenue of the Baobabs, Belo Sur Mer, Andavadoaka, Morombe
The West is arid and dry. Even when the rainy season reigns over the rest of the country, west coast is drier. The average temperature ranges from 27°C in December-February to 21°C in June-August. It becomes cool at night during the summer months. The rains are abundant and short. From December to February the roads are muddy and getting around becomes very challenging. Tsingy de Bemaraha would be impossible to visit by land from Morondava in such situations. From April to November it almost never rains. The sea is good for swimming year round, temperature of the water being 25°C and above. Best period to visit is from April to November.
Places: Ile Sainte Marie, Tamatave, Pangalanes
The East is humid and rainy (9 months out of 12 months). Trade winds release the moisture on the east coast throughout the year, and a tropical forest flourishes there. March is the rainiest month. The only period on the entire east coast when the rains are not too heavy is from September to November. On the east coast, the sun does not shine very often, since the rains are frequent all year round. Temperature of the sea is pleasant for swimming all year round.
Between July and September, the humpback whales that come from the Antarctic seas and congregate for breeding in the channel between the island of Sainte-Marie and the coast of Madagascar, are often observed in a rainy context. As you go south along the eastern coast there is less rain.
Arid Southern Madagascar
Places: Berenty, Fort Dauphin, Mandrare, Tulear, Ifaty, Anakao
The South is arid and dry, best to visit from April to November. The South is always more arid and gets the least rain. There is usually more rainfall along the south-eastern side than in the south-west. In winter, May to October, temperatures drop quite sharply, especially at night, when it gets cool. In the southwest, in Toliara, which in summer is the hottest area of the country, the temperature can reach 40 °C from December to March. The June-August period can be a bit cool for a beach holiday (temperature of the water decreases to 23°C).