Miavana Private Island – Petr’s Trip Report

EliteVoyage CEO Petr Udavský returns from one of the rarest and most exclusive private islands on the planet – Miavana, in the Indian Ocean. Here is his trip report.

At Miavana the measure of luxury is emotions. It’s the feeling of remoteness, of uniqueness, of experiencing a completely different perception of time.

For me, Miavana combined the advantages of many different Indian Ocean island destinations in one.

It’s not an island for everyone. But for some of our clients, both couples and families, it could be the ultimate destination.

On the beach at Miavana

Introducing Miavana Private Island

Miavana is a large Indian Ocean island off the northern coast of Madagascar. It’s a massive 10 square kilometres with only 14 villas.

This used to be a hideout for pirates, then a seaweed farm, and since 2013 a luxury private island resort by Time+Tide (the co-owner was also the initial investor in the famous North Island, Seychelles).

Miavana is very different to private island resorts you will have experienced before, for example in the Maldives. It has advantages and disadvantages versus all the islands I’ve visited before.

Luxury at Miavana is privacy and experience. That’s why many celebrities are staying here, like Leonardo di Caprio recently. They’re coming to clear their mind, enjoy time with family, and savour the privacy and space.

Before you go, you need to be sure this is the right island for you. I’ll explain everything about my five-day experience here. Both myself and our team of travel designers can answer your specific questions personally.

You can also check out the Instagram story about my trip, to see visually what Miavana is all about.


Where is Miavana and How Do You Get There?

Miavana island is over ten square kilometres

Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island, located off the southeastern coast of Africa. It’s an Indian Ocean island famous for its endemic plants and wildlife.

Miavana is a further one hour by helicopter away from mainland Madagascar.

Travelling here is not easy, but being on this special island needs to be deserved. That’s why it’s such a unique place. If Miavana was easily accessible it wouldn’t have the same feeling.

The last leg of the journey to Miavana is by helicopter – it’s an amazing experience.

Coming by private jet you can land at Arrachart Airport, formerly known as Diego Suarez airport.

By commercial flight you will fly to Nosy Be. I flew through Frankfurt and Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines. You can also fly to Addis from Vienna, Rome, Milan and Istanbul.

Ethiopian Airlines cannot be compared to Emirates or Qatar. It’s a regular airline. They have some new aircraft with a new and good-quality business class. Going out I was on an older plane with an older style business class. It’s hit and miss, you have to be lucky.

The airport in Addis Ababa is huge, new and pretty good, with restaurants and business class lounges. It still felt like I was in Africa, which is part of the experience when you’re going to Africa.

A Miavana representative was waiting for me upon arrival at Nosy Be, where it took around 15 minutes for passport control and getting a visa on arrival.

The helicopter was already waiting and the one-hour scenic flight to Miavana was absolutely amazing! It creates a feeling that you truly are going to some really special place. You feel like an adventurer. And it helps you forget about the long flight with Ethiopian.

Flying over the lush landscapes of Madagascar

March is the end of the wet season and the land below was a thousand shades of green, the ocean a thousand shades of blue.

I flew in a Robinson R66 and the island will soon also operate an Airbus H130. Note that you are limited to 20 kgs hold luggage and a smaller cabin bag on the helicopter.

With the helicopter you also appreciate the remoteness and vastness of Miavana. From the first moment I was experiencing the natural beauty Madagascar is famous for.

The scenic flight truly was spectacular and creates a special feeling, almost from when you first land in Madagscar

The Miavana Experience

How Miavana compares to other islands

Miavana is really beautiful. The water is incredibly clear and clean, the beaches are so nice and white. It’s comparable to the Maldives in this regard.

The island landscape is more like the Seychelles. It’s pure green nature, with forest all around and lots of opportunities to go out exploring.

Wildlife is most closely related to Mauritius, as there are many endemic species, although Mauritius is a more commercial experience. At Miavana I enjoyed a Madagascan wildlife experience, in private.

16 lemurs live in the forests of Miavana

Two communities still live on the island and I really enjoyed meeting them. The people were so joyful. In terms of culture, the experience for me was similar to Zanzibar.

How Miavana is really different is the island’s size. You couldn’t walk around it in a day. Really you need to take a bicycle, quad bike or electric buggy to get anywhere.

My preferred means of exploring the island was a quad bike

Size contributes to exclusivity. You will not meet other guests if you don’t want to. There are only 14 villas, which means very few other guests anyway.

Luxury here is privacy, a reason why Tom Cruise and Laurene Powell Jobs were on holiday here recently. You have made it to a very remote place, which is a privilege.

The good (and bad) of being completely different

Miavana has a relaxed atmosphere. relaxing. It’s a very tranquil and informal island, where you can also be very active. There is no dress code. Nobody cares what you wear.

Phone reception is limited and even this was up and down. The Wi-Fi in my villa and the common areas was unreliable and slow. There is just one place with strong Wi-Fi and phone signal near reception, so if you really need to, you can be connected.

Miavana is an island for a digital detox, with the possibility of being available if it’s needed.

Almost everything is made with local products. You won’t eat imported wagyū beef or have the best wines, eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant or known restaurant brand.

The food, like this ceviche, is really good and the setting is magnificent – it’s just a different offer to what you experience in the Maldives

There’s only one restaurant and you can also dine in your villa. It’s still really good but a different offer to many Maldives islands where they have various dining outlets.

Miavana’s perspective is that anywhere on the island can be a spa. I can’t imagine having a massage in the bush though. Yes, you can have a massage in your villa and there’s a large treatment menu, but again, it’s not like there’s a Guerlain spa to use.

The 14 villas are a mix of one, two and three bedrooms. They are very open and remarkably spacious, with floor-to-ceiling windows all around. Overall, the quality is very high and they’re directly on the beach, looking out to the ocean.

My one-bedroom villa

Almost everything is made from natural materials and I liked this style. If you like gold taps and marble then I would recommend another island instead.

The windows are fully opened up during the day, so it feels like you are out in nature, while you’re in your villa. This is part of the experience and this different perception of time and space.

Villas have this lovely open feeling, like you’re out in nature

A slight cooling breeze came through the villa, which compensates for the lack of air conditioning. Personally, with the humidity, I would have appreciated a little AC during the middle of the day.

Perhaps the strongest aspect of Miavana is the personalised program. Each villa has a butler, who along with the activities team, will arrange everything when you arrive.

Yes, it’s an island for detox and relaxing. It’s also a place for adventure. And it’s this combination that creates so many emotions.

The villas feel extremely private, like you’re waking up with your own Indian Ocean

Activities and experiences on Miavana

Miavana has an all inclusive concept, with everything you want already included: food, drinks, activities and more. The main exception is activities by helicopter.

I loved the diversity of the activities. I like fishing, so I went out fishing on a boat twice, catching a bonito (a small tuna) and a grouper, which the chef grilled up for lunch.

Both my morning fishing trips were a success!

Trekking in the forest to see the island’s 16 lemurs was amazing. To see such rare and endemic creatures, in their wild habitat, is always a special experience.

Snorkelling was really good. Some of the corals right in front of the resort have been bleached. However, there are other snorkelling spots with really nice, colourful corals, just 20 minutes away by boat.

You have access to a boat so can go anywhere around the island, for snorkeling, scuba diving, sunset or something else

I talked to some guests who went scuba diving and they said the diving was exceptional.

I enjoyed riding a quad bike around the island, especially the 20-minute ride to an old lighthouse, which Miavana is slowly refurbishing into a dinner and overnight spot.

There are many empty beaches to explore and have a picnic in private

There’s so much beautiful beach and so few people. Many guests are spending their time relaxing on the beach right in front of their villa. But beware of the African sun – the staff were very nice in caring for my sunburn!

Around Miavana there are many smaller islands. You can ask for a boat to take you there, maybe with a picnic, maybe leave you there for half a day or however long you want.

A day trip exploring mainland Madagascar is definitely recommended

On my third day I enjoyed a scenic tour to mainland Madagascar by helicopter, to experience big baobab trees, waterfalls, Daraina and Tsingi Route. I went trekking in the forest to see lemurs, chameleons and other rare animals. I definitely recommend it for nature lovers.

There are yet more things you could do, like yoga, kite surfing, whale watching, sea turtle nesting, stand up paddle boarding, water skiing. Some of the activities are seasonal but even so, there’s enough to fill ten days.

Exploring Madagascar by helicopter is a real once in a lifetime experience

Combining Miavana with Other Destinations

When coming from Europe, getting to Miavana is more challenging than going to the Maldives or Seychelles. As I explained, this is part of the island’s appeal.

Miavana will make a great combination with other destinations in Africa. It’s perfect to combine with an African safari. Especially because the best months for Miavana are the same as the best months for most safari destinations.

Consider South Africa. Do your safari in the Sabi Sands, or a longer exploration of this diverse country. Then fly from Johannesburg directly to Nosy Be.

Or do your safari in East Africa, before flying through Addis Abada to Nosy Be. Rwanda is a good option, where you can go trekking with gorillas.

Summer would also be perfect for seeing the great wildebeest migration in Kenya’s Maasai Mara, possibly as one stop in a multi-destination safari.

In general, Madagascar doesn’t have many other hotels that meet our clients’ needs.

There is Constance Tsarabanjina. Time+Tide is taking over Tsara Komba Lodge, a partner of National Geographic, in the north of Madagascar. Both of these are four-star options, cheaper alternatives to Miavana.

Answering Your Questions about Miavana

Myself and our team of travel designers can personally answer your questions about this very unique island destination

Overall, Miavana is for more adventurous clients, both couples and families, who have already seen and experienced a lot in the world.

Not many people have been here. And not just because of the price, which is around 3700 USD per person per night. You’ll probably be the first in your circle to visit Miavana.

When should I visit Miavana?

Miavana sells itself as a year round destination, with different experiences to enjoy during different months.

Overall I recommend it for travel between late March and early November. Rain is rare throughout these months and usually only at night.

I had fantastic weather in early March, with just one night of heavy rain, when I was already sleeping. Clear blue skies dominated the other days.

December to March is the wet season in Madagascar, although Miavana receives less rain than the mainland. It could be an option for Christmas and New Year, but the weather will be less secure.

Is Miavana really for families?

Yes! Your butler can take care of the kids and the resort is well prepared with different activities for all ages.

There’s not a specific kids club per se, just a beautiful island where the only limit is your imagination. They are open to creating anything and everything when organizing a program specifically for your family.

With so much space and privacy you don’t need to worry about noisy children annoying other guests. The two- and three-bedroom villas are more than spacious enough for a family.

Miavana itself has no risk of malaria and there are no required vaccinations, beyond what are typically advised for international travel. Of course, do check this with your doctor.

This is really a great place to come together as a family, do fun experiences together, and also have some alone time to detox and destress.

What are your specific Miavana questions?

I had a fantastic few days on Miavana, both personally and also professionally, learning everything about this very unique holiday destination.

My trip report has covered the basics of a trip, but one beauty of Miavana is how everything is completely individualised. What I love to do on a holiday is different to you.

Both myself and our team of travel designers are here to answer your specific questions about Miavana.

With our experience we will compare Miavana to other island options you have. That’s just the start of individualising the best possible holiday for you.

Ask Your Miavana Questions

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