When it comes to exotic destinations, the Comoros Islands often remain under the radar, overshadowed by the more prominent tourist spots in the Indian Ocean. Comprising four major islands – Grande Comore, Mohéli, Anjouan, and Mayotte – this volcanic archipelago is a hidden paradise that offers a unique blend of African, Arabic, and French cultures. With its lush landscapes, pristine beaches, and rich history, the Comoros Islands are a must-see destination for intrepid travelers seeking a truly authentic and unspoiled experience. In this guide, we’ll explore the must-see places in Comoros that make this Indian Ocean gem a true hidden treasure.
1. Moroni, Grande Comore
Our journey through the Comoros Islands begins in Moroni, the capital and largest city of Grande Comore. Moroni is a city that effortlessly combines history and modernity. The old town, or Medina, is a labyrinthine network of narrow alleys and bustling markets, where you can immerse yourself in the local culture, savor traditional Comorian cuisine, and shop for handcrafted goods. The city’s iconic landmarks include the Presidential Palace, the Old Friday Mosque, and the bustling Volo Volo Market, where you can taste local spices, fruits, and seafood.
2. Mount Karthala
For nature enthusiasts, the active volcano, Mount Karthala, on Grande Comore is a must-visit. This imposing peak is the highest point in the Comoros, rising 2,361 meters (7,746 feet) above sea level. Hiking to the summit offers a rewarding experience with breathtaking panoramic views. It’s essential to be guided by a local expert to ensure a safe and memorable journey. The terrain is challenging, but the lush vegetation and stunning vistas make it a journey worth taking.
3. Mohéli Marine Park
Moving on to Mohéli, the second-largest island in the Comoros, you’ll discover the Mohéli Marine Park. This pristine marine reserve, designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, is home to diverse marine life, including sea turtles, dolphins, and a plethora of colorful fish. Snorkeling and diving in the crystal-clear waters of the park is an opportunity to explore a vibrant underwater world.
4. Mohéli’s Turtle Nesting Beaches
One of the most unique and awe-inspiring experiences on Mohéli is witnessing sea turtles nesting on its remote beaches. Mohéli is a crucial nesting ground for the endangered green sea turtles. With local guides, you can observe these magnificent creatures laying their eggs on the moonlit shores. This is a rare and unforgettable encounter with nature that very few places in the world can offer.
5. Anjouan’s Vanilla Plantations
Anjouan, the third-largest island, is often referred to as the “Perfumed Isle” due to its extensive vanilla plantations. The island’s lush, hilly terrain is ideal for growing vanilla beans. Take a tour of a local vanilla farm, and you’ll learn about the intricate process of cultivating and processing this precious spice. The sweet aroma and the picturesque landscapes make for a memorable visit.
6. Anjouan’s Lac Dzialandzé
Anjouan is also home to Lac Dzialandzé, a crater lake nestled in a volcanic caldera. The lake is surrounded by dense forest and offers a serene and picturesque setting. You can explore the lush vegetation, spot various bird species, and even take a swim in the refreshing waters. It’s a natural haven for those seeking tranquility and natural beauty.
7. Mayotte’s Lagoon
Although Mayotte is officially part of the French Republic and not an independent part of the Comoros, it’s a unique and stunning island to explore. Mayotte is known for its vast and colorful lagoon, which is protected as a marine reserve. The coral reefs, diverse marine life, and the opportunity to swim with dolphins make this a must-visit for water lovers.
8. Mitsamiouli Beach, Grande Comore
Returning to Grande Comore, don’t miss Mitsamiouli Beach. This pristine stretch of sand is perfect for unwinding and taking in the beauty of the Indian Ocean. The clear waters and the stunning backdrop of palm trees and volcanic hills make it an ideal place for relaxation and water activities.
9. Chomoni Beach, Mohéli
On Mohéli, Chomoni Beach is another idyllic spot with its crescent-shaped bay and golden sands. Snorkeling and swimming are popular activities, and you can enjoy a peaceful stroll along the shoreline, taking in the serenity of this unspoiled beach.
10. Iconi, Grande Comore
Iconi, a charming village on Grande Comore, offers a glimpse into the traditional way of life in Comoros. The village is known for its beautiful architecture, including old, well-preserved houses, and its welcoming locals. Strolling through Iconi’s streets and interacting with the people is a cultural experience that gives you a deeper understanding of Comorian life.
The Comoros Islands, with their unique blend of cultures, stunning landscapes, and hidden treasures, offer an unforgettable adventure for travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-path destination. Whether you’re exploring the historical streets of Moroni, hiking the active volcano, or swimming with dolphins in Mayotte’s lagoon, the Comoros offer a diverse range of experiences. These ten must-see places in Comoros are just the beginning of your journey into this enchanting and lesser-known corner of the world. So, pack your bags, and get ready to discover the must-see places in Comoros.