About every once in a blue moon, a property unlike any other is born.
In 2017, one such resort emerged into the world, bringing innovation, sustainability and unparallelled luxury to the shores of Nosy Ankao – a small island on the North-East coast of Madagascar.
When I got the opportunity to visit this rare breed of resort, I jumped at it. What ensued was one of the most magical, awe-inspiring and wondrous experiences of my entire life.
So, without further ado, let me welcome you to the magic that is, Time + Tide Miavana.
The journey to Miavana (side note: the fact that Miavana rhymes with Nirvana is rather fitting) is an experience in and of itself, and for me, it begun in Antsiranana (also known as Diego Suarez) – a port city in the far North of Madagascar.
As Miavana is on a remote island, it can only be reached by private helicopter transfer. These transfers can be organised from Nosy Be (one hour) or as I opted for, Antsiranana (thirty minutes).
Due to the the domestic flight schedule being a little limiting, I opted to stay overnight in Diego before jumping on the heli the following day.
At 9, I met the pilot at the domestic airport in Diego, and after the quickest ‘check-in’ process ever, we were up and off.
On the way, we spotted a whole bunch of sea turtles from the air. Two of the Miavana staff members were hitching a lift back to the island on the heli and we spent most of the flight chatting away. At one point we got onto the topic of whales, which then led to the topic of whale sharks. A few moments further into the conversation I stated that despite trying, I had never seen a whale shark, and then, not two minutes later, what do you think we spotted?
Once we landed, I found out that this was only the second time a whale shark had been spotted in this area during the last twenty years, so, given the rarity of the opportunity it was decided that we would forgo the proper check in process and just jump in one of the boats to see if we could find the whale shark from the water.
Unfortunately the whale shark seemed to have moved on by the time we reached where it had been, but I was still so happy to have seen it at all, so I really didn’t mind.
After returning to the shores I found myself quite famished and thus headed to the central villa for my first meal, and well, what a way to begin!
The first course was a creamy bowl of pumpkin and blue cheese soup – which may just go down as one of the greatest things I have ever eaten – EVER.
Next up was what I assumed to be the main course. Giant prawns, perfectly cooked crispy chicken, linefish, fresh ‘slaw and juicy eggplant salad were soon all placed in front of me, and all were utterly scrumptious.
I hate wasting food, so I ate as much as I possibly could, but as it turned out, this was not the end of the meal.
Before long, a mesmerisingly cheesy wood-fired pizza was placed down in front of me, and at this point, I had to beg the food to stop coming! It was all so delicious, but I already felt myself sitting on the verge of an epic food coma and the last thing I wanted to do was waste any time in the paradise of Miavana sleeping.
Once I had finished absolutely stuffing my face, it was finally time to explore the gorgeousness of my villa, but not before jumping into the pool!
Each of the villas is the epitome of luxury, boasting direct beach access and postcard-perfect ocean views from almost any vantage point.
Villas are astoundingly spacious, bright, open and airy. Neutral tones of ivory and light brown are balanced by small splashes of turquoise and complemented by hand dyed textiles, Malagasy wood and local hand cut stones. In addition, floor to ceiling glass doors allow for magnificent panoramic views in just about any direction.
There is no air-conditioning in the villas due to the eco-friendly and sustainable ideology of Time + Tide, however, due to a combination of an ingenious bedroom ventilation system and ocean breezes, it is rendered totally unnecessary, even during the hottest and most humid time of year; and I should know, as this was exactly when I visited!
The graduated curtains seem to evoke a sense of the island itself. Dark teal graduates to lighter neutrals, reminding you of the ocean, sand and the sea breezes.
Each villa is equipped with a fully functional kitchen, allowing meals to be prepared in the comfort of your own space. Provided amenities include a coffee machine, french press, teapot, bar fridge, spirit station and snack fridge – meaning that any hankering for a snack or drink can be sated at any hour of the day or night.
An assortment of fresh baked goods are also provided and replenished as needed – it should go without saying but I am going to say it anyway – you certainly won’t go hungry at Miavana!
There are 1, 2 and 3 bedroom villas available. I stayed in villa 8, a one bedroom villa. However, it is worth noting that these one bedroom villas can also accommodate two younger children, as these two couches are actually beds.
Much like the rest of the villa, the bathroom is wonderfully spacious and expansive. Featuring a sunken bathtub, daybed, outdoor shower, an indoor shower which is housed in a kind of stone-walled turret and sustainably developed Terres d’afrique toiletries, the bathroom is the perfect place to both relax and unwind.
Designed by Johannesburg based architects Silvo Rech and Lesley Carstens, these villas brilliantly merge the lightness of the interiors with the sundrenched nature exteriors. It is at this junction where the combination of mid century modernism and minimalist luxury are most impressive.
Each villa also boasts a whitewashed deck, complete with sun lounges, a dining area and an irresistible private plunge pool – something which you will appreciate endlessly whilst amid the Madagascar heat!
To make things even better, all of the villas have direct beach access, which means that the pristine, sugar-white and powder soft beaches are never more than a few steps away.
Time + Tide Miavana is simply beyond imagination. It is an island escape like no other, it is honestly a miracle that I ever left my villa!
As hard as it is to drag yourself from your villa, if you manage to do so you will absolutely be rewarded. Home to the sunset bar, main dining area, wine cellar, main lap pool and museum – the central villa is the true heart of the resort.
This would be my dining spot later in the evening, but before I could possibly eat again, it was time to go and see a little more of the island.
The island walk is an easy stroll along the eastern side of Nosy Ankao. It is a great way to learn about the native flora and fauna of the island, as well as being a wonderful place to watch the moonrise, especially around the time of the full moon.
The sunset was pretty hidden by clouds, but the moonrise was utterly spectacular.
Once the sun had completely disappeared, it was time to head back to the central villa for supper. Once again, I was treated to a four course meal that can only be described as a taste sensation. Each course looked like a work of art, and each had something unique and innovative about it.
After the meal, I retreated to bed, several kilos heavier and all the happier for it. My first day at Miavana had been like a dream; if you had told me then that the best was still yet to come, I honestly wouldn’t have believed you, but as it turns out, you would’ve been absolutely right.
Getting to Time + Tide Miavana: Flights to the capital of Antananarivo can be booked via Addis Ababa (Ethiopian Airlines), Johannesburg (SAA), Mauritius (Air Mauritius), Moroni (Air Madagascar), Paris (Air France), Nairobi (Kenya Airways) and Istanbul (Turkish Airlines). From Tana you will fly with Tsaradia to either Nosy Be or Diego Suarez where you will then fly via private helicopter to Nosy Ankao
Time + Tide Miavana: For more information about visiting Time + Tide Miavana, click here
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 lenses and a DJI Mavic Pro Drone
Remember: Bring the most heavy duty deet-filled insect repellent if you visit during the more humid seasons, the mosquitoes in Madagascar are fierce!