Lighthouses of Northern Madagascar

Madagascar, the world's fourth-largest island, lies off the southeastern coast of Africa. The island became a French colony in 1885 but has been independent since 1960. Long separated from any other continent, the mini-continent of Madagascar is famous for its unusual plants and wildlife.

The lighthouses of Madagascar, a heritage from France, deserve more attention than they have received in the past. The lack of photos is disappointing, since many of the lighthouses are accessible near coastal towns. Current reports are needed; it appears that many of the historic coastal lights have been abandoned, although harbor lights are being maintained.

French place names in Madagascar have been replaced officially by names in the Malagasy language. However, the traditional French names also remain in common use.

This page includes lighthouses of the former provinces of Mahajanga and Antsiranan, located respectively on the northwest coast and at the north end of the island. There is a separate page covering the rest of the country.

Lighthouses in Madagascar are operated by the Agence Portuaire Maritime & Fluviale (APMF). The Malagasy word for lighthouse, fara, was adapted from the French word phare. In Malagasy, nosy is an island and tanjona is a cape.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume D of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 112.

General Sources
Phares d'Afrique
Photos posted by Alain Guyomard and Robert Carceller on their Phares du Monde web site.
Online List of Lights - Madagascar
Photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
World of Lighthouses - Madagascar
Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Lighthouses in Madagascar
Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
Afrikanische Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard views posted by Klaus Huelse.
Phare de Cap Est
Tanjona Antsirikos (Cap Est) Light, Ambohitralanana
November 2006 (optical equipment not yet installed)
Panoramio photo copyright eldaron; used by permission

Northwest Coast (former Mahajanga Province) Lighthouses

Melaky Region Lighthouses
Maintirano (2)
Date unknown (station established 1945). Active; focal plane 29 m (95 ft); continuous white light. 12 m (39 ft) white octagonal tower. No photo available, and the tower is inconspicuous in Google's satellite view. The original light had a focal plane of 32 m (105 ft). Located in Maintirano, a seaport on the "bulge" of Madagascar's central west coast. Site status unknown. ARLHS MAG-011; Admiralty D7032; NGA 32620.
Tanjona Vilanandro (Cap Saint-André) (2)
2007 (station establishment date unknown). Active; focal plane 26 m (85 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. 24 m (79 ft) "metal pylon," according to NGA, but Google's satellite view of the station appears to show a square skeletal tower. No photo available. The new light replaces a 15 m (49 ft) pylon. Cap Saint-André is a major cape on the northwest coast of Madagascar, about 200 km (125 mi) west southwest of Mahajanga. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty D7033.7; NGA 32628.

Boeny Region (Mahajanga Area) Lighthouses
* Katsepy (Katsépé)
1901. Active; focal plane 121 m (397 ft); white flash every 5 s. 36 m (118 ft) round cast iron tower with lantern and three galleries. Tower painted white; lantern, upper two galleries and watch room painted black. A 2010 photo is at right, Guyomard and Carceller have Luc Schaepelynck's photo, Pierre Marchand has a 2006 photo showing the lighthouse freshly painted, Wikimedia has a 2009 photo, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Google has a satellite view. This historic tower, prefabricated in France, stands atop a high cliff, providing what one tourist site calls a vue panoramique inégalable. Located at the western entrance to the Baie de Bombetoka, the best harbor of Madagascar's west coast, about 7 km (4.5 mi) north of Katsepy. Katsepy is connected by ferry to the provincial capital, Mahajanga (Majunga). Inquire locally about access; the photographer hiked three hours to reach the site. Site open, tower reported open for climbing. ARLHS MAG-016; Admiralty D7034; NGA 32640.
Mahajanga Range Front (Île Verte, Nosy Beza)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 19 m (62 ft); white light, 2 s on, 2 s off, intensified on the range line. 18 m (59 ft) skeletal tower, painted white with a black top. No photo available; the tower is difficult to see in Google's satellite view of the station. Located on Nosy Beza, a small island about 4 km (2.5 mi) southeast of Pointe de Sable, Mahajanga. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty D7035; NGA 32660.
Mahajanga Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 58 m (190 ft), white light, intensified on the range line, occulting once every 6 s. 19 m (62 ft) round white tower. No photo available, but Google has a good satellite view. Located on the mainland 5.4 km (3.4 mi) southeast of the front light. Site status unknown. Admiralty D7035.1; NGA 32664.
* Pointe de Sable
1900. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); three white flashes, in a 2+1 pattern, every 12 s. 9 m (30 ft) round cast iron tower with tapered base, four ribs, lantern, and gallery. Tower painted white, lantern and gallery black. The harbor control office is adjacent to the lighthouse. Gilles Hosch has a 2008 photo, Klaus Huelse has another historic postcard view, and Google has a satellite view. This is a typical French prefabricated tourelle. It has been repainted recently and seems to be in good condition. The lighthouse is on the campus of the École National d'Enseignement Maritime, the national merchant marine and fisheries institute. Located on the west side of the older Mahajanga harbor, marking the entrance from the Baie de Bombetoka; a map is available. Site open, tower closed. Site manager: École National d'Enseignement Maritime. ARLHS MAG-034; Admiralty D7037; NGA 32644.
Katsepy Light
Katsepy Light, Mahajanga, October 2010
Panoramio photo copyright Noita02; permission requested
* Pointe Anorombato (Pointe du Caïman) (2)
1900. Active; focal plane 42 m (137 ft); white, red, or green light depending on direction, occulting three times every 12 s. 9 m (30 ft) round cast iron tower with lantern and gallery. Tower painted white, lantern black. A photo of the top of the tower is available, the light is atop the hill on the right in a view from the sea by Mijoro Ranaivo Raminosoa, and Google has a satellite view. The original light had a focal plane of only 11 m (36 ft). Located on the point of land opposite the Katsepy lighthouse, marking the east side of the entrance to the Baie de Bombetoka, on the northwest side of Mahajanga (Majunga). Site open, tower closed. ARLHS MAG-021; Admiralty D7036; NGA 32652.
* Jetée Schneider
Date unknown. Apparently inactive; listed with focal plane 9 m (30 ft); red light occulting twice every 8 s. 5 m (16 ft) octagonal cylindrical stone tower. A photo is available, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located at the end of a curved jetty north of the Pointe du Caïman. Accessible by walking the jetty. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty D7041; NGA 32648.

Sofia Region (Analalava Area) Lighthouses
* Analalava
1910. Active; focal plane 62 m (203 ft); white, red, or green light depending on direction, occulting twice every 6 s. 9 m (30 ft) round cast iron tower with lantern and gallery. Tower painted white, lantern black. Justin Lau has a 2006 closeup photo, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Google has a satellite view. Located on heights above the town of Analalava. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS MAG-020; Admiralty D7048; NGA 32672.
** Nosy Lava
1910. Inactive, although still listed with focal plane 122 m (400 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. 15 m (49 ft) round cast iron tower gallery; the lantern has been removed or has fallen from the tower. Originally painted with black and white horizontal bands, but now covered mostly with rust. Keeper's house in ruins. The lighthouse appears to be in terrible condition in a 2012 photo and in Frédéric Bastat's 2006 photo. Google has a satellite view. Nosy Lava is an island about 15 km (10 mi) off the coast and about 25 km (15 mi) northwest of Analalava. Tours are available from Analalava. Located at the highest point of the island. Site open, tower reported open to tours. ARLHS MAG-014; Admiralty D7052; NGA 32680.

Northern Madagascar (former Antsiranana Province) Lighthouses

Western Diana Region (Nosy Bé Area) Lighthouses
** Nosy Iranja
1909. Reactivated (inactive 1990s?-2009); focal plane 75 m (246 ft); white flash every 5 s. 20 m (66 ft) round cast iron tower with lantern and gallery. Upper 2/5 of the lighthouse painted black, lower 3/5 white. The keeper's house is in use as a school. Serge Latour's photo is at right, the Musée National de la Marine has Patrick Young's 2011 photo, Jonny Stensby has a 2007 photo, Lightphotos.net has a photo, a 2005 photo is available, and Google has a distant satellite view. A December 2005 visitor has a photo and reported that the stairway and platform were becoming hazardous. In 2009 the old lighthouse was repainted and reactivated. The lighthouse was prefabricated in France by the firm of Gustave Eiffel. Nosy Iranja is a resort island located off the Ampasindava Peninsula about 55 km (35 mi) north of Anorotsanga; the lighthouse is one of the listed attractions of the island. Located at the highest point of the island. Site open, tower open but rather dangerous. ARLHS MAG-013; Admiralty D7056; NGA 32684.
Nosy Iranja Light
Nosy Iranja Light, March 2010
Panoramio photo copyright Serge Latour
permission requested
** Tanikely (Nosy Tany Kely) (2)
1908 (station established 1884). Active; focal plane 57 m (187 ft); three white flashes every 15 s. 10 m (33 ft) round masonry tower with lantern and gallery. Tower painted white with a black horizontal band below the gallery, lantern painted black. Grace Hussey's 2013 photo is at right, a 2007 photo is available, Lightphotos.net has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. In a note with another photo, the lighthouse was described as hors service, out of service. A 2006 photo shows the gallery crowded with visitors. This lighthouse has been restored recently and is probably back in service. Located on a small island about 15 km (9 mi) south of Hell-Ville (Andoany), between Nosy Bé and the mainland. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS MAG-038; Admiralty D7058; NGA 32688.
Nosy Vorona (3)
Date unknown (station established 1884). Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); two flashes every 6 s, white or red depending on direction. 8 m (26 ft) white square concrete (?) tower with gallery but no lantern. Modern keeper's house complex; the keeper rents rooms to tourists. Bénédicte Rousseau has a 2009 photo, Marco Ferro has a nice view from the sea, and Google has a satellite view. Located on a small island halfway between Nosy Bé and Nosy Komba. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS MAG-032; Admiralty D7062; NGA 32692.
Ampasimena (Plateau Cove) Range Front
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 7 m (23 ft); quick-flashing green light. 8 m (26 ft) square pyramidal tower painted white with a black vertical stripe. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. The range guides vessels into the bay on the east side of Hell-Ville (Andoany), on the south side of Nosy Be. Located on the beach on the north side of the bay. Site status unknown. Admiralty D7065; NGA 32708.
Ampasimena (Plateau Cove) Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 24 m (75 ft); quick-flashing green light. 6 m (20 ft) square pyramidal tower painted white with a black vertical stripe. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located on the hillside 600 m (3/8 mi) north northeast of the front light. Site status unknown. Admiralty D7065.1; NGA 32712.
* Hell-Ville (Andoany)
Date unknown. Active (?); focal plane about 10 m (33 ft); red light, pattern unknown. Approx. 8 m (26 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery, painted white. Another photo is available, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Note: Hell-Ville was named for a French admiral; there's no reference to the underworld. Located on the end of the main pier of Hell-Ville. Site open, tower closed. Not listed by the Admiralty.

Nosy Tanikely Light, April 2013
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Grace Hussey
Nosy Faly
1939. Active; focal plane 75 m (246 ft); continuous light, white or red depending on direction. 8 m (26 ft) gray octagonal tower. A photo is available (halfway down the page), and Google has a satellite view of the station. Located on a small island about 8 km (5 mi) north of the Ambato Peninsula and 20 km (13 mi) east of Nosy Bé. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS MAG-030; Admiralty D7068; NGA 32716.
Nosy Anambo
1911. Inactive, although still listed with focal plane 42 m (138 ft); white or red light, depending on direction, occulting three times every 12 s. 27 m (89 ft) skeletal tower with lantern and gallery. Tower painted white, lantern and gallery red. A July 2014 view from the sea shows the lighthouse to be in ruins. The tower is not seen in Google's distant satellite view. Located on a small island about 40 km (25 mi) northwest of Cap Saint-Sébastien, near the northern tip of Madagascar. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS MAG-028; Admiralty D7072; NGA 32728.

Eastern Diana Region (Antsiranana Area) Lighthouses
Note: Antsiranana (known as Diego-Suarez during the colonial period) has a magnificent natural harbor, but its location in the extreme north of the country limits its usefulness commercially.
Cap d'Ambre (3)
2007 (?) (station established 1903). Reactivated (inactive late 1990s- ca. 2007); focal plane 70 m (230 ft); white flash every 5 s. 32 m (105 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Most of the tower is unpainted white concrete; lantern and the top of the tower painted black. A photo by Didier Dubois is at right. A 2004 photo of the previous lighthouse is available, Guyomard and Carceller have Alphonse Randrianasolo's photo, and Google has a good satellite view. A closeup photo (at the bottom of the page) revealed a lighthouse in poor condition, with broken glass in the lantern. However, this is one of several lighthouses renovated in recent years, according to the Someah consulting firm. M.D. Didier has a 2010 photo of the restored lighthouse. Huelse has a historic postcard view of the first lighthouse, a cast iron tower very similar to the Katsepy lighthouse shown above. Located at the northern tip of Madagascar. Adventure excursions from Antsiranana (Diego-Suarez) reach the site. Site open if you reach it, tower closed. ARLHS MAG-003; Admiralty D6914; NGA 32328.
Nosy Langoro (Îlot des Aigrettes)
1898. Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); white, red, or green light, depending on direction, 3 s on, 1 s off, 1 s on, 1 s off. 8 m (26 ft), lantern mounted atop a small 1-story keeper's house. House is white; lantern painted black. No photo available, but Huelse has a historic postcard view and Google has a satellite view. The lighthouse is located on a small island in the middle of Antsiranana Bay, a large bay in northeastern Madagascar. Ships make a turn from west to south southwest near the island to approach the port of Antsiranana (formerly called Diego-Suarez), and the light shows white sectors to define both channels. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower probably closed. ARLHS MAG-031; Admiralty D6920; NGA 32332.
* Antsiranana Port (Port de la Nièvre) (2)
1960s (station established 1906). Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); white, red, or green light, depending on direction, 2 s on, 2 s off. 11 m (36 ft) square cylindrical tower with lantern and gallery, rising from the front of the 2-story port office. Lighthouse painted white, lantern black. Trabas has Rainer Arndt's photo, the lighthouse can be seen at the right in a photo by Patrick Rodriguez and in a second photo by Edoardo Mignano, and a Google satellite view is also available. Located on the waterfront in Antsiranana. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS MAG-001; Admiralty D6922; NGA 32336.
Cap Andranomody
1960s? Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); continuous red light. 10 m (30 ft) octagonal concrete tower, painted white with red trim at the top. A 2007 photo is available, Guyomard and Carceller have photos by Frédéric Arsac, and Google has a satellite view. The lighthouse was restored in 2010; it was quite battered in a May 2010 photo, but François Dorothé's October 2010 photo shows the results of the restoration. Located on an islet just offshore, about 1.2 km (3/4 mi) west northwest of Cap Miné. Site status unknown. ARLHS MAG-002; Admiralty D6919; NGA 32360.

Cap d'Ambre Light, Antsiranana, November 2010
Panoramio photo copyright Didier Dubois; permission requested
* Cap Miné (2)
Date unknown (station established 1895). Active; focal plane 47 m (154 ft); three white flashes every 15 s. 14 m (46 ft) octagonal masonry tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 1-story keeper's house. Lighthouse painted white, lantern dome black. Tim Harber's 2010 photo is at right, Pierre Turtaut has a 2011 photo, a 2007 photo and a closeup are available, a view from the sea is also available, and Google has a satellite view. Huelse has a historic postcard view of the original lighthouse, a typical French cast iron tourelle mounted on a large square stone base. The present lighthouse was repainted and restored in 2009. Located on the south side of the Passe d'Orangea, the entrance to Antsiranana Bay, about 3 km (2 mi) northeast of Ramena. The nearby beach of Baie des Dunes is accessible by tours from Antsiranana. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS MAG-004; Admiralty D6918; NGA 32356.

Vohémar District Lighthouses
Nosy Ankao (Nosy Akao)
1939. Reported inactive; focal plane 46 m (151 ft); should display four white flashes every 20 s. 18 m (59 ft) round concrete tower with lantern and gallery. A photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Erick Ask visited this site in early 2006 and reported, "The lighthouse is not functioning, windows broken, unpainted, cement chipping away." Located on Nosy Ankao, the largest of the Leven Islands, about 80 km (50 mi) southeast of Cap Miné and about 6 km (4 mi) off the mainland. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS MAG-012; Admiralty D6930; NGA 32364.
Vohémar Range Front (Beacon No. 3)
Date unknown (station established 1919). Active; focal plane 4 m (13 ft); continuous green light. 7 m (23 ft) square white concrete tower. A distant view is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on a reef on the north side of the entrance to Vohémar. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty D6936; NGA 32368.
Vohémar Range Rear (Beacon No. 5)
Date unknown (station established 1919). Inactive. 8 m (26 ft) rectangular pyramidal concrete tower with gallery, attached to a 1-story concrete keeper's cottage. Formerly painted white, the lighthouse is abandoned and falling into ruin. Google has a satellite view, but the lighthouse is barely visible on the ridgetop in a photo of the harbor. The harbor of Iharana (Vohémar) is a sound with a narrow entrance from the sea; this lighthouse is on the west side of the sound aligned with the entrance. Located in a forested area about 4 km (2.5 mi) west of Iharana. Site status unknown. ARLHS MAG-044; Admiralty D6936.1; NGA 32372.

Phare de Cap Miné
Cap Miné Light, Antsiranana, April 2010
Panoramio photo copyright Tim Harber; used by permission

Vohémar Beacon No. 4
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 7 m (23 ft); continuous red light. 7 m (23 ft) concrete tower, painted red. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located on a reef on the south side of the harbor entrance. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS MAG-043; Admiralty D6938; NGA 32376.

Sambava District Lighthouses
Sambava (Beacon C)
Date unknown. Active (?); focal plane 76 m (249 ft); white light occulting three times every 12 s. 10 m (33 ft) white concrete tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located on a ridge about 8 km (5 mi) northwest of Sambava. Site status unknown. Admiralty D6942; NGA 32384.

Antalaha District Lighthouses
* Antalaha Range Front
1955. Active; focal plane 7 m (23 ft); continuous green light, intensified on the range line. 7 m (23 ft) round concrete tower with gallery, painted white. A 2007 closeup is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the beachfront of Antalaha, a short distance north of the harbor. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty D6944; NGA 32400.
Antalaha Range Rear
1955. Active; focal plane 82 m (269 ft); white light occulting twice every 6 s. 8 m (26 ft) round concrete tower, painted "black and white" according to NGA. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located on the crest of a ridge 1 km (0.6 mi) west of the front light. Site status unknown. Admiralty D6944.1; NGA 32404.
Tanjona Antsirikos (Cap Est) (2)
2007 (station established 1906). Active (?); focal plane 70 m (230 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. Approx. 19 m (62 ft) round cylindrical white concrete tower with a flared top. A photo of the new lighthouse (still under construction in November 2006) is at the top of this page, Cséke Zsolt has a view from atop the tower, and Google has a satellite view of the station. A distant photo of the former cast iron lighthouse is also available; it was demolished earlier in 2006. Aptly named, the lighthouse marks the easternmost point of Madagascar. Located about 5 km (3 mi) southeast of Ambohitralanana. Site status unknown. ARLHS MAG-018; Admiralty D6946; NGA 32408.
Tanjona Masoala (Cap Masoala)
1970s? Active; focal plane 80 m (252 ft); five white flashes every 20 s. 25 m (82 ft) round unpainted rubblestone tower with lantern and gallery. A photo is at right, and Bing has a satellite view. The Masoala Peninsula projects southward, sheltering the Bay of Antongil. Most of the peninsula is included in the Parc National de Masoala. The cape itself is not included, but the offshore waters are a marine reserve. Located on the southeastern tip of the peninsula. Site status unknown. ARLHS MAG-019; Admiralty D6948.3; NGA 32412.
Nosy Béhentona
1954. Active; focal plane 32 m (105 ft); three white flashes, in a 2+1 pattern, every 15 s. 10 m (33 ft) round rubblestone tower with gallery. Tower is unpainted stone with wood trim painted white. No current photo available; Google has an inditinst satellite view that probably shows the lighthouse. Located on a small island off Cap Baldrisy (Cap Antsirikira), at the southwestern tip of the Masoala Peninsula, about 8 km (5 mi) west of Cap Masoala. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS MAG-029; Admiralty D6948.5; NGA 32416.

Tanjona Masoala Light, Ambodilaitry, December 2008
Panoramio photo copyright eldaron; used by permission

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: East: Réunion | South: Southern Madagascar | West: Mayotte

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Posted November 14, 2005. Checked and revised October 18, 2017. Lighthouses: 33. Site copyright 2017 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.