Toamasina – Madagascar’s second largest city

Toamasina / Madagascar


Toamasina, Madagascar's second largest city, is the country's most important seaport. The large city of Toamasina, the former Tamatave, is located on the east coast of the country in the Atsinanana region. The population was estimated at around 2022 people in 379.000. The city is the capital of the province of the same name, the seat of regional administrations, the location of a branch of the University of Antananarivo and a hub for Malagasy foreign trade.

Toamasina - hustle and bustle in the Bazary Be

Toamasina - hustle and bustle in the Bazary Be


Toamasina – Madagascar’s most important port

Toamasina owes its outstanding position as a harbor to an elongated coral reef offshore, which in the past favored the development of a protected harbor with two inlets. Already at the beginning of the 19th century, Toamasina played a central role as a port city. Today it is mainly bulk and bulk goods (nickel ore) and containers that are handled. The country's most important oil refinery also produces in Toamasina. Agricultural export products include coffee, vanilla and pepper.

Toamasina - harbor basin


Toamasina - harbor basin


Toamasina - Port Administration


Toamasina - Port Administration 


Madagascar's history in brief

Madagascar's history has a checkered past. The first immigrants are considered to be Indonesians and Malays. According to hearsay, they settled on the fourth largest island in the world in the 10th century. At the beginning of the 16th century, the Portuguese sailor Diégo Suarez was the first European to discover the island of Madagascar. In the period that followed, France, Great Britain, the Kingdom of the Merina and France again took over control of the island. Madagascar only gained its independence in 1960.

Toamasina - Saint Joseph Cathedral

Toamasina - Saint Joseph Cathedral


Toamasinas cityscape

The port name “Port-aux-Prünes” (Plum Harbor), coined in the 17th century, and the French name “Tamatave,” which is still in common use, are reminiscent of colonial history. Large parts of Toamasina were built on a sandy peninsula. The streets of the city center are laid out in a checkerboard pattern and extend at right angles from the coastline. The straight cityscape in the city center can be traced back to two hurricanes. First in 1927 and then again in 1986, they caused such devastation that the city had to be rebuilt according to plan.

Toamasinas Town Hall

Toamasinas Town Hall


The most representative street in Toamasina is the Avenue de l'Independance, whose lanes are separated from each other by green spaces. The most important public administration buildings are located on this street. Otherwise there is a lack of spectacular sights. Unfortunately, some buildings from the French colonial period are showing significant signs of decay.

Toamasina - signs of decay

Toamasina - signs of decay


Few sights

Opposite the harbor is a wide, natural beach area, which is bordered by a kilometer-long, palm-lined promenade. The beaches, equipped with parasols and beach bars, are ideal for swimming. However, due to industrial pollution of the water and possible shark attacks, such activities should be avoided if possible.Toamasina - Beach and town of Toamasina

Toamasina - Beach and town of Toamasina


Toamasina – low-traffic cruise destination

Toamasina is a lively town that is popular with tourists. As far as cruise tourism is concerned, one would wish for more activities, as cruise ships call at Toamasina very rarely.

Toamasina - berth for cruise ships

Toamasina - berth for cruise ships


This may be due to the fact that the city and its surroundings offer few attractions. We recommend day-trippers take a stroll through the city in a motorcycle rickshaw, the tuk-tuk. Under Experience Toamasina by tuk-tuk, we report on one of these entertaining excursions into the city area. 

Update April 2024