Despite abundant natural bounty which lends itself well to tourism, the Comoros Islands do not have a well-developed tourist industry. Fewer than 3,000 visitors pass through each year, with most vacationers looking for an island destination in the region instead choosing Réunion, Mauritius, Seychelles, or Madagascar.
All the more reason to visit the Comoros — you’ll be able to see everything the archipelago has to offer without fighting off hordes of people. Here are 12 reasons to visit the Comoros, which comprise the main islands Grande Comore* (Ngazidja), Mohéli (Mwali), Anjouan (Nzwani), and many smaller islands.
* Internationally, the islands are known by their French names. In Comoros, they’re known by their Comorian language names (given in parentheses).
Sources: LonelyPlanet.com, TripAdvisor.com,, , , , , ,
This article originally appeared on AFKInsider.com.
Dominating the southern half of Grande Comore, the Karthala Volcano is a popular but daunting two-day trek perfect for adventure seekers and climbing enthusiasts. The 2,360-meter summit (7,743 feet) is often obscured by clouds, and the trail winds through thick forests before reaching lunar-esque craters close to the top.
The main town on Anjouan, Mutsamudu was built in the Swahili-Shirazi style, and its unique architecture and design is a delight to see. The town is full of houses and buildings that date back to the 17th century, along with mosques, a citadel, and charming, twisting alleys.
Also located on Grand Comore, the spectacular Chomoni beach has past lava flows to thank for the addition of unique black volcanic rocks that dot its white sand shores, adding to its beauty. With crystal blue waters, it’s definitely worth a visit for beach lovers.
The tiny village of Itsamia on Mohéli has benefited from the island’s relative low occupancy by becoming a major sea turtle nesting site. Sea turtles are protected and scientifically monitored here, but visitors have the chance to participate in the area’s efforts through targeted ecotourism volunteer opportunities. Given the unspoilt terrain, tourists are almost guaranteed to see sea turtles at any time of year.
Giant fruit bats
If the idea of bats with wingspans more than 2 meters (6.5 feet) doesn’t completely freak you out, check out the Livingstone fruit bats, which can only be seen on Mohéli or Anjouan. Local guides will lead you high into the mountains where these giants live in small colonies. You don’t have to worry about them flying into your hair when you’re walking down the street in town.
Located in the capital city of Moroni on Grand Comore island is the Badjanani Mosque, also known as the Ancienne Mosqué de Vendredi, or the Old Friday Mosque. It’s the oldest mosque in the Medina, the historic town center. Visitors to the mosque are afforded an eagle-eye view over the city and its beautiful stone architecture.
As the world’s No. 1 one producer of ylang-ylang essence, and the second-largest producer of vanilla, the Comoros is a leader in world perfume production. In fact, it is often referred to as the Perfume Islands. Visit small markets across any of the islands to find your favorite scent, or visit a perfume flower plantation where you can get a sample of concentrated perfume oil straight from the source.
The Dziancoundre Waterfall on Anjouan is the perfect stop for a bit of relaxation. It is widely considered one of the most beautiful and serene places on any of the islands. While relaxing at the waterfall you might smell hints of the ylang-ylang, clover, and vanilla that are grown throughout the island.
Lac Sale, or the Salt Lake, is considered bottomless. Nobody seems to know exactly how deep this caldera lake is. It’s made even more beautiful by the incredible backdrop of blue Indian Ocean waters. Visitors can walk around the entire caldera rim if time allows.
Divers should be sure to check out the relatively small island of Mayotte (Mahore) for incredible scuba diving. Hang out with enormous manta rays, whales, sunfish, sharks, lobsters, sailfish, and hundreds of species of marine life. The coelacanth, thought to be extinct for millions of years, is found in the waters around Grand Comore and Anjouan.
Dos du Dragon
The Dos du Dragon, or Dragon’s Back, is a series of rock formations near the Karthala Volcano on Grand Comore said to resemble the spikes of a dragon’s back. They dot the curving peninsula, and are best seen from Île Aux Tortues across the bay, or can be climbed themselves.
Mitsamiouli, located in the north of Grand Comore, is known for having some the best Comoran dancers on the archipelago. Visitors can view a planned show, but more often than not the dancing is spontaneous. Mitsamiouli is also a great jumping off point for scuba-diving enthusiasts on Grand Comore.