Mayotte is an insular department and region of France officially named the Department of Mayotte. It consists of a main island, Grande-Terre, a smaller island, Petite-Terre, and several islets around these two.
The archipelago is located in the northern Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Southeast Africa, between north-western Madagascar and north-eastern Mozambique.
The department status of Mayotte is recent and the region remains, by a significant margin, the poorest in France.
Mayotte is nevertheless much more prosperous than the other countries of the Mozambique Channel, making it a major destination for illegal immigration.
The French island of Mayotte sits on the Indian Ocean in East Africa and it is tucked somewhere in between Mozambique and Madagascar. Mayotte became a French overseas territory in 1843 when it was ceded alongside the Comoros islands.
Even after the Comoros decided to vote for independence, Mayotte on the other hand surprised many when it overwhelmingly voted to remain a France department in 2011.
Majority of the island’s population comprises of Muslims and as such, Mayotte is largely dominated by Muslim customs like polygamy, male dominance and Islamic Sharia law.
The tropical climate of Mayotte is characterized by rainy, humid and hot seasons. The landscape of the island is undulating comprising of ancient volcanic and deep ravines.
The capital city of Mayotte is Mamoudzou and other small cities include Sada, Bandele and Dzaoudzi. Most of the travellers to Mayotte fly in through Kenya Airways via Comoros but there are still other flights providing direct connections between Dzaoudzi and Reunion.
There is a major port at Dzaoudzi. Since most of the locals do not speak French, their main language of communication is Mahorian.
While Mayotte might not be a paradise for tourists, here are still some few landmarks that are quite interesting to visit.
The small island of Chissioua Mbouzi in Mayotte is largely covered with a dry tropical forest that contains numerous Mayotte endemic plant species.
In fact, some plants in this forest are not found at any other place in the world. This island is also home to brown lemurs which are fed by the locals.
The Sakouli beach is rather beautiful and features giant baobabs tree and there is also a gorgeous waterfall known as the Soulou falls. The old Tsingoni Mosque dates back in 15th century when it was built by the Tsingoni sultans.
The mosque also houses graves of these sultans as well. Hiking is common in Mayotte especially at Mount Choungui where you can get some spectacular views of the whole island.
The most remote areas of the island have Makis or the ring tailed lemur. For visitors to Mayotte, diving is a must as this island is home to the largest lagoon in the world.
Southern beaches are home to sea turtles which are great to watch at as well as the humpback turtles. During the rainy season, tourists are advised to watch out for cyclones.
The only way the natives of Mayotte express themselves is through music and dance. Dances like the Mougodro, a circular dance where everyone joins in, and the prenuptial dance, Wadaha, predominate among the cultural and religious events.
Another fascinating custom is what the locals do after a daughter is born into a family. They start to build a house for her while she is still a baby and complete it when she gets older and is ready for marriage. Don’t miss out for such amazing cultural activities in Mayotte.
Mayotte has limited variety of places to stay as the hotels you would find here are mostly luxurious beach resorts. These hotels offer some of the most scenic views accompanied with modern amenities and comfort.
There are some inexpensive options on the road to the airport, but by and large there is nothing remotely cheap in Mayotte.
To name a few you can find Ochocho Resort in Boueni, Hotel Le rocher in Dzaoudzi, Residence Hoteliere Maharajah in Mamoudzou, Le Jardin Maore in Chirongui and Hotel Sakouli in Bandrele.
How you reach Mayotte: Flights are available from all the major EU nations and African countries directly to Mayotte.
Ships from mainland Africa will normally take you as far as Madagascar. From there you would have to get a boat to the island of Mayotte. This requires a lot of patience because there are no schedules or timetables. The ferry terminals at Mayotte are Mamoudzou and Dzaoudzi.