Ile Aux Nattes (pronounced "eal oh nut"), also known as Nosy Nato, is a small but extremely beautiful tropical island (only 3 km in diameter) just off the southern tip of St Marie. The only way to reach the island is by lakana (traditional wooden canoes also known as a pirogue) from Sainte Marie. Some lakanas are always on standby on the beach just south-west of the airport runway and the trip across only takes about four minutes. During low tide a reasonable good swimmer can swim across the narrow channel (about 300 meters) separating the two islands. Although very small - it can be explored on foot in less than 3 hours - Ile Aux Nattes has everything travel brochures are made of. Unspoiled tropical beaches with fine white sand, coconut and other palm trees scattered along the shore, and a turquoise lagoon protected by coral reefs inhabited by a variety of exotic marine life.
A well-known landmark is the Fanilo Blevec lighthouse (pictured at bottom of page), which, although not in use anymore, is closed to the public. The island has a fascinating biodiversity which includes trees such as breadfruit, the hard-wooded Nanto (for which the island is named, according to one legend), rare orchids and spice such as vanilla, cinnamon, clove and lemon. A small community of ruffed lemurs (Sifaka) had recently been re-introduced to the island and seems to be thriving. One of the great things about Ile Aux Nattes is that there are absolutely no motor cars or any other forms of modern transport to invade your sense of tranquility and peace. There are only about 1 500 people who live on the island, most of which are fishermen. In spite of their small population, they take pride in the fact that they have a democratically elected president. However, the VERY best thing about Ile Aux Nattes, is the fact that La Petite Traversee is situated on its northern tip. This proud establishment offers you the best in luxury island accommodation, excellent food, great service and the best value for money