Comoros — Overview
Scattered across the Indian Ocean, the Comoros Islands are far from the boozy spring break destinations many travelers are accustomed to. Despite the chaotic-sounding moniker, “Cloud Coup-Coup,” which pretty much describes the country’s crazy political state, the Comoros remains a serene escape for those who want a relaxing, laidback holiday. Each of the four major islands offers its own unique flavor—even Mayotte, which is the only island in the Comoros archipelago that still belongs to France.
The largest of the islands is Grande Comore, home to the world’s largest active volcano, Mt Karthala, which last erupted in 2005. Trekking, hiking, and trailing are the biggest draws here. The remaining islands of Mohéli and Anjouan both offer typical water sports and beautiful sands.
The country’s political climate may have weakened its tourism industry, but it has not taken away from the natural beauty of the Comoros. Grande Comore, Anjouan, and Mohéli boast postcard perfect beaches and a laidback atmosphere. The capital city of Moroni is a living museum of the country’s colonial days, making it a very interesting destination for history enthusiasts. Adventurous travelers, meanwhile, can take on the slopes of Mt Karthala or explore the marine wonders unique to this region.
The Swahili culture is very prominent in the Comoros, whose inhabitants come from a diverse line of Persian sultans and a mix of Arab traders, Portuguese pirates and African slaves. They may have been plagued by numerous coup d’états in the past, but today, the islands are peaceful and ready to open their shores to outsiders who want to experience the splendor of the nation.
The Comoros is the place to go if you want to be off the grid for several days to enjoy nature and recharge. However, it is not a destination for everyone. Only a handful of hotels and pension houses are available in the capital city of Moroni and the town of Mutsamudu. Most of these cater to business travelers and government officials. Small shelters or gîtes can be found on the slopes of Mt Karthala and many friendly locals will happily take you in as a guest in their home at the drop of a hat. As a courtesy, ask if they prefer payment for food and lodging.
Flight connections are available through different African hubs like Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar. Comoros Aviation Planes also offer inter-island services. Boat transfers are an exciting way to get from island to island, and options range from small fiberglass fishing ships to large ferries. Public transportation is virtually nonexistent, except for occasional bush taxis. Renting a car is the most efficient way to get around, but you may also try your luck hitchhiking, which both locals and travelers do.
- Island hop through the volcanic Grande Comore and the three other major islands of the Comoros archipelago
- Climb the active volcano, Mount Karthala
- Dive the deep trenches of Trou du Prophéte in Misamiouli, the mystifying Niumashuwa May on Mohéli and the Pamanzi islet off the shores of Mayotte
- Hike Mohéli’s Dziani Boundouni after a day walk from the capital of Fombini
- Hit the beaches, particularly Grande Comore’s Galawa and the beautiful Bouni, Itsandra, and palm-fringed Planet Plage
- Admire distinctive marine life, especially on Mohéli
- Explore the charming colonial capital and old streets of Moroni, with its fine Vendredi Mosque
- Sightsee on Anjouan Island, with its majestic waterfalls and 17th century houses