Moroni (in Arabic موروني Mūrūnī) is the capital and largest city of the Comoros. It is a lively city and an ideal base to organise trips around the island, as there are several travel agencies and you can find any kind of service you may need by asking people around. The downside is that there is a lot of garbage all over the coast, and in many other places around the city.
Moroni has been the capital of the Comoros since 1962. It is on the western coast of Grande Comore island.
- 1 Prince Said Ibrahim International Airport (HAH IATA) (20 km north of the city, in the village of Hahaia). The airport receives a number of international flights, including frequent direct flights from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Nosy Be in Madagascar. There are also internal flights to Moheli and Anjouan, with prices around €50. Flights are often cancelled, delayed or even depart earlier than the expected time.
The easiest way to get there is by taxi. You can either stop an empty one heading north on the corniche or take one at the taxi stop opposite Volo Volo market. The ride to the airport costs no more than CF500.
There are no official passenger services beyond the Comoros archipelago, but travelling in a cargo vessel is doable. There are boats of different sizes and normally they don't have cabins, so you will need to find a place to lay down if your trip is overnight. This can be a seat or bench if you are lucky or even the merchandise the boat is transporting. It is always wise to ask to see the boat before buying the ticket. Basic meals are served on international routes, but again, ask first.
There are at least two frequent international routes, one to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania and another one to Mahajanga in Madagascar.
- For Mahajanga, the transport agency in charge is called Agency Hishma. It is on Itsambuni street, very close to the port. Departures are once per week and it takes 2 or 3 days, depending on the boat. One-way ticket costs €140 (the same trip leaving from Mahajanga costs €100).
- To travel to Dar Es Salaam, there are different agencies in charge. There is one in place Europe behind the gas station, and several in Bacha neighbourhood — just opposite the port — including Agency Massive, Ismaili Boat and Hidaya Shipping. They all seem to be just different agents fir the same boat, though. To find them, leave the port from the workers gate and head to the street behind the KomoCash Centre supermarket. Tickets cost around €100 and travel time is 2-3 days.
To travel among the islands, you have several options.
The company Maria Galanta travels to Moutsamoudou in Anjouan (and further to Mayotte) twice per week. As of October 2018, it leaves Moroni Thursdays and Sundays, and returns Wednesdays and Saturdays. It takes 5 hours to reach Anjouan and it costs €36 one way.
There are at least three different bus stations with services to different points on the island. There is no fixed schedule, but most buses run only in the morning. If there is no bus, you can probably catch a taxi there, although it might be more expensive. The stations are:
To the north
Travellers heading to Mitsamihuli, or further, should head to the Gare du Nord to take a taxi, to the neighbourhood of Salimamoud direction Hamahamet or to the Volo Volo Market stop if travelling to Mbude.
To the south
Those people travelling to Mdé, Iconi, Selea or Hambou should take a taxi in the stop of Gobadjou near Bambao. Otherwise, travellers going to Mbadijini, Fomboni, Chindini or Male can take a taxi in Karthala (do not confuse this with Hotel Karthala, which is much further east).
To the east
In order to get to Oichilli or Dimani take a taxi in the roundabout in Culée. Travellers aiming for Chomoni can find taxis in the stop of Chalma.
There is no bus service in Moroni; everyone travels within the city by shared taxi. You can stop a taxi anywhere in the city and ask if your destination matches with the driver's route. A ride within the city costs CF200 per person, CF250 for further destinations like Iconi or Itsandra and no more than CF500 to the airport.
- 1 Volo Volo Market. M-Sa from sunrise to sunset. Volo Volo market is the biggest in the city, and the island. It will give you an insight into local culture and life. It's better to visit in the morning when it is bursting with energy. Maybe put some eucalyptus or sniffing salts under your nose.
- Public Beach, north of the city (behind the Blue Lagoon restaurant). Don't miss the opportunity to visit it after work time or Sundays, when it gets full of locals looking for fun and relaxation.
- 2 Old Friday Mosque (Ancienne Mosquée du Vendredi) (facing the sea). A popular tourist spot.
- Medina. La Medina of Moroni is the perfect off-the-beaten track attraction. The old Arabic town is rich in unrestored carved wooden doors and you can also find the vestiges of the old bangwe. Bangwees are public discussion places, everyday men used to meet here to discuss about life or play boardgames. One can say that the bangwee is the homologue of the agora. The labyrinth of narrow and paved streets will give you the feeling of having travelled back in time. The architecture and fountains will shelter you from the sun.
- 3 National Museum of the Comoros (Le musée national des Comores). M-Th 07:30-12:30, 13:30-16:45; F 07:30-11:00; Sa 08:00-12:00. Established in 1989, this national museum has four exhibit rooms devoted to the preservation of Comoros' cultural heritage. Exhibit halls include history, archeology, art, and religion; social anthropology and culture; oceanography and natural sciences; and volcanology and earth sciences.
There are two main markets, Volo Volo and Chalma, where you can find anything you may wish, particularly fruit and vegetables that are often missing in supermarkets.
Supermarkets are open until at least 21:00 and are well supplied, and there are also many convenience stores (épiceries) all around the city.
There are plenty of options to eat in Moroni, although it is a bit more expensive than other places in the island or even in the country still it is possible to stay on a budget.
To have an inexpensive lunch the best options is the Volo Volo market; in the heart of the market you will find small and simple restaurants. The usual menu is either fried fish and bananas or rice with meat, it costs less than CF1000 per meal.
When the sun sets it is easy to find street barbecues with brochettes, chicken wings, sweet potatoes, bananas and mandioc. Particularly the barbecues proliferate around Volo Volo market, but for a better ambiance during dinner head to Karthala, officially called place du Mahoriens, or River Gauche. River Gauche in the Corniche is named after the beauty shop in front of it; the views over the port and the families that meet there make it all a nice experience.
- Wasta fast food, in the neighbourhood of Asgaraly (next to the Mag supermarket). open from breakfast until 01:00. Fast food is served all day long.
- Coraya Express (just on the side of L'école Abdulhamid). Kitchen always open. It offers hamburgers, crepes, pizzas, very good sandwiches and all kind of fast food. Hamburgers around CF3000.
- The New Select, Place des Banques. This popular place has a terrace from which you can contemplate people passing by. It opens early in the morning for breakfast. Around CF1500, and keeps open for lunch/dinner mains from CF4000.
- Cafe de la Medina, Badjanani (in front of the mosque, inside the medina). Only opens for breakfast time. Small café with a welcoming environment: the locals enjoy talking to tourists. CF1500.
- Zara Restaurant, Rue de l'Union Africaine (just in from Auberge Palace). It is more popular during lunch time and more quiet at dinner, but an excellent choice in both cases. Mains around CF3000.
- Le Jardin de la Paix. The restaurant hotel offers a high quality of meals, with a menu including delicious fresh fish and seafood, prepared in a the Comoros fusion style. There are also a couple of Western dishes. Mains from CF4500.
- Le Lagon Blue (the Din Sim), Rue Ahmed Djoumoi (halfway to Itsandra). Beach restaurant Mains from CF4500.
Moroni may not look like a place to party but there are more than a couple of clubs to dance all night long. The party starts late after midnight and finishes with the sunrise. What most locals do to be full of energy is have a long nap before going clubbing. Drinking alcohol is not generally accepted in Comoros, although it is commonly seen in clubs.
- VIP club, Route de la Corniche. Friday and Saturday nights. The basement of this unfinished building host a dance floor in which dancing never stops. Outside there is also a bar and a patio to take a breath. Entrance fee CF3000.
- Le Rose Noir, Route de la Corniche. Open every Saturday night. A night club in Moroni. Very European, the club-goers are not inhibited by Muslim values: there are scantily clad women, men and women dancing together, and locals drinking. Entrance fee applicable.
Accommodation is expensive in Moroni. If you plan to stay for more then couple of days renting an apartment may be a better option. But if you look for a hotel or pension to stay just couple of nights you still can find a wide range of possibilities:
- Guesthouse Le Rapido (Route de l’Alliance Française). This may not be the most fanciest guesthouse, but it is cheap. No internet, no breakfast. Rooms CF7500 shared toilet, CF10,000 en suite.
- Pension Faida (Route de l’Alliance Française). Family guesthouse, clean and comfortable. With an open patio in the back to chill. No internet connection Rooms CF12,500 fan, CF15,000 air-conditioned.
- Pension Le Gambussi (Route de l’Alliance Française). Small pension, rooms are a bit dark. No internet connection. Rooms CF10, 000 shared toilet, CF12,500 en suite.
- Farida Lodge. Breakfast not included. Farida has three rooms in her place to sublet. Internet works just near the router. The room with sea views, €44, has shared toilet. You can book from Airbnb, Booking or Agoda. Rooms €30-44.
- Auberge Palace (Rond-Point Salimoud). This is a really good deal. Breakfast included, good internet connection and really friendly and helpful staff. Rooms €40.
- Jardin de la Paix (Ahmed Djoumoi, Quartier Ambassadeur), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Great value. Jardin de la Paix is a charming place to stay, nicely decorated it gives always good feelings. Breakfasts included, good internet connection, very friendly staff and beautiful rooms. The restaurant serves excellent meals. Rooms from €30.
- Hotel La Grillade Moroni (La Corniche). Big and comfortable hotel with sea views, breakfast included and good internet connection. Rooms €67.
Most travellers visit outside the city Itsandra and Iconi.
- Iconi is a beautiful village with longstanding traditions and ancient monuments, 3 km south of Moroni. To reach Iconi stop a shared taxi, check go around section. It is possible also going by foot, it is just not a very attractive walk. Iconi was the home of the last sultanate in Grand Comore, therefore the village is full of history. Indeed the remaining ruins Kapviridjeo Palace, where the Sultan Tibe Mlanaoand his wife lived, and their tombs are visitable. There are no explicatory panels but positively you will find a local willing to give you some explanations about the palace Kapviridjeo. Right in from of the palace you can see the magnificent Friday's Mosque, and in between the natural pool that fills and empties with the ties. Don't miss the joyful children playing in the pool after school is finished. Right in the centre of the Medina is the best preserved, and still in use, bangwee. Bangwees are public discussion places, everyday men meet here to discuss about life or play boardgames. One can say that the bangwee is the homologue of the agora. Finally, visit the famous volcano Djabal, from which the women of Iconi thought themselves to the emptiness under the threat of being kidnapped and sold as slaves by Malagasy pirates. It can be easily climb up in less than half day and it will reward you with beautiful views over the coast and Iconi. There are no restaurants in Iconi, so bring your own picnic if necessary.
- Itsandra is 3 km to the north, the distance can be easily done in a walk. The village is full of restaurants, but most people visit it to relax at the beach. The public beach besides Le Sim Sim restaurant is very popular during afternoons and Sundays. Itsandra also has its own beautiful Medina.