Nosy Beacute;, meaning Big Island in the Malagasy language, lies just a stone's throw off Madagascar's northwest coast. It is a remote and exotic destination. With its deserted beaches, rustic hotels and unhurried pace, it attracts travelers looking for a laid-back vacation. The fertile island is the center for the production of perfume essence from the ylang-ylang trees. The heady scent of their flowers gave Nosy Bé the name "Perfumed Isle." Other local products include sugar cane, coffee, vanilla and pepper; they are grown for export in large plantations. Hellville, the island's main town and port, is situated in a sheltered bay. It is named after a former French governor, Admiral de Hell. The town features a few old colonial buildings, a busy market, some small boutiques and tourist shops along the busy main street. At the quayside, vendors display embroidered linens, wood carvings and straw articles.
Small shops in the town center and vendors at the pier offer embroidered tablecloths, blouses, shirts and children's wear. Local perfumes, spices, wood carvings and woven straw items are also popular.
The Malagasy franc is the official currency of Madagascar.