Réunion Island

Réunion Island was formed relatively recently and the coral formations have not had much time to develop: lagoons cover barely 12% of the coastline. In the absence of islets or coral reefs out to sea, snorkeling is limited to the shallow lagoons in the south and west of the island (particularly the biggest among them, l'Ermitage lagoon), protected by a coral reef, and a few rare spots open onto the ocean, like Boucan Canot or Cap Lahoussaye.

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Despite their small size (they cover only 15 miles/25km of the coastline, and are rarely more than 600ft/200m wide) and shallow depth (generally less than 6ft/2m of water), the lagoons are excellent places for observing coral (well preserved in places), fish (triggerfish, surgeonfish, butterflyfish, moray eel, etc.) and clams (particularly numerous at Etang-Salé). Encounters with young turtles or stingrays are possible, but remain rare. Apart from a handful of clearly signaled channels, the calm waters of the lagoons (l'Ermitage, Saint-Pierre...) are protected by barrier reefs, offering optimal safety conditions for beginners.

Snorkeling Report Reunion
The Cirque de Mafate, a Meyer butterflyfish at Saint-Pierre, and the Saint-Leu lagoon

The spots open on to the sea are few in number, and are less accessible and reserved for strong swimmers. You will often be dependent on the variable sea conditions in Réunion Island (waves, currents) and on the regular prohibition of swimming due to a few recent shark attacks.
When to go to Réunion Island?

Snorkeling can be done all the year round in Réunion Island, but several factors need to be taken into account. Water temperature varies from 70°F (22°C) during the southern winter (May to October, cool and dry) to 80°F/27°C (with a peak of 85°F/30°C in the lagoons) in the summer (November to April, hot and humid). In October and November, conditions are ideal, but the coast has a great many visitors. In summer, rain is more frequent, particularly during the cyclone season (January-March), when access to the water is sometimes impossible for several days. In winter, the wind can be strong, making swimming less pleasant, and excursions outside the lagoon are sometimes dangerous because of the waves.

CDC Réunion EN

Where to spot them?

Moorish idol

On all spots

Lagoon triggerfish

On all spots

Emperor angelfish

Rare in lagoons, take your chance at Boucan Canot

Giant clam

Abundant at l'Etang Salé, frequent on other spots

Convict surgeonfish

In large schools on all spots, including l'Etang Salé and Saint-Leu

Yellow teardrop butterflyfish

On all spots

Giant moray

On all spots, but sometimes hard to find

Honeycomb grouper

On all spots

Common lionfish

On all spots, including l'Ermitage, la Saline, Saint-Pierre and Saint-Leu

Red Sea sailfin tang

On all spots