Réunion Island’s west coast lagoons, the perfect spots for snorkeling in shallow waters

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

Snorkeling Réunion island's lagoons, Indian Ocean
The lagoons bordering the island’s west coast are shallow and teeming with fish, which makes them perfect for snorkeling (picture taken at Hermitage 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.

Snorkeling with turtles at Boucan Canot, Réunion Island
Sometimes visited by sea turtles, Boucan-Canot is one of the Reunion Island’s few off-lagoon spots. Sadly, it is often closed to swimmers because of sharks.

When to go to snorkeling in 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, weather mostly cool and dry) to 80°F/27°C (with a peak of 85°F/30°C in the lagoons) in summer (November to April, hot and humid climate). In October and November, conditions are ideal, but the coast has a lot of visitors. In summer, rain is more frequent, particularly during the cyclone season (January to March), when access to the water is sometimes impossible for several days. In winter, the wind can be strong, making swimming less pleasant, and snorkeling outside the lagoon can be dangerous because of the waves.

Cyclone season
Cool and windy
Warm and sunny

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