The Coral Garden

written in collaboration with AN-BADLOLA (1 spots)

The Coral Garden is a spot located on the Pigeon Islands (often nicknamed “Réserve Cousteau”), two tiny islets emerging only 1 kilometer from Bouillante and Malendure beach, on the west side of Guadeloupe. This protected area, part of the Guadeloupe National Park since 2009, and accessible only by the sea, provides a unique concentration of marine life. At the Coral Garden, famous for the magnificent elkhorn and staghorn corals covering the seabed, snorkelers can observe a large number of colorful reef fish species (angelfish, parrotfish, butterflyfish), as well as sea turtles.
How to get there?

A large number of local tour operators organize guided tours to the Reserve, including 1 to 3 snorkeling stops. Main departure point for tours are the village of Bouillante, Malendure beach, Plage Caraibes (Pointe-Noire) or the village of Deshaies. Prices ranges from 20 to 30 euros per person for a standard tour (1:30 to 2 hours), including snorkeling gear.

If you prefer to reach the Pigeon Islands by yourself, you can rent a kayak on Malendure beach. The distance between the beach and the islets is approximately 1.25 kilometer. Keep in mind that paddling to the islands, sometimes with headwind, can be exhausting. If you choose this option, leave your kayak on the tiny white-sand beach marked on the map below.

Water entrance

Water entrance depends of the option you choose: from a boat mooring near the reef if you are participating to a snorkeling tour, or from the tiny beach if you reach the islands by kayak.

Aerial view


The area to explore covers the coral reef fringing the East side of the islets. It stretches from Pointe Carangue (the southern tip of the southernmost island) to the northern bound of the tiny bay sheltering the “Coral Garden”.

The northern part of the spot is probably the more spectacular. Sheltered from the swell, the seabed is covered by healthy and good-sized staghorn and elkhorn corals. These reef-building corals are vital to life in the Caribbean reefs. It is fragile and can be broken by a passing swimfin, so do not touch it and snorkel carefully.

The central part of the little bay is shallow, with a rocky seabed. Around ten meters from the beach, the first coral clusters appear and grow denser as you move away from the shore and reach the deepest areas. The outcrops are the most abundant in fish, as parrotfish and surgeonfish.

Snorkeling Ilets Pigeon Turtle Guadeloupe
Hawksbill sea turtle at the Coral Garden © photo credit ANBADLOLA GUADELOUPE-PLONGEE


At last, on the southern part of the spot, swim along Petit Ilet to explore the abrupt rocky drop-off (0-12m). If you leave the drop-off to the west, you’ll find (approximately 30 meters from the shore) the bronze bust of Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau, which have been immersed in 1998 by 12-meters deep on a sandy area.

The spot is one of the most abundant in fish in Guadeloupe, due to the currents: several species of forage fish, trevally, damselfish… You’ll find on the area large and magnificent parrotfish, impossible to spot outside of protected areas, as well as most of the Caribbean reef fish species (butterflyfish, trumpetfish, trunkfish, angelfish… etc.). Don’t forget that you are in a National Park. Do not touch anything and don’t put your feet on the seabed.

Restaurants & accommodation

There are no restaurants and no water supply on the islets. The excursion organizers may provide you with snacks and drinks.

Snorkeling Report gives the most precise tips possible about the snorkeling spots and potential dangers, but each one of us is responsible for our own safety in the water. For more information, take a look at the snorkeling safety page. If you want to add extra information or make any corrections to the spot descriptions, please contact us.

Spot’s weather forecasts (°C)

Spot tips

  • Type of spot
  • Level of difficulty
    All levels
  • Protected area
  • Maximum depth
  • Water entrance
    From a boat or a sandy beach
  • Potential Dangers
    Many dive boats sailing in the area
  • Lifeguard
  • Visitor numbers
    Medium to high
  • Access costs
    Excursion price (€20 to 30 pp.) or kayak rental
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Public toilets & showers

Spot map

Spot photos

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Underwater spot photos

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Species you may spot while snorkeling The Coral Garden

Common name Scientific name Abundance Fishbase Wikipedia
Yellow goatfish
Mulloidichthys martinicus
Hawksbill sea turtle
Eretmochelys imbricata
French angelfish
Pomacanthus paru
Rock beauty
Holacanthus tricolor
Banded butterflyfish
Chaetodon striatus
Foureye butterflyfish
Chaetodon capistratus
Spotfin butterflyfish
Chaetodon ocellatus
Stoplight parrotfish
Sparisoma viride
Atlantic blue tang
Acanthurus coeruleus
Doctorfish tang
Acanthurus chirurgus
Sergeant major
Abudefduf saxatilis
Bluehead wrasse
Thalassoma bifasciatum
Spotted trunkfish
Lactophrys bicaudalis
Smooth trunkfish
Lactophrys triqueter
Aulostomus maculatus
Beau gregory
Stegastes leucostictus
Jewel damselfish
Microspathodon chrysurus
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