Lagon de l'Ermitage

L'Ermitage is the widest, most extensive and best preserved lagoon in Réunion Island. It is protected from the tumult of the Indian Ocean by a coral reef, and its shallow, crystal-clear waters (less than 6ft/2m), sprinkled with coral, make it the top snorkeling site on the island. On this page we look at the northern part of the lagoon, between Plage des Brisants and the Ermitage channel. We will look at the Saline Lagoon (south of the channel) on separate spot page.
How to get there?

The beach lies south of Saint-Gilles, and is easy to reach by car. Follow the “Ermitage” signs on the coastal road (former national road, N2001) or the N1 expressway (Route des Tamarins, exit “Ermitage”). A large shaded car park, planted with filao trees, gives direct access to the site. From the car park, turn right and walk along the beach for a few minutes. On foot, from Saint-Gilles-les-Bains town center, go past the marina, then walk south along Brisants beach for about half a mile (600m).

Water entrance

You can enter the water anywhere along the beach, but you might prefer the central part – the further you go towards the right, as you are facing the sea, the shallower the water is. In places, the sand is replaced by relatively slippery rocky areas, so you should be careful not to walk on them.

Aerial view


The area to explore is located between the beach and the coral reef, which are distant of 350 to 500 yards. The further you go to the right, the shallower the water is and the less coral you will see (replaced little by little by seagrass). The further left you go, the closer you will be to the channel, which is a much less safe environment for beginners.

In this part of the lagoon (entirely listed as a marine reserve), a total protection zone (with access strictly forbidden) is set off by yellow buoys. Don’t go beyond them. The information signs along the beach will let you know where you are.

As you move away from the beach, you cross 100 meters or so of sandy seabed with scattered coral areas (↕1.5-6ft/0.5-2m), which grow denser as you move closer to the reef. Make your way between the coral to reach the more preserved areas. 100 meters before the reef (↕1.5-3ft/0,5-1m), the coral becomes so dense that you can’t go any further, while the water level gradually falls.

Snorkeling Report Lagon Ermitage La Reunion
Aerial view of l'Ermitage channel

In this area of the lagoon, the seabed is the best preserved. The diversity of coral is striking, and a large amount of animal life is drawn to the coral areas. Lagoon triggerfish, shoals of convict surgeonfish, cornetfish, octopus and squid are easy to see. During your explorations you may come across a lionfish or the redoubtable false stonefish, which is hard to distinguish from the rocks. Fire coral, which can sting, can also be found in some places. Don’t touch it, and as a preventive measure, don’t touch the rocks with your hands or your swimfins either.

Branching coral of the acropora type is the most prevalent in the lagoon. It is spectacular, but also highly fragile, and can be broken by a passing swimfin. Watch where you are going, especially when your way lies through narrow or shallow passages.

The lagoon can be explored at almost any time of year, since the waters are particularly well sheltered. In winter the wind forms waves that may make your return to shore more complicated.

Restaurants & accommodation

There is a wide range of accommodation and restaurants on the site. Le Récif hotel directly overlooks the beach. A large number of bar-vans and snack bars are dotted along the beach and the road alongside it, so you can get something to eat and drink at low prices.

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
  • Maximum depth
    8ft (2.5m)
  • Water entrance
    Easy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential Dangers
    Fire coral, scorpionfish, stonefish, lionfish. Strong currents in the channel.
  • Lifeguard
  • Visitor numbers
  • Access costs
  • Restaurants nearby
    Yes, inexpensive
  • Public toilets & showers

Spot map

Spot photos

Underwater spot photos

Species you may spot while snorkeling Lagon de l'Ermitage

Common name Scientific name Abundance Fishbase Wikipedia
Moorish idol
Zanclus cornutus
Threadfin butterflyfish
Chaetodon auriga
Vagabond butterflyfish
Chaetodon vagabundus
Yellow teardrop butterflyfish
Chaetodon interruptus
Peppered butterflyfish
Chaetodon guttatissimus
Sunburst butterflyfish
Chaetodon kleinii
Masked bannerfish
Heniochus monoceros
Lagoon triggerfish
Rhinecanthus aculeatus
Moon wrasse
Thalassoma lunare
Blackspotted puffer
Arothron nigropunctatus
Leaf scorpionfish
Taenianotus triacanthus
False stonefish
Scorpaenopsis diabolus
Red Sea sailfin tang
Zebrasoma desjardinii
Convict surgeonfish
Acanthurus triostegus
Giant moray
Gymnothorax javanicus
Snowflake moray
Echidna nebulosa
Geometric moray
Gymnothorax griseus
Tiger snake eel
Myrichthys maculosus
Barred filefish
Cantherhines dumerilii
Lieutenant Tang
Acanthurus tennenti
Doublebar goatfish
Parupeneus trifasciatus
Bluefin trevally
Caranx melampygus
Whitetail dascyllus
Dascyllus aruanus
Green Chromis
Chromis viridis
Green sea turtle
Chelonia mydas
Hawksbill sea turtle
Eretmochelys imbricata
Show all species
You encountered a specie at this spot that is not listed here?