Lagon de la Saline

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 southern part of the lagoon, south of the Ermitage channel, in front of la Saline-les-Bains town. We will look at the Ermitage lagoon (north 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 “La Saline” signs on the coastal road (former national road, N2001) or the N1 expressway (Route des Tamarins, exit “La Saline-les-Bains”). A large shaded car park gives direct access to the site. On foot, from Saint-Gilles-les-Bains town center, go past the marina, then walk south along Brisants beach for about 1 mile.

Water entrance

You can enter the water anywhere along the beach

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 closer you will be to the channel, which is a much less safe environment for beginners.

As you move away from the beach, you cross 100 meters or so of sandy seabed with scattered coral areas (↕2-6ft/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 yards before the reef (↕2-3ft/0.5-1m), the coral becomes so dense that you can’t go any further, while the water level gradually falls.

On this spot, corals (mainly branching corals of the acropora type) suffer bleaching and breakage, and are less spectacular than in the Ermitage Lagoon spot. Water may also be less clear, and the sand areas larger. However, this site is a good alternative if you want to explore new areas.

Under the water, you are sure to spot parrotfish, butterflyfish, triggerfish, Moorish idols, and a very large number of equally colorful fish.

Coral is 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.

Restaurants and accommodation

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
  • 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 la Saline

Common name Scientific name Abundance Fishbase Wikipedia
Blackback butterflyfish
Chaetodon melannotus
Threadfin butterflyfish
Chaetodon auriga
Raccoon butterflyfish
Chaetodon lunula
Vagabond butterflyfish
Chaetodon vagabundus
Titan triggerfish
Balistoides viridescens
Lagoon triggerfish
Rhinecanthus aculeatus
Zigzag wrasse
Halichoeres scapularis
Moorish idol
Zanclus cornutus
Tripletail wrasse
Cheilinus trilobatus
Cigar wrasse
Cheilio inermis
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You encountered a specie at this spot that is not listed here?