Despite warm waters and a high density of fish, the coasts of French Guiana are almost not suitable for snorkeling. Underwater visibility, altered by sediments dumped by the Amazon basin, is most of time nearly zero in the region. To have a chance to snorkel in French Guiana, you will have to be lucky enough to visit the region during the rare (unpredictable) periods when the water clears up. Around the offshore islets, in particular at Iles du Salut, you will explore an unsuspected underwater environment where angelfish, spadefish, snappers and even sea turtles abound.
Located close to the mouth of the Amazon River, French Guiana is a very challenging snorkeling destination. Indeed the Amazon basin streams empty into the Atlantic, disgorging tons of sediments in the ocean, making the water brown and the underwater visibility nearly zero most of the time. Encountering sufficient underwater visibility to be able to snorkel in French Guiana is pretty rare, but for those who seek something adventurous, the patience is well worth the reward.
The Iles du Salut, off Kourou, are the best place to snorkel in French Guiana. These three small islands, located some 14 km from the mainland, generally experience better underwater visibility than on the coast, even if it is often nearly zero.
If you are lucky, and the visibility and sea conditions allow, you can snorkel from the shore at Ile Royale, at Bain des Bagnards and Anse Legoff. The Piscine des Bagnards and Plage de Saint-Joseph, on nearby St Joseph island, are also an option, although a little less easy to access.
The beaches of the Cayenne region, in particular the beaches of Rémire-Montjoly, can only be snorkeled during very exceptional clear water episodes. These occur at most once or twice a year, generally at the end of the dry season, when the flow of the rivers is lower and the currents are favorable.
The Ilets de Rémire, a small archipelago of 5 islands off Rémire Montjoly and Cayenne, can be snorkeled when the visibility is decent, which happens very rarely due to their location, just in front of the mouth of Mahury.
Inland, you can snorkel in specific river basins, called “Criques” (creek) in French Guiana. Crique Crabe, in Sinnamary, is the best known. It is indeed at this location that the local scuba divers get their first lessons.
The site is very nice and features immersed statues and wrecks, and the decent underwater visibility allows for spotting some freshwater fish. The site is private, get in touch with the local dive clubs to join one of their sessions.
If you are lucky enough to be able to snorkel in French Guiana, you will discover a surprisingly rich underwater life. On the seabed, rocky and covered with small algae (turbid waters prevent the development of corals), you will spot a diversity of fish species including the Atlantic spadefish, the porkfish, the French angelfish, the Bermuda chub, as well as several species of snapper and pufferfish. In the Iles du Salut, encounters with green sea turtles at shallow depths are frequent.
French Guiana’s shore waters boast perfect temperatures, permanently between 82.4°F/28°C and 86°F/30°C. It is advised you wear a rashguard for sun protection, even if the weather is cloudy.
If the bad underwater visibility is the main reason which makes snorkeling in French Guiana a challenge, also be careful with the currents, which can be strong along the coasts and near the islets. Always seek local advice before engaging in a snorkeling session in the region.
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Occasional sightings at Ile Royale.
Common at Ile Royale.
Easy to spot at most rocky locations.
Frequent at Iles du Salut, particularly at Ile Royale.
Rocky cove with fish and occasional sea turtles
Free shore access
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