Free shore access
This spot have a free shore access: you can go snorkeling there freely and without having to book a tour or pay an entrance fee.
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Last updated on June 29, 2022
Anse à la Barque is a natural cove in Basse Terre which has the particularity of hosting several shipwrecks from the Napoleonic era, still partially visible today at snorkeling depths. In addition to these historical relics, snorkeling the bay allows discovering a fascinating underwater life, in particular angelfish, pufferfish, butterflyfish, as well as a diversity of sea urchins.
Anse à la Barque is located a 10-minutes drive south of Bouillante, on the west coast of Basse Terre. You can park on both sides of the cove in small car parks and walk to the small beach.
We advise you to enter the water from the beach, near the old rails (see map).
Once in the water, first follow the old railway, looking for the small lobsters that sometimes hide there (↕1-3ft/0.5-1m). Some small fish also shelter in this shallow area.
When the rails come to an end, keep swimming straight ahead. You will then easily find the two famous cannons sunk about 50m from the shore (↕5ft/1.5m).
These are among the remains of several Napoleonic wrecks sunk in the bay. Continuing for a few tens of meters, you will be able to discover other parts, such as masts and pieces of frameworks.
After admiring the wrecks, head towards the north shore of the bay (on your right as you look out to sea) to check out the local underwater life. Its rocky bottoms, on which a few hard corals live, are teeming with life.
Different species of sea urchins, such as the slate pencil urchin, the variegated urchin and the rock boring urchin, live on the rocks. This environment, which offers many hiding places, is called home by pufferfish, porcupinefish and boxfish. Dozens of other species are common on this spot, including the French angelfish, one of the most beautiful fish in the Caribbean.
If the right side of the bay is the most lively, the whole bay can be explored by slaloming between the anchored boats. The sea is calm in the cove, where there is almost never a current. The main danger comes from the small fishing boat traffic between the mooring area and the open sea. The underwater visibility is at its best in the morning.
There is no restaurant or hotel near the beach, but several vacation rentals are located on the hills overlooking the bay. The beach is less than 10 minutes by car from Bouillante, a seaside village with many restaurants, hotels and shops and known for being the gateway to the famous Pigeon Islands.
These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.
This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
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