With its luxury hotels and its large sandy beach, Boucan Canot is one of the most famous beaches in Réunion Island. This is the only site on the island where you can safely swim outside the lagoons and natural pools. On the reef, you will find some species (like angelfish) that are difficult to spot elsewhere in Réunion Island, as they usually do not enter the lagoons. Turtles are also frequently seen in the area. Since recent shark attacks on this beach, shark net has been set to protect swimmers, and swimming (and snorkeling) outside of this area is now prohibited. More details on the map below. Please keep in mind that all the pictures on this page have been taken outside the shark net, before the actual regulations.

How to go snorkeling at Boucan Canot?

Located between Saint-Paul and Saint-Gilles, Boucan Canot is well signposted and easy to reach by car. Follow the “Boucan Canot” signs on the coastal road (former national road, N2001) or the N1 expressway (Route des Tamarins, exit “Boucan Canot”). Buses from Car’Jaune and Alternéo networks go to the beach. On foot or by bike, from Saint-Gilles-les-Bains town center, head for the north for about two miles (3.2 km).

Aerial view of Boucan Canot beach, Réunion Island

Where to get in the water to snorkel Boucan Canot?

Snorkeling is now prohibited outside the shark net, which protects only a very small area, not very interesting for snorkeling.

Boucan Canot Reunion Island snorkeling map
Snorkeling is only allowed inside the shark net, covering the yellow area. The dotted yellow area on the map is the area it was possible to snorkel before the shark attack. Please keep in mind that all the pictures on this page have been taken outside the shark net, before the current regulations.

Exploring Boucan Canot coral reefs in snorkeling

The area to explore covers the coral reefs located on the left and right sides of the swimming area and along the rocky point.

The area is relatively deep (↕12-24ft/4-8m) and you will alternatively cross clear sandy areas interspersed with large blocks of corals. The rocky crevices are particularly rich in fish, but it is not easy to get close to the fish and take underwater pictures. On this spot, you could spot some species that are difficult to observe elsewhere in Réunion Island, as the usually do not enter the lagoons. Among the most colorful fish you should come across on this spot are, among dozens of other species, unicornfish, emperor angelfish and moray eels. Encounters with green sea turtles or hawksbill sea turtles are frequent in the deepest areas.

Snorkeling with sea turtle in Boucan Canot beach, Réunion Island
Sea turtles (here, a young green sea turtle) are frequently spotted in Boucan Canot.

Only the more experienced snorkelers can adventure out on the other side of the rocky point and move along the coral reef when the sea conditions allow. This area has the finest corals and underwater life. It is sometimes possible to exit the water on the small beach north of the rocky point, but only if the water level is high enough and the sea perfectly calm. Be careful, because there are a lot of sea urchins in the area, and the water is really shallow. Wear swim fins.

Emperor angelfish at Boucan Canot beach, Réunion Island
The emperor angelfish, pretty rare in Reunion Island’s lagoons, is fairly common at Boucan Canot’s reef.

Accommodation and catering near Boucan Canot

Some luxury hotels (Le Boucan Canot**** and Le Saint-Alexis****) directly overlook the beach. A large number of snacks, food trucks, and restaurants are dotted along the beach and the road alongside it, so you can get something to eat and drink at low prices.

 

  • Level required Advanced
  • Protected areaRéserve Naturelle Marine de la Réunion
  • Maximum depth20ft/6m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential DangersWaves, currents
  • LifeguardYes
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

These spots are only recommended to good swimmers, in good physical conditions, and with excellent snorkeling skills. These spots can experience currents, moderate waves, important depths, tight or narrow passages, or tricky water entrance, and can be located near hazardous areas (channels, boat traffic, strong currents…). The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas can be important - up to 500 meters. The “advanced” category includes drift snorkeling (transported by currents) and snorkeling off the coast.

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.