Level: 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. Resort nearby
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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.
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).
Snorkeling is now prohibited outside the shark net, which protects only a very small area, not very interesting for 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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
Small city beach with rocky and sandy beds
Level: Free shore access
Shallow lagoon with coral and reef fish
Level: Free shore access Resort nearby
Shallow lagoon with branching coral and colorful fish
Shallow lagoon with coral, clams and reef fish
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