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Ever since a shark net was deployed at Boucan Canot Beach, Cap Lahoussaye is the only snorkeling spot in Reunion that is not in a shallow lagoon. This volcanic rock cape forms a large sheltered area south of St Paul Bay, which is pretty unique on the island. Under the water, Cap Lahoussaye features dramatic rocky ridges and drop-offs covered with hard corals. This location supports reef fish species rarely seen in the lagoons, as well as visiting sea turtles.

Cap Lahoussaye, Reunion Island
The snorkeling area at Cap Lahoussaye.

How to get to the Cap Lahoussaye snorkeling spot

Cap Lahoussaye is the rocky cape between Saint Paul Bay and Boucan Canot Beach, on Reunion Island’s western coast. The site is well-sign-posted from the national road, and you can easily park in one of the car parks on both sides of the road. From the car park, descend on foot through the rocks to reach one of the two water entries.

Several diving clubs in Saint Gilles marina offer boat snorkeling tours at Cap Lahoussaye.

Cap Lahoussaye snorkeling map, Reunion Island
Cap Lahoussaye snorkeling map, Reunion Island.

Water entrance for snorkeling Cap Lahoussaye

You can enter the water from the rocky bar facing the bay (to explore area 1 on the map above), or from the rocky scree found in the small adjacent cove (to explore area 2 on the map). Water entrance can be quite tricky, so be sure to be careful. Try to get to Cap Lahoussaye very early in the morning to have the best chance of calm seas. Do not enter the water if there are swells, waves, currents, or strong wind.

If you participate in a boat snorkeling trip, you will enter the water directly from the boat ladders. In general, snorkelers are dropped in the central part of the cove (see map).

Cap Lahoussaye snorkeling exploration tips

Cap Lahoussaye features varied underwater reliefs, including ridges, slopes, faults, and rocky drop-offs, often covered with hard corals. From the shore, the reef drops steeply to sandy areas about 59 feet deep.

Scrawled butterflyfish at Cap Lahoussaye coral reef
A pair of scrawled butterflyfish at the reef.

In the areas between 3 and 12 feet deep, snorkelers can observe healthy corals, including raspberry corals (Picillopora). Coral colors include white, light blue, yellowish and pink. Some large massifs of fire coral are also present in places.

School of whitespotted surgeons
Cap Lahoussaye is probably the only snorkeling location in Reunion where the whitespotted surgeonfish is frequently spotted.

A diversity of fish can be observed at Cap Lahoussaye, particularly fish that are rarely (or never) observed in the lagoons of the island, which are very shallow. Among these “rare” species are the lined surgeonfish, the whitespotted surgeonfish, the emperor angelfish, the threespot angelfish, or the clown triggerfish that has incredible geometric patterns.

Moray eels are fairly common here, as are pufferfish, Moorish Idols and butterflyfish.

Juvenile emperor angelfish at Cap Lahoussaye
A juvenile emperor angelfish at Cap Lahoussaye.

Cap Lahoussaye is also a good spot for encountering invertebrates such as octopus, starfish, including the famous crown-of-thorns starfish, and pencil urchins.

Hawksbill turtles and green turtles make occasional appearances out of the blue: an unforgettable encounter, even though it is possible to see turtles on shallower spots on the island such as the Lagon de la Saline or the Bassin Pirogue at Etang Salé.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

Cap Lahoussaye is a natural site. Boucan Canot beach, bordered by several restaurants, is only a mile away by road.

 

  • Level required Advanced
  • Maximum depth60ft/18m
  • Water entranceFrom rocks
  • Potential DangersSwell, boat traffic
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyNo

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.