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Last updated on July 22, 2023
Denis Island is probably the most famous resort island in Seychelles. This natural sanctuary, planted with coconut, takamaka and casuarina trees, is close to being paradise. The island is surrounded by pristine waters and vibrant coral reefs where sea turtles, reef sharks and eagle rays abound. Denis Island is a location that will bring you wonderful snorkeling adventures.
To visit this out-of-the-world paradise, you have to be a guest of the Denis Private Island resort. Daily 30-minute flights connect Mahé with Denis Island, located 37 miles north of the main island and 31 miles east of Bird Island. If you are visiting Seychelles with your own boat, you could moor near the reef once you have obtained authorization from the resort.
Enter the water from the sandy beach, in front of the area you want to explore. The water entrance at Belle Etoile is tide-dependent: it is only accessible at high tide. The rest of the time the reef flat is too shallow to be snorkeled.
You can snorkel almost all around the island, which is circled by a coral reef. However, there are three spots that are recommended.
The House Reef, extending in front of the resort, is the best snorkeling location on the island. It shelters the healthiest coral patches in Denis, which feature hard corals including branching, finger and porous coral (↕6-20ft/2-5m).
A diversity of reef fish, including damselfish, butterflyfish, surgeonfish, triggerfish and anemonefish, call the House Reef home. You will also most likely encounter hawksbill turtles in the shallows facing the beach.
In front of Bois Blanc beach, on the west side of the island, you will find open coral and seagrass areas. You can also anticipate an encounter with hawksbill sea turtles. These turtles come to feed and rest on the seagrass all year round and to lay their eggs on the beach from November to February.
Spotted eagle rays and juvenile blacktip reef sharks can also be seen very easily in this area, but tend to be more difficult to get close to.
Belle Etoile has access to the lagoon fringing the east side of the island. Its shallow (↕6ft/2m), crystal-clear waters, are ideal for beginners. However, the seabed is pretty poor here: some seagrass beds, coral debris, and almost no living coral. The main attractions in Belle Etoile are its many green sea turtles. Eagle rays, blacktip sharks and, more rarely, the tawny nurse shark are also frequent visitors to the lagoon.
Around the island, the sea is generally calm, with no waves. If the sea gets rougher, choose the most sheltered side.
The only accommodation on the island is the Denis Private Island Eco-Retreat.
Sea turtles are a very familiar sight around Denis Island. In order to be a responsible snorkeler, be sure to respect the following rules when observing them:
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.
Sandy bay and granite rocks with reef fish and rays
Free shore access
Reef slopes with fish and sea turtles
Free shore access
Granite rocks with colorful fish and small coral
Small fringing reef with colorful fish
Shallow seagrass beds with sea turtles and starfish
Fringing coral reef, sea turtles and sharks