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Îlot Canard, or Île aux Canards (literally Duck Island in French) is Nouméa’s most popular snorkeling spot. It is not located on the city’s shore but on a small island, just a 5-minute boat ride from Anse Vata. It is fringed by a vibrant coral reef equipped with a snorkel trail. In the shallows, you will discover the classic Caledonian reef life, including colorful fish, fluorescent corals, giant clams and sometimes a visit of a sea turtle.

Grouper at Duck Island
Large groupers shelter near Ilot Canard no-take area.

How to reach Îlot Canard snorkeling location?

Two taxi boat companies offer rides to Ile aux Canards from Anse Vata (return trip from 1250 CFP/pers). Boats leave every ten minutes or so, and the crossing takes 5 minutes. Snorkel gear can be rented at the snorkel trail information kiosk (check availability before your visit if you do not have your own equipment).

Duck Island snorkeling map, Noumea

Water entrance for snorkeling Îlot Canard

Enter the water from the beach, in front of the swimming area marked with buoys (on your right when arriving on the islet).

Îlot Canard snorkeling tips and recommendations

The snorkeling area encompasses the marked swimming area, located on the islet’s western side. A snorkel trail, made of five white buoys, has been installed near the island. Following the path is perfect for learning about the reef and its inhabitants, but you can of course freely explore the area if you prefer.

Blue branching coral at Duck Island
Large reef areas are made of beautifully preserved branching coral.

Starting from the beach, you will first swim over a shallow reef flat covered by damaged corals (↕3-5ft/1-1,5m) where wrasse and spinefoot abound. A large number of sea anemones, which shelter small communities of Barrier Reef anemonefish and fire clownfish are fixed on the reef.

A few dozen of meters from the shore, the reef gets deeper and features more healthy corals (↕10-15ft/3-5m). It notably hosts gorgeous branching coral around which hundreds of green chromis shelter. Harlequin sweetlips, yellowbanded sweetlips and several species of coral groupers hide underneath table coral.

Barrier Reef anemonefish at Duck Island
A pair of Barrier Reef anemonefish in Duck Island.

Snorkelers report occasional visits of sea turtles and sharks on the outer reef and in the blue.

Underwater visibility is usually good here, but it can be altered on windy days and after heavy rains.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

Restaurant Le Filao is set on the island.


  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaRéserve de l'Îlot Canard
  • Maximum depth25ft/8m
  • Water entranceFrom a sandy beach
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersHigh
  • Access costsReturn trip to the islet (from CFP 1250pp. from Anse Vata beach)
  • Restaurants nearbyYes
  • Public toilets & showersYes

MAP Spot

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.