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Îlot Canard, or Île aux Canards (litteraly Duck Island in French) is THE snorkel spot to try in Nouméa. This small islet has obvious assets : is only a 5-minute boat ride from Anse Vata, and it is fringed by a gorgeous coral reef over which an underwater path has been set. A few fin strokes lead you at the heart of Caledonian reef life: colorful fish, fluorescent corals, giant clams and sometimes a sneak peek at a green sea turtle above the drop-off.

Grouper at Duck Island

How to reach Îlot Canard?

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 underwater path information kiosk.

Duck Island snorkeling map, Noumea

Entering the water to snorkel around Îlot Canard

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

Îlot Canard snorkeling tips and recommendations

The exploration area encompasses the whole swimming area. Located at the islet’s west side, it is defined by yellow buoys. A free-access underwater path has been set here; it is made of five white numbered landmarks to which educative signs have been tied. Following the path is perfect for learning about the reef and the species it shelters, but you can of course explore the whole area freely if you prefer.

Blue branching coral at Duck Island

Starting from the beach, you will first swim over a shallow reef flat covered by quite degraded corals (↕1-1,5m) where juvenile blackeye thicklip and several rabbitfish species can be seen. Numerous sea anemones are embedded at the foot of corals, they shelter small colonies of Barrier Reef anemonefish and fire clownfish.

The reef then steadily deepens. Coral quality greatly improves as they get out of the reach of swimmers and their fins (↕3-5m). The seabed boasts a gorgeous display of blue branch coral and finger coral clumps around which swarms of green chromis gravitate. Harlequin sweetlips, yellowbanded sweetlips and several species of coralgroupers hide underneath table coral.

Great Barrier anemonefish at Duck Island

Even if turtle and shark spotting is not guaranteed here, green sea turtles and white tip sharks can sometimes be seen in the blue at the reef front. In this same area, impressive sharp-teethed groupers stay still against the sand at the foot of the drop-off (↕6m).

Underwater visibility is usually good here, but it can worsen during 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.