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Gorée Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of Senegal’s premier tourist sites. If the visit to the island, a place of remembrance and historical interest, is absolutely worth the detour, the small beach next to the landing stage is also one of the rare snorkeling spots in the country. In this well-sheltered bay, when the underwater visibility is good, many fish typical of West Africa, including parrotfish, surgeonfish, wrasse and seabream, can be spotted.

Petite Plage de Gorée, Senegal
The beach of Petite Plage de Gorée, facing the snorkeling area.

How to get to Ile de Gorée snorkeling spot?

Ile de Gorée (Goree Island) is just a 2 km boat trip off the coast of Dakar. The island is very popular with tourists and it is easy to get there by ferry from the port of Dakar. A dozen round trips are available daily, and the crossing takes about 20 minutes. The snorkeling spot is at the foot of the landing stage, facing the small beach (called “Petite Plage de Gorée”) that you will see on the right when you disembark.

Gorée Island snorkeling map, Dakar, Senegal

Water entrance for snorkeling Ile de Gorée

Get in the water directly from the sandy beach.

Ile de Gorée snorkeling exploration tips

The recommended snorkeling area comprises the small swimming area facing the beach (delimited by a line of buoys) as well as the western part of the cove, bordered by rocks, concrete blocks and a pontoon. If you exit the bathing area (you certainly will, since the seabed facing the beach is sandy and very poor), stay close to the shore, use a dive flag, and watch out for boat traffic.

Reef fish in Goree, Senegal
Common fish species in Gorée shallows include the Monrovia surgeonfish and the Atlantic rainbow wrasse.

This location features sandy and rocky beds, as well as a pontoon and submerged concrete blocks around which many fish shelter. Different types of seaweed are also found. In places, you will see black sea urchins and small red sea anemones. Unfortunately, you will also see a lot of waste.

Blackbarred hogfish in Gorée
A blackbarred hogfish.

There is a great diversity of fish in Gorée, even if they are shy and quite elusive. If you are used to snorkeling in the Mediterranean, you will surely recognize the very familiar zebra seabream, two-banded seabream and salema porgy.

But this spot also allows encounters with more tropical-looking species, native from West Africa, such as the Guinean parrotfish, the Monrovia surgeonfish, the Atlantic rainbow wrasse, as well as the blackbarred hogfish. In total, about twenty different fish can be seen Gorée shallows.

Parrotfish and wrasse in Goree
Guinean parrotfish and two-banded seabream in Gorée.

Even though Goree is a bit far from the mainland, the underwater visibility is not always good enough to snorkel at this spot.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

Goreé is very touristy and there are several restaurants and hotels around the beach and the landing stage.

 

  • Level required Intermediate
  • Maximum depth10ft/3m
  • Water entranceFrom a sandy beach
  • Potential DangersBoat traffic
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes

MAP Spot

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

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.