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Ilot M’Bo (M’Bo islet) is a wild small island located in the north of the lagoon of Noumea. Its coral reef, which completely encircles the island, is a great setting for those who love exploring the underwater world. Sharks, turtles and rays visit the drop-off, while the reef, covered with colorful corals, teems with colorful reef fish.

Lobster at Ilot M'Bo
Many lobsters hide in the small caves found on the reef.

How to get to Ilot M’Bo snorkeling spot?

Mbo Islet is located in the lagoon opposite the town of Paita, north of Nouméa. To get there, you can take a taxi boat from Nouméa – around XPF 6,000 (51 euro) based on 10 participants.

Taxi boats can also take you there if you are less than 10 but at a higher price (price is for the boat and not the number of passengers, within the limit of 12). It takes less than an hour of navigation to reach the island from Nouméa.

It is also possible to go to the island with your own boat, but access to the beaches can be difficult because there are only two small passes that allow you to enter the lagoon (see map below). Prefer high tide to limit the risk of damaging the corals or your boat. Access is free.

Ilot Mbo snorkeling map

Water entrance for snorkeling Ilot M’Bo

It is advisable to explore this spot at high tide, when you can reach the drop-off (zone 1 on the map) from anywhere. At low tide, take the small open passes in the reef flat because the coral is almost touching the surface of the water.

Zone 2, a shallow lagoon, is also easier to explore at high tide. For zone 3, we recommend entering the water on the outer reef from a boat, and not from the shore.

Ilot M’Bo snorkeling exploration tips

M’Bo islet offers varied underwater environments, between the sandy lagoon which borders the east of the island (zone 2 on the map), the reefs covered with corals which extend to the north of the lagoon, and the reef drop-off plunging into the blue.

Ornate eagle ray at Ilot M'Bo
Encounter with an ornate eagle ray, rarely seen at snorkeling depths.

Ilot M’Bo reef flat is covered with corals of all colors, including branching coral, rather well preserved. On the outer reef, the coral bommies that dot the seabed are teeming with life, and are regularly visited by whitetip reef sharks, stingrays, eagle rays and green sea turtles.

Coral reef at Ilot Mbo
Ilot M’Bo boasts a great diversity of colorful, healthy hard corals.

Hundreds of species of reef fish can be seen at this location. Among the most common or emblematic are the threeband pennantfish, several species of butterflyfish, damselfish and puffers.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

The islet is wild. Even if it is not a nature reserve, it is advisable not to take anything, nor to cut wood for barbecue (many points of sale offer wood in Noumea, plan this in advance).


  • Level required Intermediate
  • Maximum depth6ft/2m on the reef flat, +30ft/10m on the drop off
  • Water entranceFrom a beach (or a boat)
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsTaxi boat - from XPF6000 return trip
  • Restaurants nearbyNo

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.