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Îlot Signal is, with Îlot Amédée, one of the most beautiful islets accessible by boat from Nouméa. While many green sea turtles visit the shallow seagrass beds that stretch out in front of the beach, you can also explore a vibrant reef drop-off where sharks, lobsters, sea kraits and reef fish abound.

Green sea turtle on Signal Island seagrass beds
Signal Island is one of the very best spots in New Caledonia to swim with green sea turtles, which come daily to feed on the islet’s shallow grassy beds.

How to go snorkeling at the Îlot Signal

Îlot Signal (Signal Island) is located about 35 minutes by boat west of Nouméa. Many taxi boats offer daily trips to the islet for XPF4000/€35. If you have your own boat, mooring buoys are available on site.

Access to the islet is free. It is a nature reserve and it is forbidden to take anything that you find on the land or at sea.

Signal Island snorkeling map, New Caledonia

Water entrance for snorkeling Îlot Signal

Two water entrances are recommended, depending on the area you want to explore.

To snorkel with sea turtles in the shallow seagrass beds (zone 1 on the map), enter the water from the beach, just to the left of the pontoon.

To explore the reef drop-off (zone 2 on the map), walk to the end of the pontoon where you will see a stair and a ladder allowing a safe water entrance.

Îlot Signal snorkeling exploration tips

Two main areas are recommended for snorkeling at Signal Island.

1 / The shallow seagrass meadows facing the beach (zone 1 on the map).

On the left of the pontoon, there are extensive and shallow seagrass meadows (about 3ft/1m deep some 20m from the shore), visited by green sea turtles. The turtles come to feed on the seagrass which grows in this sheltered area.

Here, the turtles are not afraid of snorkelers and you will be able to observe them up close. However, never try to touch or ride them: it is forbidden and it puts the turtles in danger.

Barrier reef anemonefish
Barrier Reef anemonefish found at reef. In the background, several moon wrasse.

2 / The reef drop off which borders the islet (zone 2 on the map).

A vibrant reef drop-off edges the west coast of Signal Island. It extends about 150m from the shore. After entering the water at the end of the pontoon, first swim towards the first mooring buoy, located 20/30m from the pontoon. You’ll generally see under this buoy many green sea turtles (↕13-16ft/4-5m).

From there, you can then snorkel along the drop-off, heading south. The reef edge, about 2ft/0.5m from the surface, then plunges steeply to deeper areas (↕26ft/8m).

In this area, you’ll spot thousands of fish of all sizes, including groupers, parrotfish, clownfish, jacks, schools of barracudas and bluespine unicornfishLobsters, green sea turtles, hawksbill sea turtles, as well as two species of sharks (the whitetip reef shark and the blacktip reef shark) are also common around Îlot Signal.

Turkey moray eel at Signal Island
A turkey moray eel at Signal Island’s reef drop off.

If zone 1 is perfect for beginners, the reef drop off (zone 2) is only recommended for more experienced snorkelers. Do not stray too far from the pontoon if there is current in the area.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

Îlot Signal is a nature reserve, with no restaurant or drinking water available.

Discover more about snorkeling Signal Island in this video 👇 shared by Fongi. In some sequences, you’ll see like 4 or 5 sea turtles resting together in the area!

 

  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaRéserve de l'Îlot Signal
  • Maximum depth6ft/2m on the reef flat, +26ft/8m on the drop off
  • Water entranceFrom a sandy beach or a ladder
  • Potential DangersBoat activity
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium to high
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyNo

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.