Level: Free shore access This spot have a free shore access: you can go snorkeling there freely and without having to book a tour or pay an entrance fee.
Plage des Roches Noires is the iconic beach of Saint-Gilles, Réunion Island’s main seaside resort. On this spot open to the ocean, you can only snorkel when there is no swell, and inside the shark net. The area is small, but you can see a few fish, such as triggerfish, butterflyfish, surgeonfish, and sole. Snorkeling at Roches Noires is not worth the detour in itself, but rather fun if you are staying in Saint-Gilles.
Roches Noires beach is located in downtown Saint-Gilles-les-Bains. It adjoins the north dike of the marina. Swimming and snorkeling are only allowed in the small area protected by the shark net, and during times when the beach is supervised (generally from 10 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., every day). Do not snorkel if there is swell, if the flags are down, or if the swim flag is orange or red.
We suggest you get into the water to the far left of the beach, near the marina breakwater. You will be closer to the rocky areas, where there are the most fish.
You can snorkel in the entire area protected by the shark net. The area is quite small, 120m long at most. On the left, along the dike, there are rocky bottoms, with no corals (↕2-6ft/0.5-2m). Everywhere else, the seabed is sandy, with a depth of up to 10ft/3m along the net.
The most fish can be seen around the rocks, along the dike. Surgeonfish, especially the black-barred surgeonfish, the convict surgeonfish and the brown surgeonfish, appreciate these oxygenated areas. Vagabond butterflyfish, dusky wrasse, lagoon triggerfish, and several goatfish species are also common here. Along the rocks, you can also see several varieties of sea urchins, and some turbans.
Sandy areas may not look as interesting, but go take a look anyway. You can sometimes see emblematic species of sandy bottoms, such as flounder or sole. Schools of mullets also visit this part of the spot.
There is a snack bar right on the beach, next to the lifeguard station. Otherwise, you will find many restaurants and snacks in the center of Saint-Gilles and on the seaside promenade, just a 150m walk from Roches Noires.
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.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
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