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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 and snorkeling area
Roches Noires beach and snorkeling area. On the left, the buoys line of the shark net.

How to go snorkeling at Roches Noires

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.

Roches Noires snorkeling map

Water entrance for snorkeling Roches Noires

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.

Roches Noires snorkeling exploration tips

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.

Black-barred surgeonfish
The black-barred surgeonfish, endemic to the southwestern Indian Ocean, can sometimes be seen in Roches Noires.

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.

Sole flatfish at Roches Noires
The sandy beds also hide some surprises, such as this sole.

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.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

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.


  • Level required Intermediate
  • Maximum depth10ft/3m
  • Water entranceFrom a sandy beach
  • LifeguardYes, from 10am to 5:30pm (check on site)
  • 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.