The Lagon de la Saline is located south of the Passe de l’Hermitage. It hosts shallow (less than 6ft/2m), crystal-clear waters, but the coral beds are strongly degraded there. Nevertheless, you can still see many fish in the area (angelfish, boxfish, butterflyfish), as well as young sea turtles, which sometimes enter the lagoon to rest.

Green sea turtle in the Lagon de la Saline, Réunion Island
Young sea turtles (here a green sea turtle) frequently enter the lagoon to rest. You’ll have more chances to encounter them near the channel.

How to get there?

The beach lies south of Saint-Gilles, and is easy to reach by car. Follow the “La Saline” signs on the coastal road (former national road, N2001) or the N1 expressway (Route des Tamarins, exit “La Saline-les-Bains”). A large shaded car park gives direct access to the site. On foot, from Saint-Gilles-les-Bains town center, go past the marina, then walk south along Brisants beach for about 1 mile.

Lagon de la Saline snorkeling map

Water entrance

You can enter the water anywhere along the beach

Exploration

The area to explore is located between the beach and the coral reef, which are distant of 350 to 400 meters. The further you go to the right, the closer you will be to the channel (Passe de l’Hermitage), which is an unsafe area because of strong currents.

As you move away from the beach, you cross 100 meters or so of sandy seabed with scattered coral areas (↕2-6ft/0.5-2m), which grow denser as you move closer to the reef. Make your way between the coral to reach the more preserved areas. 100 yards before the reef (↕2-3ft/0.5-1m), the coral becomes so dense that you can’t go any further, while the water level gradually falls.

Blackback butterflyfish at Lagon de la Saline, Réunion Island
A dozen of butterflyfish species can be seen in La Saline, including the blackback butterflyfish (chaetodon melannotus).

On this spot, corals (mainly branching corals of the acropora type) suffer bleaching and breakage, and are less spectacular than at the spot of Lagon de l’Hermitage. Water may also be less clear, and the sand areas larger. However, this site is a good alternative if you want to explore new areas.

Under the water, you are sure to spot parrotfish, butterflyfish, triggerfish, Moorish idols, and a very large number of equally colorful fish. Coral is highly fragile, and can be broken by a passing swimfin. Watch where you are going, especially when your way lies through narrow or shallow passages.

Moray eels in la Saline
Small moray eels (here, a snowflake moray, echidna nebulosa) are common in the lagoon, but are sometimes well hidden and hard to spot.

Restaurants and accommodation

A large number of bar-vans and snack bars are dotted along the beach and the road alongside it, so you can get something to eat and drink at low prices.



Species you may spot while snorkeling Lagon de la Saline
COMMON NAME SCIENTIFIC NAME ABUNDANCE FISHBASE WIKIPEDIA
Green sea turtle Chelonia mydas  
Hawksbill sea turtle Eretmochelys imbricata  
Emperor angelfish Pomacanthus imperator  
Moorish idol Zanclus cornutus  
Indian Ocean teardrop butterflyfish Chaetodon interruptus  
Blackback butterflyfish Chaetodon melannotus  
Threadfin butterflyfish Chaetodon auriga  
Raccoon butterflyfish Chaetodon lunula  
Vagabond butterflyfish Chaetodon vagabundus  
Red Sea sailfin tang Zebrasoma desjardinii  
Titan triggerfish Balistoides viridescens  
Lagoon triggerfish Rhinecanthus aculeatus  
Blackspotted puffer Arothron nigropunctatus  
Guineafowl puffer Arothron meleagris  
Yellow boxfish Ostracion cubicus  
White-spotted boxfish Ostracion meleagris  
Green Chromis Chromis viridis  
Whitetail dascyllus Dascyllus aruanus  
Spotfin lionfish Pterois antennata  
Snowflake moray Echidna nebulosa  
Leopard blenny Exallias brevis  
Zigzag wrasse Halichoeres scapularis  
Tripletail wrasse Cheilinus trilobatus  
Cigar wrasse Cheilio inermis  
Orbicular batfish Platax orbicularis  

 

  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaRéserve Naturelle Marine de la Réunion
  • Maximum depth8ft/2.5m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential DangersFire coral, scorpionfish, stonefish, lionfish
  • LifeguardYes
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes, inexpensive
  • Public toilets & showersNo

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.