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La Saline Lagoon is located just south of the lagoon and the Hermitage Pass, facing La Saline Beach. This part of the lagoon offers crystal clear and shallow waters (less than 2m), but the corals are mostly unhealthy in the area. The flats extending close to the pass however offer the opportunity to spot a good diversity of reef fish (angelfish, butterflyfish, parrotfish …), and sometimes young green or hawksbill turtles.

Hawksbill sea turtle
Young hawksbill sea turtles frequently enter the lagoon to feed on the dead coral flats. You’ll have more chances to encounter them near the pass (see “turtles” area on the map).

Getting to Lagon de la Saline for snorkeling

The beach lies south of Saint-Gilles, and is easy to reach by car. 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 Plage des Brisants for about 1 mile.

Lagon de la Saline snorkeling map, Reunion Island

Getting in the water to snorkel Lagon de la Saline

You can enter the water anywhere along the beach, between the pass (north of the spot) and the lifeguards stand (south). Do not enter the Wilderness Area, marked with yellow beacons (see map).

Exploring Lagon de la Saline snorkeling spot

You can snorkel anywhere between the beach and the coral reef, which are distant from 350 to 400 meters, except in the wilderness area (which begins just south of the lifeguards stand). The further you go to the right, the closer you will be to the pass, which is an unsafe area because of strong currents.

Indian Ocean teardrop butterflyfish
A dozen of butterflyfish species can be seen in La Saline, including the Indian Ocean teardrop butterflyfish.

Moving away from the beach, you’ll 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 meters 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.

On this spot, branching corals suffer bleaching and breakage and are less spectacular than in 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.

Coral reef
Globally in bad condition in the lagoon, healthy patches of coral can still be found near the pass.

Under the water, you are sure to spot parrotfish, teardrop butterflyfish, lagoon 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.

Near the pass, you’ll find a shallow flat of broken coral where immature hawksbill sea turtles frequently feed on. Green sea turtles are much rarer and can only be occasionally seen everywhere in the lagoon.

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

Accommodation and restaurants around Lagon de la Saline

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.


  • 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.