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Due to its close position to the town centre, Saint-Leu beach is often crowded, especially during weekends. A coral reef partly closing the bay and the neighboring small marina help make swimming quite safe. Underwater, a fine coral garden sheltering numerous fishes and invertebrates offers a lot to explore.

Saint-Leu Beach, Réunion Island
Saint-Leu’s beach and lagoon.

How to go snorkeling in Lagon de Saint-Leu?

The beach is central to Saint-Leu town and close to its small marina. You can park along the street fringed with casuarina that follows the shore. Local buses also stop at the beach (“Saint-Leu Plage” stop).

Saint Leu lagoon snorkeling map, Reunion Island

Entering the water to snorkel Lagon de Saint-Leu

You can get into the water wherever you want from the beach, depending on the area you want to explore. Do not go further than the two lifeguard stations (risk of being drifted outside the lagoon by the current) and do not enter the wilderness area, marked with yellow beacons (see map).

Exploring the Lagon de Saint-Leu snorkeling spot

As often when snorkeling Reunion Island lagoons, you will explore the area located between the beach and the reef (easy to spot from the line of breaking waves it generates). Here the distance between beach and reef does not exceed 150 meters and the water depth remains under 8ft/2.5 meters.

Coral reef in Saint-Leu
Pretty healthy branching coral can be seen in the most preserved areas of the lagoon (photo taken in area 1)

North to the wilderness area (zone 1), you’ll find many corals scattered in the lagoon, attracting lagoon triggerfish, butterflyfish, and surgeonfish. Look for small moray eels and juvenile lionfish hiding in the crevices and underneath tabular corals.

You might also spot various sized giant clams rooted in coral: look for them especially on the upper part of the biggest coral formations. Moving closer to the reef, you will love observing the arc-eye hawkfish waiting for prey on top of their lair. Depending on your luck, you might spot dozens of other species there.

Doubleband surgeonfish
With its two black bands right behind the eyes, the doubleband surgeonfish is quite easy to identify (spotted in zone 2).

To the south of the integral reserve (zone 2 on the map), you’ll snorkel in shallower areas, again punctuated by corals in more or less good condition. Whitespotted boxfish, surgeonfish, and clown coris are some of the most common species in this area. You may also spot a snowflake moray eel busy hunting on the reef flat.

Snowflake moray eel at Lagon de Saint-Leu, Réunion Island
Snowflake moray eels are common at Reunion Island’s reefs, including in Saint-Leu (spotted in zone 1).

On both sides of the lagoon, do not pass the lifeguards. The currents are strong there and could lead you towards the open sea. This spot, although located in the lagoon, is a little more exposed to waves than those at Hermitage or La Saline, for example.

Vagabond butterflyfish in Saint-Leu
The vagabond butterflyfish is one of the many butterflyfish species commonly spotted in Saint-Leu (noted in zone 1).

Where to stay and east near Lagon de Saint-Leu?

You will find a wide range of eating options around the beach, from classic food trucks to higher-end restaurants. Several accommodation options are also to be found nearby.


  • Level required Intermediate
  • Protected areaRéserve Naturelle Marine de la Réunion
  • Maximum depth8ft/2.5m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential DangersFire coral, lionfish, scorpionfish. Currents and waves when approaching the river mouth.
  • LifeguardYes
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes
  • Public toilets & showersYes

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.