Running along the centre of the biggest urban area in the south of the island, Saint-Pierre beach opens onto a lagoon that is sheltered from the turbulence of the Ocean. Although it does not have the reputation of the Hermitage lagoon, it is at a very similar level and makes an excellent spot for snorkeling. After less than two minutes in the water, you will be swimming among a wide range of fish and invertebrates in a spectacular coral setting.

How to get there?

The beach is on the Saint-Pierre sea front, just next to the marina. From Saint-Denis, head south and follow the signs to Saint-Paul for 50 miles (80km), then Saint-Pierre (expressway for the entire journey, around 1 hour). Once you arrive at Saint-Pierre, there are many places to park near the beach: next to the road along the sea front, in one of the car parks behind the beach or in the marina car park.

Lagon de Saint-Pierre Reunion Island snorkeling map

Once at the beach, find the marina dyke, to the left when you are facing the ocean, and enter the water nearby. Saint-Pierre train station, where the buses in the Car’Jaune and Alternéo networks arrive, is less than 5 minutes from the beach on foot.

Water entrance

You can enter the water anywhere along the beach, but you should choose the bathing area (shown by small buoys), which is cleared of the lagoon’s sea urchins every day. The 200 to 300 meters of beach stretching away to your right (as you are facing the ocean) from the marina dyke is probably the most interesting spot for snorkeling.

Coral reef at Saint-Pierre, Réunion Island

Exploration

The area to explore covers the inner part of the lagoon, from the beach to the barrier reef.

The first few metres from the beach are sandy (↕2-4ft/0.5-1m), with a few fish here and there, including Picasso triggerfish, which fiercely protect their nests during the reproduction period.

You need to go a little further to reach the coral areas (↕2-6ft/0,5-2m). You will never tire of swimming between the acropora beds, following one of the Moorish idols, pufferfish or raccoon butterflyfish you are likely to meet. Among the most colourful species in the lagoon, it is not unusual to come across the clown coris (a familiar sight in aquariums) or the spectacular Meyer’s butterflyfish. Have a good look at the coral beds: many giant clams, moray eels, octopus and coral shrimp lodge in the crevices.

Clown coris at Saint-Pierre, Réunion Island

The closer you get to the barrier reef, the denser the coral becomes, until it prevents you going any further. In any case, you should not try to, since the barrier reef and the depth of the water generally make it impossible.

The predominant coral in the lagoon is the branching acropora type. They are spectacular, but also very fragile, and can break at the slightest touch of a swimfin. Be careful as you move forwards, especially if you go through narrow or shallow passages.

Parrotfish at Saint-Pierre, Réunion Island

It is possible to explore the lagoon most of the time, since the waters are particularly well protected. In winter, the wind results in waves that may make your return more difficult. Saint-Pierre beach is lifeguarded during the day. Ask the lifeguards if you have any doubts about water conditions.

Restaurants and accommodation

Saint-Pierre is a particularly lively town, including in the evening. It has a wide range of accommodation and many places to eat. The Alizé Plage hotel gives direct access to the beach. There is a series of bar vans, restaurants and hotels along the sea front. Free showers are available to the rear of the beach, near the aid station.



Species you may spot while snorkeling Lagon de Saint-Pierre
COMMON NAME SCIENTIFIC NAME ABUNDANCE FISHBASE WIKIPEDIA
Chevron butterflyfish Chaetodon trifascialis  
Threadfin butterflyfish Chaetodon auriga  
Scrawled butterflyfish Chaetodon meyeri  
Raccoon butterflyfish Chaetodon lunula  
Indian Ocean teardrop butterflyfish Chaetodon interruptus  
Clown coris Coris aygula  
Bicolor cleaner wrasse Labroides bicolor  
Bluestreak cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus  
Green birdmouth wrasse Gomphosus caeruleus  
Spanish dancer Hexabranchus sanguineus  
Common lionfish Pterois miles  
Geometric moray Gymnothorax griseus  
Calamar de récif à grandes nageoires Sepioteuthis lessoniana  
Leopard blenny Exallias brevis  
Streamlined spinefoot Siganus argenteus  
Orange spotted filefish Oxymonacanthus longirostris  
Blackspotted puffer Arothron nigropunctatus  
Tripletail wrasse Cheilinus trilobatus  
Red Sea sailfin tang Zebrasoma desjardinii  
Lagoon triggerfish Rhinecanthus aculeatus  
Moon wrasse Thalassoma lunare  

 

  • Level required Beginner
  • Maximum depth8ft (2.5m)
  • Water entranceEasy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential DangersUsual precautions
  • LifeguardYes
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes, inexpensive
  • Public toilets & showersYes

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.