An attraction not to be missed is snorkeling in Mauritius! I snorkeled every single day of my school holidays in the lagoon. Today I'll like to share my years of experience with you. My best spots and how to safely explore our tropical sea life during your island holiday.
A beautiful 'Butterfly' fish
I have heard this question many times. You are going to be surprised by my answer. The best spots are easy to find once you know they depend on three factors:
The secret of snorkeling in Mauritius is out!
Let me elaborate:
Warmer weather usually attracts more fish. You might be surprised to hear we have a winter season from June to August. During these months the average sea temperature is 23°C compared to 28°C during summer.
We have south easterly trade winds visiting us from March to November so the sea is choppy in our lagoon off our East and South East Coast. Visibility is affected by windy conditions and sea breeze.
Bring a wet suit for snorkeling between May and September.
South easterly trade winds in Belle Mare
If you are planning to do a fair amount of snorkeling then rather stay on our wind free coast. Any West or North West facing coast will do. There the sea is like a lake in the lagoon most of the time. Hardly any waves.
It's where you'll find the best weather for snorkeling in Mauritius.
The more shallow the sea level, the better. Snorkel in lagoons which are too shallow for boat activities. You’ll be safe and won’t have to worry about swells, currents or a boat whizzing too close.
Perfect for snorkeling in the lagoon
Plus you’ll see lots more fish. They swim away very fast when they hear a boat approaching. I would do the same if I were a fish ...
Always check the tides. If it’s too low you might not be able to snorkel in certain spots.
Shallow lagoon at low tide
Ready? Sit on the beach at the water edge. Put on your snorkeling mask and flippers. Lie down in the sea, float above the algae and coral and gently move on. As simple as that!
Snorkeling from the beach
The earlier the better, before the start of water sport activities. Let's say until 10 am.
It would be unrealistic to list every lagoon for snorkeling in Mauritius. So here is an overview.
One of my favourite places is Pointe aux Piments next to the Balaclava Marine Park on the North West coast. There the lagoon is quiet and shallow and you can safely reach the coral reefs.
If you are staying in popular Grand Bay it will take you about 10 minutes to drive there. You can also catch a bus that travels the coastal road.
During summer I did a lot of snorkeling at Poste Lafayette on the East coast where the lagoon is shallow and narrow.
Poste Lafayette lagoon on the East coast in summer
Most of our coral reefs are about a meter from sea level. Fish love them and so will you!
You will find plenty of boats and skippers you can hire for the morning or the day. I have listed some popular spots below.
Glass bottom boats at Blue Bay Marine Park
If you decide to take the boat and skipper route you can always negotiate a price.
You can also sail a little further away in the vast Indian Ocean beyond our coral reefs to our small islands (which I highly recommend). Not only for the snorkeling but also the beautiful scenery. Some cruises supply snorkeling equipment free of charge, others will rent them. I prefer to use my own.
From Grand Bay sail to Flat Island, Coin de Mire or Gabriel Island for a day of pure bliss.
Our islands off the North coast
1. Whatever you do please never snorkel on your own.
2. Ask the locals about boat activities and the depth of the lagoon in your area. Chances are there will be a great spot around the corner from your seaside accommodation.
3. Do not snorkel in the middle of a lagoon. How will a speedboat’s skipper see you in the sea?
Don't snorkel far away
4. From time to time lift your head out of the water and look where you are. Even with a very mild current you will have drifted some distance.
5. If you find yourself in a strong current never swim against it. Swim diagonally through it.
6. Don’t go into the sea where you see boards with: “Dangerous Bathing or Bain Dangereux”.
They have been erected by the Mauritius Beach Authority and are there for a reason.
Remember these basic precautions when snorkeling in Mauritius.
Arial view of our lagoon
Are you concerned about ‘dangerous’ sea creatures on the seabed? Read my tips on ‘swimming in Mauritius’. The information applies to snorkeling as well.
Sea urchins, stone fish and other sea animals are taken care of. You’ll realize there is no need to wear ‘water shoes or protective gloves’.
I have never seen a Mauritian wearing water shoes whilst swimming or snorkeling.
The 'Sea Cucumber' is harmless although it looks a little dangerous. If you step on it the worst thing that will happen is a squirt of sticky liquid. Who wants to be trampled?
'Lion Fish' have their favourite spot. When I was a kid I used to visit them in the lagoon. I knew exactly where to find them. I have not seen a Lion fish in the lagoon for quite a while but if you come across these majestic creatures don't invade their space and don't touch them. They have poisonous spikes on their back. Rather stay at a respectful distance and spend some time admiring them.
A 'Sea Cucumber'
The majestic 'Lion Fish'
Some of our coral is not in good condition in the lagoon. Climate change, human and boat activities and constructions have contributed to their deterioration.
Eco systems are vulnerable and fragile. At times, we contribute to the destruction of our environment through ignorance. So please be respectful of our coral reef and sea life.
I can see your raised eyebrows …
When fish are used to being fed bits and pieces of bread by humans, they associate humans with food. Their behaviour becomes conditioned. The result?
Their natural feeding cycles are disturbed, their diet will lack essential amino acids. They will become weak and ill. An easy target for predators.
These fish are being fed
The normal diet for fish living in a tropical lagoon is the algae which grows on coral. Now that they anticipate and eat food given by humans they stop their normal diet. The reefs become smothered by overgrown algae and eventually die. A vicious cycle.
If you are given food to feed fish please don’t accept. I have seen people throwing bread into the sea to attract fish and please tourists. If they only knew how harmful this practice is to the fish and coral they would stop.
I have done my best to share my snorkeling knowledge with you. At the end of the day there is a fair element of luck involved whether you are snorkeling in Mauritius or elsewhere.
I would compare snorkeling to a game drive. Sometimes you see lots of animals and sometimes you don’t.
You are going to travel far away to visit us for your holiday please make time to explore the colourful sea life and coral reefs around Mauritius. A delight not to be missed!
I wish you many hours of delightful snorkeling in Mauritius.