Reunion Island beaches are a hidden paradise waiting to be discovered. The island, which is part of France, sits in the Indian Ocean some 550 kilometers (340 miles) to the east of Madagascar.
Reunion Island is a place brimming with natural treasures, from mountains to volcanoes, beautiful turquoise water beaches/lagoons and rare wildlife species.
You can explore Reunion Island nature in many ways. You can go hiking in the Cirques or scuba diving to see beautiful reefs and fish of every color. The island waters attracts whales and dolphins so you are in for a treat!
There are also lots of places you can go to simply enjoy the stunning scenery. The quickest way to explore the island is by renting a car. Drive around the island to experience some amazing views, check out Cirque de Cilaos and Route du Volcan.
My best way to explore Reunion Island is by visiting all the beaches! But before we explore them all, we need to address a very important issue – sharks!
Reunion Island Sharks
Reunion Island is often dubbed the ‘shark attack capital of the world’. Since 2011, the island has suffered 30 shark attacks, killing 11 people. This number is not as high as the figures for Australia or South Africa but is very grave relative to the size of the population, number of visitors, and the coastline in comparison to these two countries.
In fact, the problem is so bad that in 2013, authorities banned swimming or engaging in watersports within a 300m perimeter of the island.
Luckily, however, there are special swimming areas deemed safe from sharks and with lifeguards on duty. I have noted the safe to swim beaches here too! Let’s dive in!
10 Amazing Reunion Island Beaches To Visit
For all you beach bums, surfers, or swimmers out there, here is a list of the best beaches in Reunion Island:
1# Plage de L’Hermitage
Located on the western side of the island near L’ermitage-Les-Bains, which is where the beach got its name from. Apparently, it’s French for “place of seclusion”. Cool, huh?
This is one of the most popular beaches in the island due to the shallow water formed by the lagoon. The lagoon forms more than 500m of warm, shallow, and calm water no deeper than 1–2 meters. I wouldn’t worry about sharks in this beach as the turquoise water of the lagoon here is shallow and protected by a coral barrier.
Hermitage is also one of the most picturesque beaches in Reunion Island and an ideal place for beach walks, jogs, winding down with a good book, or just watching the beautiful sunset.
If you’re looking for more adventure and thrill, you can also venture across the coral reefs to catch waves or dive and explore the rich and colorful marine life.
To me, Plage de L’Hermitage is one of the most unique beaches on the island. It has the longest coastline of more than 7km and is the most visited and popular destination for snorkelling.
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2# Plage de la Saline-les-Bains
A little further south from the more noisy and lively L’Hermitage lies La Saline-les-bains beach. This beach, too, is lined with pine trees and protected by coral reefs.
Like Hermitage, this beach is one of the best beaches in Reunion island for swimming. It is popular with families due to its tranquility, shallow waters, smooth white sand, and relative safety from sharks and currents.
La Saline-les-bains is also popular for snorkeling and exploring seabeds alive with damselfish, clownfish, and other colorful fish.
There is a special area for children, dotted with fun activities like inflatable slides, trampolines, and a volleyball net.
Word of caution: La Saline-les-bains does not have enough trees to provide shade for everyone. You’re better off bringing sunscreen, a hat, and an umbrella.
Alternatively, you can also buy food and drinks from the many cafes and diners across the beach. These will provide you with sun loungers and umbrellas in exchange for orders.
I especially appreciate the lifeguards’ presence here, which adds to the safe and tranquil feel of this beach.
3# Plage du Trou d’Eau
Trou d’eau is another white sand beach on the western coast of the island. It is picture perfect with its exotic palm trees and snow white sand.
Trou d’eau is considered the most beautiful beach on the island. It is the kind of beach you see on Windows screensavers or the cover of a tropical destination brochure.
This beach is perfect if you’re looking for a nice, safe spot to swim. It is deeper than anywhere else in the lagoon but still protected from sharks by the coral reefs.
Many swimming races take place here. Alternatively, you can relax or engage in watersports and activities like kayaking, standup paddleboarding (SUP) or transparent canoeing.
Like all other beaches on the west coast, the sunsets here are to die for.
There is a free parking lot, but it’s relatively small and doesn’t fit too many cars.
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4# Plage de Saint Leu
This is one of the most popular beaches in Saint Leu, and it gets crowded over the weekends as it is very close to the center.
Swimming is safe here within the designated area between the marina and a coral reef which partly closes the bay. Do not go further than the two lifeguard stations as there is a risk of being pulled by the current. Likewise, stay away from the wilderness area marked by yellow beacons.
The waters are bursting with life, with a beautiful coral garden sheltering so many beautiful and colorful kinds of fish. Many people come here to snorkel and explore the marine life by the lagoon.
Here, the corals attract species like triggerfish, butterflyfish, and surgeonfish. You can also find small moray eels and juvenile lionfish hiding in the crevices and underneath tabular corals. (Snorkelling report, Lagon de Saint-Leu)
If you’re lucky, you will also spot giant clams or arc-eye hawkfish.
Saint-Leu is full of screw pine trees, making it one of my favorite spots to sit back and relax in the shade. It is also an ideal spot for paragliding, swimming, or picnics.
5# Plage de l’Etang Sale
L’etang Sale is a black sand beach tucked away from the comforts of the lagoon. Framed by palm trees and set on the southwestern part of the island, the beach is a local favourite for watching the sunset.
I also recommend bringing your beach throw or chair and just watching local fishermen arrive with their day’s catch. You’ll also see a lot of surfers, windsurfers, and kitesurfers taking on the waves.
Sharks are commonly found around here, so note the warnings of the locals.
For a break from the water, you can walk towards the northern part of the beach. There you’ll find the commercial center with camping grounds and hotels. You’ll also find many restaurants serving fresh seafood and dishes bursting with a mix of French and Creole flavors.
For family-friendly activities, you can also visit the AkOatys waterpark or Croc Park, a wildlife reserve and amusement park.
Rumor has it that UFOs paid this beach a visit in 2019.
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6# Plage de Saint-Pierre
This is one of the quieter and less crowded beaches in Reunion Island. Named after the city where it lies, the beach has beautiful, fine golden sand lined with casuarina trees.
Since it is protected by a coral reef, you can safely swim here. Make sure you get your mask and snorkels.
Saint Pierre is also kid-friendly with lifeguard stations, toilets, and showers. Popular with locals and visitors alike, the beach is a close walk from the marina and pedestrian-friendly embankments.
If you, like me, are a lover of art and history, you’ll also enjoy a stroll in the town to admire French, Creole, and Tamil architecture treasures.
7# Plage de Boucan Canot
Located on the west side of the island in the municipality of Saint-Paul, Boucan Canot is another breathtaking white sand beach in Reunion island.
This is the closest swimming area from the capital. The absence of a coral reef makes the water deeper than that of the lagoon in Hermitage and La Saline Les Bains.
Boucan Canot has a pedestrian walkway alive with restaurants, cafes, and bars where you can sip on your favorite drink while absorbing the magic of the Indian Ocean.
The bottom is full of rocks and corals, which attract many fish waiting to be explored! Boucan Canot is another nice place for snorkelling and surfing.
My favorite part in Boucan Canot are the anti-shark nets, which keep both the sharks and my anxiety in check, haha.
This beach is also a great option for those of you travelling with the little ones. The right side has a natural swimming pool surrounded by volcanic rocks. This pool is also perfectly located in front of the lifeguard station.
8# Plage de Roches Noires
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Roches Noires is the iconic beach of Saint-Gilles – Reunion Island’s main beach resort.
It is not part of the lagoon and therefore has deeper water. The fine white sand here attracts many sunbathers and those looking to sit back and relax.
This beach suffered severe damage after a tropical cyclone hit in 2007. It is, however, a favorite for locals, specifically surfers. Many young surfers spend their school breaks or evenings catching waves here.
Like Boucan Canot, Plage des Roches Noires also has nets to keep the sharks away. As such, the beach is safe for swimming and watersports. However, I must warn you of stepping on rocks or sea urchins.
This beach is also a hotspot for snorkelling. Although small, it is abundant with fish like triggerfish, butterflyfish, surgeonfish, and sole.
This beach is also supervised by lifeguards and has many restaurants, cafes, and nightclubs nearby.
Every year, locals gather in this beach for their annual Grand Boucan carnival.
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9# Plage des Brisants
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Bordering Hermitage beach on the western side of the island, Brisants is one of the longest beaches in Reunion island. It may not be the most picturesque, but it stretches a whole 2.5km 1.55343 Miles (which to me, is hard to beat!).
I would not recommend swimming here, especially in the northern side near the port of Saint-Gilles. The waves are too strong, and there are signs warning of sharks.
It is, however, famous among surfers, who call it the ‘breaking beach’. Outside the water, you can also play beach tennis or volley.
Locals really love hitting this beach, especially for sunset drinks or dinner at Sauvage bar and restaurant.
#10 Plage Grand Anse
Grand Anse is located towards the wilder southern end of the island. The white sand beach sits in a bay, lined with beautiful tall coconut trees and surrounded by basalt rocks, giving it a unique, exotic look.
This place is very popular among families in Reunion who love to come here to picnic and relax. The area also has children’s and sports playgrounds, a park with areas for barbecues, and even a bowling club!
There’s also a number of cafes around the area serving great food and beer.
Although it looks inviting from the outside, do not be tempted to get in the water. Due to the presence of sharks and strong currents, this beach is not suitable for swimming.
It is, however, ideal for water sports or just lounging about. If you’re looking to swim, there is a safe small sheltered natural pool nearby.
The nearest hills offer fantastic views of the beach and the surrounding area, including the islet of Petite-Ile.
Reunion Island Lagoons
Several lagoons follow one another on the western and south western coast of the island. These lagoons are shallow and teeming with over 1,000 species of beautiful, colorful fish.
This not only makes them perfect for snorkelling, but also safe for swimming since the lagoons protect from strong currents and (potentially) dangerous sharks.
Conclusion – Reunion Island Beaches
With an abundance of different beaches in Reunion Island, I am sure you will have a lovely time visiting them all.
I still cannot imagine how or why the island is not on everyone’s bucket list yet. Not that I’m complaining as this only makes it a more fascinating hidden gem, preserving its charm and natural habitats from the dangers of mass tourism.