Here we are with the most controversial article in this series. As we have already told, in fact, Réunion is not a place renowned for its beaches, but for the naturalistic beauties of the hinterland. Although it has all the credentials to be a real tropical paradise, its coasts are not at the level of neighboring Mauritius and its waters are infested with sharks. If you have booked a beach holiday in Réunion before you have informed yourself, these are for sure not encouraging news…however, do not despair because not all is lost yet! In this article we will reveal what are the most beautiful beaches, as well as the most suitable for swimming safely.
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Ok, you are reading on, this means that you are determined not to miss the beach life in Réunion. Well, know that the most beautiful or bathing beaches are all on the west coast of the island. Unfortunately, Réunion holds a drammatic record of attacks by sharks which led local authorities to ban swimming in coastal stretches not protected by coral reefs or shark nets. In some cases the locals have built small protected lagoons on the shore, digging them into the rock (as at Boucan Canot) or creating natural pools with rocks (as at Grande Anse).
However, there is a beach where you don’t have to worry about sharks and where the sea is surprisingly crystal clear and calm…it is Plage de l’Ermitage.
Plage de l’Ermitage
We are talking about the stretch of sea that goes from Saint Gilles les Bains to La Saline les Bains, entirely protected by a coral reef, known as Plage de l’Ermitage, that further becomes Plage de la Saline. Here you will find 7 km of fine and clear sand, shaded by casuarina trees, ideal for picnics.
The beach is not equipped with bathhouses but is served by some street food stalls for a snack or lunch. The lagoon is perfect for swimming, with calm and shallow waters (1 or 2 meters maximum deep); it is also rich in coral formations and tropical fish and is ideal for snorkeling. If you wish, you can also rent canoes, kayaks and paddle boards directly on the beach to explore the lagoon.
On the windiest days, let yourself be mesmerized by the huge waves breaking along the outer perimeter of the coral reef.
If you arrive by car, you will find many car parking near the beach, while if your accomodation is in the said locations, you can reach the beach by feet. Incredible but true: the Ermitage has nothing to envy to the beaches of nearby Mauritius. Indeed, it remains even wilder. In some areas, the tongues of sand meet creating cerulean shades worthy of a real tropical paradise!
After discovering this place, the other beaches on the island became not so interesting to us. However, we took a look and we point them out for completeness.
A very popular beach in Réunion is Boucan Canot. Swimming here is not always safe due to strong currents and the possible presence of sharks.
There are a natural swimming pool dug into the rocks, that allows you to enjoy the sea even on the most risky days, and an anti-shark net, that protects the bathing area.
When the conditions allow it there is a passage in the middle of the coral formations, at the entrance of the beach, where you can practice snorkeling: a real protected access to the open ocean.
A pedestrian street full of hotels, shops, bars and restaurants faces the beach, here people gather to dine or have an aperitif with a sunset view; often planned events attract locals and tourists here.
There is a car parking near the beach, but it is not very large, so it is not always easy to find a place, especially at the weekend. Since the beach is not flat and not protected by the coral reef, and therefore subject to currents and waves almost to the shore, it is not the type of beach we recommend for swimming, perhaps it is more suitable for surfers. In any case, for your safety, we always recommend you to pay attention to the flags raised, because the bathing is often forbidden.
Another beach loved by the inhabitants of Réunion is Grande Anse, in the municipality of Petite-Île. It is located at the feet of the Piton de Grande Anse and is shaded by tall coconut palms; the sand is clear and fades into a beautiful large and well-kept lawn. The sea currents and the presence of sharks make it forbidden to swim, so a natural swimming pool with rocks has been created close to the shore.
Finally, if you are a lover of volcanic black sand beaches, we recommend the beach of Étang Salé, which is located between Saint-Leu and Saint-Pierre. The bathing is prohibited here as in most part of the island, but there is a small area protected by an anti-shark net where you can swim safely.
In this article we have given you good and bad news, first we told you that Réunion was not a suitable place to enjoy the sea, but immediately after we showed you the best places to do it safely, despite the dangers and restrictions to bathing. We trust that Plage de l’Ermitage will not make you miss the sea of Mauritius too much. If that’s the case, tell us in the comments.
See you soon