Home to some of the world’s finest coral reefs and vividly colourful marine life, scuba diving in Mauritius is among the highlight attractions of the island. This popular activity showcases spectacular underwater scenery, teeming with Mother Nature’s most fascinating of creations.
Nothing quite gets the blood pumping like witnessing an innocent school of fish passing and then unexpectedly coming face to face with a majestic beast of the ocean. What makes this even more thrilling is that the water offers excellent visibility.
An enticing aspect for new and veteran divers alike, is that diving sites in Mauritius are secure and divers are spoiled for choice in the variety of sites available. With over 100 dive sites there is plenty of choice from beginner to advanced levels, ranging in depth from 7metres to over 45 metres and covering reefs, walls and wrecks.
The majority of major hotels and beach resorts offer licences diving instruction with daily scheduled trips out to sea. In addition there are several independent dive centres found along the East and North coasts. The Mauritius Scuba Diving Association regulates the island’s dive centres, which must all be run by qualified, experienced dive masters, who have been trained to International standards.
Mauritius regulations require that visitors dive accompanied by an instructor and are escorted by a boat. All centres are managed by CMAS or PADI international diving instructors who can give courses from beginners up to experts and additionally organise snorkelling excursions.
Although favourable diving experiences can be had almost year round, summer is said to be the best period for diving because the warm water attracts a wealth of exotic fish and marine life. There are approximately 27 dive centres located around the island. General consensus among divers that while diving is good for most of the year, from June to October the southeast tradewinds make for rough seas in certain areas and therefore make for more difficult dives. December through March is considered to be the best time for diving as the waters are clearest.
For divers who have limited time and not much access to remote parts of the island, we would recommend you to dive on one of the artificial reefs, which have been created by the Marine Conservation Society at various parts of the island. Many of the wrecks around Mauritius are deliberately sunk artificial reefs. Do not let this put you off as even though these vessels did not sink from ‘natural and/or historical’ causes & events, does not make them less fun, interesting and impressive to dive.
TIP: While most operators do provide equipment, avid divers would do well to take their personal dive gear along, not only from a cost perspective but also familiarity with your own equipment.
NOTE: Remember this is a small selection of dive sites in each area. As time goes by, names have been changed, and local divers have their own unique names for these sites. It’s not uncommon to arrive at a site, and find each local knows it by another name.
Most popular Dive Sites
From Pointe aux Canonniers stretching over to Grand Gaube in the East. Including the off-shore islands: Coin de Mire, Flat Island, Gabriel Island, Round Island and Serpent Island.
(26 to 38 metres) This site is so wide that it has been divided into two distinct areas according to depth and dive level so that any diver can explore the abundance of its fauna. Up to 20 metres you generally find angelfish, butterflyfish, triggerfish, small moray eels, parrotfish, wrasses and clownfish. In the 38- metre area you might well meet leopard moray eels showing off their up to two-metre long bodies, big pufferfish, groupers and occasionally, a small shark. In summer, big species such as sailfish and hammerheads make their appearance.
Coin de Mire
(10 to 20 metres) Rock walls in certain area around Coin de Mire island drop around 100 metres. The sites around the island are suitable only for experienced divers because of the tides and currents. Average depth is between 10 and 20 metres and the dives are usually drift dives. Barracuda, dogtooth tunny, large parrotfish, wahoo and white-tipped shark are relatively common and there are lots of oyster clams, cowries and hermit crabs.
(15 to 25 metres) Due to rough seas and strong currents, this site is generally only dived in summer and by highly experience divers. The biggest attraction in the area is probably Flat Islands 25m deep dive called ‘Shark pit’ shark dive, so named for its large concentration of sharks. The shark pit has been hollowed out of the wall of a huge rock called pigeon rock. Originally a cave, the roof at some time collapsed to leave the open pit now visible. This pit has become sanctuary for sharks.
This dive is considered as a drift dive as there is almost always a slight tidal current. Divers will encounter white and back tip reef sharks ranging from 1to 1.5 meters in length as well as Grey reef sharks and silvertip reef sharks swimming in a circular pattern in the open pit. The entrance to the pit itself is found at 10m and descends to 14m inside. Outside the pit the depth ranges from 16 down to 22m where you can see a wide variety of fish such as Tuna, big King fish, schools of Mackerel and many others.
The Silver Star Wreck
(22 to 39 metres) This is a favourite in the area. The wreck of an old fishing boat which sank in the early 1990’s. The wreck sits upright – partially on the reef and partially on the sandy bottom and visibility is approximately 20 to 30 metres. It is a haven for a wide variety of marine life including barracuda, scorpion fish and angel fish. The interior of the wreck can be accessed safely allowing you to explore this relic of the past. Truly a fantastic experience to dive on this wreck.
(26 to 34 metres) Djabeda wreck is a Japanese fishing boat lying upright on a sandy bottom at 34 metres. Just off Gunner’s coin island, the wreck has been damaged slightly over the years and debris can be seen strewn across the sandy floor. The vessel is approximately 35 m long, 10m high and 5 m wide. The site is full of king fish, moray eels, trigger fish, stone fish, lion fish, parrot fish, leaf fish and sea slugs. Sometimes the wreck is visited by sharks, barracuda, sting rays and dolphins.
(10 – 35 metres): On the left of Gunners’ Coin Island in the north of Mauritius, you will come across a magnificent wall covered in gorgonians, with beautiful casts rising up to the surface, sheltering a reef fauna where big parrotfish can be spotted during each dive. If you are lucky, you might spot one of the big predators which sometimes stop by. Drop off, Jabeda Wreck, up to 30 metres, usually very clear visibility and opportunity to see turtles, large rays, tunas; garupas, snappers and schools of small barracudas together with a usual display of all islands coral species. This dive can be difficult in the presence of strong current.
(10 to 15 metres) This site has good visibility (20-50 metres) and has a slight current before new and full moon. The area is teeming with a variety of marine life making. It a great night dive site with most operators working in this area.
Coral Gardens & Lost City
(Coral Gardens 18 to 21 metres) & (Lost City 18 to 35 metres). Majestic rock structures, gorgonian fan coral, soft coral and an abundance fish life including larger fish and a giant moray eel.
The spectacular attraction on this site is the two big Titan trigger fish who will follow you on the whole dive and even allow you to touch them
Grand Bay and Péreybère offer about 6 diving sites along the coast ranging in depth from 11metres to 18 metres. You can see a large variety of colourful fish and corals of all sorts in the clear water. The sites are named: Grand Bay Aquarium, Coral Head, Island Reef, Péreybère Aquarium and Merville Patche.
NORTH WEST COAST
Starting at Pointe aux Piments to Pointe aux Canonniers in the north. This site is dived all year round because of the excellent diving conditions that prevail in the area. Water temperatures range from 19-30 degrees Celsius. In this area Japanese Dragon, a small elusive, yet beautiful and rare species has been spotted on occasion.
North West. (26 metres) Many of the wrecks around Mauritius are deliberately sunk artificial reefs. The Stella Maru was sunk in December 1987 and lies upright on a sand bottom, next to a rocky reef. The wreck is in great shape and there is remarkably little sea growth on the vessel apart from algae, small soft corals and other marine organisms such as anemones and sea urchins.
The real attraction lies in the spectacular sight of the ship lying virtually intact on the ocean floor – few can deny the sense of drama felt when seeing a wreck looming ahead as you descend into the depths! Angler fish and large stonefish are relatively common on the wreck and a large green moray has made its home here.
Waterlilly & Emily
North West. (26 metres) Two barges, Water Lily and Emily, lie about 30 metres apart. These two barges were scuttled to create an artificial reef. A wide variety of fish life can be seen on and around both vessels – in particular a number of Raggy and Tasselled scorpion fish lurk about and a number of eels have made their homes in different corners of the wrecks.
A quirky and rather friendly moray has made its home in the tyres lying in the sand – this dandy fellow likes to be stroked under the chin (Note: Never attempt to touch the marine wildlife on your own – only under professional supervision). Due to the clear water conditions, this site is perfect for photography.
(26 – 30 metres) This dive site has many caves and tunnels and a large marine presence. Keep an eye out for batfish, pineapple fish, unicorn fish, barracuda and spotted eagle-rays. It is said that divers have encountered white-tip reef shark, hammerheads and the odd tiger shark. Giant reef rays of 2m, weighing 200kg have apparently also been seen in this area.
Holt’s Rocks (Boulders)
(18 to 21 metres) Holt’s Rock is made up of huge basalt rocks of volcanic origin surrounded by corals. The caves, cracks tunnels and crevices offer ideal spots for titan triggerfish, which come and greet you as soon as you dive in. Look out porcupine fish, giant moray eels and big eye emperor fish, parrotfish, angelfish, butterfly fish, lyretail, groupers, triggerfish, clownfish, schools of snappers, scorpion fish, stonefish and an abundance of crayfish.
The highlight of this dive site however, is when you meet the up with giant moray eels, which are up to 2 metres long and curious enough to come and beg for gentle strokes and attention. (Note: Never attempt to touch the marine wildlife on your own – only under professional supervision).
(22 to 30 metres) A spectacular site with two sunken anchors, one on the reef and the other on the sand. Lost Anchor comprises a small reef patch with a hole containing a 17th Century anchor, the origin of which remains a mystery to this day. The site has many hard and soft corals, and gorgonians including picturesque sea fans.
This are stretches from Black River to north of Flic and Flac. Most diving is just outside of the reef; drop-offs may be encountered as well as caves, caverns, archways and other interesting underwater scenery. This is a popular area for photographers and divers of all levels.
Diving is relatively good in this region as it has mild currents and good general visibility (from 20 to 30 metres). Night dives are recommended in this area as polyps open, Spanish dances flaunt their beauty in search of food and the corals take on a magnificent hue. Beware of strong currents at certain times. The most popular sites are: