One of the main attractions of Mayotte lies in the vastness of its lagoon, the third largest lagoon in the world behind the Great Barrier Reef and the lagoon of New Caledonia. Mayotte, for this reason, collects other records: that of the deepest lagoon in the world and that of being one of the only lagoons to have a double barrier reef. This barrier coral, pride of the inhabitants of Mayotte, is 195 km long and contains 1 500 km2 of lagoon including 7.3 km2 of mangrove. In some places, the barrier is more than 4 km from the coast, so you will need a boat to fully admire this site. It is truly a marvel of nature! Let’s do a little tour in this exceptional landscape!
An extraordinary double reef barrier
The seahorse island is surrounded by a double barrier that is very rare to observe on our planet. This natural barrier protects almost all of the lagoon from ocean currents and ocean swells, with the exception of the 12 open ocean passes that offer many diving spots.
With more than 300 known species, corals contribute to the construction of these reefs. Of varied and spectacular forms, they sport a large variety of bright colors. Due to its geographical position in western Mozambique and northwestern Madagascar, Mayotte has a tidal range of about 4 meters, a rare and very important phenomenon for a tropical island. This specificity allows, during high tides, to admire the coral reefs which are found then completely discovered.
Sheltered by the fury of the Indian Ocean, the Mayotte lagoon is a haven of peace for a very diverse fauna and flora. A true natural aquarium, there are at least 300 different species of coral, 760 species of tropical fish, 2 types of sea turtles, hawksbill turtles and green turtles and 22 species of marine mammals, ¼ of the world’s diversity. A recent census of the “National Inventory of Natural Heritage” lists no less than 3,600 marine species. This part of the world serves as a refuge for large marine mammals including whales and dolphins, reptiles such as turtles and marine snakes and a myriad of other iconic species such as dugongs, manta rays, sharks, parrotfish humpback, the Napoleon fish and many others.
More than a hundred white, black or ocher beaches line the shores of the island. Thirty or so islets dot the lagoon. The islets of the south, such as the islet of white sand Mtsanga Tsoholé or the north as the iconic islands Choizil and Mtsamboro justify, alone, a stay in Mayotte and offer postcard images where the turquoise of the lagoon contrast with the white sand.
The mangrove, a unique ecosystem
Another lagoon curiosity: the mangrove, a real natural defense against the effects of pollution. It allows the survival of many marine species. The mangrove, consisting mainly of mangroves, is formed of the last primary forests of the island and covers more than 700 hectares.
Diving in the lagoon of Mayotte
With 1,100 km2 and many world-famous spots, it is not surprising that the Mahoran lagoon has become a diving paradise. Emblematic of the island, the S-shaped pass, so called because of its beautiful winding shape, is home to 13 dive spots! And on the surface, it is possible to see throughout the year, the ballet of dolphins and from July to October, the humpback whales come to give birth. Underwater, the variety of corals and marine species literally make you dizzy. Peruse the lagoon of Mayotte will undoubtedly be one of the unforgettable moments of your life. Diving in Mayotte is an experience of a lifetime !
The protection of species, a major environmental issue
Some of the emblematic species of the lagoon have seen their population decline in recent years and some are even threatened with extinction now. Mayotte follows a very strict regulation of species preservation while carrying out awareness campaigns. Favor the observations framed by a guide to be sure to know the right signs.
High Quality Whale-Watching
Cetacean sightings are one of the most popular activities for holidaymakers. The Marine Natural Park of Mayotte has created a high-quality certification: “High Quality Whale-Watching” for local operators eager to register their excursions in an eco-friendly approach. We recommend that you book your activities with operators holding this title.