island in the southern Indian Ocean

Île Saint-Paul is a small, volcanic outcrop in the deep Indian Ocean, located at approximately 38'42" and 77'32", about 85 km south-west of Île Amsterdam. It is notable for being a rare example of a "volcanic lagoon" - an almost totally submerged volcanic caldera, thereby allowing small landing craft to travel into the crater of the volcano.

Get in

The landing area is within the flooded crater

You may not land here except as part of a French scientific team. There is no air service, and only a small hazardous landing area within the flooded crater. The support ship Marion Dufresne sails four times a year from Réunion via Crozet Islands and Kerguelen towards Île Saint-Paul, but only calls here if there is a specific need. Often it sails on by to Île Amsterdam before returning to Réunion.

Vessels such as cruise boats may anchor to the east. Small craft should approach under motor as the winds inshore are too violent and turbulent for sail. The entrance over the lip of the crater is only a few metres deep.



The French Government lays claim to the island and there is a cabin on the shores of the lagoon which is occasionally visited by their weather scientists from Ile Amsterdam. This is infrequent, and in the event you end up stuck on the island you should not count on seeing anyone for quite some time.

See and do


For such a lonely place, Saint-Paul has acquired a surprisingly eventful history. The HMS Megaera was wrecked at Saint-Paul (more accurately, its crew gave up in disgust at the poor quality hull of the ship and scuttled it in the lagoon). An ill-fated lobster cannery was started on the island and then abandoned. Its employees were stuck on the island and all but two of them starved before they could be rescued. The ruins of the old stone cottages are still there.

You can see evidence of this human activity as well as the rock with the original French inscription laying claim to the island on the shores of the lagoon.

There are always seals and seabirds about. Penguins can also be found.

If you are in need of emergency supplies, you are far better off going to Ile Amsterdam and throwing yourself at the mercy of the French weather scientists. You won't find anything here.

There is little vegetation on the island except for grass. You could try fishing but results may vary.



There is no permanent water on the island.



This is an uninhabited island.

Stay safe


Strong westerly winds predominate. Like all destinations in the deep Indian Ocean, only accomplished sailors should apply.



You may wish to consider obtaining permission from the French government before landing, although it's doubtful that they'd grant it. There is a company that offers cruises past the island on their way to Heard Island, although the French apparently don't allow them to land: Heritage Expeditions[dead link]

As with visiting any isolated island, you should take a great care to avoid inadvertently introducing any noxious vegetation. Do not take any foodstuffs ashore that may contain seeds, and make sure you carefully brush your clothes to remove any seeds that may have collected there.

Go next


Île Amsterdam is the next usual port-of-call on the way north back to Réunion.

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