Reunion Island Travel Guide

Introduction

Reunion Island is an island with exquisite mountains, spectacular canyons, tidal lagoons, port, and vibrant towns and villages. It is surprising that many tourists worldwide are not aware of this island. The island is amongst the most interesting locations on earth in the heart of the Indian Ocean. This is a place you should visit!



Where is Reunion Island?

Reunion Island is located off the African coast, close to Madagascar. It is a French Colony, indicating it is under French control. The euro is the currency and French is the official language. This means it is easy to travel straight from Paris to Reunion Island and easily get a travel visa. This island is amongst the most interesting locations on earth. It is situated  in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Weather and Climate of Reunion Island

Reunion Island has a warm climate, but mild temperatures are determined by topography. Between May to November the atmosphere is cool and dry but from November to April hot and rainy. The rates of rainfall in the island differ considerably, with wetter east than west. Many areas of the east receive more than 600 mm of rain a year, and the west shore falls below 50 mm a year. The world record for most rainfall was recorded in  Reunion Island with cycles of 12, 24, 72 and 96 hours.

5 Interesting Facts About Reunion Island

The Beautiful Coral Reefs

Reunion Island offers a variety of beautiful beaches, some of which can best be found on the waterside of the villages of Saint-Gilles and L’Ermitage-Les-Bains. These beaches are shielded by coral reefs from high currents. L’Hermitage, surrounded by trees, is one of the beautiful white sand beaches on the island to provide a saving shade. St. Paul and St. Leu are beautiful lagoons.

The beaches are a great attraction, but the coral reefs of the Island are incredibly attractive. The freshwater lakes on the island, the rivers while the coral reefs are home to a wealth of aquatic life. Between May and September whales are normally utilized on the beaches.

Varieties of Wildlife

Reunion Island is home to a diverse of birds including the tropical white-tailed pigeon (paille en queue in French). The panther chameleon, Furcifer pardalis is the largest terrestrial mammal. Much of the west coast is ringed with coral reef, which harbors sea urchins, conger eels, parrot fish, and other species. The coastal areas are populated by sea turtles and dolphins. 

Throughout the winter of the tropics (June – September) humpback whales travel north to the island from the Antarctic waters yearly for breeding and feeding, and can be regularly seen from the shores of reunion island throughout the season. Since human inhabitation, at least 19 species which were once native to Réunion have become extinct. 

Around 2010 and 2017, however, 23 shark incidents took place in the reunion island waters, nine of them were severe. So be careful though the OMAR (Observatoire Marin de la Réunion) and Globice (Groupe locale d’observation et d’identification des cétacés) have influenced watching rules.



Bourbon roses Origin

On this island in 1817, emerged the first members of the Bourbon group of garden roses (then called Île Bourbon, hence the name “Bourbon”) from a random hybridization between Damask roses and Rosa chinensis brought there by the colonists. 



Active Volcanoes

Piton de la Fournaise of 530,000 years old is one of earth’s most active and productive volcanoes, a traditional basaltic shield volcano, on Réunion Island. The lava fountains continue with a periodic but short-lived eruption.

On the other side of the Island from Piton de la Fournaise, the continuous volcanic eruptions have descended to the oceans to create black sandy beaches. The Etang-Salé is an example of this kind of beach. The sight is soothing enough to inspire poetry.

The Amazing Beaches

The Island features several exclusive tropical beaches. These are also filled with grills, restaurants, and car parks. 

Beach of Boucan Canot

Boucan Canot’s beaches are lined by a string of restaurants that cater specifically for visitors. It stretches from Saint-Paul ‘s city center to Saint-Gilles-les Bains. It’s a precious beach spot for swimmers too.

La Plage des Brisants

La Plage des Brisants is a popular surfing location with many relaxing and recreational events. A cinema is also held every November at La Plage des Brisants. Movies are displayed on a big projector for the audience.

Hermitage Beach

Hermitage Beach is Réunion Island’s largest extensive and finest-preserved nature reserve and a renowned scuba diving location. It is a sandy beach lined with casuarina palms, where the natives also arrange picnics.

Le Vieux Port

Le Vieux Port in Saint Philippe is a green sandy beach just created in 2007 by the lava flow, rendering it one of the newest beaches on Earth.

Roches-Noires Beach

Roches-Noires Beach is a clear sandy beach located a few minutes from Saint-Gilles town centre.  It is well-known as a surf location. Each year the town’s citizens burn Le Roi Dodo, the community festival clown named Le Grand Boucan.

L’Etang-Salé

On the west coast is a rare beach called L’Étang-Salé, because it is coated in black sand composed of small volcanic rock fragments. This happens when lava comes in contact with water, it easily cools and disintegrates the sand then scatters debris of varying sizes. Most of the sediment is tiny enough to be qualified as sand.

Grand Anse

Grand Anse is a tropical white sand beach in the south of the Reunion Island, covered with palm trees, with a rock pool designed for swimmers, a pétanque arcade and a picnic spot. 



Plage de la Salines

Away from the crowds, the Plage de la Salines, just south of the Plage de l’Hermitage is a huge feat of pepper and salt beach.   There is a lot of sand on the beach,finding a spot is not a problem to gaze upon the south of Saint-Leu. There are few simple swimming spots so scuba diving is perfect here. Unfortunately, the coral is blanched, but tropical fish are present. If you want to blend in, Planch’Alize or Copacabana is recommended to get  beverages on the beach. Le Choka Bleu is also a popular destination on the southern tip of the beach.



People and Culture of Reunion Island

Reunion Island ethnic groups include people of African , Indian, European, Malagasy and Chinese ancestry. For these, the local names are Yabs, Cafres, Malbars, and Chinois. Many of the ethnic groups that make up the island are multicultural communities all of which have come over the years from Europe , Asia and Africa. The island has no indigenous peoples, since it was initially abandoned. Significant relocation to Madagascar and France  was triggered by the small amount of land. In areas that would usually be deemed to be rocky to sustain a large population, the population is high. The capital and largest metropolitan area in the island, Saint-Denis, occupies nearly one-fifth of the total population. Réunion French Creole is the lingua franca of the island and some speak Tamil, while French is the official language. Roman Catholics are about four-fifths of the population. 

There are two types of music which originated in Réunion:

Sega, originating in ancient times and also cultural in Mauritius, and Maloya, originating in the nineteenth century and observed only in the Island. Moringue is comparable to aikido, a famous choreography dance. There’s many renowned reunion island athletes and women, such as handballer Jackson Richardson, and karateka Lucie Ignace.

Fun Things To Do in Reunion Island

Hike at the Mafete Circus

The Island has nearly 1,000 km of hiking paths, with an impressive range of terrain for an island. Circles, plains and volcanoes have been listed as a nature reserve of French nationality. Perhaps the best hiking locations are at the Mafate circus and the volcano (Piton de la Fournaise). There are no roads and about 800 occupants in the outstanding Mafate cirque.

Experience the astonishing view through Paragliding

Paragliding is a popular Reunion Island sport, with a lot of paragliding enterprises. For example, Air Lagon Parapente offers classes for rookies, skilled paragliders and a series of excursions. You are with a trainer during paragliding who takes care of the navigation so you can sit and enjoy the adventure. Most wheelchair users are not officially accessible but can engage in this activity with a little support.

Explore the Kelonia Turtle Sanctuary

The turtle reserve and viewing center is near the village of Saint-Leu. By 1994, it was turned into a reserve and now it is dedicated to saving these turtles. This was once a turtle farm. You can choose a tour guide or consider the designated route at your own pace. You can see broad swimming pools of turtles, fish and corals in the sanctuary, and communicate with two tame giant turtles in the exterior. The shrine is open, and the signposted path is smooth.

Wander through the Jardín De l’État Garden

Set near the city center of Saint-Denis, this ancient botanical garden houses a museum of natural history. In 1773 the garden was completed and the museum opened in 1855, which includes almost 50 tree species. The garden is readily available by a beautiful lake with waterfalls and water lines although there are few barriers and flat paths. It is a fantastic spot to rest, take a snack.

Explore the Piton de la Fournaise to feel like You’re on Mars

A visit to one of the most active volcanic eruptions in the world, Piton de la Fournaise, is important. This is probably Reunion Island's most famous day trip. The landscape along this path is spectacular in sight and the road leads to Plaine des Sables. A region that looks like Mars, on the entrance of the volcano.

Use a Helicopter to Get an Eagle-eye View Tour of the Island

The wild interior of the island, with its deep canyons, caves and active volcanoes is the best scene on Réunion Island. You will follow several roads to explore some beautiful landscapes in the interior of the island. On the other hand, only by walking are some places accessible. For seniors and people who don't have enough strength to walk. The best solution is to reach the island by helicopter.

Visit bassin des Aigrettes for the Incredible Waterfall

The clear waters at the base of a magnificent waterfall from this stunning location will impress you. During your stay on the island, it is worth a visit.

Drive to Cilaos for a Soothing Spa Experience

The Réunion spa area is famous for relaxation. Hikers come to relax after a long walk, such as the rough elevation of Piton des neiges. With its spa providing health and beauty treatments. The thermal baths in Cilaos often provide alternative therapies, including turkish bath, sauna, physical relaxation and algae. The baths are particularly suitable to manage and control rheumatism, hydrotherapy services and digestive disorder. On your ride you can find beautiful scenery and possibly pause for pictures several times.

Getting in To Reunion Island

By Air

An alternative to the main airport in the North of the Island is Pierrefonds "International" Airport (ZSE) in the South of the Island, which receives flights from Mauritius operated by Air Mauritius and Air Austral. As Pierrefonds is a small airport, and seems to have a lot of staff, you can expect a thorough security interrogation and bag search on your way in and out of the country. It can be much cheaper to fly into ZSE airport.

By Boats

A number of passenger boats harbor on the island all through the year. Further information by tour operators should be sought. Madagascar and Mauritius can be reached by boat from Reunion. The Mauritius Pride and the Mauritius Trochetia provide two ferry services.

 

Getting Around

Reunion Island has more than just its due proportion of vehicles. At times routes may become jam-packed with vehicles, but all the tourists need to know is when and how to travel to overcome this. For every direction in several locations, the federal routes that round the island are double-laned. Usually the remaining roads are tarmaced, with a single lane.

Best Places to Stay in Reunion Island

The provision of accommodation that suits your needs has been made easy with booking.com. Here are few suggested accommodations for your stay in Reunion Island. 

Le Repos d’Or 

Villa Chemin Corbeille d’Or 

la maison des hôtes

Les 3 Soleils

Terre Rouge 

Holiday home Rue Raphael Babet

Villa TEC-TEC 

T4 – 140m2 – Résidence Georgette

VILLA IRENA

Villa Belza et Spa

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Piton de la Fournaise (the top of the furnace), locally known as “The volcano,” is the island’s most prominent feature. Piton de la Fournaise is one of the world’s most active volcanoes, more than 500,000 years old.

The iReunion Island  is part of Europe and secured. The Island is a protected part of Europe. However, you must use logical thinking: don’t wander alone in the dark, do not reveal you have a great deal of money or precious items in secluded locations. Do not swim unless a lifeguard exists.

The hot subtropical climate of the Island is maritime temperature and rarely falls to below 23 degrees Celsius. The dry season is between May and October at 20-25°C. November to March is wetter and with most rain and occurring cyclones. There is an almost temperate climate on the inner highlands. In the mountains it can be chilly and it is advisable to have warm dress at night if you visit during this period. 

You need to apply for a French consulate or embassy visa if your stay goes beyond 15 days. Please note that the island of Reunion is not a member of the Schengen region and that a visa is not valid for mainland France. A French embassy or consulate should be consulted.