I come from a small island in the Indian Ocean and I wish more people knew about it, its beauty and genuineness charms each and every traveller. So here I am, approximatively 9,643 kilometres away from home in the UK, typing these very words about how amazing Reunion Island is (and I’ll admit the opinion is somewhat biased but I promise I’ll make a fair description of it).
La Réunion is a French overseas territory located in the Indian Ocean, near Mauritius and Madagascar. It is often put aside by travellers who’d rather spend a luxurious holiday in the Maldives or discover the many cultures Mauritius has to offer. But Reunion Island is everything a traveller could ask for! From black and gold sand beaches that surround the island to one of the most active volcano in the world – Piton de la Fournaise, “Peak of the Furnace”, every natural asset is there! It offers an infinite number of contrasting landscapes.
As you’d expect, there are direct flight connections to Reunion Island from France (Paris, Lyon and Marseille and Toulouse from November 2017), but also from Johannesburg, Madagascar and Mauritius.
The island is 2,512 kilometres square and is 63 kilometres long and 45 kilometres wide. Volcanoes, beaches, calderas, hiking trails, coral reef, natural pools and waterfalls; if you’re looking for any holiday, from adventurous to family holiday, Réunion is the perfect destination for you!
There are two volcanoes on the island; the Piton des Neiges volcano, the highest point on the island at 3,070 metres above sea level, is an extinct volcano. The second, the Piton de la Fournaise is one of the most active volcano in the world and has erupted more than 150 times since 1640 (but no worries - eruptions don’t cause much devastation since the volcano erupts within a caldera which is uninhabited). It is located within Réunion National Park, a World Heritage site.
One of the best ways to enjoy the volcano is going on a hike early in the morning to reach the summit and admire the sunrise. It’s a famous hiking trail that starts at Pas de Bellecombe; it’s a good 6 hour hike with breaks, so put on your hiking shoes and cover up, it can be chilly at the top!
There are three calderas; Cirque de Salazie, Cirque de Cilaos et Cirque de Mafate (this last one only accessible by foot or helicopter) which are great to go hiking and take in the beauty of the natural landscape. You can go and spend a night in Cilaos for example, which offers a wide range of cosy and quaint boutique hotels. The road to go there is known as the “400 twists road”, so fasten your seatbelt and remember to take in the grandiose landscape passing before your eyes!
Reunion also has a coral reef which hosts a rich flora and fauna and you’ll be able to go whale-watching depending on the season. I have taken several boat tours and I’ve been lucky enough to spot whales and dolphins every time! Reunion Island is one of the best place to go whale-watching; the perfect period is the Southern winter season, from June to October, when humpback whales travel thousands of kilometres to give birth to their babies in the heat of the Indian Ocean. It’s always such an incredible and privileged experience to see them in their natural environment; this unique spectacle is a must-see!
Réunionese culture is a blend of European, African, Indian, Chinese and insular traditions. It is often referred to as a multi-cultural model; this diversity of origins, languages and cultural and religious practices of those who came on the island is the main feature of the Reunionese society, where 6 worlds come together: Indian Ocean islands (Madagascar, Comores), Southern Africa, France and Europe, India and China.
There are many activities to do here – canyoning, hiking, sun bathing, sightseeing, horse-riding on the beach, paragliding, surfing; you can’t get bored! One of my favourite activities is a 1 hour horse ride in L’Etang-Salé, which is located in-between ocean and mountain. You can enjoy a beautiful sunset ride or make the most of the day and go on a day excursion with a picnic in the forest.
The Saint Paul market is a must-see on the island; the town of Saint-Paul is the weekly setting for one of the island’s most beautiful markets. You can buy a wide range of vegetables, fruits, local handicrafts, sarongs and many Creole food specialties. I love to go there and buy a dozen ‘bouchons’, which are one of the best specialties of Reunion. They’re often compared with ‘dim sums’ but there’s no comparison really! You must try them for yourself!
One of the most famous beaches is Boucan Canot, where you can enjoy the sun and go snorkelling. There are many great small restaurants along the coast, and it’sis a great way to spend your Friday night, drinking a cocktail and watching the sunset in the lively restaurants and bars which often organize themed evenings.
So, either you want to relax with a fruit cocktail on the beach or go hiking in one of the lush calderas, come and see what Reunion Island has to offer!
If you’re looking for flights to Reunion Island or ideas for how to include this destination in your round the world ticket, our team can help! Call us today on +44 1273320580 or request a quote by email to start planning!