Located in-between Madagascar and Mauritius, Reunion Island is a tiny dot in the immensity of the Indian Ocean. That’s quite far from Europe, but if you are looking for a complete change of scenery, Reunion Island remains one of the world’s most attractive island.
A melting-pot of traditions and culture
Reunion Island has a multi-coloured population of 843,617 people. This plurality is often found in the local culture. In the creole language, musically, or gastronomically, Reunionese are examples of how mixed a population can be. This perhaps explains how they naturally have that sense of hospitality and cheerful way of welcoming visitors.
Reunion Island is an oversea department of France located in the tropics. The mixture of influences from Africa, Asian countries and European values, Reunion Island has been aptly named! This can be seen everywhere on the island, but if you want an open-air museum of all this, head to Saint-Denis, the capital city of Reunion.
Fauna and Flora
The island offers a uniquely beautiful landscape, especially inlands, where you will have the opportunity to contemplate the astonishing greenery and the inimitable rocky peaks formed by volcanoes and later sculpted by nature.
There is nothing better than a good hike to fully enjoy what Reunion has to offer. Let yourself be surprised by the vantage points of the trails, appreciate the tranquillity of natural sites and live unforgettable moments.
At the heart of the island, gigantic collapses have formed three calderas that majestically open on the Indian Ocean. They are Mafate, Cilaos and Salazie and they are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Each one of the calderas offer amazing treks and trails crossing beautiful cascades, and gorges. Nature and trekkers will definitely want to try Mafate, the wildest of the 3 calderas.
The island is also home to the highest peak of the Indian Ocean, the origin of the creation of Reunion Island; Le Piton des Neiges. It dominates Reunion Island from the top of its 3070 metres of altitude. It is often marched from Cilaos with a stop at Refuge de la Caverne Dufour, the only mountain cabin located on its flank. At dawn, you will be able to watch magnificent sunrise colouring the three caldera: Mafate, Salazie and Cilaos. You will also have the chance to see Le Piton de La Fournaise volcano and the Indian Ocean.
Mafate and its lush greeneries is only accessible by foot, there are no roads to get there. The only other option is by helicopter, that’s how all necessities are transported to mafatais, yes there is a village of 700 people up there! So get ready to immerse in the lifestyle of the place: in connection with nature.
Enjoy the beaches of the west
The beauty of Reunion Island is its diversity. You could be enjoying the amazing views from the island’s highest peaks in the morning and enjoy a relaxing evening on one of its many golden-white sand. To feel the tropical heat, head to the western coast. The region has numerous beaches like La Saline, l’Ermitage and Boucan Canot, with very touristic settings.
With the Indian Ocean as surrounding, this part of the island is an endless source of activities like boat trips, whale watching, dolphin watching, scuba diving, and snorkeling. And, if diving in the deep blue is a bit too much of an experience for you, just lay your towel somewhere on the vast stretches of sand to sun yourself!
Activities to try
In case you crave for an adrenaline rush: no problem! Reunion Island also goes by the name of Intense Island for its array of sensational activities. If you are looking for wind-in-hair experiences, you have to take the air, to discover the unbelievable sceneries below. You could try helicopter rides, ultra-light aircraft tours. If that was enjoyable, imagine flying over the island skydiving, hand gliding or paragliding!
Reunion Island is a real paradise for nature and backpackers. It has nearly 1000 kilometres of trails with passages in some of the most beautiful natural treasures of the Indian Ocean. In addition to trekking, several sports like mountain biking, rafting, and canyoning can be enjoyed for most of the time.
If you love exotic delicacies, you should not miss the southern town of Reunion: Saint Pierre. It is mostly known for its vibrant Saturday market, the place to be to taste several local street foods like Samosa and Bon Bon Piment (Chilli bites). Stalls also have many original handmade souvenirs, which make great gifts for your loved ones. Also, do not forget to pick locally produced Vanilla sticks.
Taste the creole cuisine
A very unique cuisine, which combines African, Indian and Chinese influences. The dishes are usually simple but some dishes can get a little spicy. Locally produced rum is a popular drink. You will be tempted to try the fruits of the island (mangoes, letchis, pineapple and others, depending on the season …).
For your cocktails, white rum is sold in bottles and is the main ingredient in the making of “arranged rum” that you will find in most shops in the form of sachets, so that the fruity mix and dried plants can later be added to your rum on your return. Likewise, local punch brands offer a very wide range of fragrances, made with the best of the fruits of the island.
You can also fit into your suitcase small jars of peppers, spices, pink berries or La fleur de sel de Saint Leu, which will give your dishes the perfume of Reunion, long after your return. You will never forget these little walks in Reunion.
Reunion Island website: http://en.reunion.fr/