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Visit Reunion Island: Practical Tips

Reunion-Island

Despite being in the Indian Ocean, Reunion Island is a French Island. 3 adjectives to describe Reunion Island are lively, dynamic and surprising. Being in the same area as Mauritius, the climate is sunny and warm most of the time but might be prone to rainy seasons and natural calamities. It is also to be noted that the surface area of Reunion Island increases from time to time due to lava reaching the sea during powerful eruptions. Therefore, if you are curious and want to embark on a life-flourishing journey, Reunion Island is the perfect place for you, especially if you are adventurous in nature.

Travelling throughout the island

Are cars indispensable?

One of the main advantages of renting a car on Reunion Island is that a car allows for flexibility. By flexibility, I mean that public transport does not take you to every location; they have a specific route to follow, while on the other hand, taxis are usually expensive.

Remember, planning and organisation are the keys. To save money, public transport would be more suitable even though you would have to walk a little to get to your destination at times but apart from that it is not quite a hassle provided that you do not bring loads of items or bags with you. Driving a car somehow requires experience also, due to the narrow mountain road present near the cirques. You will also have to look for parking lots compared to public transport, which can thus be much of a hassle during busy days.

What to see and what to do during your stay?

The Piton de la Fournaise

Originally one of the most active volcanos amongst the world, it is believed that if this volcano stops erupting, dormant volcanoes of neighbouring islands such as Mauritius would wake up because they are connected to each other. However, the Piton de la Fournaise remains one the most popular attraction on Reunion, allowing for great hikes. For instance, its eruption always provides a mind-blowing spectacle for youngsters and elders.

The Cirques

Another famous feature of Reunion Island is the three cirques formed inside Piton des Neiges – the “mother” which gave birth to Reunion Island. Despite being formed by the same volcano, each one of them; Mafate, Salazie, Cilaos, has their own essence which will of course capture your attention.

Cirque of Mafate

One of the aspect of the Cirque of Mafate is both an advantage and disadvantage. Why? Well, to access the Cirque of Mafate, you will have to travel by helicopter or on foot. Either way, both would be an enriching experience for the family. The main characteristic of the Cirque of Mafate is mostly the wild aspect, which once served as refuge for slaves. Hence, the inhabitants are very attached to this land and keep some of the traditions going despite a lack of modern communication.

Cirque of Salazie

The Cirque of Salazie contains several villages and a Commune. Neighbouring St André and being the most accessible of the three cirques, the Cirque of Salazie is home to several waterfalls with rather strange but original names – “Pisse en l’air,” Voile de la Mariée, Cascade Blanche and others. One of the benefits of visiting the Cirque of Salazie first is that you will have the opportunity to access Mafate by going through the forestry.

Cirque of Cilaos

Originating from the word “Tsilaosa,” meaning “a country that you don’t leave.” The Cirque promises to provide you with a whole new level of experience; clearly different from Mafate and Salazie. One of the main advantage of Cilaos is that it can be accessed by car yet, you would have to pass through a road composed of 400 turns – certainly worth it, due to its beauty.

Reunion Island’s Gastronomy

How would gastronomy be described in Reunion? Well, in some words, the Reunion Island’s gastronomy is the fruit of different combinations of cuisine – Malagasy cuisine, African cuisine, Indian cuisine, Chinese cuisine and French cuisine. Appetizers are important to the Reunion cuisine. Similarly, some of the most traditional ones are also common to Mauritius. With their spicy taste, these snacks make the pleasure of youngsters as well as elders – “Bonbon piments” known as “Gateau piments or Gato Dhall” in Mauritius, Samosas and “Piments farcis.”

The most conventional dish found in Reunion Island is the curry.  Served in a plate with rice at the bottom, grains and the curry at the top and chutneys served separately, this dish can also be found in Mauritius and observes the same pattern. It is probably due to the fact of having common ancestors.

Where to stay during your trip to Reunion Island?

So you have already booked your flight, now is your time to think of the place where you would stay for your holidays. We would like to recommend TROPIC Appart’Hotel which is a hotel at Saint Gilles. Situated just 80 meters away from the sea, you will not have to travel too far from home. Also, you will find loads of services surrounding the area varying from sports clubs, restaurants, stores, pharmacy, laundry, nightclubs, casino and bakery.

Ideal for holidays, the atmosphere at the hotel is sure to help you relax yourself and take away the accumulated daily stress. The hotel for instance has 20 studios and 20 duplex apartments, all of them being modern, spacious and comfortable.

Who said that an hotel is monotonous in nature? Well, with TROPIC Appart’Hotel, your overall enjoyment and well-being is the aim. Do you still want to work while on holidays? Free high speed WIFI is available for your use. There is also a swimming pool inside the complex. However if you want to undertake more activities such as helicopter, golf, paragliding, mountain biking, canyoning, diving, big game fishing, catamaran trips, kayaking, paddling, the reception would be happy to provide you with some advice.

Reunion Attractions

Reunion Island Volcano

The island of Reunion is lively, surprising and continuously moving. Under a sunny and warm climate, its population is accustomed to cyclones and other mishaps of nature. La Fournaise sometimes spits gush of lava flows so powerful at times that they manage to reach the sea to create new territories.

Much of the island became a national park in 2007 and the pitons, cirques and ramparts were in turn registered in the UNESCO World Heritage in 2010. On Reunion island, nature seems to explode in all directions – a myriad of waterfalls, lost in a wild circus, beside a green and blue lagoon or above the famous volcano.

The coast

On the one hand a dominant side, little windy and lined with shady casuarina beaches that delight fans of relaxation and water sports. The other a coastline exposed to the trade winds, tougher green face that appeals to lovers of raw nature. Choosing one or the other is not the question, no one can claim to know Reunion without having seen these two seaboards, each having their charms.

Hiking on the volcano ….

It is not coincidence that the Grand Raid, the famous mountain race in Reunion, starts rushing towards the volcano. Mineral landscapes of Piton de la Fournaise indeed offer some great opportunities for hiking. The usual visitor join the crater rim from the Bellecombe. Other prefer the road down to the sea, crossing a surprising succession of landscapes and vegetation

… And in circuses

So green that the area around the volcano are minerals, Cilaos, Mafate and Salazie offer an exceptional space to practice the queen activity of the island: hiking. Each year, thousands of visitors soar on countless trails, revealing in passing the particular lifestyle of these separate spaces. In the center, the Piton des Neiges, the highest point of the island, is also a nice playground for hikers.

St Denis

If she rarely immediately raises the enthusiasm of the newcomers, who often prefer the attractions of the west coast, the first town on the island nevertheless has a charm of its own. The Barachois, its historical remains, dawdling in the aisles of the garden state is simply a wonderful journey. With its religious sites, markets and neighborhoods, Saint-Denis is also an excellent introduction to the island particularities

Surfing and kitesurfing

Do you know the the famous wave of Saint-Leu? The reputation of the city with surfers. The island has many other popular spots for surfers and bodyboarders. Aficionados of the “kite”, will also find excellent conditions along the west coast.

Piton Maido

At 2200 meters above sea level on the hills of the West Coast, the name of the Piton Maido sounds like a promise to visitors’ ears. Accessible by car, on a beautiful winding road through a forest, Piton Maido reserves an exceptional view of Mafate and its islets. The opportunity to embrace a glance – if the weather permits!

The Grand Brûlé

South of the island, the lava flows are the witnesses which now stand still like statues right by the Piton de la Fournaise. Past Saint-Philippe, the coast guard, indeed, many traces of the most recent eruptions of the volcano. Black basalt extending to the sea, the landscape reminds some of the most “hot” episodes in the history of the island, such as the eruption of 2007, which cut the RN2 .

Canyoning and white water sports

A steep terrain, ravines, waterfalls, ponds … the island has all the turnkey to seduce lovers of canyoning and white water sports. You will delight either in the Cilaos and Salazie or in St. Benedict, which concentrates clubs offering rafting, snorkeling and canoe-raft.

Paragliding in Saint-Leu

Paragliders not raving about the conditions offered by the western resort of the island beauty of the setting, spot protected from the wind by the relief, conditions for almost fly 300 days a year … The site is ideal for a baptism, in tandem with an instructor, but confirmed will also find their account.

Bathing in the pools

Their names are evocative: Niagara near Sainte-Suzanne, Bouteille in the high plains, Peace Pool and Sea Basin just outside Bras-Panon and many more remain havens of freshness. Ponds and waterfalls of the island, often hidden in the bend of the cane fields, to the delight of fans of picnic and swimming … in total privacy.

Saint-Gilles-les-Bains

Main resort of the island, Saint-Gilles-les-Bains draws crowds with its finely tuned cocktail of beaches, activities and restaurants-bars. Decidely casual and trendy for others, the city is the epicenter of the Western part of Reunion, less than an hour from Saint-Denis.

Paradise of fruits

Besides the delicious Victoria pineapples, bananas and coconuts that grow all year, every season brings a lot of vitamins. December and January is the season of lychees, mangoes and papayas, which are often present until February. The passion fruit appear in March and April. As for the guava trees, small and tasty red fruit, can mainly be found during the months May and June.

Hermitage-les-Bains

Hermitage-les-Bains, the family beach par excellence, has a trump card: a long series of casuarina trees that provide shade along the coast. Quiet beach, it is the favourite spot picnic lovers, who flock there every weekend. A Creole family tradition…

Sugar, and rum distilleries

Industrial tourism? Not only. Because in Reunion, sugar is also a culture, a history, a heritage. Throughout the visit of the distilleries on the island, and its two gigantic sweets still in business, you will learn about the production of alcohol and cane sugar industry that shaped the economic destiny of Reunion and opens new opportunities. A significant part of the electricity consumed on the island comes from sugar cane.

Mafate

A must for hikers! At the heart of Reunion, Mafate can only be approached on foot or by helicopter. No road leads into this vast basin bordered by peaks and mountain walls, home to a few hundred inhabitants. Rare are those who regret the effort required to get there, as they are offset by the peaceful and quiet and beautiful scenery.

Vanilla

In 1841, a young slave of Reunion, Edmond Albius, discovered the process for manually polinating vanilla, giving the so-called vanilla “Bourbon” name. Production has had its ups and downs, but the Reunion vanilla remains one of the most popular among connoisseurs. Several sites, especially in the east of the island, you can discover how this delicate orchid Vanilla planifolia is cultivated.

Tamil ceremonies

Colorful and festive, Tamil ceremonies reveal a surprising facet of Reunion culture and its melting pot. During Teemeedee, the faithful walk on glowing embers, while celebrating the Cavadee, penitents pierce their tongue and cheeks with needles. As for Divapali, the festival of light, it takes place in the light of hundreds of candles lit to illuminate the return from exile of Rama …

We hope that you enjoy your holidays on the Island of Reunion!

Reunion island in a Nutshell

reunion in a nutshell

The description of Reunion island, in a nutshell, would surely be a French island in the Indian Ocean, a volcanic rock, a subtropical land, a riot of blue and green, of sea and mountain. However, these words and figures will never suffice to describe the complete nature of such an intense island. The intense landscape in which strong, ubiquitous green contrasts with delicate blue. The intense life with its harmonious mix of races and cultures…Let yourself be guided “intensely” while discovering the magnificent Reunion Island.

Visiting Reunion Island

We have shortlisted the many sites present on the island and we are bringing you on a trip around this island full off hidden gems! You can use public transport on the island, the yellow cars, or simply hire a car with or without chauffeur to get to the many corners of the island.

There are indispensable places to visit and you certainly have already heard about them but you should not miss seeing them during your holidays on the island! There are also so much things to do in this island. If you’re the kind of person who likes to soak up the sun with a book in your hand from sunrise to sunset all holiday, you’ll be more than happy relaxing on the white sands along the lagoon. If you travel to experience new cultures and flavours, you’ll love the interesting mix of European French and vibrant Creol that give the island it’s melting pot vibe. If you’re an active traveller, you’ll be spoilt for choice, between hiking one of the hundreds of trails that criss-cross the island, running along the beach, kite- or wind surfing, jumping down waterfalls and canyoning along one of the many rivers, or even cycling the epic road up to the peak of the volcano. There literally is something for everyone.

A journey to the heart of an exceptional nature

The island of Reunion covers 2500 square kilometers and 40% of its land is classified as World Heritage of UNESCO. The real beauty of the island is hidden in its interior. Still wild, often difficult to access, the mountainous surroundings are full of big surprises: volcano peaks, waterfalls, dense forests, isolated villages, plains and spectacular circuses.

Cilaos

Perched at 1,200 meters above sea level, Cilaos is surrounded by peaks oscillating between 2000 and 3070 m of height (Le Piton des Neiges, the highest point of Reunion Island). This single point remains one of the best spot for passing hikers and lovers of breathtaking views.

Salazie

Salazie is the largest and greenest of the three circuses and is accessible by car from Saint-André. Not far away, you will also discover the most beautiful waterfalls of the island: Cascade blanche, Grand Etang and Takamaka.

Mafate

Mafate is the wildest of the three circuses and the less visited. It can be reached only on foot or by helicopter. Mafate is accessible from Salazie, St. Paul (Maïdo) or Cilaos.

High Plains

Wedged between the circuses (Cilaos and Salazie) on one side, the Piton de la Fournaise on the other, the high plains are a natural corridor between the southern and northern coasts. Accessible through St. Benedict or St. Peter.

The Volcano

Get in touch with the Piton de la Fournaise, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. An immersion in the heart of intense Reunion island. While being there, you will have the feeling of walking on the moon

From Plaines des Kaffres, joins Plaines des Sables, where a stunning lunar landscape created by the hardened lava awaits you … The road to the Piton de la Fournaise offer you a strange landscape and you will be amazed by the beauty of the wild and natural surroundings …

You will be stunned while being here in the heart of Plaine des Sables and the Pas de Bellecombe where you can admire the view of the vast enclosure around the volcano. Be prepared to engage on a descent to the heart of the enclosure and join the small crater, this part is indescribable – you will have to see for yourself.

For the more energetic, a 6 hour hike (round trip)will take you to the foot of the Piton des Neiges crater. Those images will remain etched forever in your memory. Others attractions also lie in its rugged coastline and its forests.

Shortly after St. Joseph and towards St. Rose, cliffs replace the beaches and villages are fewer. The lava becomes ubiquitous. We enter the territory of the volcano. The sea is bubbling beneath the cliffs. St. Philip is the main town of the Southern Wild Island. You will discover the sublime wild black sand beaches, the most famous being that of Etang Salé.

And the Indian Ocean!

Reunion island also has a very protected lagoon on the west coast of the island. You’ll enjoy the warm sandy beaches and enjoy real relaxing moments. The reef stretches over 30 km and protects a beautiful lagoon with turquoise waters. Thus, you will have the opportunity to discover the coastal village of Saint-Gilles and the beautiful beach of the Hermitage. There you will find the best accommodation of the island.

In the evening, enjoy the gorgeous sunset that follows the lagoon. The turquoise waters of the lagoon are home to schools of colorful fish to discover with mask and snorkel. Do not miss enjoying the marine nature reserve, created in 2007, which will provide divers with stunning discoveries during their deep water exploration.

From June to September, you will have the chance to admire the whales off the coast. You can even watch them from the seaside. And finally for the brave and sportier, fishing boats take you out to meet the blue marlin, barracuda or even swordfish. Going to Reunion also means staying in the heart of the ocean …

Have a great time in Reunion!

Around Reunion Island

Nature Reunion

The island of Reunion, nicknamed “the intense island”, is as intense as its name suggest. The east coast of the island of Reunion demarcates a unique contrasts: there are the blue of the ocean, the bright green forests and black lava flows. By visiting this coast, the ‘windward coast “, hikers and nature lovers will be delighted.

Nature at the heart of visits

The east coast has many natural resources: lychees, sugar cane, vanilla and rum distilleries. From Sainte-Marie to Saint-Phillipe, you will also discover authentic and breathtaking landscapes and the people of the island, ready to share with all the secrets of the island.

A UNESCO World Heritage site for its pitons, cirques and ramparts, the east coast of Reunion offers waterfalls, lush vegetation and natural pools in the rivers, which will make your stay in this beautiful setting memorable. The East Coast is windier and rainy than the West Coast, which explains its lush vegetation. We also advise you not to venture into having a swim because of strong currents along the coast. Breaking waves are nevertheless a sublime spectacle that we recommend you to admire.

East coast: Adventure and Culture

Reunion east coast is marked by Salazie which was created by the collapse of multiple craters that appeared following series of eruptions. By visiting this circus, one discovers sublime waterfalls including “The Bride’s Veil,” the heart of a verdant jungle filled with ferns and “chouchou” (chayotte) that grow very well in that region.

The visit continues with the discovery of one of the “most beautiful villages in ile de France” Hell Bourg with its famous Creole houses. For adventure lovers and thrill, the natural site of Takamaka is ideal for canyoning. Located in the Plaine des Palmistes, this steep and wild canyon promises tropical decor and unforgettable memories of your stay on the island of Reunion.

You will find the cultural heritage of the East Coast in the town of Saint-André with the presence of the Hindu Temple of the Colossus. This colorful building and adorned with mythological characters, is dedicated to Pandialé, the goddess of fire. In the same city, one can also drop by the house of Martin Valliamée whose architecture is typical Creole. This listed building opens its doors for a cultural visit.

If you are on the look of the religious heritage of the island must visits are St. Anne and St. Rose where you will have the opportunity to visit two very different churches: Holy church -Anne with very original architecture that appears in the movie “Mississippi Mermaid” by F. Truffaut and the Notre-Dame-Des-Laves, located in Sainte-Rose, known for lava flow that solidified its front porch during an eruption of the Piton de la Fournaise.

The Piton de la Fournaise

Piton de la Fournaise, still active, is the most visited site in Reunion. Its eruptions have left many traces of their passage in the island’s environment by marking the contrast between volcanic soils and lush vegetation. Admire the contrasts in the Yard where all lava flows.

The volcano is accessible by car and promises, if you wish, unforgettable hikes in the heart of a lunar landscape where you can admire many types of rocks and lava flows. If you want to enjoy this beautiful setting for several days and so do different hikers, gites welcome you at the foot of the volcano.

Saint Gilles, Reunion

To discover this intense island, we recommend you to reside in one of the various accommodation in St Gilles les Bains. This can be a good idea to discover the Creole joviality and enjoy the beaches on Reunion. Drop in at least to enjoy everything this city has to offer!

If Reunion Island has beautiful natural sites, it also has beautiful seaside resorts such as in the city of Saint Gilles les Bains. Located on the west coast, this town is popular with tourists. They usually call it “the little St Tropez of the island”. This former fishing village has become a seaside resort. The beaches around Saint Gilles are indeed the most beautiful.

Beaches of Saint Gilles les Bains

Three beautiful beaches are the hallmark of this city among which you will find the Hermitage beach with its white sand. The advantage of this beach is that it is very quiet one with a crystalline lagoon. It is ideal for children but beware, it is often overcrowded. Be aware that swimming is not supervised. Then, you will find Boucan Canot beach which is one of the most famous surf spots. Finally, there is the beach of Roches Noires. This beach is nice and lively.

On the beaches, numerous water sports like surfing or jet skiing are possible. In addition to these beautiful beaches you will find in Saint Gilles many hotels and guest houses and souvenir shops. You will also find various restaurants near the harbor where you can enjoy good fresh fish and Creole specialties.

Saint Gilles les Bains is a resort with all the necessary elements, which make it the most famous spot of the island. However, there are also various activities and excursions to do. Three examples. The Big Blue is a boat ride with a window placed at the bottom of it to admire the fish or turtles. With any luck, during the ride you might have the chance to spot dolphins or whales.

Aquarium of Reunion

The Garden of Eden is a tropical garden where you can admire around 700 varieties of plants during your walk. You can also attend various events and workshops for adults or children. The Aquarium of Reunion is a marine nature reserve. There you will have the chance to have a look at almost 500 different species of fish, from the smallest to the largest, as well as corals and shellfish. Children will be amazed by the giant aquarium. Saint Gilles les Bains is certainly unavoidable.

To discover a maximum of wonders on the island of Reunion, feel free to go around the island and enjoy it to the maximum.

Have a wonderful trip around Reunion Island!