The west coast of Reunion Island is by far the most popular and popular area for tourists and locals alike. The city of Saint-Gilles is often referred to as the little Saint-Tropez of Reunion, a destination that enjoys tropical climate and its proximity to other attractions, the resort offers a relaxing holiday atmosphere. Not far the beach of Boucan Canot has become the trendy corner that appeals to both youngster and elders alike.
The area is described as the leeward coast, as it receives much less rain thanks to Le Piton des Neiges which blocks cloud masses from the eastern trade winds. The microclimate of the island makes the western region receives more sun and this coincides with the presence of the most beautiful beaches. If you are looking to stay near the beach, we recommend the region of Saint Gilles and also the south. Here are some of the most beautiful beaches of the region:
With its many pretty beaches, Saint Gilles les Bains is the most popular beach resort in Reunion Island. There are many hotels, villas and vacation rentals to welcome visitors and to enjoy its unique sunshine. For a long time, Saint-Gilles remained a small fishing village, and today even if a lot has changed, we still find this atmosphere of being connected to the ocean.
The General de Gaulle street which crosses the city shelters many inevitable addresses and leads to beaches like l’Ermitage, Roches Noires and the beach of Boucan Canot. If you want to enjoy sunbathing and other aquatic activities, do not miss Saint-Gilles-les-Bains.
Saint-Gilles is also an excellent starting point to discover the other colorful landscapes of Reunion Island. If you want overflights discoveries to places like the Piton de la Fournaise by helicopter or ULM, you will most likely want to visit one of the heliports located north of the city.
Saline les Bains beach
The public beach of Saline les Bains is very popular with locals and tourists alike. Protected by a coral reef, the beach offers swimming in shallow but very pleasant warm water. The beach is a famous place for water sports enthusiasts. The area contains a wide variety of fish and corals. Also, you can practice activities such as paddle boating and kayaking.
If Saint-Gilles is the capital of tourism in Reunion, Saint-Leu is the capital of paragliding. Thanks to its geographical and climatological conditions, Saint-Leu offers more than 300 days of paragliding per year. This is the place and experience to try for thrill seekers. The paragliding baptisms cost on average between € 80 to € 100, depending on the duration of flights and the many tour operators who offer this unforgettable experience.
Saint-Leu also has a very special place, Kelonia, the sea turtle observatory on the island. You can see sea turtles in huge tanks, which are cured before being released into the ocean. An excellent attraction for children and a good activity in case of rain.
Le Piton du Maïdo
Located a few kilometers from Saint-Leu, le Piton du Maïdo is really a natural balcony opening on the caldera of Mafate. This natural site is accessible by car from then Saint-Gilles and can be visited at any time of the year. The third circus of Réunion is Mafate, and unlike the first two circuses Salazie and Cilaos, Mafate is accessible only on foot.
It is one of the most isolated areas of Reunion Island and one can appreciate all its splendor since Piton Maïdo. With the Pas de Bellecombe (Piton de la Fournaise), Maïdo is the most visited panoramic observatory on the island. That says a lot about the dazzling views that awaits you at Maïdo. We advise you to visit early in the morning, the display of clouds is breathtaking.
Saint Paul Market
Saint Paul is the second largest municipality in the department of Reunion and if you are looking for the most colorful and friendly place full of life, it is the fairground market of Saint-Paul. Market days are Fridays and Saturday mornings. It’s a range of colors that opens up to you. Fruit, vegetables, spices, and crafts, there’s everything you could need.
The market is regularly visited by locals, and if you want to mix with the local population, we recommend you visit the Saint Paul market and its lively atmosphere. Also, take the opportunity to taste the many exotic dishes and donuts like the very popular bonbon piment (chili candy).
Enjoy a stroll in a tropical garden near La Saline les Bains. This place enables discoveries to be made because it is a botanical garden which includes 700 varieties of plants. With a booklet, you will take the colorful and scentful paths. Take your time, there is a lot to see and maybe you will have the chance to cross the famous chameleons.
The aquarium of Reunion Island
If you want to discover the great biodiversity of the waters of the Indian Ocean then go to the aquarium of Reunion, located in Saint-Gilles-les-Bains. You will have the chance to see more than 500 different fish and shellfish species living around natural corals.
This giant aquarium is also an opportunity to introduce children to aquatic life, there are several workshops for children and adults alike. So, if you go through Saint-Gilles, do not hesitate to stop at the aquarium of Reunion Island.
The west coast of Reunion also offers other surprises to its visitors. Basin Aigrettes located not far from Saint-Gilles or the Souffleur hole in Saint-Leu, it’s really a region that will make the happiness of the whole family. On foot, by car, helicopter or free flight, everything is good to enjoy this tropical island.
Happy holidays in Reunion!