Located next to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, Reunion Island is an oversea department of the French Republic. The volcanic origin island covers an area of more than 2500km² and is the largest island in the Mascarene archipelago.
The island enjoys a fair tropical climate, resulting in a lush vegetation, abundant greeneries and nearly half of the total area of Reunion Island is classified as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. With its numerous peaks, volcanos and “ramparts”, the island is an open-air museum where intense nature sways.
When combined all together, Reunion Island offers more than 900 kilometres of waymarked trails. You can trek pretty much everywhere, from sea level to “Le Piton des Neiges” and its 3070 metres (the island’s highest peak).
Reunion Island is a place for discovery, diverse sceneries, a vibrant culture and thrilling activities. In fact, the majority of hotels in Reunion Island are empty during the day, there is so much to discover around. So much that it was quite a task to shrink down our list of the 10 must-see places in Reunion.
1. Le Piton de La Fournaise
Le Piton de La Fournaise is one of the most active volcanos of the planet. The volcano is the most visited place of Reunion Island and probably the most thrilling attraction of the Indian Ocean too. This mythic volcano can be visited by helicopter or microlight planes, but the best way to discover the volcano is the hard way, trekking!
The massive Piton de la Fournaise is our number one pick for many reasons. Amongst the reasons, the view from above, those who made it to the top will tell you about the outstanding view over the rest of the island!
Mafate is one of the three famous calderas found at the heart of Reunion Island. The caldera of Mafate is home to a small village of the same name. A very uncommon village as it is located almost 2000 metres above sea level.
If you are looking to spend a day in an unusual place, Mafate is definitely worth it. The caldera is sort of incommunicado with the rest of the world. No roads, no chance to come across a car or a bus, the only way to visit Mafate is by walk.
Cilaos is a caldera located next to Mafate, but unlike its neighbour, Cilaos is accessible by road. However, you can still trek to reach its top. Cilaos is famous for its impressive canyons and waterfalls where numerous extreme sports activities like canyoning (canyoneering), rock climbing can be practised.
In fact, Cilaos is considered to be an advanced location for canyoning, a world-class site to discover hidden gorges and slide down waterfalls. Besides these electrifying activities, you will also discover the small village of Cilaos, well-known for traditional products like lentils or its old-style sugarcane rum!
4. Voile de la Mariée
Voile de la Mariée is one of the many natural treasures of Reunion Island. This waterfall is famous for the optical illusion it produces, the falls take the appearance the veils of a bride! Several chutes form this waterfall which end up in a natural pool surrounded by sumptuous flora.
When visiting the calderas, Voile de la Mariée is a must-stop. The best way to get there is by crossing the small village of Hell-Bourg on your way to Salazie caldera.
5. Saint-Paul Market
Saint-Paul market which opens on Fridays and Saturdays is famed to be the most beautiful market of Reunion Island. This open market is located on the waterfront of the city and is undoubtedly the most touristic market on the island.
The market is the best place to discover Reunion Island’s culinary culture and traditions. Over 300 exhibitors offer local products, spices, fruits and vegetables. Saint-Paul market is also the best place to find souvenir gifts of Reunion Island.
Also known as the old city, Saint-Denis is the capital city of Reunion Island. Located in the north, the capital City hosts the main administrative centres of the island. From a historical point of view, Saint-Denis is very important to Reunion Island with its numerous museums and cultural monuments.
7. Ermitage beach
Reunion Island is not just about mountains, calderas and vertiginous peaks. The west coast of the island is blessed with some amazing beaches. Ermitage (or l’Hermitage as pronounced by locals) beach is the longest beach of Reunion Island. Nearly two kilometres of white sand to lay down your towel and enjoy a sunbath.
The beach of Ermitage is the perfect place to spend some time and enjoy the tropical side of the island. Ermitage beach is lined with filaos (casuarina trees) providing some shade and is protected by a coral reef. Actually, many chose to stay close to Ermitage beach in surrounding hotels like Hotel Les Creoles or Archipel Residence.
8. Boucan Canot Beach
Boucan Canot is another well-known beach of the west coast of Reunion Island. This touristic beach of Saint-Gilles-les-Bains is ideal for tanning, bathing, snorkelling, surfing and other sensational leisure activities.
Unlike Ermitage beach, Boucan Canot can be crowded especially during weekends. However, during weekdays, the beach is very calm.
9. Eden Garden
Eden garden is a beautiful botanical garden of 2.5 hectares which includes more than 700 species of plants. You will discover through a stroll of two hours a wide variety of tropical fauna and flora including some endemic species of Reunion Island.
Even though it is located at the heart of Saint-Gilles, Eden garden is one of the quietest places in the city. If you like plants and calmness, we definitely recommend this botanical garden.
10. Aquarium of Reunion Island
Discover the abundant marine life of the Indian Ocean in this aquarium located in Saint-Gilles-les-Bains. The aquarium encompasses more than 500 species of fish and natural coral reefs nestled in more than 600 000 litres of water.
The aquarium is a great alternative to discover aquatic life as a replacement for diving and also a great activity on rainy days!