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Reunion Island

A journey to the heart of Indian ocean

About Destination

Réunion is a French island with a population of about 800,000 located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, about 200 kilometres (120 mi) southwest of Mauritius, the nearest island. It is is known for its volcanic, rain forested interior, coral reefs and beaches.

This Island offers a tremendous mix of wild nature and authentic culture. With 40% of its territory classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, its diversity delivers the impossible dream of being able to circumnavigate the ‘world’ in just a few days. Under the warmth of the southern hemisphere sun, you can relax on the white sandy beaches of Reunion Island. With its turquoise waters protected by a 30 kms coral reef, the Island’s lagoons hint at the colourful schools of fish that you can discover with a mask and a snorkel. Gazing out into the blue of the Indian Ocean from the beach, or on-boar a specially organised whale watching cruise, you can enjoy spectacular sights of Humpback Whales as they return from the Atlantic to warmer climes to mate and calf.

Reunion Island is ranked as one of the world’s top 3 honeymoon destinations after the islands of Mauritius and the Maldives. Reunion island is a unique destination that offers both ocean and mountain environments providing a variety of exceptional experiences that are perfect for a honeymoon. Weddings can also take place in many of its fascinating & dramatic scenic spots in Reunion Island where we are sure to offer you an experience full of emotions and thrilling sensations. The luxurious and charming areas on the West Coast offer social programmes to suit weddings and couples on honeymoon. An ideal romantic escape, Reunion Island is guaranteed to deliver timeless memories.

From the minute you arrive, you will immediately sense the extraordinary experiences be it cultural richness, Asian Cuisine, Creole Markets and so on. You will feel an array of emotions in the expansive volcanic lunar landscapes, in the translucent waters of the lagoons or enjoying the feeling of being on top of the world in the lush green vegetation of one of the picturesque craters.


Destination : Reunion Island Capital : Saint-Denis
Capital's calling code : +262 Currency : Euro
Time Zone : GMT + 4 hours Minimum Stay : 4 to 6 Days
Languages : Officially French & Locally Creole Patois
What to see : Beaches, Mountains, Waterfalls, Volcano Maountains, Cultural Mix, French Architecture, Lively Markets, Coral Reefs, Whale & Dolphin Watching, Lagoons, Vibrant Street Art
Suited for : Beach lovers, Adventure Seekers, Honeymoon Couple, Family Trips, Trekkers, Girls Gang, Boys Gang, Leisure seekers, Anniversary trip
Best Time to Visit : May – June (Autumn)
Selfie Spots : Le Piton de La Fournaise (one of the most active volcanos of the planet), Mafate (home to uncommon village as its 2000 metres above sea level), Ermitage Beach, Eden Garden, Former Hotel de Ville
What to Pack : Comfortable sneakers, Sunglasses, insect repellent for the skin, Sunblock, Trekking shoes, Beachwear, windproof raincoat or cape


Explore

Reunion Island is an oceanic tropical island as well as a cluster of large volcanic mountains offering infinite variety of natural landscapes and exceptional bio diversity. At the heart of the Island, there is an exceptional natural area. The mountainous interior of the “Hauts de la Reunion” provides visitors with spectacular scenery and an exceptional experience in nature, all protected by its classification as a National park. The varied panoramas delivered by the craters and the rich fauna and flora contained within, tags Reunion Island as one of the 34 hotspots of global biodiversity.

Laze up and soak in the sun by the edge of one of the lagoons where fish of a thousand colors await in their nooks and crannies. Sip some Champagne and relax in each other’s arms while watching the warm sun’s romantic rays dip into the deep blue of the Indian Ocean at the end of a lazy day.

Reunion is a natural wonderland with breathtaking surprises like the Bassin des Aigrettes hidden away in those lush tropical forests. Taking a swim there, or climbing on the rocks in the waterfall’s spray, is an experience that might make you pinch yourself. The clear water from this natural pool at the foot of a breathtaking waterfalls will amaze you. Worth the visit during your stay in the island.

Réunion island is host to many impressive canyons. One of them is the “Cirque de Mafate” nearly a kilometer deep. Le Maido is a scenic overview of the “Cirque de Mafate”. The Cirque has no roads down into it. The best way to discover it is by doing a long hike, driving up to the viewpoint or helicopter touring which is the perfect choice. Driving up to the top is nearly half the fun. You ascend over about 3000 vertical meters in less than 24km, with dozens of twists, bends and zig zags.

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. Saint Denis is surrounded by mountains on three sides and has several places of interest including the Natural History Museum and the leon Dierx Art Gallery with its collection of French Impressionist paintings.


Experiences

The Island offers many leisure and cultural activities to suit the soft adventurer or even the most hardened athlete! With over 1900 kms of combined inland and costal trails to be explored safely by foot, on horseback or by mountain bike, the Island becomes a wonderful natural playground. The myriad of trails offer the opportunity for visitors to explore with or without a mountain guide and can last for a mere few hours or several days. Some trails offer a stop off in one of the 31 hiking lodges in the heart of Reunion Island’s natural surroundings.

Snorkelling, diving, sea kayaking, tours in a glass bottom boat, paddle boarding or deep sea fishing are all activities that can be enjoyed safely beyond Reunion Island’s unique coastline of white and black sandy beaches. Indulge in a cocktail or two while enjoying a romantic sunset cruise, accompanied by dolphins or whales (season dependent). The warm waters of the Indian Ocean provide a haven for scuba diving, deep sea fishing and in the shallow waters of the lagoon, stand up paddle boarding and snorkelling. The island is home to countless waterfalls, rivers and lagoons. Try an airboat, go for white water rafting or have fun kayak jumping, aquatic hiking, cannoning or abseiling down a waterfall!

Let yourself be swept away by the pleasure of the gentle massage in the heart of tropical nature with various relaxing treatments hailing from far and wide amid the intoxicating scents of geranium, vanilla, ylang ylang and many other beautiful flower species that grow on Reunion Island.

A bird’s eye view of Reunion Island’s breath-taking scenery can be savoured from the air either by helicopter, glider or a paraglider. Helicopter tour of the island features the best scenery of Réunion Island resides with its wild interior, kilometres deep canyons and calderas, waterfalls, and an active volcano.

If you are looking for a good night out then Saint Gilles, which is situated on the west coast has a lot to offer. There you will find a couple of bars and nightclubs which offer a big variety of music, from r’n’b to rock, latin to jazz and electro to Creole music which is the original and traditional music of the island.


Get to know About

Reunion Island allows travellers to discover a history shaped by people from Africa, Madagascar, Europe and Asia. The Island is enriched by the mixing of its population during the course of its history, has an exuberant and diverse culture, expressed through its creole language as well as in music and dance. Churches, Tamil temples, mosques and Chinese pagodas co-exist in the urban landscape. Visitors are welcome to participate in one of the many Tamil, Chinese or Christian festivals while also discovering the origins of the unique Creole culture. The history of this unique culture is reflected in the beautiful colonial mansions of Saint Denis or in the distinct colourful huts in the many Creole villages.

Reunion Island has been listed a UNESCO World Heritage site since August 2010, thanks to its National Park and its unique biodiversity. In addition to its Nature, its culture is also quite remarkable; that's why the Maloya, a traditional music of Reunion, has been listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 1 October 2009. 

Charged with history, the island has gone through periods of colonization, slavery, indentured labor, successive crops of coffee, sugar cane ... that have marked the local society. You will have the opportunity to discover all that history, all these stories, by visiting museums, Creole villages, places of worship, historic streets and other wonderful gardens throughout the island.

Ask around for places to witness stunning performances by a méringue troupe (méringue is a local martial arts dance somewhat similar to capoeira that can be found in Brazil) and the lovely Mahoya dancers. Take a sip of the local dodo beer! Although rum is the island’s alcohol of choice, beer amateurs will find a refreshing alternative, Bourbon beer, most commonly called Dodo beer because of its logo.

Given its location in the Indian ocean and in the southern hemisphere, Reunion Island has a tropical climate that is tempered, due to its proximity to the sea. Réunion Island has two main seasons – summer from November to April and winter from May to October. The summer months tend to be hot, rainy and prone to cyclonic disturbances, low-pressure buildups and often full-fledged cyclones. On the whole, the weather remains mild though humidity levels fluctuate depending on the prevailing climatic conditions. The cool dry winter months don’t really have a noticeable difference in temperatures except that these months are drier and marginally cooler and less humid. 

In the coastal belt, the temperatures hover at around 28o C in the summer and between 16o-22o C in winter. The variation in temperatures occurs with variation in elevation and topography – the mountainous areas can be very cold with temperatures falling to 0o C, requiring really warm clothes. The eastern coast is more exposed in contrast to the leeward west coast and receives far more rain as it is open to the trade winds the whole year round.

ETHNIC GASTRONOMY : Reunion Island’s ethnic and cultural diversity also comes through in its gastronomy. Each new influx of people brought its own culinary tradition with it, and today, Reunion Island’s food on offer, reflects this diversity. The plethora of races and nationalities has contributed to the amalgamation of cuisines from India, China, France, Madagascar and the African mainland making the local food, interesting and exotic but not too spicy or outlandish. Actually it is difficult to find any dish tasting like it did - instead French and other influences have enhanced and enriched the recipe. Eating is one of the favourite activities of Réunionese and mealtimes are family occasions – it is the women who cook at home while the island’s best-known chefs are men! 

Reunionese cuisine is quite safe, but ask for some samples if noted to be spicy to ensure that they're not too spicy. The spice level is below that of spicy Indian cuisine. The regional specialty is ‘cari’, a truly Creole dish in which many ingredients are together simmered to perfection. On Réunion, the cari is made using Indian spices and local ingredients like meat, poultry, fish or seafood and contains garlic, onion, plenty of tomatoes, turmeric, cloves and ginger. Caris are best eaten with boiled rice. Traditional Indian, Chinese and French food is available at the many restaurants and cafes in Réunion that also serve good local and French wines. Also taste some local sugar cane rum which is offered neat or mixed with a little honey, sugar or fruit juices and spices.

For typical Réunionnais snacks enjoyed by the sea, the food stands at the Barachois are your best bet. There’s everything from rougail, gratin, frites (fries) and Chinese takeaway to the island’s national beer, Bourbon. The samoussa shops and cafés on rue du Marechal Leclerc aren’t bad either.

Most of the shopping culture in Réunion hasn’t been influenced by modernity. Shopping malls are not the norm on the island, and most of the shopping revolves around markets and streets that boast local products rather than international brand-name items. The majority of the shops around the island are closed on Sundays but open every other day between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., although there are several markets that remain open seven days a week. The main items for sale are local handicrafts and African-influenced products, mostly found in the markets rather than stores. Saint-Denis has any number of up market shopping districts full of shops and boutiques on rue du Maréchal-Leclerc, rue Jean-Chatel and rue Juliette-Dodu.

These shops sell French products and local handicrafts of lace and embroidery, coral jewellery and basketwork. St Paul’s has a most fascinating street market, held every Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings, full of the colour, smells, tastes and textures of a tropical island. Sculptors, wood carvers and craftsmen make curios and furniture in the traditional ‘French colonial' style in tamarind wood, olive wood and ironwood. Other specialty items of interest are the locally produced wines and rum, vanilla and extracts of vetivier, geranium and ylang-ylang.

Souvenirs – A wide variety of local and imported crafts and souvenirs can be found in the markets, certain shopping centers, specialist shops and even in some villages frequented by tourists. The main items you can purchase include: products made from sugar cane (punch, rum liqueurs etc), Bourbon Vanilla, t-shirts and pareos, spices and wooden crafts.

Most shops are closed on Sunday. Most supermarkets are open from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Monday to Saturday. Some of them are open on Sunday morning. You can find traditional objects in some shops but it's often easier and cheaper to go to a market (marché). The market in Saint-Paul is famous and you'll also find fruits and vegetables: it gathers on Friday morning and afternoon and on Saturday morning. It's a good place to buy African traditional objects, such as Oware (an abstract strategy game of Akan origin).

By Air : Direct flights connect Réunion with Comoros, France, India, Mauritius, Mayotte, Thailand, the Seychelles and South Africa. For further afield, you'll need to take a connecting flight from South Africa, Mauritius, Asia or France.

Réunion has two international airports. The vast majority of flights come into Roland Garros International Airportabout 10km east of St-Denis. Coming from Mauritius, you have the option of landing at Saint-Pierre-Pierrefonds International Airport, in the south of the island near St-Pierre. Air Austral is the national carrier. It has a good safety record and a decent international network. Pierrefonds is also a hub for plane and helicopter tours of the Island, and it's quite likely you will end up here if you book a flyover of the Volcano.

 

By Boat : Throughout the year, a number of cruise liners dock on the island.