Gawk at the most incredible Scenery
The scenery on Reunion is absolutely spectacular. I suggest hiring a car and driving around the island. It’s a large island so you may want to pace yourself. Drive the Route du Volcan or into the Cirque de Cilaos for some of the most astounding scenery.
The coastal stretches offer charming views of colorful villages, lagoons and beaches whilst the interior is characterized by impressive mountains, canyons, forests (from pine forests to thick shrubs and sub-tropical tree ferns!) and grassy highlands.
Hike in the Cirques
Reunion is famous for its three cirques (Mafate, Cilaos and Salazie), three large calderas formed by the collapse of a shield volcano. Of the three, Mafate is inaccessible by roads, making it ideal for hikers wanting to enjoy the impressive nature in total solitude.
There are several villages inside the Cirque de Mafate which are accessible only by trails (and helicopters).
Reunion Mer et Montage organises guided hikes (a 3-hour hike into the Cirque de Mafate and a helicopter flight back to the coast) and other adventure activities like mountain biking around the island.
Whichever route you choose, you’ll be guaranteed mind-blowing vistas, gushing rivers and waterfalls and lush forests.
Visit ‘Mars’ and the smouldering Piton de la Fournaise
A visit to Piton de la Fournaise, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, is a must for this trip. The scenery along the way is jaw-droopingly beautiful and on the approach to the volcano, the road takes you through the Plaine des Sables, an area that looks very much like Mars!
See Reunion from above
If you enjoy micro light or helicopter flights, see Reunion Island from above. Only then will you be able to truly appreciate its impressive and varied topography.
From the volcano to the amazing cirques, verdant forests and elegant waterfalls, this is one experience you won’t easily forget! FelixULM offers micro light tours of the island from its base in Le Port.
Towns and their markets
St. Denis is the capital and largest town. It’s great to stroll around this lovely town – don’t forget to check out its beautiful architecture and visit its markets. Another market town to visit is St. Pierre on the south coast.
With its lively Saturday market. It’s a great place to taste local specialties like Bon Bon Piment and a variety of rhum, buy top quality vanilla (Reunion produces some of the best quality vanilla in the world) and pick up some souvenirs. One other town to visit is St. Gilles les Baines, with its colourful shops and sandy beaches.
Most of the island’s most beautiful lagoons are found on the west coast between St. Paul and St. Leu.
Here you’ll find wide expanses of sandy beaches ranging from white to black! The most popular beach areas are around La Saline les Baines – here you’ll find a variety of hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and bars, such as at Coco Beach.
You can choose to laze on the beach, go on long walks, or indulge yourself in a variety of water sports like snorkelling, windsurfing and stand-up-paddling.
This is one of the tourists’ favourite experiences in Reunion. Run Adventures organises this amazing canyoning experience down the Riviere de Roche from Bassin la Mer to the Bassin la Paix on the northeast coast near the town of St. Benoit.
An old lava flow had been carved into a canyon by the river, with astonishing walls on each side, tranquil pools, followed by rapids and waterfalls.
It was an incredible experience, jumping off the walls (some up to 12 meters high) into the pool below, tobogganing from one pool to the next or floating down the river.
Food and dance tour
Reunion presents a fascinating mix of French, African and Asian cultures, resulting in a wide array of delicious food and performing arts.
Go on a ‘food tour’ at one of the markets (such as my favourite, the Saturday market in St. Pierre) and indulge yourself in Creole cuisine.
If you can, ask around for places to witness stunning performances by a méringue troupe (meringue is a local martial arts dance somewhat similar to capoeira that can be found in Brazil) and the lovely Mahoya dancers. And don’t forget to taste some of the island’s famous rhum!
You’ll find many vibrant examples of street art throughout Reunion, and especially in the capital, St. Denis. In fact, Jace, one of the most famous street artists, hails from Reunion. It’s fun to try and spot his works around the island – his faceless characters are easy to recognise.
Reunion is a great place to experience marine life up close. There are various dolphin- and whale-watching tours but one that stands out is run by Excursia Voyageur Curieux on board Hnoss, an Old Norwegian whaling boat.
This is an opportunity of a lifetime to join scientists from the Dare Win project as they research the complex communication systems of dolphins and whales. IF you’re lucky, you can even go free-diving with dolphins and whales with the researchers!