Reunion Island, a French department in the Indian Ocean, is known for its volcanic, rainforested interior, offshore reefs, beaches and Creole culture. The active Piton de la Fournaise volcano, its most iconic landmark, rewards climbers with sweeping views from its rim. Piton des Neiges, a massive extinct volcano, and Reunion 3 cirques (calderas), natural amphitheaters formed by collapsed volcanoes, are also climbing destinations.
HOW TO GET THERE
The main airport is Roland Garros International Airport located near Saint-Denis (RUN). The vast majority of intercontinental flights arriving at Reunion come from France, with a handful of other airports through the Indian Ocean.An alternative to the main airport in the North of the Island is Pierrefonds “International” Airport (ZSE) in the South of the Island, which receives flights from Mauritius operated by Air Mauritius and Air Austral. As Pierrefonds is a small airport, and seems to have a lot of staff, you can expect a thorough security interrogation and bag search on your way in and out of the country. It can be much cheaper to fly into ZSE airport. However, unless you have business in the South, it is best to avoid Pierrefonds as an arrival point because it is quite a small airport very far from the main tourist hubs like Saint-Denis (one-hour drive)and Saint-Gilles (35 minutes drive). It will cost you between 80-120 Euros by taxi to get from this airport to your hotel in the North and there is no guarantee you will be able to find one waiting outside
From Reunion, it is possible to reach Mauritius and Madagascar by boat. Two ferry services offer these routes, the Mauritius Pride and the Mauritius Trochetia.
WHAT TO DO AND WHAT TO SEE THERE
Reunion Island has almost one thousand kilometers of hiking trails, with an astonishing variety of landscapes for an island. The cirques, plains and volcano have been classified as a French national natural park. The best hikes are probably in the Mafate cirque and on the volcano (see Piton de la Fournaise). The exceptionnal Mafate circus has no roads, and about 800 inhabitants.Hiking guides and guided tours are readily available.
Reunion is not a place where you go for the beaches. The big thing there is trekking.Only two small lagoons on the Island where the depth rarely reaches 2 meters.It’s nice though, but don’t have high expectations (don’t picture Seychelles, Thailand or Maldives beaches) you will be disappointed.
These relatively large open areas actually form the saddle that separates the massif (comprising the three Cirques) from the volcano, Piton de la Fournaise. And what a volcano! It ranks as one of the most active volcanoes on Earth, playing in the same league as Hawaii. It’s also one of the most accessible ones – you can trek up the caldera.
Because there’s a road from the Hautes Plaines that approaches within a few kilometres of the summit of the volcano, nearly all visitors approach it from this side.
Found in the Bras-Rouge gorge, on the old path towards Mafate, the waterfall has carved out several pools which are ideal settings for picnics. The water coloured by iron oxide is one of the principal attractions. An easy family walk, with numerous viewing spots throughout the gorges. For a round-trip, set aside two and a half hours. To get there from the thermal pools, follow the well-indicated path (named chemin des porteurs) flanked with flowers and greenery.
For swimming fans, the west coast has beautiful beaches, especially Saint-Gilles-les-Bains, where surfers can enjoy the Black Rocks.
There are many possible accommodation types in reunion: Ordinary hotels; privately run Gîtes d’Étape; Gîtes de Montagne are mountain cabins or lodges located in the central areas appropriate and operated by Reunion Island Tourism Board youth hostels are operated by Auberge de jeunesse de la réunion There are five youth hostels at Réunion Island ; Hell Bourg, Bernica, Entre Deux, Saint Denis and Cilaos.
BEST TIME TO GO THERE
The climate is tropical with two main seasons. Between October and March, the summer is very rainy and subject to hurricanes, with average temperatures of 28°C. Winter lasts from April to September; it is cooler and drier with temperatures of around 20°C.
These seasons are modified in the mountains, where there is often fog and the temperature rarely exceeds 18°C. May and June are the best time to enjoy your travel as you avoid the tourist influx and the wettest season.
Most crime in Reunion is related to and within family or peer group, and linked with violence and substance use. Other most reported crime: vandalism, corruption, bribery. In some sections of some towns late at night usually around clubs, assault and armed robbery have occurred.
The major attraction of Reunion is the stunning scenery, with impressive walks on cliffs and, obviously, the volcano. Be aware that in some high altitude areas, especially near the volcano, mid-day fog may really hamper orientation making it easy to get lost; also, temperatures may drop significantly. In foggy weather, do not stray from well-marked paths! Carry layered clothing. Even on this tropical island, in high altitude locations, in humid weather, you can become ill from the effects of cold temperatures.