Reunion island in the Indian Ocean is a French island located east of Madagascar and 200 kilometres southwest of Mauritius. Reunion is considered as one of the overseas departments of France and also one of its 27 regions. The island is also an outermost region of the European Union. Its capital is Saint-Denis. Climate in Reunion is described as tropical, but the temperature moderates with elevation; with cool and dry weather between May and November, and hot and rainy between November and April.
What to see & do
Because of its tropical climate, Reunion island is a favourite tourist spot for those wishing to enjoy secluded white sandy beaches – a breath of fresh air from the crowded beaches in the more popular destinations. Most of the white sand beaches are concentrated in Saint-Gilles, while Saint-Leu is known for surfing. Being a UNESCO protected natural site, wildlife in Reunion is also notable. The island houses several bird species including the White-tailed Tropicbird. The Panther chameleon, Reunion’s largest animal, can also be found here. On the west coast are coral reefs that harbour sea urchins, conger eels, and parrot fish, among others. Sea turtle and dolphin watching can be enjoyable for kids and the whole family, as well as spotting some humpback whales that migrate north to Reunion from the Antarctic waters, between June and September. Blessed with beautiful volcanic landscapes and mountain scenery, the island is best explored by hiking. There are two hiking trails in Reunion: GR R2 (130 kilometres) which crosses the island north-south from Saint-Denis to Saint-Joseph; and GR R1 which is slightly shorter than GR R2 and covers the Cilaos, Mafate, and Salazie craters. The famous hike in the island is the climb to the Piton des Neiges, a massive shield volcano and the highest point on Reunion. Cuisine in Reunion is a fusion of French, Indian, Chinese, and Africa, with typical dishes being cari and rougail (meat or fish cooked in a sauce and eaten with rice). Accommodation in the island ranges from hotels, private Gîtes d'Étape, Gîtes de Montagne or mountain cabins or lodges, to youth hostels.
How to get around within Reunion
There are many ways travellers can navigate around Reunion island. One is by hailing a taxi, although this can be fairly expensive, especially when coming from the airport. A cheaper alternative is the intercity bus served by Car Jaune (Yellow Bus) with 13 lines. There are also local buses. Driving is also an option; avoid travelling during peak times to avoid traffic jams. Reunion has one main road, as well as a road that traverses between Saint-Pierre and Saint-Benoit. To make the most of your experience in Reunion, try hiking. The island has approximately one thousand kilometres of hiking trails that offer stunning views. Travelling by air is also possible as there are helicopter and airplane companies in Reunion that offer guided tours.
How to get there
The main airport serving Reunion island is Roland Garros International Airport near Saint-Denis. Airlines flying to Reunion include Air France, Air Austral, Corsair, and Air Mauritius. Roland Garros International Airport is located north of the island. An alternative airport in the south of the island is Pierrefonds Airport. Flights arriving here are from Mauritius via Air Mauritius and Air Austral. It is also possible to reach Reunion from Madagascar and Mauritius by ferries and cruise ships.