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Reunion

Welcome to Reunion Island. Far from the paradisiac clichés of the Indian Ocean, Reunion Island will fulfill hikers who love relaxation and idleness. With its volcanos, cliffs, waterfalls, and luxuriant jungle, the untouched beauty of this island has to be conquered. Reunion Island is not a usual tropical island. With its lunar landscapes, wild waterfalls, and villages lost into narrow ridges, the Island is more enigmatic than its neighbour Mauritius Island.

Definitely volcanic and mountainous, Reunion Island is an exceptional sports destination: mountain hike, night in refuge, hang-gliding, and rafting. In addition to the spectacular natural beauty, you will find an original culture, at the crossroads of Asian, African and European cultures.

Key Facts

  • Capital city: Saint-Denis
  • Languages: French, creole
  • Time difference: GMT+4 h
  • Entry formalities: Same as French territories. UE nationals, Canadians, and Swiss nationals can stay up to three months without a visa.
  • Electricity: 220/240 volts, 50 hertz.
  • Telephone: +262
  • Health: There are no dangerous terrestrial animals on the island, and no case of malaria

Money

Generalities:  ATM machines (Visa, MasterCard) are found everywhere on the island and local banks will change your money. VAT rate is 9.5% and included in prices. Tipping is always welcomed.

Currency: EUR

Daily budget: Accommodation & Meals are generally expensive. But if you go inland, you will find cheaper prices.

Food:

  • Low budget: < 20 USD
  • Average budget: 20-25 USD
  • High budget: > 25 USD

Accommodation:

  • Low budget: < 35 USD
  • Average budget: 35-90 USD
  • High budget: > 90 USD

When To Go & Climate

You must plan you vacation based on weather forecasting and the inrush of tourists. Hikers will appreciate the dry season (from April to September). During May and June, you will appreciate the climate and natural wonders. Summer and Christmas holidays attract lots of tourists. Quieter periods during the year start from February to March (during the cyclone season)

Holidays and festivals

Each locality on the island celebrates annually its local products.

  • “Green honey“ cultural event celebrated at Le Tampon (mid-January)
  • “Vanilla” cultural event celebrated at Bras-Panon (mid-May)
  • “Sugar cane” cultural event celebrated at Sainte-Rose (end of July)
  • “Lentils” cultural event celebrated at Cilaos (November)
  • “Chouchou” cultural event celebrated at Hell-Bourg (first week-end of May)
  • “Litchis” cultural event celebrated at St-Denis (mid-December)
  • “Guavas” cultural event celebrated at Plaine-des-Palmistes (June)
  • “Safran” cultural event celebrated at Saint-Joseph (August)

Climate

Resolutely tropical, the Reunion Island has two distinct seasons: a hot summer, rainy and cyclonic (from October to March), and a dry and cool “winter” (from April to September). The east coast has by far the most humid climate of the island. Temperatures reach 21°C during dry season and 28°C during rainy season.

Accomodation

You will have many accommodation choices on the island: mountain lodges, guest houses, rural hostels, hotels, and equipped camping. In general, accommodation is decent and has fair pricing. Go to http://www.reunion.fr/ to look for available accommodation (there is a possibility to make online booking)

Youth hostels: There are only two youth hostels on the island (located at Bernica and Entre-Deux). It is not required to be affiliated, and the price is 15 USD for single person

Camping: Camping activities are not very common on the island. The only “official” camping site is located at Étang-Salé. A second camping site is soon to be at l’Hermitage-les-Bains. Bivouacking is allowed in few locations but must be limited to a single night. Bivouacking is possible at La Nouvelle, Marla, Lataniers, Aurère and Bélouve.

Guesthouses: There are about one hundred guesthouses available on the island. They are very much appreciated by the tourists. They are often located near touristic sites in a calm and beautiful place. They are a perfect introduction to “creole” lifestyle. Double room with breakfast will cost between 40 – 70 USD. It is absolutely necessary to reserve. Call directly the owner or contact the “Relais départemental des Gîtes de France Saint-Denis(0262 72 97 81 ; http://www.gitesdefrance.re/). You can also visit the website Bedycasa  where you can rent a room online (20 USD)

Mountain lodges and rest houses: They are private accommodation located near hiking paths. They are managed by a public agency via Central Reservations (026 90 78 78). These accommodations usually have 2, 4, 6 or 10 beds with shared bathrooms. They are about thirty on the island and they are fairly well maintained. Electricity is also available thanks to solar panels. Bed sheets are provided; diner and breakfast are also available prior request made to the house keeper. Pricing is around 15 USD for single bed, 17 USD for diner, and 5 USD for breakfast

Rural lodgings: They are private independent houses fully equipped, rented on a weekly or daily basis. They can accommodate up to 8 people. They are about 150 rural lodgings on the island labeled « Gîtes de France » or « Clévacances ». They are mostly located on the west coast near Saint-Paul, Saint-Leu and Hautes Plaines. They are not found in Saint-Denis but there are few one in Salazie and Cilaos. Pricing ranges from 350 – 650 USD for one week and 80 – 300 USD for one week-end. Security deposit is required. You can book directly with owners or tourist information offices. Contact the “Relais Départemental des Gîtes de France” (0262 72 97 81 ; http://www.gitesdefrance.re/) and “Clévacances” (http://www.clevacances.re/).

Hotels: Most of hotels are located at Saint-Denis near beach resorts such as Saint-Gilles-les-Bains and Saint-Leu. There are about twenty 3-star hotels near west coast beaches and just few 4-star hotels at Boucan-Canot and Grande-Anse in the south of the island. Compared to its neighboring island, Mauritius Island, luxury hotels in Reunion Island are significantly under-represented

Must See

  • The Cirques: Cilaos, Mafate, Salazie……these 3 cirques are worlds apart. If you are searching for peace and quiet, if you like hiking….these cirques are made for you
  • Le Piton de la Fournaise: In the South of the Island, Le Piton de la Fournaise is one of the more active volcanoes in the world.
  • Surfing & kite surfing: From “Boucan-Canot” to “Trois-Bassins” and “Roches Noires”, the island offers many spots for surfers and bodyboarders. If you are a kite surfing aficionado, try the west coast.
  • Piton Maïdo: This 2 200m volcanic peak will offer you an exceptional view of the Cirque of Mafate. The good news is that you can access it by car.
  • Canyoning: With its steep relief, waterfalls, and basins the island has all the natural elements to attract canyoning amateurs. The cirques of Cilaos, Salazie and Saint-Benoit offer many watersports activities.
  • Paragliding at “Saint-Leu”: Hanggliders appreciate a lot the natural conditions offered by “Saint-Leu” for paragliding: outstanding beautiful setting of the spot which is protected against the strong wind, and the possibility to fly 300 days a year
  • Conservatoire botanique national de Mascarin: The “Conservatoire botanique national de Mascarin” (12.5 hectares) is a national conservatory and botanical garden located at, Saint-Leu.  The conservatory’s garden contains about 4,000 plant species endemic to the Mascarene Islands.
  • L’Ermitage-les-Bains: This beautiful beach is perfect to hang out with family and friends and picnic in the shade of casuarinas trees.
  • Cirque de Mafate: This place is a must see if you like hiking. You can access this place only on foot or helicopter. There is no road reaching this place inhabited by few people (near one hundred locals live there). You won’t be disappointed by the stunning beauty of its landscapes.
  • Kélonia Sea Turtle Observatory : This is a paradise for sea turtles, which swim in pools reproducing their natural habitat in the wild. An exhibition shows the relationship between man and this marine reptile throughout history, including thoughts about envisioning a successful cohabitation between these animals and mankind. This sea turtle observatory also has pilot programs for research as well as a treatment center.
  • Tamil ceremonies: These festive and colorful ceremonies show an astonishing side of the Reunionese culture and its vibrant melting pot. During the “Teemeedee” ceremony, the participants walk over red-hot embers scattered along the ground. During the “Cavadee” festival, penitents pierce their tongue with a needle to achieve the victory of good over evil. The “Divapali” festival is celebrated every year by lighting hundreds of candles. This festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness

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