Reunion offers vast biodiversity making it an ideal destination for sustainable tourism and a unique adventure! This is an island with a vibrant culture, exciting activities and a diversity of landscapes that are ripe for discovery.
The island benefits from an ideal tropical climate all year round, which encourages the lush vegetation providing a feast of natural vistas to behold. Visitors can enjoy this open-air natural museum via the over 900 km of trails that can take you almost everywhere, from sea level along the rugged coastline or to the heights of the various peaks, volcanoes and ‘ramparts’. As well as hiking, there are a host of activities to enjoy, from biking and mountain climbing in the mountains, to kayaking and aquatic canyoning in the sea. To truly appreciate the splendour of Reunion’s terrain you could try paragliding or parachuting through the air! When you have had enough adrenaline seeking, you can relax on the warm white sandy beaches or simply stroll through the island’s nature park.
One of the most thrilling attractions of Reunion is the active volcano Piton de La Fournaise. As one of the most active volcanoes in the world, it is the most visited location on the island. Visitors can take in the magnificent sight by helicopter or microlight plane, but for an inspiring view over the whole island, trekking to the top is a challenging but rewarding way to discover the volcano.
The calderas of Reunion also offer fantastic trekking opportunities and unique experiences. There are three famous calderas in the heart of the island, and the Mafate caldera is home to a village of the same name, 2,000 metres above sea level. What makes the village and caldera most unusual is that it is inaccessible by road, the only way to reach it is by walking. The Cilaos caldera situated adjacent to Mafate is accessible by road although you can still trek to its peak. Cilaos is well-known for its remarkable canyons and waterfalls which offers numerous activities to satisfy adrenalin seekers including canyoning and rock climbing. The small Cilaos village is also famous for its traditional style sugarcane rum and its lentils. Another natural treasure of Reunion can be found when visiting the Salazie caldera, the ‘Voile de la Mariée’, waterfalls that are renowned for the optical illusion it creates, in the form of the veils of a bride. The falls cascade into a natural pool that is encircled by lush vegetation. To enjoy Reunion’s natural beauty at a more sedate pace, you can visit the botanical Eden Garden located in the centre of Saint-Gilles. It is a haven of tranquillity amidst the city where you can discover 2.5 hectares of green space with over 700 species of plants, including a wide variety of endemic tropical fauna and flora.
There are more than just mountainous peaks and calderas in Reunion, the island also boasts some spectacular beaches. Reunion’s coastline is 210 km long, consisting of mainly cliffs and rocky beaches that have been eroded by waves. There are approximately 35 km of sandy beaches from the west to the south that are protected by a belt of coral reefs and form shallow lagoons in places like Grand’Anse, Saint-Pierre, Saint-Leu and Saint-Gilles.
The mesmerising kaleidoscope of flora and fauna in the ocean includes exquisite corals, exotic fish and other marine creatures. This real-world aquarium has been under the protection of a Natural Marine Reserve since 2007, safeguarding over 3,500 species, including Sea Turtles, Dolphins, Sea Urchins, Conger Eels and Parrot Fish. During the Southern Hemisphere’s winter season from July to September, Humpback Whales can also be spotted off the northern coast, though Whale watching activities are strictly governed by the OMAR (Observatoire Marin de la Réunion) and Globice (Groupe local d'observation et d'identification des cétacés).
One of the best beaches in Reunion is Ermitage beach, which is the longest on the island at nearly 2 km. It offers tranquillity and is great for sunbathing with casuarina trees providing some shade when needed.
Another popular beach on the West Coast of the island is Boucan Canot in Saint-Gilles-les-Bains. Although it can be crowded during weekends, it is ideal for snorkelling, surfing and other water based leisure activities. The aquarium of Reunion in Saint-Gilles-les-Bains allows visitors to discover the marine life of the island without getting wet! There are over 500 species of fish and natural coral reefs to discover, floating in more than 600,000 litres of water.
To experience some Reunion culture, be sure to visit the capital Saint-Denis, located in the north of the island. As well as being the main administrative centre, it also documents the island’s history through its numerous museums and cultural monuments. The colourful market of Saint-Paul is a great place to discover Reunion’s culinary culture and traditions. Located on the waterfront, you will find over 300 stalls with local produce and spices. The market is also a wonderful source of authentic souvenir gifts.