This past October had to have been the highlight of our year because we were invited to Go to Reunion Island by their Tourism Board to go explore what this volcanic island has to offer, and here are 10 reasons you should choose it as your next holiday destination.
1) Reunion Island is a short 4 hour flight from Johannesburg.
We flew to Reunion Island on their local airline, Air Austral, which have two direct flights a week between Johannesburg and Saint-Denis, with an approximate flying time of 4 hours.
2) South African’s can travel into Reunion Island without a visa.
As of March 2013, Reunion Island (which is a French owned state), opened its doors to all South Africans by removing all visa requirements. You don’t even need to fill in landing forms when you arrive, it’s as simple as getting off the plane and going through passport control.
Please do note that the visa is only valid for 90 days and if you would like to extend your time on the island, you need to leave the country for 30 days before re-entering.
3) Reunion has one of the most active volcanos in the world.
If you would like to go to Reunion Island, make sure to check out one of their biggest tourist attractions, Piton de la Fournaise, which is one of the most active volcanos in the world. You can see the volcano either by air, by road or by hiking there.
4) The island offers almost 1,000km of Hiking Trails.
Reunion Island is known for is stunning white sand beaches and the lagoon in Saint-Gilles, but what many people do not know is that it offers tourists and locals almost 1,000km of hiking trails through their lush forests, rocky volcanic mountains and dusty plains.
The best part is that there is no entrance fee to any parts of the national park and anyone can camp anywhere in the national parks all around the island!
We hiked for 3 days around Cirque da Mafate and covered approximately 30km with our guide, and after seeing so much in such a small space, Carlinn and I have decided that one day we will go spend 3 months there to explore more of this World Heritage site.
5) The food on the island is amazing.
The island is predominantly French, so you’ll find a lot of similar foods found in France itself, but mostly with a Creole twist.
Creole food is mostly spicy and is mix of various influencers from around the world like Chinese, French, African, Madagascan and of course, Indian.
I highly recommend making your way to Le Marmite Restaurant in Saint-Gilles for their buffet of Creole foods and make sure you try everything because it was all really delicious!
6) They have Rum, a lot of it, and you have to try it.
You don’t need to be a pirate to enjoy one of Reunion’s specialities, flavoured rum, known to locals as Rhum, and it’s usually got some extra fruits and spices inside it! We got to taste a number of their flavoured as well as straight rums while on the island and each has it’s own unique taste to it, but be careful as they are strong and can cause a headache in the morning if too much is consumed!
There are 3 distilleries on the island, the Savanna distillery, the Rivière du Mat distillery and the Isautier distillery, which all make various types of rhum. Some are enjoyed with a splash of fruit juice and others neat, but one thing is for certain, it is certainly something you need to taste while visiting the island.
7) Their local beer is just as good.
When travelling to different countries, one thing I make a point of tasting, is the locally brewed beers and Reunion Island was no different. The local beer they have on the island is called Bourbon by name, but to locals it is called La Dodo because of its iconic logo that has a Dodo on it.
Be sure to drink one after a long hike in the mountains, with your lunch and of course, while lounging on the beach.
8) There’s no shortage of adrenaline activities.
If you are into adrenaline pumping sports or activities, visiting reunion will be your own personal playground because they have plenty of things to do to get your heart racing!
While we were there, I went paragliding and I’ve got a full post about it that you can read here, but some of the other activities that you can do while on the island range from canyoning down waterfalls to sky diving with the entire island as your backdrop.
9) Reunion Island Markets are colourful and delicious.
When visiting Reunion Island, you really need to make a trip to one of the local markets in various areas around the island. Not only are they colourful with super friendly traders, but the food is delicious!
While we were on the island, we visited one close to Saint Gilles and tasted some of the local foods and fresh fruits. One of our prize items that we found at the market were this INCREDIBLE chilli made by the friendliest Rastafarian man. It’s super hot and so delicious!!
10) There are hundreds of waterfalls
Reunion Island is a very mountainous island and with plenty of waterfalls falling into pools all over the island. We got to see some incredible waterfalls while there from the air as well as by foot and on the side of the roads we were driving on.
Here are just of 3 waterfalls we saw, which we saw from air, foot and car and the top image is a waterfall we stopped for a 2 hour rest while hiking through Mafate.
For more information on getting to Reunion Island, chat to the really awesome and helpful people at Reunion Tourism.