Reunion Island is the lesser known cousin of the Seychelles and Mauritius. Based in the Indian Ocean due east of Madagascar it is an overseas department of France , making it the outermost region of the EU. The official language is French, but the majority of the population speaks Réunion Creole.
Like its cousins, Reunion has enticing white-sand beaches, but unlike them the focus is on activities for visitors. Many are equipped with barbecues and La Plage des Brisants, a favourite surfing spot, even hosts an annual film festival. L’Etang-Salé on the west coast is particularly unique as it is covered in black sand (originally lava coming into contact with water), while coconut-tree lined Grand Anse in the south has a rock pool built for swimmers and a Pétanque (boules) playground.
Tropical beaches are always a draw, but it is the interior volcanic mountain ranges that really make this island unique. Extending up to 3000 metres high and packed with cascading waterfalls and crystal rock pools, they are a hiker’s dream.
Piton-de-la-Fournaise is an active volcano that has erupted more than 100 times since 1640 and is an absolute must-see on your sightseeing list. The three diverse Cirques – collapsed volcanoes – offer some of the most breathtaking scenery on the island, with Cirque de Mafate only accessible by foot or helicopter.
The French island’s currency is the Euro, but happily it is far more affordable than France. You can choose your own style of adventure, opting between 5 star oceanfront resorts and charming rustic chalets in the mountains where you’ll share local rum with the owner. The island has the perfect combination of wild beauty and top notch infrastructure that make it especially great for families.
A trip to Reunion can be easily combined with the Seychelles and Mauritius for an island hopping paradise, or as the final beach escape at the end of a South African adventure that includes a safari and sightseeing in Cape Town.