Top 10 Things to do in Reunion Island


Reunion Island being settled just off the coast of Madagascar makes it challenging to conceptualize this estranged piece of foreign land and actual part of France.

I mean this literally, as Reunion Island is not considered separate to France in any way despite there being physically 9,386km between them.

The flight from France to Reunion takes 11 hours; it’s considered a domestic flight with no security checks or passport control necessary. A phone call between the two destinations is considered a local call, and Reunion is even home to the most expensive road in all of France.

Reunion Island – by Jean-Marc Astesana – Wikimedia Commons

More and more people are learning of this tropical getaway and opting to holiday here. So what exactly does one do upon arrival on Reunion Island?

1. Visit One of the World’s Most Active Volcanos

I’m perpetually fascinated by lava and anything related to it. As it happens, Reunion Island is home to one of the most active volcanos on the planet, Piton de la Fournaise.

Hiking to the summit is one of the most popular activities on the island. It’s relatively easy to do and the scenery is outer-worldly. Some have compared this terrain to what they imagine it might be like on Mars.

If you’re not prone to claustrophobia, I recommend exploring the volcanic tunnels of the old lava flow.

Piton de la Fournaise – by Pouyot – Wikimedia Commons

2. Hunt Down the Reunion Island Waterfalls

The landscapes of Reunion will have you gawking in awe at the best of times. Throw a couple of waterfalls into the mix and just try to imagine the sensory overload…

Reunion’s waterfalls are generously scattered across the island. The most famous of them is the Grand Galet, a series of falls leading up to a single swimming basin inside of the Reunion Nature Reserve.

The Bassin des Aigrettes is another one that might feature less crowding particularly in peak seasons.

Cascade de Grand Galet – by VillageHero – Wikimedia Commons

3. Go Dolphin and Whale Watching

Reunion is a beautiful island from which to connect to the marine life that exists beneath the seas.

Dolphins and whales are notorious for creeping right up to the shores to greet vacationers, and there are tour operators all over the place ready and waiting to take you for a closer encounter.

You’ll even have chance to free-dive and swim with them without restraint.

by Rudney Uezu – Unsplash

4. Hike Until You Can’t Hike No More

Hiking has become one of the biggest appeals of Reunion Island thanks to the three cirques, Mafate, Cilaos and Salazi.

Mafate is famously completely inaccessible by roads, giving hikers a completely immersive experience with the natural wonders of the island.

Each of the cirques are home to various local villages that hikers will be able to visit on respective trails (or by helicopter). Guided hikes are also available for anyone who is nervous to attempt the trials blind.

If mountain biking is your thing, you’ll be able to make use of the same trails using rented gear.

Mafate – by Sergey Zhesterev – Unsplash

5. Take a Culinary Journey Through Saint-Paul’s Market

There are many a great market on Reunion Island, most of which will find you when you least expect them.

This one in particular takes place on the western side of the island for a full 24 hours. From Friday morning through until Saturday morning, the Saint-Paul’s Market can be one of the most festive spots in town.

The stalls set up early with a wide array of offerings. Arts, crafts, souvenirs and more local food than you can imagine. It’s here you should sample all of the island specialties, made street-style by the island locals.

Saint-Paul’s Market – by mwanasimba – Wikimedia Commons

6. Sunbathe on Reunion’s Beautiful Lagoons

Beach time in Reunion is a give, but what you really don’t want to miss out on are the majestic local lagoons.

Situated mostly on the west and south coast between St. Paul and St. Pierre, Reunion’s lagoons look a lot like light, placid waters found across Asia.

The white sands that line them are a comfortable resting spot when time ceases to exist. Locals have capitalized on the appeal of these waters and offer restaurant and bar facilities close by.

Sunset on Saint-Leu Lagoon – by Marie Vitali – Wikimedia Commons

7. Enjoy a Night on the Town

For a guaranteed good night out you want to head to Saint Gilles, also on the western side of the island.

It’s here you’ll find an eclectic mix of culture and entertainment; something that has been self-cultivating from the last few decades.

Saint Gilles offers numerous bars and nightclubs, all with very different appeal. Whether you like jazz, electronic or even traditional island music you’ll find just the spot for it.

Théâtre Plein Air de Saint-Gilles – by Morgane974 – Wikimedia Commons

8. Water Sports, Water Sports and More Water Sports

If you can do it on water, you can probably do it on Reunion Island.This vacation destination is not only incredibly relaxing, it’s also a hot-spot for adventure sports and water activities.

If you’re interested in stand up paddle boarding, paragliding, canoeing, snorkeling, surfing or parasailing then look out for tour operators who roam the beaches.

by Tim Mossholder – Unsplash

9. Visit One of Many Museums

Renowned for its collection of fauna and flora from the Indian Ocean, the Natural History Museum of Reunion Island is a must see. The building itself is surrounded with botanical gardens, so the whole experience is worth a day trip.

Those interested in learning about the island’s colonial history (a fascinating subject) should visit the Musée de Villèle in Saint Gilles.

Natural History Museum – by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra – Wikimedia Commons

10. Do… Nothing

On Reunion Island its very easy to get caught up in doing, doing, doing. There is so much to do that the fear of missing out is very real.

Try to experience the essence of the island every so often by simply doing nothing. Just be, observe and absorb everything that exists here without effort on your part.

All of the above activities can wait until tomorrow…

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