Nestled in between Madagascar and Mauritius off the south coast of Africa is one of the Indian Oceans best kept secrets. But why would you travel to this small little gem – here are five reasons why to go to Ille de la Reunion
Its Cheaper than going to the moon
The eastern side of Ile de la Réunion has a landscape like no other and is home to, Piton de la Fournaise which is one of the world’s most accessible active volcanoes. Over time this has made the area look very much like the surface of the moon.
It is a typical basaltic shield volcano and is about 530,000 years old and has been blowing off steam (and lava) for most of this time, with its most recent eruption in October 2015.
If you are lucky active eruptions can be seen up close and personal from various view points around the eastern side of the island. Otherwise you can enjoy spectacular volcanic scenery from the many marked out hiking trails that criss cross the volcanic area which are only open when they are safe.
The hiking route around Piton de la Fournaise is approximately 14.5km and takes around 5 hours, with scenic stops all along the route such as Formica Léo, a small volcano which has been inactive since 1753.
The trails are marked out by white painted rocks to guide you to safety should you be unfortunate enough to get caught up in the dense fog which can quickly roll in from the Indian Ocean.
World Class Water Sports
A mere 2 metres from the black and white beaches that dot the island is a coral reef that stretches approximately 30km around the island This is ideal territory for all manner of underwater adventurers, from novice snorkelers to advanced divers. The clear waters surrounding the island offer a kaleidoscope of colours, vegetation and are an out of this world experience for children and adults alike.
The adventures don’t stop there this little adventure island offers any water sport imaginable and thanks to St Leu’s famous left wave the island has historically been an essential stop for the world surf championship.
From stand up paddling and kite surfing to kayaking, canyoning to wale watching, wind surfing to sailing or even just swimming in the islands clear fresh or salty water lagoons. This island has something to offer everyone despite their age of ability or if you are looking for the peace and relaxing tranquility or the action packed adrenalin fueled adventure.
Fresh, fresh, fresh food
With summer months lasting from November to April this is undoubtedly the best time to go for fresh fruit. Lychees and mango trees grow along the side of the road, banana trees grow in back gardens and passion fruits grow in vegetation underfoot.
Up in the mountains you’ll find pineapple and melon farms. With acres and acres of the little spiky plants as far as the eye can see, an unusual sight indeed.
The island is also famous for sugar cane production with over half of its available farm land taken up by sugar cane plants. From this sugar cane comes rum and with the abundance of tropical fruit available comes a wide rang of infused flavored rums. For the full history, demonstrations and even taste testing Isautier Rhum Distillerie is well worth a visit.
The islands fresh produce also includes exquisite fish, bourbon vanilla, spices such as turmeric and coffee, a rare and delicate type of bean called Bourbon sharp, which is mildly caffeinated. This blend is very popular in Japan, it is among the best in the world… and the most expensive!
Adrenaline rush like no other
Not only does Reunion have the plethora of choice when it comes to water sports activities but land and air based adrenaline sports are also very easy to come by.
The terrain lends its self best to hiking with numerous treks up mountains down valleys and even round the top of volcanoes. With treks from the half-hour family walks for example “sentiers marmailles” to the “Grand Raid” which each year gets a few hundreds elite runners competing in the 8000m difference height race there are treks suitable for varying abilities.
Other activities include climbing, caving and canyoning in lava tunnels which mixes the luna landscapes with the natural water springs, waterfalls and lagoons throughout the island.
Taking to the sky offers other breathtaking activities and sensational views. Reunion Island is one of the most renowned places in the world for paragliding. With approximately 15 runways to choose from Colimaçons (St Leu) is one of the best with its 800m altitude runway overlooking the sugar cane field and then a 15 -20minute flight to the landing zone on the beach.
For those who would prefer to be attached to a motor, micro lighting is always an option with some providers offering flights over the ocean which gives you the chance to spot whales and dolphins near the coral reef. All clubs offer flights, ranging from simple first flights to whole tours of the island.
For the effortless experience that can last from 15 to 45 minutes and cover everything from flying over the volcano Piton de la Fournaise (with a little luck in eruption!) to the vertiginous walls and the steep topography of the cirques, then flying back to the coast and watching the fish around the lagoon’s coral reef, or appreciating the long line of civil engineering structures that punctuate the famous “Route des Tamarins” or the “Corniche” road (also called “Route du Littoral”) with, at your feet, tiny cars moving between the massive cliffs and the Indian Ocean.
The Ultimate in Relaxation
If it is a beach holiday you are looking for Reunion will definitely not disappoint. Boucan-Canot is the most popular beach for spending hours soaking up the gentle sun rays for the most beautiful tan.
With the summer months going from November to April and temperatures reaching well over 30 degrees and in the winter months only drop down to low 20s makes Reunion a 12 month paradise.
There are plenty of white or black sand beaches fringed with coconut and casuarina trees to choose from. This gives you more than enough opportunity to lay back and relax and soak up the creole atmosphere whilst enjoying the sea scent mixed with the smell of traditional creole spices from the restaurants and food outlet that line the coastal road.