Located in the Indian Ocean, Réunion is a small French island of about 2500 square kilometers. However, even though of a small size, the island abounds of riches of all kinds, so much that a quick round trip won’t suffice. Indeed, that is why one article won’t be enough to cover all what Réunion has to offer.
Where exactly is it located?
Between Madagascar and Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean, about 10.000 km from Paris, Réunion is a tropical piece of France. The flight takes about 11 hours with the following airlines: Air France, XL Airways, Air Austral, Air Caraïbes or Corsairfly. Departing from Paris, a flight costs around 700 euros. Since Réunion is part of France, you don’t need a passport as Belgians, a simple ID cart suffices and no vaccinations are needed. For information: the euro is the local currency.
The tropical climate allows tourists to visit the island all year over. Nevertheless, depending on your preferences, certain seasons are definitely preferable: avoid the rainy season if you wish to go on hikes and outdoor trips, since the roads will probably be inaccessible. From December to April, the weather is hot, the equivalent of the summer in our regions, even though the seasons are much less prominent than in Belgium. There is a risk of cyclones however. Personally, I visited in April and May, at the beginning of what the Reunionese call the winter. The temperatures ranged between a pleasant 25 to 30 degrees with little rain, the perfect weather for all kinds of activities, from idling on the beach to diving in the sea, aviating an ultralight and hiking through the forest!
I advise you to rent a car (in advance) to get around. There are the yellow buses, but being in possession of a public transport pass does not necessarily mean getting around easily. We rented with Lou Maheva, near Saint-Gilles.
Do you prefer idling on the beach or participating in nautical activities?
Depending on what you prefer, the island possesses several white and black sand beaches along its west coast. At Saint-Gilles you’ll find the Roches Noires beach, and not far from there the the Boucan-Canot (white sand) beach for swimming and surfing. You’ll find the lagoon at the Ermitage, an amazing, very quiet place and an ideal spot for snorkeling. In Trois-Bassins, a beach well suited for families, is ideal for pick-nicking. For information: the Trois-Bassins is situated next to a nudist beach. And finally, the Étang-Salé (be careful, its black sands can easily burn your feet), a place I cherish a lot, where the waves are quite high and perfect for surfing, but equally well suited for swimming.
At the Ermitage, you can easily find experienced tour guides who will show you for free the richness and the fragility of the coral reef, leading you along the submarine path. Don’t forget your diving fins, mask and snorkel. The whole trip takes about 1 hour, but you have to book it in advance. Very playful and nature-oriented!
I have a passion for turtles. So I happily visited the observatory for marine turtles Kelonia, near Saint-Leu. We were very lucky to have a guide for us only. He spent 1 hour guiding us along the various basins, and, more importantly, patiently answered all our question .
From my point of view, being very interested in the ocean floor, the Aquarium de Saint-Gilles (if the day is less sunny, for example) will give you a great insight into its fauna: 2 and a half hours were necessary for me to visit it thoroughly. I tried to identify the fishes I saw at the lagoon and to learn more about them. But I think 1 to 1 and a half hours are enough to visit the aquarium. For more information, click here.
It would be a shame to visit Réunion without exploring its ocean. And what would be better than diving in order to discover these wonders ? A big first for me was my diving initiation ceremony at Saint-Gilles at the professional diving center Bleu Marine. A very professional team and a funny instructor who put me right at ease. So, I found myself a new passion. I really want to pass my level 1!
My next article about Réunion will be about its nature and the next one about its cuisine. For more information, visit Réunion’s website, a treasury of interesting tips!