15 must-see spots in Reunion Island
To say that Reunion Island is a fantasy drop in the ocean is not just an idea, but a fact. Well known for its series of volcanic eruptions and tropical climate, this island of the southern hemisphere is foremost a French overseas department of only 2,512 km2.
Reunion is a truly Edenic island nestled at the heart of the Indian Ocean, preaching a unique laid-back lifestyle. Anytime, there is always a good reason to go to the mountains or to the beach, which makes sense when you are lucky enough to live on an iconic spot with such a diverse landscape.
Reunion is simply perfect for travellers looking to chill out, soak up the sun at a pitch-perfect hotel, plunge into secluded jungle pools, hike verdant valleys with unreal views or sip cocktails on the water’s edge before enjoying a delicious Creole meal!
Follow our Islandian Expert Christina, on the road to the 15 must-see spots in Reunion Island!
The volcanic side of Reunion Island
The Salazie Cirque is ideal if you want to cool off in forested mountains. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Salazie Cirque is dominated by the “Bride’s Veil” (Voile de la Mariée), one of the most beautiful local waterfalls. Shaped by an abundance of rainfall, its reliefs, dizzying waterfalls and lush vegetation are impressive! In the centre of the circus stands the majestic Anchaing Peak, named after a slave named Anchaing, who took refuge there with his wife Héva.
« Salazie also counts some villages such as Hell-Bourg, from where you can opt for a 40-minute guided walk before reaching the Mât river, and prepare yourself for a walk down of the Trou Blanc canyon! The vegetation is incredibly lush and waterfalls tumble down the mountains. » - Christina, Islandian Expert.
The Cilaos Cirque is located at an altitude of about 1,200 metres and includes high ramparts, deep valleys, peaks and rivers. Overlooked by the Piton des Neiges, one may encounter sumptuous canyons, deep ravines and peaks.
« The setting of Cilaos is simply excellent for visiting the must-see sites of this Creole village and for taking long-distance hiking trails if you feel like it! » - Christina, Islandian Expert.
The Mafate Cirque is nestled at the heart of the National Park and is a hiker's delight, with more than 140 kilometres of trails and lodges. To get there and discover its authentic and wild character, you can only come by foot or by helicopter:
« Mafate is a totally unique place where you can not only admire fantastic landscapes but also meet the locals. Various guided hikes are organized starting from the Rivière des Galets, the Maïdo, the Dos-D'âne, the Taïbit in Cilaos or the Col des Bœufs in Salazie. » - Christina, Islandian Expert.
The Piton Maïdo peak
The Piton Maïdo is one of the must-see spots in Reunion Island, perched at an altitude of around 2,190 metres! This impressive cliff-edge balcony offers a panoramic view of the famous Mafate Cirque, which is more impressive in the early morning hours. To get there, we drive through a beautiful tamarind forest, which is ideal for a family picnic:
« From the Piton Maïdo, many hikes are possible towards the Mafate Cirque or the Grand Bénare, which is the third highest peak of the island! No cars, no towns, no stress! » - Christina, Islandian Expert.
The Blue Tunnel exploration
At the heart of La Plaine des Cafres, the Blue Tunnel is a well-preserved underground wonder. Hundreds of frozen lava stalactites and an alternation of coloured and glittering rocks can be observed in complete silence.
« Once you leave the tunnel, a photo album and a fresh aperitif will be shared among guides and adventurers. Enjoy the moment! » - Christina, Islandian Expert.
Nearby, you may enjoy staying at the Palm Hotel & Spa, a 5-star spot nestled between the volcanoes and the beautiful Grand-Anse beach.
The exceptional coffee of Bourbon Pointu
On the top of Saint-Joseph, Grand-Coude village unveils the “house of Laurina” (Maison du Laurina). This small museum invites you to discover the top-quality “Bourbon pointu” coffee, also called Laurina. The “Bourbon pointu” comes from an artisanal production of arabica coffee, discovered in the 18th century:
« A delicious tasting session will be held at the end of your caffeine-fuelled getaway with Jacques and Marie-Claude, the passionate producers! The Bourbon Pointu coffee production is definitely one of my 15 must-see spots in Reunion Island. » - Christina, Islandian Expert.
A short distance away, you may opt for a stay at the Villa Delisle, a 4-star address on the top of Saint Pierre.
The Blue Vanilla – The Queen of flavours
In Reunion Island is cultivated a highly desired variety of blue vanilla. Founded by two vanilla enthusiasts, Nicole and Aimé Leichnig, the artisanal company called l'Escale Bleue is located in Saint-Philippe. During your visit, Nicole and Aimé will share with you all the secrets and techniques of making this natural vanilla:
« Vanilla beans can be purchased locally and are exported in small quantities to Japan, Thailand, Switzerland and Belgium. » - Christina, Islandian Expert.
The Creole style villa of Beaubassin
On the top of Saint-François not far from Saint-Denis, Monique opens the doors of her house, a gem of Creole architecture built in the 1860s. The Domaine de Beaubassin is a typical Reunionese house with a rich history, which can be discovered during a friendly tour of about 1 hour and 30 minutes with the owner of the place:
« A large patio, a superb pond and a magnificent French garden surround the house. The tour will end at the “Chamaille”, a pretty bamboo straw and mud hut that was renovated in 2000. » - Christina, Islandian Expert.
Near the Domaine de Beaubassin and very close to the Hermitage Natural Marine Reserve, holidays are calling! Rendez-vous at the Nautile, a charming hotel nestled on the West coast of Reunion Island.
An authentic stroll at the heart of Bras de la Plaine
The Bras de la Plaine is one of the deepest gorges of Reunion, nestled in the south of the island. Following the Petite Ravine path, you may encounter beautiful guava trees, small red berries, numerous medicinal plants and some dizzying passages! Your way back can be made by helicopter if you want to enjoy the adventure to the fullest.
Rafting session along the Marsouins River
In the East part of Reunion Island, the Marsouins River is the favourite playground of adventurers. In a heavenly setting, let yourself be guided by the tumultuous current in your kayak-raft:
« A private parking, changing rooms, toilet and shower, lockers and a sheltered area are at your disposal before and after the activity to guarantee your comfort! » - Christina, Islandian Expert.
Bourbon vetiver - An iconic crop from the Wild South at Far Far de Bézaves
On the top of Saint-Joseph village, Didier will be pleased to welcome you in his vetiver farm. This woody and green essence is used by the greatest perfumers and essential oil enthusiasts:
« The vetiver farm is open for visits on Monday and Wednesday, covering every step, from planting to harvesting and processing. » - Christina, Islandian Expert.
Head in the stars at the Makes Observatory
A night under the stars, what a dream! Perched on the southern mountains of Reunion Island, the astronomical observatory invites stars and galaxies’ lovers to discover the wonders of the southern sky.
The dolphins and whales encounter
Onboard of a speedboat from Saint-Gilles harbour, get ready to reach the deep blue sea which is at only 12 minutes away from the coast. Put on your wetsuit, fins, mask and snorkel and jump into the water with one or more diving instructors:
« To spot whales in complete freedom, you may have to wait until the tropical winter season! » - Christina, Islandian Expert.
Nearby, you may opt for a few nights at the LUX* Saint-Gilles. Colonial-inspired architecture, large verandas, pyramid-shaped roofs, an elegant decor, a tropical garden, a long sandy beach, a sparkling swimming pool... everything is there to make your stay a truly magical one!
A walk into the Etang-Salé forest
L'Etang-Salé is nestled between the sea and the mountains and is known for its black sand beach, its crocodile farm, its 18-hole Bourbon golf course as well as its beautiful tropical forest, ideal for sports enthusiasts.
Have you ever heard of the Segway? Standing at the driving controls of your all-terrain motorized vehicle, you will follow the guide to explore discovery circuits and unmissable sites, while following your body movements. Your ride is guaranteed to be both exciting and unique!
Iloha Seaview is a 4-star hotel, tucked away on the charming coast of Saint-Leu. In a room or a bungalow, spending a few nights at the heart of this haven of peace is always a very smart choice.
A traditional Creole picnic at the Bethlehem Islet
The Bethleem islet is a hiking and picnic site along the Marsouins River, in Saint-Benoît. This gorgeous spot is reached after a 15-minute walk in a charming setting. Years before, pirates used to make regular incursions into the island and a large number of Creoles took refuge on this islet. Shocked by the resident’s misery, Mrs Hubert Delisle (wife of the Governor), founded in 1855 a factory.
A dip in the crystal-clear waters of Langevin
At the heart of Saint-Joseph, one of the main towns in the Southern part of the island, everything is still typical and visitor frequentation remains low. One must take a special road, shaded by fruit trees, to reach a spectacular viewpoint over the river and the Langevin waterfall, where abundant and clear water is constantly flowing.
A skydiving experience on the coast of St Pierre
From the Pierrefonds heliport, get ready for take-off! At an altitude of 3,000 metres, the panorama is simply incredible, and the experience is sensational! It typically takes about 35 to 50 seconds of freefall and 5 to 6 minutes of thrills.
As a wise traveller, you know that the success of your Reunion Island holiday depends on its careful consideration and the logistics that go with it. The Islandian Experts are here to guide you through the personalisation of your travel project. Assistance, booking of your accommodation and flights, private transfers, car rental and many other services are taken care off to meet all your expectations, depending on your budget and desires.
For more advice, kindly contact the Islandian Experts.
See you soon!