Réunion Island: 10 days immersed in a diverse and rugged beauty

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Located in the Indian Ocean to the east of Madagascar, Réunion Island has it all – beautiful beaches, tropical rainforests, dizzying 9,800-feet high mountains and a colorful Creole culture. The island is a genuine melting pot of cultures. With no indigenous population, islanders tend to be of French, African, Indian, Madagascan, Chinese origin or – more often than not – a mix of them all. This ethnic diversity can be felt everywhere, from the music and architecture to the cuisine. 


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Practical tips

Locals say the island is bestowed with a ‘gentle nature’, meaning that unlike its closest neighbors on the African continent, there are no dangerous animals to contend with and the only indigenous fauna are birds. That said, shark attacks have been on the rise, so swimming is strictly limited to authorized lagoons, which have been made safe with nets and are lifeguarded.

As an official French overseas territory, the local currency is the Euro and the local language is French.

Soak up the sun on the west coast

Learn about sugar and rum production

There’s no need to have a sweet tooth to appreciate Réunion’s sugar industry. The island hosts several rum distilleries, and the Saga du Rhum in Saint Pierre is an excellent museum built in the oldest distillery, which still operates today. Opt for the guided tour which finishes in the bar with a rum tasting.

 

An exploration of the cirques of central Réunion

Réunion Island is a hiker’s paradise, famed for its cirques – plunging amphitheater-like valleys with lush, green-covered mountains that soar up on all sides. There are three cirques – Salazie, Mafate and Cilaos.

 The ‘Sud Sauvage’ – volcanic adventures in the Wild South

When it erupts, all roads are jam-packed with families of islanders eager to get a glimpse of the slow-flowing lava. Drive through the eerily scorched landscape of Le Grand Brûlé, where various eruptions over the years have razed the forest and left hardened black lava, to reach the base of the volcano before hiking to the crater.

Heading east towards Bourbon Island

Réunion Island knows a thing or two about vanilla

Continuing along the north-east coast, you will reach the ProVanille vanilla cooperative in Bras Panon. Alongside sugar, the history of Réunion Island is inextricably linked to vanilla – so much so that the island was originally called “Bourbon Island”.