Reunion Island is a magical place that never seems to deplete itself. I’ve visited the island three times already, and am still as keen as day one to ditch everything and just go live there.
Lesser known than its tropical paradise neighbor, Mauritius, the island seems to be still unexplored by most South Africans. This will change now, with two flights a week from Johannesburg flying directly to Reunion with Air Austral. It is a French Department (and very French) but don’t let the French language intimidate you, GPS will get you going and for the rest, the island is geared for tourists. If you are overwhelmed by the idea of paying for everything in Euros know that you can get away with lots of activities that cost you nothing.
Falling in love with Reunion is pretty easy – it’s a diverse island experience, and if you’re not one for lounging at the beach: welcome home. Each side of the island has its own allure, sandy beaches, pebbly beaches, volcanic sand beaches, and inland there are castles of mountains and beautiful rock pools and waterfalls to explore.
My first trip to Reunion consisted of a crash-landed exploration of the island for nine days. I call it our Litter Taster. We stayed in one locale – St Leu, on the west coast and part of the long strip from St. Denis to St. Leu that most of the French favor for their holiday homes. From St. Leu we drove around the island and to the various Cirques. My recommendation: do not do this. It takes up a lot of time to drive the winding roads into the Cirques, and driving in and out in one day doesn’t leave much time for exploring. You will, however, gain a huge amount of respect for bus drivers that do these routes without flinching. We hooted around hairpin bends and flinched – a lot!
A second four-day stunt in St. Pierre only cemented my desire to visit the island again with my sister and her family in tow, and we hatched plans for a longer 3-week visit during December 2016 and January 2017. Traveling over the Christmas period has its challenges. Especially since the Réunionais don’t really care much that this is possibly their second peak season, the first being the European school holidays in July/August. Getting accommodation along the coastal parts are relatively easy, but travel inland and you’ll find that most Gîtes and smaller boutique hotels shut shop for 2 weeks over Christmas and New Year, as the owners all ship over to…Mauritius. Well then, we carefully negotiated our trip around the island to fit in with their holiday schedule, going full circle over eleven days, and then recuperating for a week in St. Gilles.
Follow our journey through the following few posts, which will highlight our lovely adventures and one or two of our miss-adventures…those are the ones we laugh about now!