Reunion Island is a French island off the coast of Madagascar and is a volcanic and lush tropical paradise that looks like it's straight out of Jurassic Park. Unlike many other legacy pieces of the former empires remaining in the possession of the former colonial powers, Reunion has a substantial population. Reunion is not a French possession or territory, it is an integral part of France (rather like what Hawaii or Alaska is to America). Accordingly, it is part of the European Union and part of the Eurozone. If you visit Reunion, you are regarded to be visiting France proper. There is a ring road going around the island you can easily reach any part of the island in a day's excursion.

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Most flights are from France, but there are also international flights from South Africa, China, Thailand other islands in the region like Mauritius.

Introduction To Reunion Island

Reunion Island: The Facts

  • Population: 850,000
  • Currency: Euro
  • Capital And Largest City: Saint-Denis
  • Official Language: French
  • Independence: N/a Integral Part Of France

Reunion Island is about 39 miles long and 28 miles wide. It is volcanic and with the highest volcano reaching 3,070 meters or 10,070 feet. Its volcanos are active and the Piton de le Fournaise volcano (a shield volcano) has erupted 100 times since 1640. This is one of the highest volcanos on the island rising to 2,631 meters or 8,632 feet

  • Visa Requirement: Visa-Free For 3 Months (Part Of Schengen)
  • Tip: You Should Have A Return Ticket

Related: 10 Etiquette Tips To Know Before Traveling To France

Like Hawaii, Reunion Island is situated on a hotspot on the Earth's crust leading to the continuous volcanic formation on this spot. Go at the right time and you may get to see lava flows. The island is home to three calderas namely: the Cirque de Cilaos, the Cirque de Mafate and the Cirque de Salazie.

Reunion Island was one of the few islands genuinely "discovered" by European explorers. When it was discovered, there were no native inhabitants and today most of the population is of African, Indian, European, Malagasy, and Chinese origin.

Being a relatively young and isolated island, most of the wildlife here is to be found in the seas. There are coral reefs but these are young and not as impressive as other islands in the region. Still, Reunion boasts rich marine biodiversity and is part of one of the world's biodiversity hotspots.

Marine species around the island include over 1,000 species of fish, 500 species of crustaceans, 190 species of corals, and in terms of larger species; humpback whales, killer whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and many kinds of sharks.

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Activities And Things To Do

Hiking On Reunion

You can explore the island in a few ways - including sky diving tours. The island is bursting with hiking trails for those who wish to explore the richness of the island's interior. There are around 900 kilometers or nearly 600 miles of marked hiking trails on this little island. You will be greeted with diverse landscapes. These include dense tropical forests, savannah or sugarcane fields, coastal walks with the rugged volcanic shoreline, and the stunning lunar landscapes of the volcanoes. Despite all the human activity on the island, around 30% of the landscapes remain untouched.

  • Helicopter Tours: Picturesque Lagoons, Volcanic Landscapes, Waterfalls, Lush Rainforests
  • Paragliding: With View Of The Lagoon Or Saint-Leu
  • Cruise: Selection Of Half Day Cruises

One of the main cruise companies here is "Grand Bleu". They operate a range of boats and vessels including sailing catamarans and conventionally powered 68 passenger catamarans (these are the largest on the island). They offer a range of cruises including:

  • Safari Cruise: 2 Hours - 30 Euro ($25)
  • Discovery Trip: 1.15 Hours - 19 Euro ($22.50)
  • Cocktails Trip: 1.30 Hours - 25 Euro ($30)
  • Trivia: Reunion Island Is Only 109 Miles From Mauritius (Famous For The Ill-Fated Dodo Bird)

Reunion Cuisine

The cuisine on the island is dominated by its Indian population and the most common dishes are curry with rice. But while Indian food may dominate the island, it is fused with influences from all over - including France and China. It is easy to find Chop suey and other Asian dishes on the island. Most of the dishes on the island are with meat or fish, vegetarian options are not common on the island.

One of the more unusual specialties on the island is tangue civet - a small creature of the hedgehog family.

  • Fun Fact #1: Reunion Island and Mayotte Off East Africa, Guadeloupe And Martinique In The Caribbean, And French Guiana In South America Are All Integral Parts Of France
  • Fun Fact #2: France Is Technically A Country Continentally In Europe, South America, North America, And Africa

Beaches

While much of Reunion's coastline is rugged volcanic shoreline, it does boast many tropical and unique sandy beaches. One of the most popular is the Hermitage Beach - it is the most extensive and is a popular snorkeling site.  If you are looking for a beach surrounded by restaurants that cater to tourists, then consider the beaches at Boucan Canot. Another noteworthy beach is L'Etang-Sale beach which is famous for its black sand. Grand Anse is a white sand beach and is lined with coconut trees.

In summary, Reunion Island is a stunning little tropical piece of France hiding just off the coast of Africa.

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