We are packing and off to the island of Reunion or should I say to Reunion Island in France…or…. It is not really important as long as the excitement is on! I can give you a hint on what is in the box of the excitement this time…sharks and a volcano… enough to smell the adventure before going to this island.
On the map, the island is one point between Mauritius and Madagascar and belongs to the region of East Africa. However, the island is actually a part of France, or French overseas territory in the Indian Ocean. Here you can use the EUR currency since this is the most distant point of the European Union and the furthest territory within the Eurozone. Of course, as in most exotic islands, even here, in the past, there was a fight over dominance, but also a struggle for new jobs under some other sun. People came from different parts of the world, and now the island is very colorful in demographic and cultural terms. There are French, Africans, Chinese, Malay, Indians …
You can further read our observations and impressions about this most eccentric island
40% OF THE ISLAND IS A NATIONAL PARK
What to say for a vacation on an island where almost half of the island is classified as the National Park except that it is impressive. At first we were thrilled with the colorfulness of the relief. We visited the greater part of the island and were crazed by scenes: canyons, pastures, oceans, hills, dense forests in which you seem to be missing only the ski trail, then the most unusual beaches with roots showing up from the ground, mountain ranges, sugar beet fields … beauty and excitement at every step. Then, there are spooky roads where, as in a video game, you climb a steep elevation. And, of course, the unavoidable picture of Reunion are the lava roads where everything around you is black and hopeless. The scenery of the island is so varied that one has a feeling of watching different films during the ride around it. It is so exciting! Therefore, rent a car in order to afford this promenade of different island’s natural spots to be seen.
VOLCANO … and it’s an active one!
This is my first association to the island. It is one of the most active volcanic points on Earth thanks to the Piton de la Furnez volcano (French: Piton de la Fournaise). In addition to the above mentioned volcano, there is another one, luckily, inactive, Piton de Neige (French: Piton des Neiges, Snow Piton), which is also the highest point of the island (3070m). As a result of the circumstances during our stay on the island in July 2017, the Piton de la Furnez volcano became active again.
About volcanic activity we found out the third day since the beginning of the eruption. We expected something epochal, that French evacuation planes would land on the island, that we would see that glowing river sweeping everything in front of us, but none of it … But, we were swimming swiftly, as if nothing was happening. They assured us that everything was under control, no panic anywhere, as if nothing was happening. This experience is described in the REUNION ATTENTION … VOLCANO ERUPTION text. Allegedly, a lot of tourists came to the island to experience the spectacular volcanic behaviour! Yes, they were there to witness the spectacle not a disaster!
I love to visit local museums before I start exploring a new destination. They somehow let me feel how the place once breathed and only then can I leave my footprints there. My imagination always surprises me…it creates a picture of a place and it is always the reflection of what I have read and explored about a certain place. First, I would recommend a visit to the Natural-historic Museum in Saint Denis, and then another really unavoidable on Reunion, which is LA CITE DU VOLCAN .
The volcano museum is phenomenally designed and is very inspiring. It is often a real challenge to make a visit to a museum interesting to children, but this museum is also the perfect choice for the youngest as it offers many possibilities for simulating a live volcano, so children just sigh and press the keys to launch a new eruption.
In the garden “The Jardin des Parfums et des Epices” (perfumes and spices), you can dive into a true tropical forest. Ah, that smell and freshness. It was beautiful. Please check the link REUNIONS EXOTIC BOTANICAL GARDENS . In addition to this garden, you can also visit the Jardin d’Eden Botanical Garden.
MUSIC AND DANCE
If you are a music and dance lover, as I am, look for Marenge (Moringue) dancers. It’s a martial art dance, like Capoeira. The dance is full of emotional charge, and the sounds of sega and maloya rhythms will gift you with a new musical experience.
Do find Mahoza dancers, beautiful creoles in short tops and flatter long skirts, with perfectly shaped bodies, and even more beautiful and more sensible moves.
The food is also colorful here. Exotic fruits such as carambola or starfruit, guava or passion fruit are additional joy to the island. Also, guinea syrup “Goyavier” may be one of the most refreshing one and it’s worth a try.
There is a creole and classical European cuisine. Try both. Then, at the market in Saint Paul, on Friday and Saturday you can find a handful of domestic products.
In this section I will mention two small drawbacks of the island. First, in many restaurants the menu is exclusively in French, and we were always ’equipped’ with a dictionary when ordering lunch or dinner . Also, many, even those who work with tourists speak only basic English.
The second drawback refers to the working hours of the restaurants. More precisely, it is known exactly when lunch time is, and when dinner is served. For us with no meal-time rules and habits, who want lunch at 4 o’clock let’s say, Reunion gives you no possibility to eat something healthy until dinner. Here lunch ends at 3, and dinner starts at 7. Disappointing, I shall say! But on the other hand, we need to learn from other nations, because, you will admit, this one is a good habit. We survived, and somehow adjusted to their schedule.
As far as the drinks are concerned, the island is famous for rum. Here, there is even a museum dedicated to this drink – La Saga du Rhum Museum, where you can learn more about the history and production of this alcoholic beverage, which is the main base of sugar cane. For those who like beer, there’s local beer- Dodo.
The island of Reunion is overloaded with adrenaline. The options are numerous: a helicopter above the volcano, parachuting, surfing, exciting hiking and hiking to volcanoes, rafting and much more. The island of adventure, I would say.
The beaches are beautiful. In many other resorts, to enjoy diving and all those colorful fish in large flocks, you need to take a boat and sail away from the places where you usually swim while there. However, here, you can dive in almost every swimming area and enjoy the underwater aquarium, because the fish world of Reunion is perfect. If you do not have an underwater camera, consider buying it because Reunion is a perfect opportunity for it. Is there anything nicer than diving and that floating feeling underwater, where there is one other dimension before you, and especially here, where dozens of parrot fish swim around you? They are called parrot fish because of the teeth that are protruded and resemble the parrot’s beak. Their teeth are so powerful that they can even grind corals. We loved Moorish idol fish and Emperor angelfish the most.
I’ll name some beaches we liked: Hermitage Beach, La Plage des Brisants, Baucan Canot, L`Etang-Sale, Grand Anse and Coco Beach. On most beaches you can find an area for a picnic or sports where the needle- pine Cesaurina Trees (Cesaurina equisetifolia) create a perfect shade.
Sharks on Reinion, a serious issue which I will soon write about. You must strictly comply with the warnings and only swim in permitted waters, because the part of the ocean near the island of Reinion is bustling with sharks. So, visit the beaches that do not have this sign.
And in the end, do not forget that vanilla on this island (the so-called Bourbon vanilla) has the most enchanting smell. And rum is of a world caliber. Visit many waterfalls (recommendation Bassin Aigrettes), St-Gilles Aquarium and just dive …
I would call this place a must-see island, France in the middle of the ocean, no indigenous people, cosmopolitanism in the air and a paradise on earth. Open your maps, find Reunion on it, remember my experience…I bet I will be reading your impressions from this island very soon…