Reunion Island: volcanoes and sharks

I am situated in the Indian ocean, one step away from Mauritius and three from Madagascar. I am 63 km long and about three million years old. Oh, how my past troubled me. Inside, I constantly feel the pulse of an angry volcano. I was discovered by the Portuguese but in the end, the French adopted me. Now, I am France, in the middle of the Indian ocean. Volcanic eruptions shook me many times, one great epidemic ruled over me.  I don’t even want to mention sharks whose hobbies are attacking surfers and swimmers. However today, dear reader, I am telling you a story of what makes me so interesting. No, it’s not Bourbon Vanilla, everybody knows that she smells nice and that she made me popular centuries ago.  And no it’s not the rum what makes me fascinating. Let me introduce myself more clearly, my name is  Reunion Island – AN ISLAND OF A REAL ADVENTURE . Today, I’ll talk about sharks and my pet volcano Piton de la Furnez.


Between the years 2011 and 2015, 17 shark attacks were recorded of which 7 were fatal. As a result, in 2013 they banned swimming, surfing and body boarding on half of the coast around the island. Then they stated that a certain number of bull and tiger sharks will be murdered for the sake of research, that said, be careful and follow the instructions put up on the beaches.

In 2015, there was one specific yet shocking event that left many in tears. Namely a 13-year-old boy named Elio, an amazing surfer by the way, tragically died when a shark attacked him in front of his friends. Many people think that banned fishing is the reason of the great number of sharks around the island increased to staggering proportions.

This type of unfortunate events caused sadness among surfers because this sport runs in veins of many people who live on this island. For more information on this subject go to SURFER.  Allegedly, in the past 6 years, 15% of all shark attacks in the world were recorded on this island, but worry not, the most popular beaches all have safety nets and the beaches are usually shallow lagoons monitored up closely.

Ajkule, ostrvo Reinion, Reunion
Sharks, Reunion Island

Don’t let this shark story scare you, the beaches on the island are a true rarity and should absolutely be visited. Some of them, thanks to the volcanic eruption, were transformed into beautiful rocky viewpoints of the ocean. Even the sand on some beaches is specific because it has a certain olive- green color. I want to single out one beach in particular called Hermitage. As a result of erosion of the soil, this beach looks like a set of a horror movie, complete with spooky trees whose roots stick out from the ground. Yikes!

Francusko ostrvo Reunion
Water sports, Reunion
Hermitage Beach, Reunion Island
Hermitage Beach, Reunion


Now, I would like to tell you something about one restless nature, my volcano. Piton de la Fournaise or Peak of the Furnace (2631 meters above sea level) is a volcano located on my left side. It is currently one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. They call it the sister of the Himalayas volcano in the Pacific Ocean which is more than 530 000 years old and has a caldera, on the highest part of it that’s 8 km wide. A caldera is a morphologic volcano shape that resembles a crater but is much larger. It occurs when the volcanic cone urges after an explosive volcanic eruption.

Piton de la Fournaise
Volcano Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion Island

The lava eruptions on this island are usually space limited inside the caldera, but there are also a lot of cases where the eruptions occur outside of the caldera. On several occasions, for example, highway N2, was “flooded” with lava and when that happens you have to wait a couple of months for it to be renewed. Namely one month after an eruption lava can still be hot so when rainy days come, you can even then see the vapor.

In 1977, the eruptions were so intense that they requested total evacuation of the village Piton-Sainte-Rose. On that occasion, after the lava flow covered the highway it directed its way to a near church and then a miracle happened, the lava flowed to the front door of the church and stopped right then and there. The church was, sooner than later, restored and was also given a brand new name- “Notre-Dame des Laves“ meaning -“Our lady of the Lavas”.

I highly recommend you visit the LAVA MUSEUM , not only is it fascinating but you can hear more detailed information about the volcano. When you come to visit me, don’t worry so much because the volcano activity is constantly being monitored and in case of great danger, you will indeed be informed on time. There are specialized helicopters trained for evacuation purposes. To see how the volcano looks up front or how lava flows turned to magma look like on Reunion island click the link REUNION ATTENTION…VOLCANO ERUPTION. There is a detailed description of that journey from the eyes of one tourist. You will definitely comprehend something which resembles an interplanetary experience.

Putevi lave, Reinion
Lava paths, Reunion

When talking about VEGETATION, it rises as soon as the lava chills and after 300 years, on the location where there used to be hot boiling lava, sprout beautiful tropical forests with heavenly verts.

Both nature and the island are a true wonder.

Greetings from Reunion, an island where the excitement never stops!

Katia Kraft
Katie Kraft`s notes – word`s first female volcanologist, Volcano House , Reunion


“Believe in unicorn” is a divine universe that combines colour, scent and adventure. It consists of educational and emotional stories of faraway cities, exotic islands and all other fascinations the author experienced during her travels.

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  • Hello Tanja, it looks like you live in a very nice part of the world. For someone like me, places like these are only in movies or in our dreams. The volcanic areas interest me in that they are in the news with the eruptions of Hawaii that happened just a few days ago. I sure would not know what to do if this were to occur in our area. Your pictures are wonderful and depict life as you experience it, truly a nice place. It reminds me of the days when our family traveled in to Mexico City to visit the Pyramids of the Sun and of the Moon, really great place as well. Thank you for sharing.

  • Hello Xavier,
    Many thanks for your time and for such a lovely comment. Reunion Island is by my opinion maybe one of the most unusual island paradises on the planet…
    Mexico City sounds amazing, I have never been there.
    Best wishes from South Africa,
    Tanja 🙂

  • Hi Tanja,
    I love the way you personalized your island paradise! And the pictures are awesome! What a lovely homeland you have.
    Thank you for sharing this…I would have never known!


  • I am fascinated by volcanoes, the rock formations they leave behind and the wonderful flora that grows out of them.

    I enjoyed your pictures and I plan to check out your other articles when I have a chance. Meanwhile, Reunion Island goes on the bucket list.


  • What an interesting place is Reunion Island, and how tropical and alive you make it sound when writing in the first person as if the island really speaks to you, I really like this style!
    To think of all the subterranean activities that are going on inside and underneath it and the life that goes on and around it, this really is an adventure island I would love to visit.

    Now that it is a French colony, do I need an EU passport to visit or can anyone come to visit?

  • Hi Annie,
    Thank you very much for your lovely words. Reunion is a great spot on the Earth where both nature and island are true wonder. If you are interested in to read more about Reunion you can find 3 more articles about the island on my blog.
    Best wishes from South Africa,

  • Hello Tanja, what an amazing article. So much to learn about. From the myths to the character of the island. I love those trees with their raised roots. And the volcano! What an adventuresome island this is. And I so enjoyed that you are so one with the island that you wrote from her perspective. How fairy like and magical. I can see the magic afoot.
    Fabulous read. Many thanks
    In peace and gratitude, ariel

  • Wow, this sounds like such a magical wonderful place to visit. To live there must be wonderful. With the volcanic activity and history. I am curious is there any gem history or mining at all. I have heard that volcanic activity produces many beautiful types of gemstones. I am curious if that is also another wonder of this place, not that it needs more 🙂

  • Hi Christina,
    Many thanks for commenting. Reunion Island is French gem of the Indian Ocean, but is still widely unknown. About the real gemstones on Reunion Island I am not aware.

  • Dear Ariel,
    Thank you very much.
    Reunion is waiting to be discovered by the adventurous traveler. There is to much to do and see. I am wondering why the island is widely unknown?
    Best wishes,

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