Welcome to THE HIDDEN GEM – REUNION ISLAND
“The world is a book
and those who do not travel,
read only one page.”
This wildly beautiful and rugged volcanic island (with a very active volcano), was uninhabited when discovered by the Portuguese in the early 16th century. In 1643 it was claimed by the French. They named it Bourbon and established their first colony here in 1662. In the years that followed, slaves from Africa were imported to work the sugar plantations. The island was renamed Reunion in 1793, and it remained a French colony, except for a brief British occupation from 1810 to 1815. Over time, French immigration, supplemented by influxes of Africans, Chinese, Malays, and Malabar Indians, gave the island its ethnic mix. The island’s economy is dominated by the sugarcane industry, and its main exports include sugar, seafood, rum, and vanilla. Tourism, especially from Europe, is a significant economic factor.
Following a previous Gold award in 2012, Reunion Island Tourism (IRT) has once again bagged this prestigious prize for their innovative application “Reunion Island” which has turned out to be a hit among visitors to the island as well as those exploring on their computer, tablet, and smartphone screens. Reunion Island Tourism was chosen from among 5 finalists and came out on top, largely attributed to being seen as “the most popular destination app.” Over and above the vote of the jury, which, of course, determined the winner, more than 143,000 users also voted the same way – a resounding vote of confidence among travellers to this French tropical Indian Ocean island. Befittingly the description of the app via the Reunion Tourism website says: “360° videos let you discover the island in an innovative and original way through fun and interactive virtual tours. With 360° videos, you can get a unique glimpse of the island in the form of circular panoramas of various views, such as the sunrise, the volcano, the beach, and the forest. You can also discover activities such as helicopter flights, hiking, paragliding, and much more. Experience the sensation of being immersed in the heart of the island and come and live unforgettable experiences on Reunion.” Reunion Island, born almost 3 million years ago, is a French tropical island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Take an atlas and go down the East Coast of Africa as far as Mozambique: you will see the Island of Madagascar, and 500 miles further to the east, the Island of Reunion, close to Mauritius Island. In a very small space (2,512 km),
Reunion has most of the types of landscape existing on our planet: lush green mountains, circular mountain amphitheatres, waterfalls, forests, high plateaux, sandy deserts, canyons and a volcano, La Fournaise. What you can expect to enable you to explore them, the island has over 1000 kilometres of footpaths for walking, hiking and trekking, all in a very good condition. In addition, there is an incredible variety of sports you can practise. The population of the island (780,000 inhabitants in 2005), of extraordinarily diverse origins, will give you a warm welcome, and all types of accommodation and catering is available: from the mountain cabin to the four-star hotel, from the roadside snack-bar to the luxury restaurant.
Classified by Unesco as a World Heritage Site for its peaks, cirques and slopes, Réunion certainly deserves this title, as Nature’s exceptional beauty seems to have reigned on the island since its creation! However, this is no paradise lost: the environment is protected and all activities are carried out in respect of their surroundings. Among the high-adrenaline sports, canyoning has found a place to flourish in Réunion. More than 100 incredibly diverse sites, dizzying waterfalls, slides, zip lines and one legendary site named “Fleurs Jaunes” should all be tested! From beginners to hardened connoisseurs, everyone can enjoy themselves with the guidance of safety-conscious professionals.
It’s not down to chance that Réunion was chosen to host the Paragliding World Cup! Its hugely diverse landscapes, and exceptional sites from the sea to the mountains all give an elevated view of the island, and another side to its incredible beauty! And to start your free flying experience, nothing is better than a tandem flight with professionals. Fancy trying it on your own? Three schools in the higher slopes of Saint-Paul (Bellmène) and above the lagoon at Saint-Leu (Colimaçons) can teach you how to learn the sport and master the intense feelings during take-off… Will you be won over by the botanic gardens of the Conservatoire, the colours of the savage forest and the soft green of the sugar cane fields? Or will be lucky enough to be accompanied by a sea bird while flying over the lagoon on the trail of sea turtles?
Reunion Island has just as many marvels below the sea as it does on the land. All you have to do is put on a mask and immerse yourself in a veritable natural aquarium. Fish and corals dance in a kaleidoscope of colours and forms that are accessible to everyone: children, snorkellers, beginners who are doing their first dive, experienced divers who want to pass all their certificates and amateur deep sea divers. Enjoy a moment of pure escapism by diving in the warm, clear water of the lagoon or sharing an adventure off the coast of this treasure island. The poetic names and images of diving spots offer an irresistible year-round invitation to an underwater odyssey.
Welcome to Réunion; an island where the air is pure, and spectacular natural scenery is everywhere. With over 1,000 kilometres of paths running through mountains, jungle and open spaces, both amateurs and pros will feel at home. The island will take you as close to Mother Earth as possible, where journeys are made on foot, on horseback and even by bike.
A mountain biker’s paradise, the island has dozens of trails winding through sumptuous scenery, offering moments of freedom, intense sensations, and unforgettable descents from the mountaintops to the seashore.
You would be forgiven for thinking you were in another world when travelling on the RN 2 main road, nicknamed the Lava Road, which runs along the volcano’s southern side. Destroyed by a lava flow in 2007, the road was rebuilt and now crosses the damaged area of the Grand Brûlé area. It is impossible to guess that underneath you can visit a lava tunnel, where adults and children can be guided by a potholing guide. The underground excursion, which lasts three and a half hours, is so extraordinary that you get the impression that you’re on another planet! The journey takes you through the bowels of the volcano and the galleries formed by the gas pockets during the 2,004 lava flow. It looks like dark chocolate is oozing out of the ceiling. Stalagmites stand like miniature pine trees, and strange shapes and colours get the imagination racing.
Reunion has a tropical climate, one cooled by southeasterly trade winds. Those winds help supply copious rainfall and also drive an occasional cyclone into the area. The rainy season runs November through March. Daily highs in the mid 80s are commonplace, and overall, mean temperatures average in the high 70s; with slightly cooler conditions in the higher elevations.
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