Island holidays are usually brimming with beaches, hot water sports and plenty of seafood. But not on the exquisite island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean. Island holidays are usually made for romance and solitude, sunsets and gentle boat cruises. Not on the magnificent island of Reunion. For this island offers you all of this and much more. If you are looking for a rugged kind of escape packed with adventure and the thrill of exploring the great outdoors, then this tiny island is for you.
Do something extraordinary at this astonishing destination – photograph the contrast between volcanic rock faces and lush green forests; the views from a paraglider or mountain abseil and the views from a boat when you set off to see sharks and dolphins. Many adventurous spirits book a full day at Bras Rouge (Cilaos) where they go canyoning off a height of 25m into freshwater that comes from an old crater on Piton des Neiges.
Piton des Neiges – Welcome to the highest point on the island of Reunion which reaches an amazing 3,070 meters. Hikers trek from all over the world to hike this mountain to see the old volcano, inactive for some 20 000 years now. Incredible geological features will keep avid photographers busy while hikers will want to reach the snow-dusted peaks just for fun.
Another worthwhile hotel is Ibo Island Lodge where culture meets history and the scent of the sea fills your head with images of dolphins. Cruise on a dhow to a tidal sand bar and snorkel for hours.
Piton de la Fournaise – The only active volcano on the island and one of the most active in the world, boasting magical views, Piton de la Fournaise oozes hot lava and attracts daredevil tourists close to its red hot emissions. Temperatures drop radically between the coast and these awesome heights so pack a jacket for the climb. Many visitors hope to see it in full eruption and some consider doing a night trail and camping nearby! The road to the volcano snakes through a spectacular forest and the flora changes as you got higher and higher. The impressive road leads you to the volcano which last erupted in 2016, through the Plaine des Sables, the plain made of ashes. Enjoy a snack and coffee from the kiosk and there are clean toilets there. Follow the path down to the volcano crater.
Mountains – Cirque de Mafate; Cirque de Cilaos; Cirque de Salazie are often called natural amphitheatres and each one offers its own unique adventure. The best way to see them is the adventurous way – hike the many trails that traverse the cirques or grab a mountain bike for something more challenging and faster. Canyoning is not for the faint-hearted yet is an adventure sport loved by many and here you can experience one of the best canyoning outings in the world. There are many picnic and camping spots en route to the cirques so don’t forget great food and drinks to enjoy it all the better. The trip up to Mafate is well worth the drive up which takes about 30 minutes from the coast road where you eventually stand at an amazing 7,500 feet on the rim of the cirque. You then look over the whole area and it drops straight down into the old crater 4000 feet.
Matemo Lodge is raised on a low coral crag with boats rocking below on the bay. Meet at Karibu Bar before heading to a candlelit dinner on the deck – or a beach barbeque.
St Leu – Surfers’ delight and a great place to meet all kinds of surfer dudes from all over the place. Find it on the central west coast of the island where local surfers show visitors how to ride their “left hand” waves. Black sands and clear blue waters offer a striking setting for all, complete with palm trees and lovely surfer style bars and restaurants.
Cilaos – Arrive in one or Reunion’s larger towns and notice the friendly residents. There are only about 6 000 people living here, in a village known for its hot springs. Cilaos offers the thermal baths believed to be therapeutic and calming, in “the place one never leaves”. Book a bed at the contemporary Irene Accott Thermal Center and pretend you are at a spa resort for a while.
St Gilles Les Bains – For those who prefer to lie in the sun and soak up her rays instead of too many thrills and spills, make sure you experience St Gilles Les Bain. Visitors flock to the beach and its 20km lagoon frontage with glowing sands and plenty to move way from rugged mountain ranges and volcanoes to this warm beach but get there early as it is highly popular and gets crowded. Tuck into great seafood in a local bar or restaurant just to enjoy the beach vibe with everyone else. Make time to dive, snorkel and swim in the warm waters.
Reunion National Park – Visitors to Reunion are there because of the wildlife and the wilderness and the two go hand in hand. Enter this Park for free where not only do you explore the volcanoes and cirques but so too do you experience spectacular verdant views over forests and still ocean waters. This Park is special as it is most of the island and happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Created in 2007 specifically to protect and promote unique biodiversity found nowhere else in the world, this park is a treasure you simply have to experience.
Paragliding and sky diving on thermals
If hot ancient lava springs are too much for you, why not book a paraglide from the same mountain, Piton des Neiges, and float out over the turquoise ocean lined with tiny traditional homes? Look down on boats and yachts and surfers trying their luck on gentle tides. When you finally reach the solid ground with relief, take your pick of fun water sport that keep your adrenalin pumping. Try your first skydive as a tandem jump with an instructor who will show you the best place to land in beauty and in awe.
Scuba diving or sailing, that is the question
Scuba diving goes without saying, hand in hand with its best friend snorkelling. Maybe see Green turtles, or Moray eels, clownfish and Moorish idols. Or hire a yacht and sail beyond the straight flat horizon into the unknown blue spaces of sky and sea. If you want to swim, make sure you are in shark-free waves first, then look out for wild dolphins to maybe interact with for a few unforgettable moments.
Make it white water rafting
If you have a fear of heights, jump aboard a helicopter to view the volcano at sunset the easy way! Or bite the bullet and go white water rafting on a river that suits your level of excitement. Get ready to be wet and to swim a bit in turbulent river rapids as you take on the white water and end up laughing hysterically at your own folly. Your professional guide will bring you back down to earth with your safety gear that includes a helmet, vest and wetsuit plus camaraderie for free.
Hiking, mountain biking, birding and enjoying time to relax are what adventurous seek in between their thrills and spills. Coffee shops and cute boutiques also add to the grounding experience of exploring a new island destination in the sun.
Time to indulge in that adventurous holiday of a lifetime so contact Voyage2Africa to book your package deal today!