Best Things to Do in Reunion Island: 12 Must-See Attractions

by Jen
Best Things to Do in Reunion Island
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Are you looking to visit Reunion Island soon? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in Reunion Island. These diverse sights, activities, and attractions are sure to make for a memorable vacation experience.

Ahhh Reunion Island—where the cerulean waves of the Indian Ocean meet the emerald cliffs and canyons. Imagine a place where you can start your day with a sunrise hike to the peak of an active volcano, Piton de la Fournaise, and end it by sipping on French wine while watching the sun dip below the horizon. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? But here, it’s just another day in paradise, filled with countless things to do on Reunion Island.

Situated between Madagascar and Mauritius, this French overseas department is a melting pot of cultures. From Creole spices to French patisseries, the island is a gastronomic wonderland that will tantalize your taste buds. And let’s not forget the fusion of African drum beats and French accordions that fill the air, making every moment feel like a celebration.

But what truly sets Reunion Island apart is its untamed natural beauty. Think lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and coral reefs teeming with marine life. It’s a playground for adventurers and a sanctuary for those seeking serenity. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or a soul searcher, Reunion Island offers something for everyone.

So, are you ready to uncover this tropical haven? Buckle up, because we’re about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime! Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Reunion Island.

The top places to visit in Reunion Island right now
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Best Places to Visit in Reunion Island

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in Reunion Island? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this enchanting vacation spot. So keep reading to discover all these unique Reunion Island places to visit.

Are you looking to go hiking, canyoning, snorkeling, and exploring the island’s diverse landscapes? Or would you prefer immersing yourself in a rich cultural experience that includes vibrant Creole culture, delicious cuisine, and unique traditions? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Reunion Island can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Reunion Island that you should know about.

1. Piton de la Fournaise

Ah, the Piton de la Fournaise—one of the world’s most active volcanoes and undoubtedly a must-see in Reunion Island. Imagine standing on the edge of a smoldering crater, feeling the Earth’s pulse beneath your feet. It’s not just a hike; it’s a rendezvous with Mother Nature at her most dramatic.

The journey to the summit is nothing short of spectacular. You’ll traverse through a variety of landscapes, from lush forests to barren lunar plains. And the view from the top? Let’s just say it’s the kind of panorama that makes you forget to breathe for a second. It’s one of those Reunion Island attractions that you’ll be talking about for years to come.

Strap on those hiking boots and experience it for yourself. Whether you’re an avid hiker or a casual walker, there are trails for all levels of fitness. And if you’re lucky, you might even witness the volcano’s fiery temperament up close. Yes, it erupts several times a year, offering a spectacle that’s both awe-inspiring and humbling.

So, if you’re compiling a list of coolest activities in Reunion Island, make sure Piton de la Fournaise is right at the top. Trust me, this is one adventure you don’t want to miss.

Piton de la Fournaise is one of the best things to do in Reunion Island.
Experience the world’s active Piton de la Fournaise volcano in Réunion Island.

2. Coral Gardens of L’Hermitage

Wondering about the best things to do in Reunion Island that involves both relaxation and a dash of adventure? Look no further than the Coral Gardens of L’Hermitage. Picture yourself floating above a vibrant underwater landscape, surrounded by schools of colorful fish and intricate coral formations. It’s like stepping into a living painting, where every glance reveals a new detail.

Snorkeling here is more than just a water activity; it’s a journey into an aquatic wonderland. The crystal-clear waters offer visibility that can stretch up to 30 meters, making it a diver’s dream. And for those who prefer to stay dry? The white sandy beaches are perfect for sunbathing or enjoying a good book.

The area is part of a marine reserve, ensuring that the underwater world remains as pristine as possible for future generations. It’s one of those unique places in Reunion Island where you can truly connect with nature while also being a responsible traveler.

Looking for Reunion Island places to visit that offer both serenity and excitement? The Coral Gardens of L’Hermitage should be high on your list. It’s a slice of paradise that promises an unforgettable experience.

Discover relaxation and adventure at Coral Gardens of L'Hermitage, where vibrant underwater beauty awaits.
Discover relaxation and adventure at Reunion Island’s Coral Gardens of L’Hermitage, where vibrant underwater beauty awaits.

3. Cirque de Salazie

Cirque de Salazie! If you’re searching for a getaway to immerse yourself in nature, this is it. Imagine a place where verdant cliffs rise dramatically against the sky, and waterfalls cascade like liquid silver. It’s a scene straight out of a fantasy novel, but it’s real, and it’s right here in Reunion Island.

The drive to this secluded haven is an adventure in itself. Winding roads take you through tunnels of foliage, as you ascend into what feels like another world. Once you arrive, numerous hiking trails await, each offering its own exceptional view of the cirque’s splendor. From the easy Voile de la Mariée walk to the more challenging trek to Le Trou de Fer, there’s something for every level of hiker.

Don’t miss the chance to take a guided tour that delves into the area’s rich biodiversity. Learn about the rare flora and fauna that call this place home, and maybe even spot some of the island’s rare bird species.

Don’t miss Cirque de Salazie on your ultimate bucket list. It’s not just a destination; it’s an experience that will stay with you long after you’ve left.

Escape to nature at Cirque de Salazie, where dramatic cliffs and cascading waterfalls create a fantasy-like landscape.
Escape to nature in Reunion Island at Cirque de Salazie, where dramatic cliffs and cascading waterfalls create a fantasy-like landscape.

4. St. Paul’s Market

Thinking about the coolest things to do in Reunion Island to get a real taste of local life? Explore St. Paul’s Market. This bustling bazaar is more than just a marketplace; it’s a vibrant tapestry of Reunion Island culture. From exotic fruits and spices to handmade crafts and textiles, this market is a treasure trove of all things Reunionese.

While you stroll through the maze of stalls, the air fills with the aroma of Creole spices and freshly baked goods. Don’t miss the chance to try some local delicacies like “bouchons” or “samoussas,” which are perfect for a quick snack as you explore. And if you’re a fan of fresh produce, the variety of tropical fruits here is simply astounding—think lychees, passion fruits, and the sweetest pineapples you’ve ever tasted.

But it’s not just about the food. St. Paul’s Market is also a hub for local artisans. From intricate jewelry to handwoven baskets, the craftsmanship on display is second to none. It’s one of those best places in Reunion Island where you can find a meaningful souvenir that’s not just another trinket but a piece of the island’s soul.

Experience local culture at Reunion Island's St. Paul's Market, a vibrant bazaar filled with exotic goods and handmade crafts.
Experience local culture at Reunion Island’s St. Paul’s Market, a vibrant bazaar filled with exotic goods and handmade crafts.

5. Maido Lookout

Elevate your Reunion Island experience—literally! Maido Lookout is a must-see in Reunion Island for anyone who craves a bird’s-eye view of the island’s breathtaking landscapes. Perched at an altitude of 2,190 meters, this viewpoint offers an unparalleled panorama of the Cirque de Mafate, a caldera inaccessible by road.

As you ascend the winding mountain roads to reach Maido, you’ll pass through diverse ecosystems, from lush forests to stark, rocky landscapes. Once you arrive, the view that unfolds before you is nothing short of spectacular. The tapestry of jagged peaks, emerald valleys, and tiny isolated villages is a sight to behold.

Photographers, pack your finest lenses because the photo opportunities here are endless. Capture the first rays of the sun as they illuminate the caldera, or wait for the magical moment when the clouds part, revealing the grandeur below. It’s one of those Reunion Island attractions that you’ll want to revisit, just to catch the scenery in different lights and moods.

For the adventure seekers, Maido Lookout is also the starting point for several hiking trails. Whether you’re a casual walker or an avid hiker, there’s a path that suits your level. Maido Lookout is not just a viewpoint; it’s a gateway to awe-inspiring adventures. Is this lookout among the top things to do on Reunion Island? You bet!

Elevate your experience at Maido Lookout, offering a bird's-eye view of Cirque de Mafate at 2,190 meters altitude.
Elevate your Reunion Island experience at Maido Lookout, offering a bird’s-eye view of Cirque de Mafate at 2,190 meters altitude.

6. Kelonia Turtle Sanctuary

If you’re asking yourself where to visit in Reunion Island for an educational yet heartwarming experience, Kelonia Turtle Sanctuary is your dream come true. Situated on the west coast of the island, this sanctuary is more than just a tourist attraction; it’s a center for research and rehabilitation of sea turtles.

The moment you step inside, you’re immediately greeted by large, serene pools where turtles of various species glide effortlessly. These are the lucky ones, rescued from fishing nets or injuries, now living a life of relative luxury as they recover. The sanctuary offers guided tours where you can learn about the life cycle of these fascinating creatures, their role in the ecosystem, and the threats they face.

Get up close and personal with the turtles during feeding time, or take part in interactive exhibits that delve into marine conservation. It’s a place that transforms your understanding of the ocean and its inhabitants.

For families, this sanctuary offers both entertainment and education.

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Kids will be captivated, and adults will leave with a newfound respect for marine life. So, if you’re crafting that list of Reunion Island things to do, Kelonia Turtle Sanctuary deserves a spot.

Visit Kelonia Turtle Sanctuary for sea turtle research and rehabilitation.
Visit Kelonia Turtle Sanctuary in Reunion Island for sea turtle research and rehabilitation.

7. Le Jardin d’Eden

Le Jardin d’Eden, or the Garden of Eden, is an essential destination that you simply can’t overlook. Nestled in the heart of the island, this botanical garden is a living, breathing testament to the island’s rich biodiversity.

You know those places that just make you feel like you’ve stepped into another world? This is one of them. As you wander through the lush pathways, you’ll encounter a myriad of exotic plants, flowers, and even some local wildlife. From orchids that defy description to towering palms that seem to touch the sky, the garden is a horticulturalist’s dream come true.

But what sets this garden apart is its commitment to sustainability and education. Interactive displays and guided tours offer deep dives into the importance of preserving Reunion Island’s distinctive flora and fauna. It’s not just a walk in the park; it’s a journey into the heart of what makes this island so special.

When drafting that ultimate list of coolest activities in Reunion Island, make sure Le Jardin d’Eden is on it. It’s a place that captivates the senses, educates the mind, and soothes the soul. As such, it’s no wonder this garden is among the best things to do on Reunion Island.

Don't miss Le Jardin d'Eden, a botanical garden showcasing its rich biodiversity.
Don’t miss Le Jardin d’Eden, a botanical garden in the heart of Reunion Island showcasing its rich biodiversity.

8. Cilaos

Cilaos is not just a destination; it’s an experience that encapsulates the very essence of Reunion Island. Nestled within the island’s rugged interior, this charming mountain town is a gateway to some of the most breathtaking landscapes you’ll ever see.

Imagine waking up to the sight of towering peaks bathed in the golden glow of the morning sun. That’s what awaits you in Cilaos. But the real magic happens when you venture out to explore. From hiking trails that lead you through verdant forests to thermal springs that offer a soothing respite, Cilaos is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

Looking for the unique things to do in Reunion Island, you ask? Well, Cilaos offers a smorgasbord of activities that cater to all kinds of travelers. Whether you’re into mountain biking, rock climbing, or simply soaking in the natural beauty, there’s something for everyone. And let’s not forget the local Creole culture that adds a distinctive flavor to your visit. From the delicious cuisine to the warm hospitality, you’ll feel right at home.

If you’re in search of Reunion Island places to visit that offer a mix of adventure, relaxation, and cultural immersion, Cilaos should be high on your list. It’s not just a place; it’s a feeling, a state of mind that stays with you long after you’ve left.

Cilaos, a charming mountain town in Reunion Island's rugged interior, offers an unforgettable experience in stunning landscapes.
Cilaos, a charming mountain town in Reunion Island’s rugged interior, offers an unforgettable experience in stunning landscapes.

9. Trou d’Eau Beach

Ah, the beach! Who doesn’t love the feeling of sand between their toes and the sound of waves gently lapping the shore? Trou d’Eau Beach is the epitome of a tropical paradise, and it’s one of the best places to go in Reunion Island if you’re looking to unwind.

Picture this: you’re lounging on a sunbed, sipping a refreshing cocktail as you gaze out at the endless expanse of turquoise water. The sun is shining, the palm trees are swaying, and life is good. This is what Trou d’Eau Beach is all about—pure, unadulterated relaxation.

The beach is also a hotspot for water sports. From paddleboarding to snorkeling, there’s a range of fun activities to indulge in. And for those who prefer to stay dry, the beachside cafes offer a delightful array of local dishes that will tantalize your taste buds.

The beach transforms into a romantic haven as the sun sets. The sky is painted in hues of orange and pink, and the atmosphere is simply magical. It’s a must-see in Reunion Island, especially if you’re traveling with a special someone.

Trou d’Eau Beach is a slice of heaven on earth.

Trou d'Eau Beach is one of the best things to do in Reunion Island.
Unwind at Trou d’Eau Beach in Reunion Island, a tropical paradise perfect for relaxing by the sea.

10. La Roche Merveilleuse

Imagine standing at a vantage point where the world below unfolds like a lush, green tapestry. Welcome to La Roche Merveilleuse, an overlook nestled in the heart of the forest that offers jaw-dropping views of the island. This spot offers some of the best things to do in Reunion Island you won’t want to miss.

The journey to La Roche Merveilleuse is an adventure in itself. As you hike through the forest, the air is filled with the scent of damp earth and the sounds of chirping birds. It’s a nature lover’s paradise, offering a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Once you reach the overlook, you’ll understand why it’s one of the cool destinations in Reunion Island. The panoramic views are nothing short of spectacular, stretching as far as the eye can see. It’s the perfect spot for photography enthusiasts or anyone looking to capture the essence of the island’s beauty.

Local legends speak of the magical properties of the rocks and the forest, adding an element of intrigue to your visit. It’s not just a viewpoint; it’s a journey into the island’s folklore and natural splendor.

Experience jaw-dropping island views at La Roche Merveilleuse, a forest overlook offering some of the best things to do in Reunion Island.
Experience jaw-dropping island views at La Roche Merveilleuse, a forest overlook offering some of the best things to do in Reunion Island.

11. Cap Noir

Oh, the night sky! There’s something inherently magical about gazing up at a blanket of stars, and Cap Noir offers one of the most mesmerizing experiences you can have in Reunion Island. If you’re searching for what to do in Reunion Island, look no further.

Cap Noir is not your typical tourist spot; it’s an off-the-beaten-path gem that promises an intimate encounter with the universe. As you make your way to this secluded area, the anticipation builds. The path is illuminated only by the soft glow of the moon and the twinkle of distant stars.

Upon arrival, you’re greeted by an awe-inspiring sight: a sky so clear and stars so bright, they almost seem within reach. It’s a celestial spectacle that captures the imagination and leaves you feeling humbled by the vastness of the cosmos.

For those who love stargazing, this is a Reunion Island attraction that’s not to be missed. Bring a telescope if you have one, or simply lie back on a blanket and let your eyes wander. You might even catch a shooting star or two!

Cap Noir transcends the ordinary, offering a glimpse into the infinite wonders of the universe.

Discover the magic of the night sky at Cap Noir in Reunion Island, a mesmerizing experience not to be missed.
Discover the magic of the night sky at Cap Noir in Reunion Island, a mesmerizing experience not to be missed.

12. Étang-Salé Beach

Thinking about where to go in Reunion Island If you’re a fan of both fishing and surfing? Étang-Salé Beach is your go-to spot. Imagine casting your line into the azure waters as surfers catch waves in the distance. It’s a harmonious blend of tranquility and adrenaline, all set against the backdrop of a stunning black sand beach.

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The beach is a spectacle in itself, with its volcanic black sand contrasting sharply against the turquoise sea. It’s a photographer’s dream, offering endless opportunities for that perfect Instagram shot. But don’t just stand there snapping photos; dive into the action!

Surfing lessons are available for beginners, and the waves here are perfect for all skill levels. If you’re more into angling, the fish are plentiful, and the locals are always willing to share a tip or two. It’s a place where both worlds collide, and everyone leaves with a smile.

Étang-Salé Beach in Reunion Island is where tranquil fishing meets thrilling surfing on a stunning black sand beach.
Étang-Salé Beach in Reunion Island is where tranquil fishing meets thrilling surfing on a stunning black sand beach.

Frequently Asked (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Reunion Island

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Reunion Island? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Reunion Island:

Do I need a visa to visit Reunion Island?

If you are a tourist visiting Reunion Island, you may not need a visa for short stays, depending on your nationality. Reunion Island is an overseas department of France, and visa requirements often align with French visa policies. Check with the French consulate or embassy in your country to confirm the specific visa requirements for your nationality and the purpose of your visit.

What’s the best time to visit Reunion Island?

The best time to visit Reunion Island is during the cooler and drier months from May to November. This period offers pleasant weather for outdoor activities and hiking, with lower humidity and less rainfall. It’s ideal for exploring the island’s natural beauty and diverse landscapes.

Is it safe to stay in Reunion Island?

Reunion Island is generally safe for tourists, but it’s essential to be aware of natural hazards like volcano eruptions and cyclones. Take precautions when swimming in the ocean due to strong currents and occasional shark sightings. Follow local advice, stay informed about weather conditions, and exercise common-sense safety measures to have a safe visit.

What’s the currency in Reunion Island?

The official currency of Reunion Island is the Euro (EUR), as it is an overseas department of France. Euros are widely accepted for all transactions on the island, and you’ll find ATMs and banks readily available for currency exchange and withdrawals. Credit cards are also commonly used for payments.

Scenic waterfall surrounded by lush greenery on Reunion Island.
Scenic waterfall surrounded by lush greenery on Reunion Island.

Can I get by with English in Reunion Island?

While French is the official language of Reunion Island, some people in the tourism industry, especially in tourist areas, may speak English to varying degrees. However, it’s beneficial to have some basic French phrases or a translation app as English proficiency can be limited outside of tourist hubs.

Reunion Island, a French overseas territory located in the Indian Ocean, offers a diverse range of activities due to its unique topography and cultural heritage. Among the many activities available, the following are particularly popular:

  1. Hiking: Reunion Island is a hiker’s paradise, with its dramatic landscapes ranging from lush forests to volcanic terrains. The island boasts hundreds of kilometers of marked trails. One of the most famous hikes is the trek to the Piton de la Fournaise, one of the world’s most active volcanoes.
  2. Paragliding: The island’s varied landscapes and favorable wind conditions make it an ideal spot for paragliding. The coastal town of Saint-Leu is a popular starting point.
  3. Canyoning: The island’s rugged terrain, with its numerous waterfalls and gorges, offers excellent opportunities for canyoning. This adventurous activity involves rappelling down waterfalls, sliding down natural water slides, and jumping into clear pools.
  4. Diving and Snorkeling: The warm waters of the Indian Ocean surrounding Reunion Island are teeming with marine life. The coral reefs, especially around the west and south coasts, are popular spots for diving and snorkeling.
  5. Surfing: The island’s beaches, particularly on the west coast, offer good waves for surfing. However, it’s essential to be aware of shark activity in certain areas and adhere to local safety guidelines.
  6. Helicopter Tours: Due to the island’s dramatic landscapes, especially its three natural amphitheaters (known as “cirques”) and the inaccessible parts of the volcanic interior, helicopter tours are a popular way to get a bird’s-eye view of the island’s beauty.
  7. Cultural and Culinary Exploration: Reunion Island has a rich cultural heritage, a blend of French, African, Indian, and Chinese influences. Exploring local markets, attending Creole festivals, and tasting the island’s unique cuisine are popular activities among visitors.

What do people do on Reunion Island?

On Reunion Island, people indulge in a variety of activities that showcase the island’s diverse landscapes and rich culture. From hiking up the volcanic peaks to snorkeling in coral reefs, the island is a haven for adventure seekers. Visitors also enjoy Creole cuisine, explore vibrant markets, and relax on pristine beaches.

Is it worth visiting Reunion Island?

Absolutely, Reunion Island is a hidden gem worth visiting for its stunning natural beauty and diverse range of activities. Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast looking to hike volcanic landscapes or someone seeking relaxation on secluded beaches, the island offers something for everyone. Its unique Creole culture adds an extra layer of allure.

What is famous about Reunion Island?

Reunion Island, located in the Indian Ocean, is known for several unique attributes and attractions:

  1. Volcanic Landscape: One of the island’s most famous features is the Piton de la Fournaise, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Its eruptions are a sight to behold and attract both tourists and scientists.
  2. Diverse Terrain: Reunion Island boasts three natural amphitheaters, or “cirques” – Cirque de Cilaos, Cirque de Salazie, and Cirque de Mafate. These are formed due to the erosion of the extinct volcano, Piton des Neiges, and offer stunning landscapes.
  3. UNESCO World Heritage Site: Much of the island’s interior, covering the cirques and the Piton des Neiges, is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its outstanding natural beauty and significance.
  4. Cultural Melting Pot: The island has a rich cultural tapestry, with influences from Africa, Europe, China, and India. This blend is evident in its festivals, music, dance, and, notably, its cuisine.
  5. Outdoor Activities: Beyond hiking to the volcano, the island is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering activities like paragliding, canyoning, diving, and surfing.
  6. Unique Biodiversity: The island is home to a unique range of flora and fauna. The Reunion harrier is a bird of prey native to the island, and the island’s forests have several endemic species.
  7. French Connection: Despite its location near Africa and its tropical climate, Reunion Island is an overseas department of France. This means it’s essentially a part of the European Union in the middle of the Indian Ocean, leading to a unique blend of tropical island life with European influences.

Concluding Thoughts on Visiting Reunion Island

And there you have it, folks—a comprehensive guide to the best places to go in Reunion Island. From the adrenaline-pumping paragliding adventures to the serene beaches and lush forests, this island is more than just a destination; it’s an experience that stays with you long after you’ve left its shores.

Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a nature lover, or someone who just wants to chill by the beach with a cocktail in hand, Reunion Island offers a slice of paradise for everyone. It’s a place where each day feels like a page from a fantasy novel, only it’s real, and it’s waiting for you to explore.

So, pack your bags, book that flight, and get ready to discover one of the most underrated gems in the Indian Ocean. Trust me, once you set foot on this magical island, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to get here. And who knows? You might just find yourself planning your next trip before the first one even ends!

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The top things to do in Reunion Island for all types of travelers
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