La Reunion Island is one of the island resorts in the Indian Ocean. It is located east on Madagascar and south west of Mauritius. This resort island is a popular holiday destination marketed with Mauritius Holiday packages under the new joint cooperation of La Vanilla Island – other members being Seychelles, and Mayotte. This French island is an estimated area of 2.512 sq km (63km long and 45km wide)
La Reunion was a trade centre for Arab merchants in the early 16th century but was referred to as Dina Morgabin. Later Portuguese explorers and sailors arrived in 1506 and named it after a favorite Portugese saint called St Apolonica.
In 1649, some French mutineers were sentenced on the island by French governor in Madagascar and the island was named lle bourbon, after the French Royal House. Later in 1793, the island was named Reunion under the 1973 decree of Convention in France.
A period of instability followed under Napoleon Bonaparte in 1801 and later in the Second World War of 1948. All this history aside, the island is today recognized as a department of France overseas.
People and Culture
Many people have since made the island a home including Africans, Indians, Europeans and Chinese among others. Particularly, foreigners visit the island for holidays and trading.
The majority of the inhabitants on the island are creoles who are actually natives of the island. other peoples on the island are a mix of Afro-Malagasy, Indians (Tamil &Gujarati), Vietnamese and people from the neighboring islands of Mayotte and Comoros among others.
French is the official language used in La Reunion. Other languages used include Reunion creole, Hakka, Arabic, English, Cantonese and others. With different ethnicities and origin, people from Reunion practice Hinduism, Buddhism and Catholicism as major religious beliefs among others.
Since Reunion is an island, it receives 1,860mm of rainfall ever year. The rainy season is December to April with heavy rains and temperature highs at 22ºC. In the mountains of Takamaka and Plaines-des Palmistes, temperature ranges 11-18ºC.
The summer is dry with occasion showers in the day May to October. It is a popular time for hiking, tourist activity and school holidays. Other adventure activities in Reunion include Canoeing, kayaking, scuba diving and water sporting.
The island is made of intense rugged scenery of Salazies volcanic mountains that stretch to the west, grand bale mountains in the east and Piton de la Fournaise and an active volcano and the highest peak at 3069m above sea level. On the slopes of the volcanic ranges are lush forests like Bebour-belouve, spectacular waterfalls that run dry in the dry season, low lying beach coast hosting a number of beach water sports like surfing, boarding and diving from particularly St. Gilles Les Bians and St. Leu from the west coast.
Bird watching on the islands is indeed good from Bebour Belouve forests that are a habitat for a variety of the island’s endemics like Mascarene, swiftlet, striped dove, stonechat, white tailed tropic birds and several water fowls. Bring your pair of binoculars for awesome birding moments. Regular sights of mammals include brown maki lemurs, bats, rodents and the endangered Pteropus Edwardii fox in Parc national de la Reunion. Hiking and walks in the forest park wont be as disappointing-its a UNESCO world heritage site!
Saint Denis is the island’s capital lying on the north coast with iconic views of the beach and dense forests. Visit the different cultural sites and museums like Musee Leon Dierx, Museum d’histoire Naturelle that gives the real history of the island and some great art work by Picasso.
The east coast towns are predominantly covered in several acres of sugarcane and vanilla plantations. Reunion islands are home to people of different cultures, blending the French, local Africans, Indians, and Chinese living together in harmony.
This French island can be accessed by flights and cruise ships or ferry. The main airport Roland Garros International airport is located in Saint Denis and receives Reunion flights from Madagascar, Mauritius, Paris, and other European destinations. Other Reunion flights and charters are handled at Peirrefonds Airport located south in the town of St Pierre. Some of the airlines with stop flights to reunion include Air Madagascar, Air France and Air Mauritius among others.
Buses are available in Saint Denis to take tourists around the island while private car hire can be found at the airport. Buses schedules are not on time although there are routes from St Denis to St Paul, to saint Louis, Salzie and other major towns around the island.
Hotels and Accommodation
Standard and mid range accommodation is available in major towns in Reunion such as Cilas, Saint Denis and near the airport in St Pierre. Some of the hotels in Reuinon include Le Tsilaosa Cilaos Hotel, Le Vieux Cep Reunion Hotel, Le Boucan Canot in St Gilles, Sea View Hotel in Saint Leu and Plam Hotel & Spa among many others.
As a fast growing resort in the La Vanille Island resorts in the Indian Ocean, many hotels and accommodation facilities have been built in every town ranging from four star hotel resorts to chalets and cottages, all overlooking the turquoise ocean waters.
Visiting an island out in the middle of the Indian Ocean might seem like a scary proposition, but if you keep a few tips in mind and plan properly, your trip to Reunion Island will no doubt result in a hassle-free, enjoyable holiday.
Entry - For European Union nationals, a valid identity card or passport is necessary to enter Reunion Island. For some countries, a return or continuation ticket must be shown as well. . Currency - The Euro is the official currency of the island and credit cards are accepted at many establishments. (Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus)
Electricity - Reunion uses 220 volts.
Business Hours - Many Reunion Island businesses close for two hours in the middle of the day, so don't expect to shop between noon and 2 pm. Banks, however, are usually open from 8 am until 4 pm. Most establishments close for the day by 6 pm.
Getting There - Direct flights are available from Paris to Reunion. Travelling from other destinations will require connecting flights.
Packing - The climate of Reunion is tropical, so for those who are travelling to the island from the Northern Hemisphere, it will feel like summer. Average coastal temperatures range from 21 to 27 degrees Celcius but higher interior elevations will be somewhat cooler. Remember to pack a light jacket and rainwear in your suitcase and bring comfortable walking or hiking shoes. Mosquitoes can be a problem here, so clothes that cover your limbs, especially at night, are recommended.