- Continent: Africa
- Area: 2,517 km²
- Population: 766,153
- Capital city: Saint-Denis
- ISO code: RE
- National language: Frech, Réunion-Creol
- International dialing code: +262
- Currency: Euro
- License plate number: nul
- Alternative spelling: Région Réunion
- Flight routes from Reunion: 686
- Flight routes to Reunion: 608
- Popular airports: Saint-Pierre de la Reunion (ZSE), Saint Denis de la Reunion (RUN)
- Large cities: Saint-Denis, Saint-Paul, Saint-Pierre, Le Tampon, Saint-André, Saint-Louis, Le Port, Saint-Benoît, Saint-Joseph, Sainte-Marie, Saint-Leu, La Possession, Sainte-Suzanne, Petite Île, Bras-Panon
- Airlines based in Reunion: Air Austral
Reunion travel guide (Africa)
Réunion is 780 km east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean and is part of the French overseas department. Due to its island location, La Réunion has no direct neighbours. Together with the islands of Madagascar and Mauritius, La Réunion forms the Mascarene group of islands.
Geography: the island originated about 2 million years ago due to a volcanic eruption and has a chain of volcanoes in its interior stretching diagonally across the whole of the island and separating the island into two distinct regions. There are also three valleys in this volcanic landscape called Salazie, Cilaos and Mafate, which, with their ragged eroded landscape, are a pure paradise for walkers. The east side of the island is green and humid and warm throughout the year, the western part tends to be dry and sheltered from the wind with a good choice of tropical paradise beaches on the Indian Ocean.
Mountains and rivers: the highest point on the island is the extinct volcano Piton des Neiges with an altitude of 3,071 m (10,075 ft). Besides the active 2,632 m (8635 ft) high Piton de la Fournaise, the island is also home to a harmless volcano, which erupts about every 2 years and thereby attracts many spectators. The longest river on the island is 35 km (21 miles) long and called Rivière-du-Mât; it is above all popular with kayakers.
Climate and best time to visit: the climate on the east side of the island is tropical throughout the year with an average temperature of about 28° C, and heavy rainfall especially in February and August. In general, the rainy season begins at the beginning of December and ends in March. During this period there is a high possibility of tornados. The west coast is characterised to a large extent by an arid steppe climate with very sparse rainfall. The temperatures vary according to altitude and in the nighttime may even reach freezing point. The best time to visit the coastal regions is between the months of May and October avoiding the French holiday season, as all the hotels and beaches are completely overrun during this time.
Language and communication: the official and national language is French. The majority of the islands population speaks Reunion Creole, which is based on French. Parts of the population also understand Hindi. English and other European languages are seldom understood meaning that knowledge of French is essential for a holiday on Réunion.
Health and vaccinations: vaccination against hepatitis A, typhoid, diphtheria, polio and tetanus is recommended. Long clothing should be worn to provide protection against mosquitoes and other insects, and a locally purchased insect repellent should also be used. There is no occurrence of malaria on La Réunion with an almost a complete lack of poisonous animals. Medical care is good on the entire island. There are emergency services, hospitals and outpatient centres everywhere. Visitors are advised to take out a comprehensive medical and travel insurance that covers repatriation costs. The European medical card (EHIC) is accepted but no longer provides for repatriation in the case of a serious emergency. A first aid kit should be packed and fruit and vegetables peeled or boiled before being eaten.
Entry requirements: passports are required and entry requirements are equivalent to those when travelling to France. For more information on current entry requirements, vaccinations and security issues please see the Foreign Office and Commonwealth website.
Arrival and onward journey: most flights from the UK to the international airport of Saint-Denis de La Réunion (RUN) involve at least one stopover. Air France (AF) flies from London Heathrow to St. Denis Reunion via Paris Charles De Gaulle (CDG). Austral Air (UU) and Corsair (SS) have good non-stop services to Saint Denis or Saint Pierre (ZSE), all taking off in Paris (either ORY or CDG).
Capital city: the capital of the island has about 150,000 inhabitants and is on the most northwesterly point of the island. The characteristically colonial city hosts many attractions including Islamic, Christian, Hindu and Chinese places of worship which are especially worth seeing, as well as the Natural History Museum and the central City Gardens with the many fountains and palm tress. Neither should visitors miss out on visiting the three valleys of Saint Denis that surround the city. A local travel agent provides day trips to the valleys of Malfate and Salazie and to the 2,225 m (7,299 ft) high summit of Roche Ecrite, which ranks over the whole of the northern part of the island. Those intending to climb the mountain should set out at sunrise, as clouds and fog close in as early as midday.
Places of interest and beaches: the Maïdo mountain (2,200 m) provides good walking with especially breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Also recommended while on the island is a visit to the 1000 m (appr5oximately 330 ft) high waterfalls of Grande Ravin, which are about 8 km from the city of Langevin, as well as exploring the very popular active volcano La Fournaise, which is located in the midst of a bizarre lunar landscape.
The most wonderful beaches on La Réunion are to be found on the wind still west coast. Visitors are given the choice of spending their holiday on picturesque white, yellow or black sand. Very beautiful coral reef lined beaches are situated near Saint-Gilles, Saint-Leu and Etang-Sale. Other beautiful beaches are near the beach resort of St.-Gilles-les-Bains, visitors should avoid weekends as the beaches are then regularly overrun after midday.
Religion: a 90% majority of the islands population are Catholics and there is also a large community of Hindus, Muslims and followers of the teachings of Confucius.
Major cities and accommodation: Saint Denis, Hell Bourg, La Montagne, Les Avirons, Le Tampon, Plaine des Palmistes, Saint Paul and Saint Denis.