ROL Cruise recommends…
The culture capital
A delightful mix of Creole, European, Indian, Tamil and Chinese histories make up Réunion’s diverse population. Get a feel for its rich past with a trip to the Natural History Museum in Saint-Denis. Found on the island’s northernmost tip, this capital city boasts many traditional Creole buildings along the Rue de Paris, the Vallée Heureuse garden and monument, plus a bustling market selling spices, wooden handicrafts and embroidery.
Sun worshipping in the west
An inviting 13 mile stretch of beach adorns Réunion’s west coast, its golden sands protected by a 25 mile reef-edged lagoon. Grab a snorkel and experience a festival of colour in the 12 mile Réunion Island Natural Marine Reserve, which extends from Saint-Paul to Etang-Salé and is home to 3,500 species including parrot fish, crustaceans and conger eels. Welcoming Saint-Gilles is a 20 minute trip from Le Port and widely regarded as Réunion’s best beach. Head here to follow the underwater trail on l'Ermitage Lagoon free of charge, or soak up some sun on its tropical shore. Further afield, the rocky eastern coast of Réunion features striking outcrops where lava once flowed to the sea, whilst its southern beaches boast black volcanic sands and arid plant life.
Touring Le Volcan
Piton de la Fournaise is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, having erupted more than 100 times since 1640. It isn’t a threat to the population, however, so touring this 2,361m tall wonder is highly recommended. Ascend its slopes on a guided hiking, horse riding, Segway or mountain bike tour, or admire its lunar-esque landscape from a road-accessible viewing point, such as Pas de Bellecombe, without breaking a sweat. Alternatively, visit the Cité du Volcan Museum or take a scenic helicopter tour.
Walking on the wild side
Piton des Neiges in the central region is an extinct volcano thought to be around one million years old. Inactive for the last 200 centuries, it is surrounded by three collapsed calderas, each with authentic Creole settlements. At Cirque de Salazie, enjoy the pretty village of Hell-bourg before visiting the cascading Bridal Veil Falls. Follow an adventurous mountain hike with a soak in the hot springs of Cirque de Cilaos, or explore remote Cirque de Mafate which is only accessible on foot.
Embracing the sights and scents
Green-fingered visitors will be awed by the diverse array of flora across the island. See Mother Nature’s rich offerings at the Réunion Island Botanical Garden, 20 miles south east of Le Port, Jardin d'Eden in Saint-Gilles and Domaine du Café Grillé at Saint-Pierre. For a more traditional experience, visit one of the island’s working plantations where you’ll find a delicious selection of coffee, vanilla, sugarcane and exotic fruits.