Light years from the tropical island cliché with its cohort of sandy beaches and palm trees, Reunion island is a world apart. You will find unspoiled, pristine beaches, ideal for a relaxing dip between hikes, landscapes of amazing diversity and a volcano swathed in mystery. The peaceful capital of Saint Denis is a delight to explore with its shaded gardens and scents of spices! The Hauts are where you will see the island's real treasures however. The cirques of Salazie, Mafate and Cilaos are depicted by vertiginous ramparts, jagged ridges and lush vegetation refreshed by waterfalls. Between these three gems, the magnificent dormant piton des Neiges volcano brings the promise of a hike rich in superlative viewpoints. Yet the undisputed start is the piton de la Fournaise, an inoffensive if not inactive volcano. It attracts both families and amateur photographers, before they head down to bask on the beaches of the leeward coast and dig into a Sunday picnic, a genuine institution on the island. Join them and you will see how this multi-ethnic population has joyfully taken on board so many races and ideas. Reunion island is indeed worthy of its name!
The best place to have lunch in St-Denis is undoubtedly the Barachois, the seafront park at the northern tip of the city where the history of the island once called l’Île Bourbon began. Choose a food shack – daily menus are posted outside – and order sarcives (when available), rougail (sausages or boucané), massalé or cari and a bottle of Dodo (local ale) or Cot (local lemonade) and then choose a table overlooking the sea, pull up a (wobbly) garden chair and enjoy your food.