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Top ten must-see sites on Reunion Island

This true Eden on earth has something for everyone, from immaculate white beaches to adventure hiking trails, without forgetting unique lush green vegetation.

Volcanoes and volcanic cirques, rocky peaks, rivers and waterfalls, magnificent hikes, white sandy beaches, a luxurious forest filled with rare wildlife and friendly and welcoming inhabitants: the fans who consider Reunion as THE place to vacation keep growing day by day. Below, we have listed the 10 must-see spots to ensure that your visit to Reunion Island is unforgettable.

 

1. Piton de la Fournaise

Nicknamed THE VOLCANO, as if there were no other, the Piton de la Fournaise is still active ! The locals who live in its shadow however consider this solidary and majestic natural monument as a familiar and even comforting sight and it is popular picnic and hiking spot, while others go there to photograph the stunning scenery. That said, scaling the Piton de la Fournaise requires preparation : a good pair of climbing shoes, warm clothes in winter, sunscreen and a dawn start to avoid the fog.


©abadonian / iStock

 

2. Lunar scenery at the Plaine des Sables

On the road to the Piton de la Fournaise, after crossing grazing land and admiring the Nez de Boeuf and the Commerson crater, you will reach the Plaine des Sables, a barren landscape whose ruddy brown rocks give you the impression you’re walking on the planet Mars. The plains are lined on each side by the vertical cliffs of rivers. A mesmerising and unforgettable sight.


©F. Charton/hemis.fr

 

3. Takamaka waterfalls, unspoiled and grandiose

On the outskirts of Saint-Benoît, the economic capital of eastern Reunion, lies one of the loveliest sites of this region with over 6m of rain per year (London receives around 58cm/year !). The remnants of the former Cirque de Bébour (now filled in) lie beneath this unspoiled grandiose site. Further on the gorges of the Marsouins River emerge, whose vertiginous falls and rocky peaks rise out of dense, humid jungle. Far better than any postcard…


©jeanfrancois974 / iStock

 

4. Mafate Cirque, a hiker’s paradise

The beautiful Reunion Island is renowned for its cirques (natural circular rocky hollows of volcanic origin), notably the Mafate Cirque, which is without question, the most famous. Its remoteness is legendary and it can only be reached on foot! As such, Mafate remains a paradise for adventurous hikers with 180km/111mi of waymarked trails and pristine scenery.


©Simeon Eichmann / iStock

 

5. Hell-Bourg, one of “France’s most beautiful villages” in the heart of the Cirque de Salazie

The Cirque de Salazie, another of Reunion’s interesting cirques, fascinates by its weathered terrain, luxurious vegetation and many waterfalls. The latter, while they run all year, are most impressive in the rainy season. Hell-Bourg’s fame comes from its mild climate and hot springs that were discovered in 1832 and opened to the public from 1852. On either side of its orderly streets lie authentic and well-preserved characteristic huts. This antiquated and irresistible charm is conducive to quiet relaxing strolls.

Le village d'Hell-Bourg
©E.Nathan/Loop Images/Photononstop

 

6. Trou de Fer Waterfall, accessible only be helicopter…or by rappelling down

A show that takes the breath away! Starting at Bélouve lodge, the Trou de Fer trail, one of the most beautiful and unusual, meanders through ferns and tamarinds to Trou de Fer Waterfall, an impressive canyon, accessible only by rappelling and rock climbing or by helicopter.

 

 

 

7. Petite-Île and Grande-Anse, white sandy beach

The unspoiled south of Reunion and Grande-Anse beach which is the last beautiful stretch of white sand before reaching the jagged, black coast of the rugged south of the island. Grande-Anse beach, the southernmost beach of France, is depicted by white sand lined with coconut trees, stretching out lazily in rugged scenery. Beware of sharks and strong currents if you feel like a swim - we recommend the small pool to the left.

La plage de Grande Anse, La Réunion
©Marie-Pierre Pelletier/Michelin

 

8. Cirque de Cilaos

Another of the country’s sublime cirques, with jagged reliefs, vertiginous ramparts and nuanced luminosity, Cilaos is truly an otherworldly place, bound to capture the imagination of painters and poets alike. If this sublime spectacle isn’t enough, the welcoming generosity of the inhabitants and their local specialities – lentils, wine and embroidery – contribute to the appeal of this grandiose if bleak site.

Champs de lentilles dans le cirque de Cilaos
©B. Merle/Photononstop

 

9. Kelonia, sea tortoise observatory of St-Leu

Kids especially will love this science centre devoted to the protection and reproduction of the various endangered species of the Indian Ocean. With a little luck, you may catch a glimpse of some baby turtles in the nursery. 


©C. Goupi/age fotostock

 

10. Mascarin National Botanical Gardens

Established in beautiful scenery, the former estate of the marquis of Chateauvieux stands on the heights of the bay of St-Leu. Today, the site is devoted to the protection of rare and endangered botanical species, notably plants that are indigenous and endemic to Reunion Island.

 

Practical informations

Reunion island Tourism

 

The tourist attractions mentioned

Piton de la Fournaise Piton de la Fournaise
Piton de la Fournaise
Plaine-des-Cafres
2:00
Nez de Boeuf Nez de Boeuf
Nez de Boeuf
Bourg-Murat
2:00
Commerson Crater
Commerson Crater
La Grande-Ferme
1:00
Plaine des Sables Plaine des Sables
Plaine des Sables
La Grande-Ferme
5:00
Bébour-Bélouve Forest Bébour-Bélouve Forest
Bébour-Bélouve Forest
Les Remparts
4:00
Takamaka Takamaka
Takamaka
St-Benoît
0:30
Mafate Cirque Mafate Cirque
Mafate Cirque
Îlet-Cimendal
2:00
Cirque de Salazie Cirque de Salazie
Cirque de Salazie
Salazie
1:00
Grande Anse Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Petite-Île
4:00
Cirque de Cilaos Cirque de Cilaos
Cirque de Cilaos
Cilaos
1:00
Kélonia Sea Turtle Observatory
Kélonia Sea Turtle Observatory
St-Leu
2:00
Mascarin National Botanical Garden Mascarin National Botanical Garden
Mascarin National Botanical Garden
St-Leu
1:30