Reunion has an amazing array of places to visit, from awe-inspiring waterfalls and cascades like Cascade de Grand Galet near Langevin to beautiful beaches. Whether you want to explore the volcanic landscapes of Piton de la Fournaise, go on an adventure in Mafate, or see a little of life off the grid in Cilaos, this island has something for everyone!
Piton de la Fournaise
One of the best things to do in Reunion is visit the Piton de la Fournaise, a volcano that rises to 2,632 metres above sea level. It’s part of the inner zone of Reunion National Park, and is also a Unesco World Heritage Site.
The volcano is considered to be one of the most active in the world. Its eruptions occur on average every nine months, and are usually accompanied by lava flows and jets of magma.
Since 1978, a volcanological observatory has been installed in Bourg-Murat, northwest of the Piton de la Fournaise. This facility is operated by the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, and monitors the volcano’s activity.
The volcano is known to erupt regularly, but it is rare for this to affect the local population. However, the risk of a fire is always there.
One of Reunion's highlights is the cirque de Mafate, a geological setting created by the collapse of Piton des Neiges, which was then shaped by water. It's only accessible by foot or helicopter, and has more than 200km of hiking trails.
You'll feel like you've stepped back in time as you walk around this amphitheatre-shaped valley, home to 20 indigenous bird species. You'll also see endemic plants and insects that have evolved over time, thanks to the isolation this place enjoys.
Despite being so remote, it's possible to find a number of places to stay in Mafate, including Airbnbs. However, you'll need to book ahead for meals.
If you're planning to hike the rim of Mafate, bring your own shoes and make sure they're comfortable (especially on rough terrain). You should also take some cash with you as there are no ATMs here.
Cilaos, a popular resort in the heart of Reunion, is situated at the foot of the craggy Piton des Neiges, the island’s highest peak. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this stunning caldera is also home to jaw-dropping waterfalls.
This is a must-visit for hikers and those with a passion for nature. The cirque is a protected area and the trails around it offer stunning views of the craggy Piton des Neiges, as well as jaw dropping waterfalls.
In addition to the countless hiking trails, you can also enjoy a number of spas and mineral sodas. It is also possible to find shops, restaurants and accommodation in this quaint town in the center of the cirque.
The name of Cilaos comes from a Malagasy word meaning “someone you never leave.” In the past, it was home to runaway slaves (called ‘Noirs marrons’) and impoverished sages (called ‘petits blancs’). Today, the village is known for its traditional embroidery and Cilaos lentils.
The capital of Reunion, Saint-Denis is a stunningly beautiful city that straddles the ocean and mountains with a sense of wonder. It is also one of the most culturally rich cities on the island, with numerous museums, a thriving art scene and a unique blend of culinary influences.
- A visit to Saint-Denis is the best way to explore Reunion and experience the island's history. From its cosmopolitan streets to the colonial architecture of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, there is so much to see and do here.
- You can also get close to humpback whales in the winter, when they migrate to Reunion to breed and feed. Certain dive centres offer you the chance to swim with these incredible animals, and this is a truly unforgettable experience.
- If you're looking for a bit of adventure, Reunion is also a great place to go canyoning. With a range of different levels to suit all abilities, you can enjoy the spectacular scenery of soaring basalt cliffs and gorges.