Reunion Island is not your typical tropical island beach destination. From active volcanoes to dense rain forests and tropical beaches, the variety of experiences on this Indian Ocean island just east of Madagascar are endless.
The destination is a nature lover’s paradise, with almost half its territory classified as a World Heritage Site by Unesco. It features has more than 600 miles of hiking trails through unspoiled, undeveloped terrain in areas that are not accessible by road. Hikers can explore the Cirque of Mafate, where they’ll find no civilization, simply mountains, ravines and dense rain forests.
Brave souls can hike up the Piton de la Fournaise, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. With its astonishing lunar landscape, the mountain offers some stunning scenery from spots like the Plaine des Sables, a sandy area on the Plateau des Hauts where specially marked trails have been set up for hikers, and the Pas de Bellecombe mountain pass as well as an array of craters and lava flows.
For true adrenaline junkies, Reunion is an ideal paragliding destination thanks to year-round, optimal winds. And those who are looking for even more thrills will love the parachuting activities on the island as well as the canyoning. Instruction is available for both paragliding and parachuting throughout the island from registered operators.
Though not your typical sun-and-sand retreat, the island does offer some great beach activities, such as swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and even stand-up paddleboarding. And diving in Reunion is truly spectacular, with visibility deeper than 150 feet in some spots. On a regular dive, travelers will see nudibranchs, mantis shrimp and ghost pipefish, turtles, barracudas and more. Among the popular diving spots is Cap la Houssaye.
The island also has a lot to offer when it comes to food and drink. With its melting pot of cultures, Reunion Island offers the most flavorsome cuisine. From French pastries to Indian curries, fish caught fresh from the sea and fresh fruit, all the different world cuisines collide on the island.
To accompany the Creole cuisine, Reunion Island has its own local rum called Charette. The rum is infused with pineapple, vanilla or even orchid leaves. For those who prefer a slightly less alcoholic drink, the Dodo beer is a must-try after a hot day.