Reunion Island Complete Travel Guide

Reunion Island Complete Travel Guide

Spectacular-right? Feel like going to this exotic looking island on the Indian Ocean? This is a complete travel guide to Reunion Island, a French Overseas Territory. Know the location of Reunion Island, how to go to Reunion Island, and places to see there. In addition, know about the rare avifauna of Reunion Island, and the island’s beautiful Bourbon roses.


Bonaparte Island was first discovered only around 1507 AD. At the time of its discovery, it was uninhabited. The credit of discovery of Reunion Island goes to a Portuguese sailor.

At the turn of the 16th century, some French sailors moved in. Just before them, several residents of Madagascar made Bourbon Island their home.

When the French people were expanding their habitat in Reunion Island, they brought thousands of Tamil people from India’s Pondicherry which was then under their control.

Reunion Island is a volcanic island and there is still an active volcano there.

As far as the languages of Reunion Island, French and Reunion Creole are widely spoken. Tamil is also a language spoken among the Indians living in this Island.

The size of the Reunion Island

Its length and breadth measure 63 km by 45 km respectively.

The capital of it is Saint-Denis. The entire Reunion Island is an ultra-clean nation with excellent roads and other infrastructures. Saint-Denis is a very big modern city.

Where is Reunion Island?

Bourbon Island sits on the Indian Ocean. In order for you to visualize its location on the Atlas, I give some facts below.

  • Madagascar is located to the west of Reunion Island.
  • Mauritius is located 175 km away to the northeast of Reunion Island.

Here is a map showing the location of Reunion Island.

Reunion Island Map

How to reach Reunion Island

The capital of this Island, Saint-Denis has an international airport that receives flights from several European cities that include, Paris and Lisbon.

The flying time from Paris to the capital of this Island is eleven hours.

I think it will be much more exciting to go to Reunion Island from Mauritius by boat.

If you still prefer a shorter duration flight, reach Mauritius first, from wherever you are. There is no dearth of flight connections to Mauritius.

From Mauritius, the flying duration to Reunion Island is only 55 minutes.

What to eat in Reunion Island?

Being a French overseas department, you can find French cuisine everywhere.

Since it has a strong Indian and African influence, you can eat the corresponding food in Bourbon Island.

As you can expect, the ubiquitous Chinese cuisine is widely available in Bonaparte Island.

Any specialty food Reunion Island that you should try?

Yes, certainly! Have you ever eaten the meat of Hedgehog? I believe it as exotic food like the island’s flora and fauna.

Hedgehog carri (curry) is eaten with boiled rice cooked in Indian style.

I read somewhere that the Reunion Islanders also eat the meat of ‘civet’.


There are numerous species of civet. The above image is just one of them.

Another unique food that you should try when you are traveling in Reunion Island is the eggs of Wasp( kind of kleptoparasite that lays its eggs on another wasp species).

Wasps undergo a phase of ‘larvae’. The natives of Reunion Islanders (mostly the Tamils) make a dish called “Rougail”, a kind of semi-solid porridge out of the larvae of Wasps.

Wow! It is truly an exotic dish of Reunion Island.

The native staple of Reunion Island is rice cooked in various forms accompanied by meat and vegetables.

Here some more dishes you can eat in Reunion Island.

  • Biriyani (a typical Mughal cuisine imported by the Indians)
  • Gratin
  • Dumplings (momos)
  • Carri Bichique

Drinks of Reunion Island

Well, you will find most of the liquors and wines brewed in France. I don’t think there is any local drink.

What can you see and do in Reunion Island?

  1. Volcanoes

Volcanoes of Reunion Island come to my mind first when it comes to the sightseeing attractions in the Island.

The calderas that are the byproducts of volcano eruptions are equally attractive to see.

Piton de la Fournaise is the most important volcano of Reunion Island.

It erupted in as late as August 2019.

See the flow of red hot lava from the Piton de la Fournaise volcano.

YouTube video

See the video in full-screen mode to appreciate nature’s ultimate fury.

The volcano’s summit is situated at a whopping 8600 feet above sea level.

Piton de la Fournaise is one of the most active volcanoes in the world similar to the Hawaiian volcano named “Kilauea” that also erupted almost at the same time.

Another volcano whose summit is located at an elevation of over 10,000 feet above sea level is called “Piton des Neiges”.

  1. Calderas of Reunion Island

There are three calderas in Bourbon Island belonging to three different volcanoes.

  • Cirque de Cilaos
  • The Cirque de Salazie
  • Cirque de Mafate.

The word “Cirque” must mean a ‘caldera’.

A tourist who visits Reunion Island is first taken to see the volcanoes and calderas. I think it will be a full-day tour of volcanoes and calderas of Reunion Island.

One particular crater is so large that there are human settlements inside the crater! Yes, there is a village is existing in a caldera.

  1. Beaches in Reunion Island

We are touring an island, buddy! Naturally, there are beaches on all sides of the island and somehow, only a few beaches attract visitors. I think travel bloggers like me make even obscure beaches famous.

People from France regularly visit various islands of their motherland that are located in far off oceans and seas. Reunion Island is one such tourist attraction for them.

They love to spend quality time in tropical beaches of Reunion Island that attract tourists with their scenic shores that are lined with eateries and bars.

Some of the beaches of Reunion Island that are touristy:

  • Boucan Canot Beach

Reunion Island Boucan Canot Beach

  • Grand Anse beach

Grand Anse beach

  • Hermitage Beach

Hermitage Beach Reunion Island

  • L’Étang-Salé black sand beach

Reunion Island L'Étang-Salé black sand beach

  • Le Vieux Port green sand beach

Reunion Island Le Vieux Port green sand beach

  • Manapany Beach

Reunion island Manapany Beach

  1. Surfing in Reunion Island

Foreign tourists who arrive at the Reunion Island are usually goaded by the travel blogs’ mentioning of ideal surfing spots in the Reunion Island. Among several places to surf on the island, the most thronged-after surfing spot is La Plage des Brisants.

  1. Niagara Falls, Reunion

YouTube video

Wow! Breathtaking! I think if you name a waterfall the  ‘Niagara Falls’, it becomes a spectacular sight. Look at the falls! There is something in the name ‘Niagara’.The water is falling from a great height (180 feet) and as it nears the falling spot, it seems voluminous-eh?

  1. Mafate Cirque

reunion island Mafate Cirque

The place certainly looks dreamy. It gives a sense of chill to the tourists when they go to visit the Cirque Mafate, a caldera in Reunion Island.

There are no vehicles to take you to witness this spectacular geological wonder; you only have to trek through tough conditions. Nevertheless, that doesn’t deter hiking enthusiasts that you can see climbing up eagerly to catch the beautiful cirque on their cameras.

On their hiking hails, trekkers will find hidden waterfalls and stumble onto suddenly appearing ravines dramatically.

  1. Paragliding in Saint-Leu

reunion island Saint-Leu

A serene beach that is deserted. Often, you will see such beaches in Bourbon Island. Saint-Leu is a small village that commands quite a lot of attention from Paragliders. I suppose the conditions are favorable in Saint-Leu for paragliding.

Moreover, Saint-Leu is also good for surfing.

YouTube video

Here is a bird’s eye view of the Saint-Leu beach of the Island.

Saint-Leu beach

  1. Grand Bassin

Grand Bassin islet in Reunion island

Aren’t you captivated to look at this stunning place? If you want to stand there, you have to walk nearly 5 km with in the Island and reach an islet called Grand Bassin.

Hiking buffs from Africa and France are lured by the scenic beauty of Grand Bassin and plan an exclusive trip to Reunion Island just to enjoy a session of walking on the islet.

There is a waterfall called Mariée waterfall that is always deserted except for a few birds that try hard to find some prey there.

Tourism is on the rise to Grand Bassin and the local residents to help the tourists by guiding them through the hidden gems of the village.

  1. Watch the grand spectacle of Sunset in Reunion Island

Reunion island sun set

You don’t have to walk a long distance to watch the sunset in a small island-right? Just walk down the small pier and the sun will set exclusively for you.

  1. Grand Galet Falls, Reunion Island

Grand Galet Falls, Reunion Island

This cascade of waterfalls is found in the Reunion National Park that is part of the commune of Saint-Joseph.

Saint Joseph commune is located on the southern tip of the Island.


Do you know that the Reunion Island is shark-attack prone?

  1. Bird watching

Reunion Island is incredibly beautiful with its typical tropical landscape, copious rainfall, densely forested mountains.

Such a scenario is ideal for birds to make Reunion as their favorite home. Even God agreed to the birds’ preference by creating more species of birds that became endemic to Reunion Island.

Here are some of the birds you can watch on Reunion Island.

  • White-Tailed Tropic Bird

White-Tailed Tropic Bird

  • Marsh harrier
  • Barau’s Petrel

Barau's Petrel

  • Red Fody-a native of neighboring Madagascar

Red Fody

  • Paradise Flycatcher

Paradise Flycatcher

  • Frigate Bird

Frigate Bird

I think this bird is found on the islands of the Indian Ocean and East African forests.

  • Stork
  • Cuckoo Shrike

Cuckoo Shrike


Some more birds that you can easily spot and identify in Reunion Island are:

  • Albatross
  • Shearwater
  • Pelicans
  • Garnet
  • Booby
  • Spoonbill
  • Flamingo

I think spotting and identifying all the birds of Bourbon Island will keep you engaged for a whole day.

Animals and insects of Reunion Island:

Well, the ubiquitous spotted deer are roaming freely in the tropical Rainforests of Bourbon Island. There is a particular reptile in the chameleon family which is a native to Reunion Island that can be seen but you have to have a lot of patience.

I read about a spider, rather big with yellow and black color are seen everywhere in Reunion Island.

Marine creatures

You are reading a complete travel guide to Reunion Island on the Indian Ocean. Surely you must be wondering to know a bit of the marine creatures that one can spot in Reunion Island.

Here are the marine creatures of Reunion:

Parrot Fish

Parrot Fish

Angel Fish

Angel Fish

Conger eels

Conger eels

  1. Whale watching in Reunion Island

You have read Reunion has reported numerous shark attacks. If you want to watch them from a safe distance, you can do so. There are guided facilities for shark and whale watching in Reunion.

In addition, you can spot the following marine mammals while you are trying to stay safe from the killer sharks.

  • Humpback whales
  • Spotted Dolphins
  • Risso Dolphins

Whale watching

  1. Flora of Reunion Island

Rare Bourbon rose in Reunion Island.

Bourbon rose

I think this is the first time you are hearing about the Bourbon Rose.

Bird of Paradise Flower, Reunion Island

Bird of Paradise Flower, Reunion Island

The birds of paradise are the most beautiful birds on earth. You can spot them in Papua New Guinea.

This attractively colored flower is named after the birds of paradise because of its striking color and unique shape.

Euphorbia Mill or Thorns of Christ

Thorns of Christ in ReUnion

This flower is a native of Madagascar, a neighbor of Reunion. The thorns look scary but the pink color flower is beautiful.

Flamboyant Flower

Flamboyant Flower in Reunion

OMG! This fiery red flower is called “Flamboyant Flower”. What an apt name. You will the trees bearing this brilliant flower throughout the Reunion Island.

Orchid flower

Orchid flower in Reunion

Beautiful! I never saw a pure white orchid.

Where can you stay in Reunion Island?

Saint-Devis is, by all means, a modern city developed by the creative French people with the help of Tamil speaking Indians and Africans.

Therefore, you will find hotels that are tastefully built and fitted with all the modern facilities and amenities.

The most recommended hotels to stay in Reunion are:

  • Bellepierre
  • Hotel Du Center
  • Mercure Créolia, St-Denis La Réunion
  • Hotel Select Ocean Indien

What can you buy in Reunion?

You can buy clothing similar to the ones that the locals wear that include the flowered Bermudas and round neck t-shirts.

Additionally, shop for pure, locally grown spices.

So, how do you like the Re union Island tourist information provided thus far? I think you will be eager to see the exotic flora of Reunion Island, the volcanoes, cirques, and calderas.

Reaching the Reunion Island is also quite easy and the food is familiar with most of us.

One comment

  • Anahita Irani

    Fantastic post, Reunion Island seems to be a nature lovers paradise. Offbeat from the regular touristy destinations.