Reunion Island on a budget
If you’re the adventurous, spur-of-the-moment traveller who wakes up one morning and decides to book a ticket, you’ll be happy to hear that Reunion Island doesn’t require any visa for South African passport-holders.
If you are one of these travellers who get up and go at the drop of a hat, chances are you know how to travel on a budget. “So, can Reunion Island be done on a budget?” you might be asking. The answer, of course, is yes. Please note the current exhange rate is around R15 to €1.
There are a few three- and five-star hotels on the island, but if you’re travelling on a budget you should check out the camping options. It’s legal to camp anywhere within the National Park for free, as long you pack up your tent during the day. There is a beautiful camping facility with spotlessly clean ablutions, braai facilities and even luxury safari tents – complete with bed, bedding and a fridge, on the west side of the island at Hermitage beach, near the sparkling lagoon.
Camping Hermitage charges €27 per pitch and €2 per adult per day in high season. Their luxury safari tents are available on a weekly basis at €350 per week, sleeping up to six people.
Eating at restaurants every day can be costly anywhere in the world, so shopping at the local grocery store can save you precious euros. A baguette will cost you around €1 and with a kilo of tomatoes from the local market (€1.50) and a good French cheese (€6) you’ll have a couple of meals to keep your energy levels up between activities. Tapwater is safe to drink and the local beer will cost you between €1.20-€3, depending on where you order it – bars right on the beach are more expensive. Of course, buying a six-pack at the supermarket and keeping it in your fridge will save you about two-thirds of that.
All of the island’s popular sights are free to explore – the volcano, beaches, viewpoints and the three cirques are yours to explore. Make sure to visit the island's vanilla plantation, La Vanilleraie, where you get a fascinating look into the painstaking process of hand-pollination and curing that goes into this prized spice.
You’ll spend between €30-€50 on canyoning – a popular activity on the island which is basically white-water rafting without the raft! A wetsuit, helmet, life jacket and takkies are all you’ll need to enjoy the many waterfalls and cliff jumps with your experienced guide. A definite must-do if you are in good health!
Hiring a car will cost you between €25 and €60 per day for a little 1.4l car. But if you’re strapped for cash, the island’s bus service travels from the airport to the popular first-stop for tourists, Saint-Gilles (a drive of about two hours) for just €3. You can take the bus to all the major tourist spots for less than €5.
So, if you have an itch for adventure that needs scratching, best you book to #GoToReunion.