What's a visit to Reunion Island really like?
I've had the opportunity to visit Reunion four times now and I've explored the island high and low, from the seat of a microlight to underground lava caves. People often ask me the same questions, like "what's a trip to Reunion Island really like?" Here, I answer the top 5 questions I get asked about Reunion Island.
"How far is Reunion Island from South Africa?"
Reunion is a four hour flight from Johannesburg. The island is situated east of Madagascar and about 175 kilometres (109 mi) southwest of Mauritius, the nearest island. Air Austral flies direct from Johannesburg and flights can drop as low as R4500,00 per person if you book in advance or catch a special. Keep your eyes on the Reunion Island Tourism Facebook page, where any specials get shared.
"Is it very expensive?"
That depends on what you define as "expensive". The currency is the Euro, so if you're converting from Rands, it's not going to be exactly cheap. But accommodation ranges from self-catering and even camping to luxury 5 star resorts, so there is something to suit every budget. If the price of a local beer is the measuring staff; a Dodo (the local brew) will cost up to XXX at a bar or restaurant, and around XXX from a grocery store.
"What is there to do?"
SO MUCH. If you're the kind of person who likes to soak up the sun with a book in your hand from sunrise to sunset all holiday, you'll be more than happy relaxing on the white sands along the lagoon. If you travel to experience new cultures and flavours, you'll love the interesting mix of European French and vibrant Creol that give the island it's melting pot vibe. If you're an active traveller, you'll be spoilt for choice, between hiking one of the hundreds of trails that criss-cross the island, running along the beach, kite- or wind surfing, jumping down waterfalls and canyoning along one of the many rivers, SUP'ing on the turquoise waters of the lagoon or even cycling the epic road up to the peak of the volcano. There literally is something for everyone.
"Is it good for families?"
I remember being at a music concert on the beach one evening and being surrounded by moms and dads with toddlers on their shoulders, little kids chasing each other through the crowd and families enjoying the vibe. The calm blue lagoon is a perfectly safe place for kids to splash around without the worry of being dunked by waves and the generally laid-back island lifestyle is great for families in need of a little time to relax. There are also a lot of easy walks and kid-friendly hotels.
"How much should I budget?"
This is obviously going to depend heavily on what excatly you plan on doing, what kind of accommodation you want to stay in etc, but I've put together a basic cost estimate to give you an idea of what kind of budget you should be looking at. Bear in mind that the exchange rate plays a big roll in the cost of living while on the islan.
Flights: R6000 - R7000 return or as low as R4500 if there's a special
Visa: Free! Yay!
Accommodation: R6000 per week, sleeps up to six people, self catering (could be more depending on the exchange rate)
Car: R450 per day (could be more depending on the exchange rate)
Paragliding: R1500 (could be more depending on the exchange rate)
Helicopter flight: R4000 (could be more depending on the exchange rate)
Eating out: R150 – R800 per meal (Eating local like a plate of Creol snacks is the affordable option. Also shopping at a grocery store will help you save. Eating a three course French meal is the most expensive option)
Shopping at a grocery store: R400 for a basic meal that feeds eight people (Baguettes, fresh fruit, cheese, some cold meats and a few beers)
Wine: Around R150 per bottle from a grocery store. More at a restaurant, but it depends on the quality
Rum: Around R165 per bottle from a grocery store and R60 per serving at a restaurant. Often the aperitif and digestives are complementary as part of a set menu
To read more about my tips for visiting Reunion Island, click here.
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