With recent news reports incorrectly placing Réunion Island off the coast of Australia many have been asking the question “where in the World is Réunion?”
Well, here’s what you absolutely have to know about this slice of paradise:
Réunion is an island in the Indian Ocean just off the east coast of Madagascar, covering over 2 500 square kilometres (or 970 square miles). It is a French overseas department and forms part of the Eurozone.
Not much is known about the history of Réunion Island before its French colonisation in the seventeenth century. At the time the French colony was supplemented by African, Chinese and Indian labourers, which has contributed greatly to the rich cultural diversity the Island enjoys today.
French is the only official language of Réunion but English is a compulsory second language in school curriculums. The native language of much of the Island is Réunion Creole but because of the diverse population, languages such as Mandarin, Cantonese, Tamil, Urdu and Arabic are also spoken.
Not surprisingly, there is a great religious tolerance on the Island due to generations of different cultures calling Réunion home.
The climate of the Island is tropical in nature. Summer is from October to April and winter is from May to September, but the temperature rarely drops below 20 degrees Celsius on the coast.
The average annual temperature on Réunion Island is 24 degrees Celsius.
Fauna and Flora
Réunion Island is a remarkably preserved natural environment surrounded by the warm Indian Ocean. In 2010, the mountains and forests of the interior with their impressive gorges, valleys, steep cliffs and magical waterfalls were declared a UNESCO World Heritage; and as the Island is located above a hotspot in the Earth's crust it is also home to one of the most active and safest volcanoes in the world, the Piton de la Fournaise. The Island’s ecosystem offers exceptional growing conditions for a diversity of animals and plants – it boasts more than 3000 endemic plant species and a host of marine wildlife in the coral reefs of the coast. A gentle blue lagoon protects 25km of beachside from Saint-Gilles to Saint-Pierre and its natural beaches vary between white and black sand according to their proximity to the volcanoes. From June to September you can see the dance of humpback whales off the coast of the Island.
Fun Facts for South Africans
Réunion Island is a mere four-hour flight from Johannesburg.
South African passport holders do not require a visa to #gotoReunion.
There is no malaria and no travel vaccines are required by South Africans.
Réunion Island time is only two hours ahead of South Africa.
Réunion Island is so much more – a place for adventure, as well as relaxing in nature.
Réunion Island is affordable for South Africans – from adventurous budget getaways to luxurious five-star pampering.
Air Austral offers twice weekly flights from Johannesburg to Réunion Island, departing every Thursday and Sunday at 11h30. However, visitors can fly direct from most major centres around the globe such as Paris and Bangkok, Chenaï, Marseille, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Rodrigues, the Comores and Madagascar.