Planning a trip to Reunion Island can become overwhelming - with so much to do and see, deciding on a itinerary can be difficult! So when it comes to planning your trip and booking your flights, accommodation and activities, our step-by-step guide has you covered.
Step 1: What to expect on Reunion Island
Reunion Island is a French department in the Indian Ocean. It’s located just off the east coast of Africa, about 175km from Mauritius. While you may be imagining rural villages and dirt roads, in reality, you’ll find an island with well-maintained highways and a very distinct French culture. The island is 2500km² big, and home to just over 800 000 people. Much of the eastern side of the island is taken by the Piton de la Fournaise – one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Reunion Island is unbelievably diverse - with 200 microclimates across the island, the vegetation and landscape change around every bend. From the desert island-like beaches in the west, to a rainforest climate in the interior, and a moon-like landscape at the volcano in the east. The climate is warm year-round, with the hot and dry months being May to November and the hot and wet months being November to April.
Step 2: Planning when to go to Reunion Island
The island is normally packed with visitors from the Metropole (mainland France) during the European summer holidays. The Christmas/New Year period is also considered peak season, with the island’s New Year’s Eve party regarded as one of the biggest and best in Europe. For South Africans, a mid-winter break to the island's tropical climate is ideal. This is also a more budget-friendly time of year, with accommodation being more affordable for South African visitors. If you do want to go in peak season, make sure you book your accommodation and especially your car well in advance.
Step 3: Budgeting for Reunion Island
Because the currency is the Euro, South Africans often automatically expect the island to be expensive. But you will find that the prices are on par with – and sometimes even below – Cape Town prices. The price of a beer range from 1,5€ to 3€ based on where you purchase. Meals can be as low as 7€ for a Creole feast of rougail saucisse (a delicious sausage stew) with lentils or beans and rice at a beachside restaurant, with French and fine dining restaurants starting from 23€ up. As with any destination, shopping at a grocery store and self-catering is the most affordable way to holiday.
Step 4: Getting to Reunion Island
Most importantly, South Africans don’t need a visa to visit! Air Austral flies direct from Johannesburg up to three times per week. Top tip: If you're planning far in advance, follow Air Autral on social media and sign up to their newsletter, to be the first to know about special deals.
Step 5: Getting around on Reunion Island
Booking a car is advisable, as you'll be able to explore the whole island. Visitors require an international drivers license, which you can easily apply for online in South Africa through the AA. During peak season, booking a car ahead of your visit is advisable as they can get booked up quite quickly.
Step 6: Planning where to stay on Reunion Island
There are a few resorts on the island, but overall the island is not a "resort island". The LUX* Saint Gilles is right on the beach and has some incredible long-stay rates for shoulder season periods, if you’re looking for a little luxury. If you’re travelling in a group, self-catering is the ideal option. For South African visitors, being based on the West Coast and exploring from their is advisable. Anywhere from Saint-Paul to Saint-Lue: Boucan Canot, Saint-Gilles, L'Ermitage-Les-Bains and La Saline-Les-Bains. This is the beachy part of the island, with a local weekend market, a few stunning beach bars and some great restaurants. To book accommodation, visit our Book Here page and contact any of our listed tour operators.
Step 7: Planning what to do on Reunion Island
From snorkelling and scuba diving to hiking, canyoning, exploring lava tunnels, paragliding and discovering the Reunionaise food scene - there is enough to keep you busy from sunrise to sunset every day! To help with planning your first visit, we have compiled the ultimate 7-day Reunion Island itinerary. To book your dream trip, visit our Book Here page and contact any of our listed tour operators.