At just 2500 square kilometres, you could easily drive around the whole of Reunion Island in a day, stopping at some of the most iconic sights along the way. But how do you choose where to stay? It’s ideal to have base from which you can take daily sightseeing trips, and for this, the west coast is perfect. Here’s our guide for where to stay on the west coast of Reunion Island.
If you’re looking for a seaside holiday, you can’t go wrong on the west coast. This is the dry side of the island, where the weather is warm all year round. Here you’ll find warm turquoise water in the lagoon, white sand beaches, dolphin splashes and whale breaches (if you're lucky), gorgeous sunsets and lots of bars and restaurants to enjoy. Although these neighbourhoods are all right next door to each other, they each have something unique to offer; from quaint bakeries and vibey beach bars, to heaving nightclubs luxurious villas.
Known as the Réunionnais St-Tropez, the upscale Boucan Canot has a strip of beach bars and restaurants where you will find locals and visitors mingling over cocktails all day long and especially at sunset. Volleyball players silhouetted against the sunset and if you’re lucky, a few whales splashing in the distance - it's a beachside hotspot. For the more discerning traveller, the iconic Boucan Canot Hotel offers a stunning location, luxurious rooms and a glistening pool. If you like having a variety of bars and restaurants on your doorstep, this neighbourhood is for you.
This is the most "tropical island, white sand beaches" part of the island. By day, a resort atmosphere and by night, heaving nightclubs. Its the touristic epicentre of the island, especially on the weekend, when even the locals play tourist for a couple of days. In Saint Gilles-Les-Bains, you’re in the heart of the island’s resort town, surrounded by everything you need - from grocery stores and pharmacies, to boutiques and even a weekend market. Explore the lagoon with a sunset boat cruise, or get active with a SUP session. Bob around with a snorkel or splash in the shallows with the kids. This is a water-lover’s paradise.
Snorkelling, suntanning and swimming in the protected lagoon are the top things to do in this seaside location. Numerous Creole restaurants spill out onto the street, a slash of yellow umbrellas and plastic tables on the hot asphalt, locals playing boulle until well after sunset. It's a more laid-back atmoshpere than Saint Gilles, with lots of hotels and apartments to choose from. Bakeries serving warm croissants in the morning and chickens on the rotisserie in the afternoon. If you can't bear to drag yourself away from the beach, you're in luck! There are many restaurants to choose from on the water's edge, where you can seek a little refuge from the midday sun.
Although not far from neighbouring L’Ermitage, this beachside area is quieter and more laid back. The popular PlanchAlizé is open from early morning, and serves coffee, snacks and drinks all day long. It's the perfect for snorkelling, with an aquarium’s worth of colourful tropical fish swimming just off the beach. Quiet on weekdays, it comes alive at the weekend, when locals lay out their towels to soak up the sun. Loungers and umbrellas are available for rent, but you'll be just as comfortable on the soft, clean sand. If you're spending the day running around the island, make sure to come back for sunset cocktails.
A short drive from the swimming beaches at the lagoon, Saint-Leu’s beach is ideal for running, but not for swimming. This is a paragliding hotspot, hosting the world paragliding championships several times. At La Maison du Coco, young children can learn about the island’s fauna and flora, while parents discover all the secrets of the "tree of life" (the coconut tree) at an interactive workshop. At Kelonia you can discover a turtle sanctuary, which is home to beautiful turtles and tortoises. This is the ideal place for busy families to base themselves.
No matter where you stay on the island, you are never too far to explore. Within a couple of hours, you could be at the peak of the volcano, exploring the streets of Saint Denis or in the heart of one of the island’s three cirques.
Ready to plan your trip? Read everything you need to know here.