Reunion Island, located just 4 hours from Johannesburg via direct flight, is the ideal destination for adventurous female travellers. If you’re dreaming of perfect beaches, swimming in waterfall pools and spending evenings sipping cocktails, you’ve found your destination.
With no visa requirements for South African passport holders, a completely French infrastructure and a huge variety of activities to keep you busy, it’s just what you’ve been looking for in a girlfriend getaway. After visiting Reunion Island six times over the past 5 years, and receiving countless comments and messages from blog readers who dream of visiting the island themselves someday, I’ve put together the ultimate Reunion Island Guide for Girls.
Is Reunion Island safe for female travellers?
The crime rate on the island is low and female traveller report feeling safe walking around in the day, going out in the evenings and sleeping at night. Of course, female travellers always need to be careful, but the overall feeling on the island is welcoming and unthreatening. It’s certainly the kind of island where women can explore hiking trails without fear, carry their cameras out in the open and feel safe going topless on the beach (it’s French!)
Where should female travellers stay on Reunion Island?
The West Coast is ideal for beach-lovers. The weather is always good (it’s the driest part of the island) and you’re close to all the best bars, restaurants and grocery stores. In terms of areas, Boucan Canot, Saint-Gilles-Les-Bains and La-Saline-Les-Bains are centrally located and known fo their resort atmosphere. Accommodation options in these areas range from hotels and guesthouses to self-catering and Airbnb. Accommodations are relatively modest on the island, as most visitors spend about 90% of their time away from their rooms. Of course, there are 5 star accommodations for those who prefer a luxurious break.
How To Get Around on Reunion Island
While there are busses on the island, renting a car makes getting around much easier. Roads are perfectly maintained and easy to navigate. You can pick your car up at the Roland Garros airport or at several other points on the island, but make sure to book your can ahead, as there are limited numbers available. Also remember to get your international drivers license (you can do this through the AA in South Africa) and a bring a credit card with a 1000 Euro limit for your deposit (unless prior arrangement has been made with the car hire company).
How To Get A SIM Card on Reunion Island
It’s quick and easy to get a SIM card preloaded with 35GB data for around 20 Euro. There are not many places where you can do this, so head straight to the Free store in Saint Gilles (103 Rue du Général de Gaulle, Saint Paul), where you can get a data-loaded SIM card from a vending machine which is immediately activated.
Top Things for Female Travellers To Do in Reunion Island
Swimming in the lagoon, hiking to the remote village of Mafate (which can only be accessed by foot!), shopping at the Saint Paul market, walking the streets of Saint Denis to find gelato shops, canyoning at the Langevin waterfalls, eating delicious Creole food and finding secret waterfalls to swim in are some of the top activities to enjoy on Reunion Island. You can also scuba dive, snorkel, visit vanilla plantations, hike to the peak of the volcano (or drive up to a different part), take a helicopter flight over the island, take a sunset boat cruise or a scenic drive around the island and loads more. It’s the perfect place to split your time between relaxing and adventuring.
Where to have drinks on Reunion Island
Looking for a sunset cocktail or ice cold beer? The local beer, known simply as “The Dodo” is everywhere and it’s always good. PlancheAlizé in La-Saline-Les-Bains is great for sunset and Choka Bleu is fun for an evening out (Thursdays are huge nights). For a late-night party, head to Le Balcon in Saint Gilles, where the bar and dance floor are heaving from about midnight to 2am. Boucan Canot is another great option for sunset. Just take a walk along the promenade and take a seat at any of the restaurants that line the beach. Ti-Punch (local rum muddled with sugar and lime) or a Punch Planteur (local rum with fruit juice) are local favourites. It’s also worth ordering a Rhum Arrangé after a meal – every bar and restaurant has their own infusion of fruits and spices.
*A version of this article first appeared on www.tailsofamermaid.com