The rise and rise of solo travel around the world isn't showing any signs of slowing down any time soon. As more and more travellers are exploring destinations by themselves, hungry to meet new people and explore the incredible planet we call home - whether they have someone to do it with or not. With so many unique experiences and enticing options for adventurous travellers, Reunion Island is quickly climbing to the top of solo travel bucket-lists everywhere.
As a solo travel destination, Reunion Island has a lot to offer. There's a diverse cultural landscape that creates a wonderfully inviting "everyone is welcome" environment. From climbing mountains to diving the depths of the Indian ocean, there are activities for every kind of traveller. And of course, the natural beauty holds a lot of appeal.
Where to stay in Reunion Island as a Solo Traveller
Airbnb offers a great way for solo travellers to experience life on the island like a local - a real "local living" environment. Locals list their available homes and rooms, offering travellers the opportunity to step inside the Reunionaise way of life. There are homes and rooms to rent all over the island, but in terms of restaurants and cafés, things to do and nightlife, the West Coast - around Saint Gilles - is the ideal base for solo travellers. Staying in an Airbnb, and having the opportunity to self-cater, means you can save on the cost of food by shopping at local grocery stores like Carrefour, Leader Price, Auchamp and Score. When you feel like getting out, there are many local spots along the lagoon and in Boucan Canot where you can grab a bite of Creole food as you watch the locals live the island life.
Read more: Where to Stay on Reunion Island: A Guide to the West Coast Neighbourhoods
How to get around Reunion Island as a Solo Traveller
Renting a car is the best way to get around the island. It's the easiest and most convenient way to explore and gives you the freedom to enjoy the best thing about solo travel - not having anything or anyone holding you back from exploring your way. If driving is not for you, there are public buses on the island too. Car Jaune buses link the main areas;North-East, North-West, South-South and Specials lines: South-North and East-North. Every city also has its own bus company; Cinor in the North, Cirest in the East, Alterneo in the South and kar’ouest in the West. Tacking the bus slows you down significantly, so it's best to plan your days around the bus schedule rather than exploring "on the fly".
What to do in Reunion Island as a Solo Traveller
Planning your first visit to Reunion Island can be daunting, as the options feel endless! We've put together the ultimate 7 day Reunion Island itinerary, to help you put together your own travel plans. Highlights include:
- A visit to the iconic Piton de la Fournaise (the peak of the volcano) for views and beautiful lunar landscapes
- Jumping off cliffs and waterfalls, and swimming in icy rock pools on a canyoning activity
- A beach day at l’Hermitage in Saint-Gilles
- Exploring the famous Saint Paul Market to shop for souvenirs and taste local and French food. Definitely try the bouchon gratiné – a local specialty of steamed dumplings on a bread roll, covered in cheese sauce and grilled
- The experience of a lifetime flying over the island. From your seat you'll be able to see the lagoon, the three cirques and the stunning island plains
- Sightseeing in Saint Denis and shopping for some last-minute souvenirs at the Grand Market in the city's capital
- The island's three cirques are all completely different and utterly unique, with their own micro-climates and attractions, each worth a visit! Cilaos, Salazie and Mafate should definitely all be on your bucket list!
Read more: The Ultimate 7-Day Reunion Island Itinerary
If you've decided to only rent a car for a couple of days to maximise on sightseeing, it's entirely possible to drive around Reunion Island in a day, stopping to see some of the most stunning attractions along the way. We recommend setting aside a full day, which would afford you enough time to stop at some of the beautiful highlights along the route, enjoy a bite to eat and take all the photos your heart desires!
Read more: Driving Around Reunion Island In A Day
Food is one of Reunion Island's highlights, so come hungry! There are so many delicious and unique dishes to try, but if we had to list just 3 local dishes to try on Reunion Island, we'd have to say:
- Rougail Saucisse - the rich, warming dish of smoked sausage, tomato, ginger, onion and spices that every Réunionnaise grew up on
- Bouchon Gratiné - A crispy French baguette, stuffed with freshly steamed Chinese dumplings, drenched in cheese sauce and grilled to perfection, it's a prime example of Réunionnaise cuisine’s blend of French and Asian flavours
- Cari Poulet - Lots of onion, turmeric, chilli, thyme, garlic and of course, garam masala are cooked together with chicken to create a fragrant and delicious dish, which served with the traditional lentils and rice, along with a side of chilli
Read more: 3 Local Dishes to Try on Reunion Island
How much should Solo Travellers budget for Reunion Island?
There are many free activities to enjoy on the island, from snorkelling to hiking and camping. That's right - camping is free anywhere on the island (as long as you follow the rules)! Known as "bivouacking", it's pitching your tent somewhere at the end of the day and leaving the next morning is allowed everywhere on the island. Of course, it goes without saying that the only signs of your camping experience that you should leave behind would be footprints. But even if camping isn't your style, read our ten tips below to make the most of your budget. Especially for solo travellers, budgeting can be more difficult, as the cost of accommodation and car hire falls on just one person. We've put together 10 tips for budgeting for Reunion Island to help.