Reunion Island's capital city of Saint-Denis and the Roland Garros International Airport are both located in the north of the island. The north will be your first port of call upon landing and though you might be tempted to head straight for the beaches in the west, or the mountains in the island's interior, the north holds many culturally significant landmarks and much natural beauty, well worth making time for.
Besides the monuments, museums and beautiful examples of the island's architecture, Saint-Denis is unique for its distinctly European feel. The neoclassical architecture of the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle has earned it historical monument status. The building is as much of an attraction as its collection of Indian Ocean flora and fauna is, not to mention the beautiful botanical gardens that surround it. You might in fact feel as though you've been transported to the continent as you roam the small streets, passing boutiques, Gelaterias and monuments. Enjoy a cosmopolitan lunch or dinner in the town square, walk along the Rue de Paris (the longest street in the capital), or enjoy a spot of souvenir shopping at the Grand Marche.
Just east of Saint-Denis you'll find some of the island's most perfect hiking, in the Forêt Departemento-Domaniale de la Plaine des Fougères. Located in the northern highlands, this protected forest forms part of the island's National Park. There are several hiking trails to choose from in the region, ranging from just a couple of hours to several days. If you're a novice or have limited time, the 1 hour loop through the "five basins of hope"; Chouchou Basin, the Zéclair Basin, the Franck Basin, the Bassin l'Orage and the Bassin des Deux Sœurs. This quick route will give you an opportunity to take a dip in some of the island's many stunning pools and give you glimpse into what makes Reunion Island such a popular destination for hikers from around the world.
The island's vanilla capital, Sainte-Suzanne offers the opportunity to learn more about the almost impossibly complex art of growing and processing the Reunion Island's fine vanilla. Visit a local plantation to learn about the process, from the hand-pollination of the vanilla orchid to the eventual product, worth just about its weight in gold. La Vanilleraie, a historical monument that is a vanilla plantation and processing workshop on the Creole estate of Le Grand Hazier, offers frequent guided tours. e.Here you'll also find the famed Niagra Waterfall, which plummets 55 meters down into a crystal pool. The waterfall is easy to access by car, and is the perfect place for a picnic lunch or an icy swim.
The Central North
In the central north, you'll find unparalleled natural beauty, like the Voile de la Mariée (the Bride's Veil). Located just past the village of Hell-Bourg (which also happens to hold the official title of Most Beautiful Village in France) en route to the Salazie caldera, you'll find these spectacular falls, which have been named for their similarities to a bride's headdress. The illusion is created by numerous channels that tumble over a semicircular mountain cliff into a natural pool below.