Reunion Island, with its pristine lagoon, rich culture and abundance of activities, is the ideal destination for South African travellers. Just a 4-hour flight from Johannesburg, with no visa requirements for South African passport holders, Reunion Island really is a perfect getaway for adventurous South Africans, from family travellers to couples looking for a holiday that involves more than the typical resort vacation. “But can you do Reunion Island on a budget?”, you ask. The answer: Of course! Here’s our guide on how to make the most of your holiday on Reunion Island without breaking the bank.
How to find cheap flights to Reunion Island
Air Austral, the official airline of Reunion Island, flies direct from Johannesburg up to 3 times per week. To find the cheapest flights, we recommend signing up to the Air Austral newsletter, plan ahead and keep your dates as flexible as possible to cash in on the special offers delivered straight to your inbox.
No visa fees
South African travellers will know that the cost of a Schengen visa alone consumes about R1500 of your holiday budget before you’ve even left South Africa. For a family of 4, for example, that’s a huge chunk of the holiday savings! Although Reunion Island is a district of France (and part of the EU), visa restrictions for South African travellers have been dropped, which means that you can visit the island for up to 3 months at a time without having to spent a cent on visa fees!
Live like a local
Although the currency, the Euro, is much stronger than the Rand, South African travellers will find that shopping in local grocery stores will help to stretch the budget, with many items priced in-line with South Africa. Beers, for example, retail for around €1 each in the grocery store, while they can cost between €2-€3 at a bar. On the weekend, you can buy fresh local produce, meats, cheeses and snacks at enormous markets like the Saint Paul market, filling up your kitchen with excellent produce at affordable prices and enjoying an excellent atmosphere at the same time.
Enjoy the free activities
You don’t need to venture far or spend much to enjoy incredible activities on Reunion Island. The lagoon is a veritable open-air aquarium, with a colourful variety of tropical fish just below the surface - all you need is a snorkel. Visiting the Piton de la Fournaise won’t cost you anything and offers some of the most dramatic views on the island. There are over 1000kms of hiking trails that criss-cross the island, and there are no fees or permits required to enjoy them - in fact, you are welcome to camp anywhere on the island for free, as long as you move to a new site every morning and leave nothing but footprints when you move on.
Where to stay in Reunion Island on a budget
Camping is an affordable way to enjoy the island, although it’s not practical to bring an entire campsite worth of equipment with you from South Africa. That’s why we recommend staying at the official campsite at Le Camping de l'Ermitage, where you can rent a safari tent that comes comfortable equipped with the essentials. From here, you can explore the lagoon, enjoy the resort atmosphere of Saint Gilles and shop for groceries at the local supermarket.
Guest houses offer an affordable option for those who are not excited by camping. Prices across the island vary, but you can find a room for just about any budget, depending on where and how long you plan to stay.
If you prefer fully self-catering, or are travelling in a group, you will find options all over the island, within a wide price range to suit every budget.