About La Réunion
The French island of Réunion, “the France of the Indian Ocean”, is the largest of the three Mascarene Islands located off the east coast of Southern Africa, along with Mauritius and Rodrigues.
This tropical island is best known for its spectacular landscapes – soaring volcanic peaks, deep canyons and wide plains – for which it was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in 2010.
Réunion is a 2 500km2 island of fascinating contrasts. On its southeastern coast lies the world’s most volatile volcano, the Piton de la Fournaise, while the northwestern coastline is famed for its serene beaches. Inland lie thickly forested mountains and valleys, including the Piton des Neiges, which reaches an elevation of
3 069m. Over time, erosion has reduced the volcanoes to form the cirques (amphitheatre-shaped basins or valleys) of Cilaos, Salazie and Mafate.
The topography of Réunion lends itself to myriad outdoor activities. Surfing clear waves and scuba diving around the island’s coral reefs, hiking its distinctive cirques, rafting along small rivers, abseiling into gorges and canyoning down waterfalls rank among the more popular adventure tourism pursuits.
Réunion’s hot, humid months are from December to March, while June to September are a few degrees cooler. Due to the mountainous terrain of the interior, the eastern zone is green and humid, while the south and west are more sheltered and dry.
Rain typically falls in intense, short-lived showers known as avalasses. Cyclone season runs from about 1 November to 15 May.
The average maximum temperature in the capital, Saint-Denis, during January is 30 degrees Celsius and in July the average minimum is 18 degrees Celsius. The ocean is warm enough to enjoy swimming throughout the year.
Réunion’s inhabitants are a mix of European, Indian, African and Chinese people who have created a unique cultural identity. Although French is the official language, Creole is more widely spoken and English is generally understood.
Tourism is a rapidly growing industry that is widely promoted by the government. However, the traditional production of sugar, rum, handicrafts and flower oils is still the island's predominant economic activity.
Take a direct flight of less than four hours via Air Austral from
OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, to Saint-Denis, Réunion.
FLIGHTS DEPART twice weekly from Johannesburg at 2.45pm on
Tuesdays and Sundays, arriving in Saint-Denis at 8.35pm.
RETURN FLIGHTS from Réunion depart at 10.40am on Tuesdays and
Sundays, and arrive in South Africa at 12.55pm.
- South African passport holders do not require a visa to travel to Réunion
- Réunion’s currency is the euro (€)
- French is the official language of Réunion Island, but English is also widely spoken
- The average annual temperature is 24 degrees Celsius
- The best time of year to visit is from mid-May to October, when it’s cool and dry
- Avoid cyclone season: November to mid-May
- The orchids bloom from the end of September to October
- The island is malaria-free and no travel vaccines are required
- Réunion Island time is two hours ahead of South African time
- Plug points on Réunion Island are two-pin (type E), so pack a travel adaptor