About the South
With its abundance of beaches, restaurants, bars, clubs and music venues, the south comes alive by day and goes into party mode at night as revellers celebrate Réunion’s maloya musical tradition, a blend of slam, rock, reggae, jazz and dance. A number of festivals take place here, the most famous being the Safiko Musik Festival.
Inland lie sugarcane plantations flanked by steeply rising mountainous terrain. One of the plantations houses the Musée des Arts Décoratifs de l’Océan Indien, a fascinating repository of Indian Ocean arts and crafts.
In Petite-Île you’ll find the island’s market gardens and the honey-making destination of Maison des Abeilles. Enjoy shopping for locally made jewellary or artisanal crafts made from natural products.
Maison du Curcuma in Plaine des Grègues is where saffron is extracted for use in traditional cari dishes, while Grand Coude’s Maison du Laurina is all about coffee, and Saint-Philippe is dedicated to the cultivation of vanilla. Before leaving Saint-Philippe, take a sensual voyage of discovery at Jardin des Parfums et des Épices.
Try surfing with the locals at Pic du Diable, Saint-Pierre.
The part of Route Nationale 2 between Sainte-Rose and Saint-Philippe where it traverses the Grand Brûlé is known as the Route des Laves. As its name suggests, the road features solidified lava flow formed by the eruption of Piton de la Fournaise. A trail takes you further along to Cascades Cove.
Grand Bassin, a small islet surrounded by mountains, is only accessible by foot. A hikers’ must-do, Grand Bassin is located in the Plaine des Cafres along a scenic 4.5km trail that descends 700m to the village below. Take time to cool off in the pool under the Voile de la Mariée waterfall and look out for an almost-extinct bird, the Mascarene petrel.
The centrally located Belvédère de Bois-Court near Le Tampon is a majestic viewpoint that overlooks the ramparts of Cilaos and into the Grand Bassin and the Voile de la Mariée waterfall from 1 400m above. There is a grassy area suitable for picnicking, with kiosks that sell refreshments.
Cilaos is a caldera (volcanic crater) that can be reached by road or by hiking up to the summit. Natural features include canyons and waterfalls, where rock climbing and canyoning may be enjoyed. A small village of the same name is famous for its sugar cane rum.
The Domaine du Café Grillé is a four-hectare botanical garden in Saint-Pierre that chronicles the emergence of Réunion culture through its biodiverse flora. Learn about the first plant to colonise the island and exotics such as anthuriums and orchids introduced by visitors, and then move on to fragranced species such as the frangipani, ylang-ylang and jasmine. End off with a coffee at La Savane.
- The Sakifo Musik Festival on the ocean’s edge at La Ravine Blanche in Saint-Pierre, where music from across the world is celebrated annually over three days in June.
- The Réunion Grand Raid, a 150km ultramarathon that traverses the length of Réunion from Saint-Pierre in the south to Saint-Denis in the north, is one of the world’s most challenging. The race, also known as “the madman’s diagonal”, forms part of the Ultra-Trail World Tour.
- Take a tour of La Saga du Rhum museum to see how rum is made from sugar cane. The museum is situated in the Isautier distillery, the island’s oldest, built in 1845.