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Tuesday, 26 July 2016 21:48

REUNION ISLAND - WHY IS IT SO SPECIAL?

Located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar and 175 kilometres southwest of Mauritius, the island is a region of France and is known for its volcanic, rain forested interior, offshore reefs, beaches and Creole culture. Scuba diving is a MUST DO on the Island  - even if you are not qualified. You get to experience one of the youngest reef systems in the world and it is teaming with life and the topography due to the volcanic activity is out of this world!

Here are some facts about this gorgeous island as well as what to do and see:

Flights & Travel Tips
Air Austral offers direct flights to Reunion Island between Johannesburg and Reunion Island twice a week currently, however from November it will be 3 times a week with easy connections to Mauritius and Nosy Be, Madagascar. 

Quick tips
South African passport holders do not require a visa
The currency used on Reunion Island is the euro (€)
French is the official language of Reunion Island, but communicating in English is possible
Browse a range of accommodation options on the TRAVEL WITH OPTIONS website 
The average annual temperature on Reunion Island is 24 degrees Celsius
There is no malaria, and no travel vaccines are required
Reunion Island time is two hours ahead of South Africa
All plug points on Reunion Island are two-point – take adaptors with you
***Surprisingly AFFORDABLE for South Africans** Ask us why?

Geography and climate
Erosion and volcanic activity has left Reunion Island’s landscape uneven yet a paradise to be explored. 

Adventure on the Island
The Reunion Island is beaming with adventures waiting to be discovered. Hiking trails, diving, helicopter flights and paragliding, there is no end to the activity list that is yours on your arrival. Jet Skiing, Kite surfing, paddling or simply some good surfing is yet another way in which Reunion promises to thrill the adventure seekers. Big game fishing, sailing or simply swimming in the ocean makes sure that there is something for every visitor.

Food
Gastronomical pleasures are of great importance on the island, and the Réunionese have a wide range of culinary traditions which they love to cook. Take French culture as a base, add a pinch of Malagasy customs, a zest of Chinese know-how, a bit of Indian savour, and you'll get a unique exotic recipe.

Intense Heritage
The rich history and strong heritage of the island tell of tales gone by.

Nature
Reunion boasts a varied plant life and a diverse flora and more than a third of Reunion’s surface is still covered with forests and wild plants.

Many scuba divers visiting Reunion head to St Gilles, which has a wide choice of dive clubs and spots. But don’t forget to try out the clubs at St Leu and/or Etang Salé, which are less well-known and have different underwater life. If wreck-diving is your thing you can dive the Antonio Lorenzo, and hammerhead sharks can sometimes be spotted at St Leu’s famous Pointe Au Sel. And wherever you choose to dive between July and September you stand a chance of seeing, or at the very least hearing, humpback whales.

7 Insider Tips to Reunion Island

1. If you’re not a hiker or don’t have enough time to trek, some lovely viewpoints accessible by car are: Le Maïdo to see the cirque of Mafate, La Fenêtre des Makes for Cilaos, and the Gîte de Belouve to see Salazie. Whether driving or hiking, if you want to make the most of Reunion’s majestic landscapes try to head for the hills as early as possible, as clouds tend to build up during the day, especially during summer. However even if you’ve arrived at a viewpoint and it’s cloudy do stick around for a short while – the clouds might lift and all will be revealed.

2. Talking about the cirques, if all that hiking/mountain-biking/canyoning (delete as appropriate) in Cilaos has made you hungry, check out the Tsilaosa hotel in the main street of Cilaos town for afternoon tea. They have scrummy home-made cakes, a wide selection of teas and coffees, and even Rooibos!

3. Still in the cirque of Cilaos, one of my favourite places in Reunion has to be Ilet à Cordes. This small village of 500 souls is perched on a plateau at 1200 metres above sea level and is literally at the end of the road – you can go no further. Buy lentils direct from the farmer, and spend a night – there are several comfy bed & breakfast places, including one with a heated outdoor swimming pool!

4. When you set out on a trek don’t forget raingear even if it’s sunny, and sun protection even if the weather is overcast – the weather in Reunion can change in the blink of an eye. While you’re at it, throw in a jumper and a swimsuit – with 180 microclimates and its diverse landscapes Reunion is always ready to surprise you!

5. One of my favourite Creole dishes has got to be Carri Ti Jacques. This dish mixes exotic jackfruit with locally-cured pork. Delicious!

6. Whether or not you like rum, take at trip to the Saga du Rhum at St Pierre. This fascinating self-guided museum not only describes rum-making in English but also explains all about Reunion’s history, AND you get to sample a selection of local rums at the end of the visit.

7. Don’t forget to taste some mouth-watering pineapple while in Reunion. A top French chef has called Ananas Victoria (the local variety) thebest in the world. While pineapple (and bananas) can be enjoyed all year round, take advantage of seasonal fruit too: mangoes and lychees from November to January, and longan from February to April. You might also discover fruit you’ve never even heard of before: strawberry guava, ox-heart, soursop, tree tomatoes, sugar apples, Japanese medlar fruit …

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