The Wild South's hub, modernish St-Joseph (say 'St-Jo' if you want to sound local) won't leap to the top of your list of preferred destinations in Réunion but it offers useful services, including supermarkets and banks with ATMs. While it oozes the kind of sunny languor you'd associate with the tropics, the bustling shopping streets at peak hours impart the energy (and stress) of a city.
If you can, plan to be in St-Jo on a Friday morning, when the streets spill over with numerous stalls.
One of the best-kept secrets in the area is a secluded cove with a splendid black-sand beach, at the entrance of St-Jo (coming from St-Pierre). Drive past the first roundabout, then take the first right (towards 'Déchèterie'). Follow the road for about 300m until you reach a skate park. Leave your car here and walk for about five minutes down a path to the shore…enjoy!
For a bird's-eye view of St-Jo and the coast, you can walk up to Piton Babet, the knoll that lies between the main road and the ocean. It shouldn't take more than 10 minutes.