Tour of Réunion
- 2 Weeks
From sophisticated beach resorts to mountain villages, art galleries to volcanoes, two weeks is a minimum to sample the variety Réunion has to offer. Get hooked on hiking and you could easily fill a month. This route covers around 400km.
Kick things off in St-Paul, which is a good transit point, before heading inland to Le Maïdo for a bird's-eye view of the Cirque de Mafate. Then drive down to the coast for some beach action in Boucan Canot, one of Réunion's trendiest towns. A five-minute drive south takes you to St-Gilles-les-Bains, a classic Indian Ocean resort with fine beaches and some pretty rowdy nightlife. The best beach to recover from it all is L'Hermitage-les-Bains. Allow three days to make the most of the area's botanical gardens, museums and watersports.
Next detour to Cilaos, where you should allow at least two days to soak up the rugged mountain scenery and the laid-back atmosphere. Hiking and canyoning opportunities will immerse you in some of the best scenery you'll see anywhere, while there are also thermal springs, wine to taste and ecotourism possibilities thrown in for good measure.
Next make for the bright lights of St-Pierre – if possible, get here for the huge Saturday market. From St-Pierre, it's a long but scenic drive up to Bourg-Murat, which is the obvious launch pad for the Piton de la Fournaise, one of the most accessible volcanoes on earth.
Return to St-Pierre and follow the RN2 that hugs along the scenic south coast. You may want to enjoy a picnic lunch at Plage de Grande Anse or unwind in Manapany-les-Bains before spending the night near St-Joseph. Proceeding east, you'll pass through charmingly rural St-Philippe and the lunar landscapes of Le Grand Brûlé before reaching Ste-Rose, where lava laps at the door of a church and narrowly misses the Virgin Mary.
As you head to the north of the island, go inland and stay at least two nights in Hell-Bourg, exploring the Cirque de Salazie. Finally, set off towards the north via the Indian-influenced St-André. End your trip sampling cafe culture and Creole architecture in the capital, St-Denis, which can also serve as a return to civilisation (without the clamour of a big city) if you've been climbing volcanoes and hiking the Cirques.
Réunion's Sud Sauvage & Hautes Plaines
- 1 Week
Réunion's 'Wild South' and central plains offer volcanic landscapes, massive ravines, wave-lashed cliffs and sensational hiking trails. You can discover the best of the region in a reasonably leisurely week.
Start at Ste-Rose and head south to find the first tongues of lava tumbling down to the sea. Cross the threatening lava fields of Le Grand Brûlé to spend a night or two near St-Joseph; stay in the hills for a real taste of rural life. From here you can explore the picturesque Rivière Langevin valley – bring a picnic.
Continuing west, take a dip in Plage de Grande Anse before spending the night in St-Pierre and partying up at its buzzing nightlife. The next morning, head to the high plateau of Plaine-des-Cafres to visit the Cité du Volcan. Take the magnificent forest road up to Piton de la Fournaise, Réunion's restless volcano. Now drop back down to Plaine-des-Cafres, where you could spend a couple of days hiking to Grand Bassin, a village at the end of the world. Finally, head for Plaine-des-Palmistes, where the hikes through the Forêt de Bébour-Bélouve provide unforgettable experiences.