Réunion is an easy destination to get around. Transport is reasonably priced and reliable, but be prepared for traffic jams near the main cities.
Car With most attractions located in the hills, where public transport is infrequent, we strongly recommend hiring a vehicle. Cars can be hired at the airport, in St-Denis, St-Pierre and St-Gilles-les-Bains. Drive on the right.
Bus There's a reliable bus network that connects most towns. Prices are cheap.
There are no domestic flights in Réunion.
There is no boat network in Réunion.
The traffic, the haste of most motorists and the steep and precarious nature of the mountain roads mean that those considering cycling as a form of transport in Réunion should be prepared for some hair-raising and potentially dangerous situations.
Réunion's major towns and many of the little ones in between are linked by bus. The island's bus service is known as Car Jaune (www.carjaune.re) and has distinctive yellow buses. The main bus station is on Blvd Lancastel on the St-Denis seafront.
Buses on most routes run between about 6am and 7pm Monday to Saturday, with a limited number of services on Sunday. You can buy a ticket from the driver as you board (except in the main bus stations, where you get them at vending machines). To get the bus to stop, you ring the bell or clap your hands twice loudly.
Car Jaune provides regional minibus services for several areas on the island; they run from St-Benoît, St-Joseph, Ste-Rose, St-Leu and St-Paul. These convoluted local routes can be fairly confusing, particularly if you don't speak much French. Of most use to travellers are the buses from St-André to Salazie, Salazie to Hell-Bourg, Grand Îlet and Le Bélier, and the buses from St-Louis to Cilaos, Îlet à Cordes and Bras-Sec.
Car & Motorcycle
Travelling by car is by far the most convenient way to get around the island.
Car hire is extremely popular in Réunion, and rates are very reasonable. Rates start at €35 per day (including third-party liability insurance and unlimited kilometres) and can drop to as low as €25 per day if you rent for several weeks. Most companies require a credit card, primarily so that you can leave a deposit.
Most companies stipulate that the driver must be at least 21 (sometimes 23) years of age, have held a driving licence for at least a year, and have a passport or some other form of identification. EU citizens can drive on their national driving licence; drivers from elsewhere need an international driving licence.
Collision-damage waivers (CDW, or assurance tous risques) are not included and vary greatly from company to company. The franchise (excess) for a small car is usually around €800. You can reduce it to zero (or at least to half) by paying a daily insurance supplement.
Arranging your car rental before you leave home is usually cheaper than a walk-in rental.
All major firms have a desk at the airports. There are also plenty of independent operators around the island. They are cheaper than international companies but their rental cars are usually older. Most offer delivery to the airport for a surcharge. Reputable ones include the following:
ITC Tropicar Has offices in St-Pierre, St-Gilles-les-Bains and at the airport.
Mik Location Offices in St-Denis and St-Pierre.
Multi Auto In Ste-Clotilde, St-André, St-Paul and at the airport.
Petrol stations are very easy to find. A litre of unleaded costs around €1.50. Most stations accept credit cards.
Like mainland France, Réunion keeps to the right side of the road. Speed limits are clearly indicated and vary from 50km/h in towns to 110km/h on dual carriageways. Drivers and passengers are required to wear seatbelts. The blood-alcohol content limit is 0.5g/L.
The road system on the island is excellent and well signposted. Inaugurated in June 2009, the Route des Tamarins is a 34km, four-lane expressway that connects St-Paul to Étang-Salé and branches onto the existing RN1. It creates a direct route between the two biggest cities, St-Denis in the north and St-Pierre in the south. The massive New Coastal Road (Nouvelle Route du Littoral) between St-Denis and La Possession is due to open in 2021.
Routes départementales, the names of which begin with the letter D (or RD), are tertiary local roads, many of them very tortuous (use your horn!).
There are some gorgeous runs, cruising along the island's dramatic roads. Exhilarating views aside, motoring around Réunion can be fairly hair-raising on occasion. Heading into the mountains via the Cirques roads is a magnificent experience, but roads are narrow; hairpin bends (lacets) are tortuous and blind; and rocky outcrops or sugar-cane fields often prevent you spotting oncoming traffic. Use your horn to announce your presence. Avoid driving at night and allow extra time to reach your destination.
Hitching is never entirely safe, and we don't recommend it. Travellers who decide to hitch should understand that they are taking a small but potentially serious risk. People who choose to hitch will be safer if they travel in pairs and let someone know where they are planning to go.
If you do decide to hitch in Réunion, the only place where it may come in handy is within the Cirques de Salazie and Cilaos, where buses are few and far between.
There are no train services in Réunion.