- Currency: Euro
- Language: French and Réunion Creole
- Climate: Tropical
- Travel Insurance: Essential
- Time: 2 Hours ahead of SA
- Visa Requirements: None
An island of true contrasts, the French department of Reunion is unknown to many of the world’s travelers. That’s unfortunate! This unique island in the middle of the Indian Ocean is simply one of the most intriguing spots on earth!
Not as well-known as nearby Mauritius or the not-so-far-away British Seychelles, little Reunion seems but a speck in the vast ocean, dwarfed by Madagascar, located 500 miles to the west. The French know the island well but only the very well-traveled have ever stepped foot on Reunion’s varied and enticing terrain.
With an active volcano on its south coast, 17 miles of warm, welcoming beaches in the west, and lots of mountains and forests in between, Reunion Island offers
vacation opportunities ranging from relaxing to truly insane. If you’re looking for a place to “chill out”, you’ll find it here. But if you’re the kind of vacationer who prefers an adrenaline rush over a sunburn, the possibilities are endless. From hiking Reunion’s unique “cirques” or canyoning the island’s many waterfalls to scuba diving or surfing in the clear waters that surround this tiny 30-mile-wide island, adventure activities abound for vacationers hoping to do something a little daring while on their Reunion holiday.
The Island is known for its volcanic, rainforested interior, offshore reefs, beaches and Creole culture. The active Piton de la Fournaise volcano, its most iconic landmark, rewards climbers with sweeping views from its rim. Piton des Neiges, a massive extinct volcano, and Réunion’s 3 cirques (calderas), natural amphitheaters formed by collapsed volcanoes, are also climbing destinations.
With 40% of its 2500 km2 territory classified as World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Reunion Island offers an amazing mix of authentic cultures and wild nature.
In a very short space of time, you will be able to travel from a volcanic desert to a dreamlike lagoon at l’Ermitage, and then move on to the most incredible green tropical forest in the cirques located at the heart of the island.
In only a few days, you will have experienced a multitude of unique adventures and sensations, all in one single and exceptional environment: Reunion Island.
Please follow this link to see tips for South Africans visiting Reunion Island:
The climate in Réunion is tropical, but temperature moderates with elevation. The weather is cool and dry from May to November, but hot and rainy from November to April. Precipitation levels vary greatly within the island, with the east being much wetter than the west. There is more than 6 m of rain a year on some parts of the east and less than 1 m a year on the west coast. Réunion holds the world records for the most rainfall in 12-, 72- and 96-hour periods.
South African passport holders do not require a visa for Reunion.
The World Health Organization (www.who.int/en) recommends that all travellers be adequately covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, as well as for hepatitis B, regardless of their travel destination.
Although no vaccinations are officially required, many doctors recommend hepatitis A and B immunisations just to be sure; a yellow fever certificate is an entry requirement if travelling from an infected region.
As long as you stay up to date with your vaccinations and take some basic preventive measures, you’d have to be pretty unlucky to succumb to most of the health hazards covered here. Réunion has a fair selection of tropical diseases on offer, but you’re much more likely to get a bout of diarrhoea or a sprained ankle than an exotic disease. For more info and how to go prepared into the Tropics, please read more here: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/reunion/health
ATMs in major towns; credit cards widely accepted except in chambres d’hôtes (B&Bs) and mountain lodges.
Supermarkets in the bigger towns of Reunion Island are open until around 9pm most week nights. However, supermarkets close by 2pm on Sunday and many stores don’t open at all on Mondays.
French is the only official language of Réunion. Although not official, Réunion Creole is the native language of a large part of the population and is spoken alongside French. Creole is used informally and orally in some administration offices whereas the official language of any administration office as well as education is French. Because of the diverse population, other languages are also spoken such as Comorian language varieties (especially Shimaore), Malagasy by recent immigrant s from Mayotte and Madagascar, Mandarin, Hakka and Cantonese by members of the Chinese community, but fewer people speak these languages as younger generations start to converse in French and Réunion Creole. There are significant number of speakers of Indian languages mostly Tamil, Gujarati and Urdu Arabic is taught in mosques and spoken by a small community of Muslims. English is a compulsory second language as part of the French school curriculum, but as in mainland France, English fluency is rare. German and Spanish are offered as a third language. Tamil is also taught as optional language in some schools.
There are two music genres which originated in Réunion: sega, which originated earlier and is also traditional in Mauritius, Rodrigues and Seychelles and maloya, which originated in the 19th century and is only found in Réunion.
Find out in advance whether your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or will reimburse you later for health expenditures (in many countries doctors expect payment in cash). It is vital to ensure that your travel insurance will cover outdoor activities, including paragliding, diving and canyoning, as well as the emergency transport required to get you to a good hospital, or all the way home, by air and with a medical attendant if necessary. Not all insurance policies cover this, so be sure to check the contract carefully. If you need medical care, your insurance company may be able to help locate the nearest hospital or clinic, or ask at your hotel. In an emergency, contact the nearest hospital or dial 15 or 18. Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/reunion/health#ixzz4GAEQHVwB
The island has been inhabited since the 17th century, when people from France, Madagascar and Africa settled there. Slavery was abolished on 20 December 1848 (a date celebrated yearly on the island), after which indentured workers were brought from South India, among other places. The island became an overseas department of France in 1946.
The local language, spoken by the majority of the population, is Réunion Creole. The official language is French.
Administratively, Réunion is one of the overseas departments of France. Like the other four overseas departments, it is also one of the 18 regions of France, with the modified status of overseas region, and an integral part of the Republic with the same status as Metropolitan France. Réunion is an outermost region of the European Union and, as an overseas department of France, part of the Eurozone.