If you are planning your first trip to Reunion or if you are still thinking about it, here is some original, romantic, gourmet, sporting and cultural suggestions of 10 activities to do on the island.
1. One beach : We all know beautiful beaches with white sand, and you can find them in the travel guide books. The beach in Etang Salé city is a black sand one. We love it for its wide spaces and big waves. But it is hard to find a shady area, and during summer, be careful not to (literally) burn your feet while walking on the sand.
2. One cirque : Out of the 3 cirques (Cilaos, Mafate and Salazie), we present you Mafate, only reachable by walking or helicopter, which makes it even more special. No road, but hiking paths linking small villages to each other. Local kids have sometimes to walk for many hours a day to go to school. Crazy, right ?
3. One hike : To reach Mafate, more precisely the small village la Nouvelle, we recommend the hiking path from Col des Boeufs in the cirque of Salazie. The walk is not that long (less than 2 hours one way), rather easy (except for a short climb at the end on your way back), and really nice, with a beautiful part in a forest of tamarind trees.
4. One market : In Saint Pierre, every saturday morning, from sunrise to noon, there is a local market where you can fin everything : fresh products like seasonal fruits and vegetables, but also fish and meat, snacks (samoussas, bonbons piments, fresh squeezed fruit juice…), and finally some souvenirs. One tip : go there the early to feel the local atmosphere, it will be less crowded. Otherwise, the local market of Saint Paul is also really nice (on fridays and saturday mornings).
5. One activity : We could tell you about paragliding, helicopter, for the wonderful landscapes, or canyoning and rafting for intense sensations. But you can also experience a walk underground in the lava tunnels, around the city of St Philippe. You can go there by yourself, but if it is your first time, we strongly recommend you to take a guide. Inside the tunnels it’s another world : total darkness, no sound, humid atmosphere. It’s a really special experience. Will you find the lava sculpture of a dodo (an extinct animal) ?
6. One picnic : In Reunion, weekends mean family picnics ! In the mountains or on the beaches. It’s not just some simple meals, sandwiches prepared near a tree on the grass. No, here we bring cooking pots with rice and local dishes, materials for a campfire to reheat the meal, chairs, camping tables, tents to protect us from the sun or the rain, some music instrument, fruits punchs ! If you want to experience a Reunionese picnic, on sundays, get to the Grand Anse beach or on the road to Maido.
7. One museum : The city of Volcano has been renovated since last year. You will find everything to know about volcanos, how Reunion island was created (which btw is actually a volcano). If you happen to meet Cédric, a guide, please say hi for us and he will gladly answer to all your questions. The museum is now really modern, with a fake lava tunnel and a 4D movie. After the visit, you can have lunch at Ti resto lontan, on the other side of the road.
8. One local dish : The rougail saucisses, with some rice, beans and rougail. It’s one of the typical dish you can find everywhere on the island. Everyone has its own recipe, we give you ours here.
9. One park : To discover the flora of Reunion, go to the perfume and spices garden, in St-Philippe. Take a visit with a guide and you will learn how Mr Albius found out how to fertilize the vanilla and you will observe some endemic species. Be careful, bring your anti mosquitos lotion !
10. One unusual spot (you won’t find it in any guide) : the port of Ste Marie, during the night, you can watch (and hear) the big planes taking off above your heads.
Obviously, this list is not long enough, you have so much to discover, live and taste in Reunion. That’s why we call it the intense island !