Réunion — Attractions
Réunion has been a colony of France (although now referred to as a department) for hundreds of years. Therefore, it is not surprising that a bit of French flare can be seen when walking through the old colonial streets of major cities like Saint-Denis and Saint-Pierre. However, the natural environment of Réunion will also leave tourists breathless. There is an amazing list of natural landmarks, from volcanic craters to streaming waterfalls. Cirque de Salazie shouldn’t be missed, and the lookout from Le Maido is absolutely mind-blowing.
Piton des Neiges
The highest peak in the Indian Ocean is found on Réunion Island. Piton des Neiges is one of the most impressive natural attractions on the island, standing at some 10,000ft. The peak can be reached by novice climbers, but it is recommended to go with a group tour. It generally takes about 10 to 12 hours to reach the top, but most climbers stop off at the mountain hut half way up. This can be an overnight stop, giving climbers an opportunity to reach the summit the next morning for the sunrise.
Address: Piton des Neiges, Réunion, Mascarenas
Cirque de Salazie
One of the most amazing sites on the island of Réunion, Cirque de Salazie is a volcanic caldera that boasts an awesome landscape. It can be accessed from Saint-Andre, as it is close to the northeast coastline of Réunion. Tourists should always carry wet-weather clothing when they visit, as some of the world’s highest rainfall readings are found here. It is a great place for canyoning, hiking, lookouts, and visiting stunning waterfalls.
Address: Salazie, Saint-Benoit, Réunion
Although not as high as Piton des Neiges, Le Maido is the ideal spot for novice climbers looking for great views. It stands some 7,000ft-high, close to the city of Saint-Gilles-les-Bains. Most tourists visit the peak for its awesome views over the island and Indian Ocean. However, it is possible to begin another incredible hike to Le Grand Benare from this summit. It can be climbed in a single day, but tourists are advised to start in the morning to give plenty of time to reach the top.
Address: Rim of Cirque de Mafate, Réunion
The Réunion Aquarium, referred to as Aquarium de la Réunion by locals, is a great place to take the entire family when holidaying on the island. It is found in the town of Saint-Gilles in the Port de Plaisance complex. A huge range of underwater wildlife can be seen, including crustaceans, fish species, plants, and sharks.
Address: Port de Plaisance Complex, Rue de General de Gaulle, Saint-Gilles
the Observatory of Sea Turtles is another splendid place to explore the mysterious underwater world around Réunion. The exhibits inside the observatory, which is commonly called Kalonia, focus upon the biology and conservation of marine sea turtles, especially those species that reside around the island of Réunion. There are both beautiful indoor collections and stunning outdoor pools where visitors can see live turtles in an artificial habitat.
Address: 46 Rue General de Gaulle, Saint-Leu, Réunion
Thermes de Cilaos
Also in Cirque de Cilaos, is Thermes de Cilaos, an area of hot springs heated by the volcanic chambers deep underneath the island’s surface. The site was first established as a spa resort in the 1840s when it was often used by the elite colonials living on the island. Although the site was often closed throughout its history, it remains an important part of Réunion’s tourism industry today.
Address: Route de Bras-Sec Cilaos, Réunion
Former Hotel de Ville
Often regarded as the masterpiece of Réunion’s built environment, the Former Hotel de Ville is a tremendous landmark. Built during the colonial period, this edifice still stands as one of the most beautiful and imposing structures on the island. It was styled using neoclassical architecture, and certainly stands out, even among the colonial-rich designs of Saint-Denis.
Address: Rue de Paris, Saint-Denis, Réunion
Réunion Museum of Natural History
Réunion has had a history of volcanic eruptions and cyclones, so many of the historical fauna and flora have been severely affected by these hazards. However, the Réunion Museum of Natural History still has an impressive collection of local fauna and flora from historic times. The museum is located in the Jardin L’Etat, part of Saint-Denis’ cityscape. The most popular displays within the attraction are the extinct or close-to-extinct species, like ibis, parrots, and owls.
Address: 1 Rue Poivre, Saint-Denis, Réunion