A few weeks ago Jo and I embarked on one of our annual ‘holiday of a lifetime’s to the Isle of Reunion.
It’s an island the size of Dorset nestled between Madagascar and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. As there is a dearth of English-language information on La Reunion (it’s a territory of France) I’m going to hand over control of my blog to Will the travel writer before posting just a handful of the 4000 photos that Jo and I took. Without further ado…
Lonely Planet got is SO wrong – Reunion is much better than they reckon
Do you own goggles? Take them!
There’s coral and tropical fish-life just metres away from the beaches. Stick your face underwater and start that David Attenborough inner monologue. It’s stunning. If you’re into diving, I have no information for you, other than I think you’re a bit weird, and that I guess you should do that instead. Hang on, Reunion has sharks though doesn’t it?
Don’t worry about sharks
See that line of waves breaking about 50 metres out to sea? That’s being caused by a coral embankment separating the ocean yonder from the beachside lagoon. It’s impossible* for creatures the size of man-eating sharks to navigate over this natural barrier, so you’re safe to swim away. If you are still concerned, go for one of the beaches which has a Hasselhoff, just in case. Surfers and fishermen need to venture out of the lagoons and they’re the ones who are most at risk – sharks struggle to discern between surfers, fishermen and seals.
*it may be possible, but seems very unlikely
You don’t need to rent a car
The guidebooks and blogs say that it’s borderline essential to rent a car for your entire stay, we proved those people wrong (ish). The bus network is simply fantastic. The ‘inter-city’ Car Jaune services and the local run-arounds all ran to timetables so we could plan our activities around our transfers to the minute. Having said this, the two days that we did actually rent a car were two of the stand-out days of the whole holiday. The Cascade Langevin waterfalls, Grand Brule lava fields, Puits des Anglais coastline and our essential journey up the Piton de la Fournaise would all have been very difficult, if not impossible, without a car. In fact, if we were to plan the holiday again, I’d probably push for a couple more days of car – the transfer from St Pierre to Hell-Bourg involved four buses with lengthy interchanges, and a car would have allowed us to get to the start point of a hike into the Cirque de Mafate from the Cirque de Salazie.
Reunion is very un-photogenic
Every photograph you have seen of the cirques is not representative of just how impressive they are (and we didn’t even see Mafate, which is said to be the pick of the bunch). The mountains and cliff faces are so high and steep that you either have to point the camera up or shoot on a very wide angle lens, both techniques serving to make the subjects look smaller than they are. It’s a tropical island paradise which ‘erupts’ 3000m into the sky within the space of 20 miles from the shore. It has three enormous land bowls, and one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It’s about as impressive a place as you can imagine. If you’re in two minds about going to Reunion, be led by the facts rather than the photos.
NB: I took the (excellent) decision to leave my DSLRs at home – all the below were shot on compacts – my Nikon Coolpix A or Jo’s Canon S95
In 2007 La Reunion’s (hyper)active volcano Piton de la Fournaise had a huge eruption which created an enormous lava flow into the sea. No-one was harmed. It took six years for the ground to cool…
I had looked up the lunar cycle before we went to figure out which would be the best night for some astro photography – it was such a relief that there was an unusually clear night! This was shot on my compact camera on a gorillapod tripod perched on the roof of a car.