Oh la la! After a long haul flight, you step off the plane and you’re greeted with bonjour. Then breakfast croissants and chocolate Chaud (hot chocolate). At first glance, the island of Reunion is like a piece of France teleported to the tropics. But beyond the Gallic style, you’ll soon realize it is a resplendent tapestry, which also combines influences Indigenous, African and Chinese.
Protruding from the sea as a basaltic shield wrapped in green, Réunion is a mini-Hawaii, with an impressive geographic diversity. Within an hour or two, transforms the landscape of lava fields in lush primary forest, from the jagged peaks of the extensive coastal cities. The West is the Riviera of Reunion, a long series of suburban beaches and resort towns, including dazzling Canota Boucan. The piece de resistance is Les Hautes and the volcano. Piton de la Fournaise is one of the world’s most accessible volcanoes active and depending on the whims of nature, you might even witness fiery red molten lava. When the volcano has finished working its magic on you, there are horses to ride, majestic mountains to walk in circuses, or glider in Saint-Leu, slopes to dive, great waves for surfing, extinct volcanoes to fly again and canyons to explore. But not everything is about the nature, landscapes and adrenaline – Reunion has its cultural gems as well, with brave Creole style architecture-as-can-be villages and religious buildings and colorful festivals.
Let’s be honest, though. The Meeting is a tropical island, but that does not fit the cliché of an Edenic paradise bathed by the sun. Sure, you will find attractive palm ruffled stretches of sand, but none that rivals super sexy beaches that are de rigueur in the Seychelles and Mauritius. All the best for you: the mega-resorts are nonexistent. Open the Pandora’s box, and you leave the island proclaiming to the world that The Rénion lé gadiamb (‘The Meeting is wonderful, “in Creole).