Réunion is one of the overseas departments of France, located in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar. Once uninabited, it now has a population of around 845,000 inhabitants after being discovered first by Portuguese explorers and then colonized by France in the 17th century. This beautiful paradise island boasts very diverse landscape; from thick, green forestry and flowing waterfalls to mountains and stunning beaches that you'd expect to only see on a postcard, but never in real life! With its tropical climate, it really is a haven for those who love the outdoors, and of course the sun, and it is so beautiful that it is unsurprisingly one of the few biodiversity hotspots that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Gulf of Porto in Corsica. Make your dream holidays a reality and book a self catering rental holiday apartment in Réunion; the perfect destination for a family vacation.
The great outdoors and Réunion wildlife
There are numerous outdoor activities available to take part in on Reunion island, such as hiking. A must-see is Réunion's shield volcano, the Piton de la Fournaise (Peak of the Furnace). It is one of the most active volcanoes across the globe and is located in Réunion National Park, a popular tourist site and under constant monitoring. It can be visited by tourists, but you have to take caution as the weather can change very suddenly. Rated as one of the best places for a hike in Reunion is Cirque de Mafate, a remote caldera enclosed by mountains. This is however, quite a difficult hike as it is hard to get to and also because of the altitude, heat and humidity. Therefore, it is advised to be well prepared – make a packed lunch first in your self catering Réunion holiday rentals, take a lot of water and a map and make sure you know what you're letting yourself in for! It's a perfect location for hikers who want to experience truly unspoilt, natural scenery, as there are are no roads here, even between the Cirque's only village, La Nouvelle, and its several small hamlets; all access is either by foot or by helicopter, or occasionally 4x4. There are different pathways leading to the Cirque, such as the Canalisation des Orangers which has a lot of vegetation and streams along the way. There is a lot of flora and fauna to be seen in Reunion, and although there aren't very many mammals here, the island is perfect for birdwatchers as it houses 91 species of birds! There are also many large, green (and blue!) spaces, covering around 100,000 hectares of land. This is mainly made up of forests, but there are also many lagoons, lakes, waterfalls, wetlands and ravines across the island waiting to be discovered. How about going on a Shai Ena horse riding tour through the incredible scenery, with experienced and friendly local guides and docile horses which are perfectly suited for people who have never ridden before. Other active pursuits available are mountain biking and hand gliding.
Under the sea
Spending some time out at sea, you can discover all of the underwater life that the island has to offer; sea urchins, turtles and dolphins, as well as an impressive coral reef, similar to isles in the Netherlands Antilles such as Bonaire and Azores in Portugal. The ocean here is the perfect location for some great water sports, such as canyoning in Cilaos, or you can go snorkelling or scuba diving to get the best views of the lengths of coral reef and the thousands of marine species such as sea urchins and crabs living under the clear, blue sea. There are also tours available to go dolphin and whale watching, where you'll undoubtedly see an abundance of other multicoloured tropical fish, too. But you don't just have to sit on a boat and watch from a distance – if you want you can get in the water and swim with them too!
Relaxation, leisure and beaches
Reunion offers a lot in the way of relaxation – golf clubs, spas, massages, thermal treatments, and of course long stretches of beach with beautiful black/white sand are available throughout the island too. If you want to have a bit of luxury during your stay, book a house, villa or holiday apartment in Réunion with a pool where you can relax at night with a cold drink and take in the view of this breathtaking country. If you don't feel up to hiking around the hilltops, there's always the option to take a helicopter to view the impressive sights, or a short stroll to the Piton Grand'Anse beach, where you can spend as much time as you want unwinding on the sand or lazing in the sea.When making a booking in holiday rentals in Réunion, keep in mind the sorts of activities you want to do during your stay, as the weather can be very contrasting depending on your location on the island and the season in which you choose to travel. The west side is protected from the wind and it rains here rarely, making it ideal for those searching sun and sand, whereas on the east coast there is a lot of rainfall and it is also exposed to the wind. The best time period to go is between May and September, and this is also when the most whales can be found around the coast. It should also be taken into consideration that the school holidays in Réunion take place in January, so from the end of December to the end of January it is unadvisable to go, because many places are closed and the beaches are full of locals making the most of their time with their children. The sea around the isle is an ideal temperature all year round, so swimming will always be an option! Have a good time.