visiting Reunion Island

Things to know before visiting Reunion Island for the first time

Famous for its volcanic mountains, rainforest, beautiful waterfalls, and tropical beaches, there are many reasons you should consider visiting Reunion Island.

Réunion National Park covers 42% of the Island and this UNESCO World Heritage Site protects the endemic ecosystems of Les Hauts, Réunion’s mountainous interior dominated by volcanic peaks and cliffs, comprises “subtropical rainforests, cloud forests and heaths creating a remarkable and visually appealing mosaic of ecosystems and landscape features.

The Island only has one five star hotel, located on the western side of the island, the resort sits on a protected lagoon and is also home to the island’s largest swimming pool.

Where Is Reunion Island

La Reunion is a French overseas island located in the midst of the Indian Ocean, Just 200 kilometers South-West of Mauritius and 700 kilometers east of the island of Madagascar. The island was previously known as île Bourbon.

How to get to Reunion Island from Johannesburg

The distance from Johannesburg, South Africa to Reunion Island is 3,417 kilometers. The flight time from Johannesburg to St Denis de la Reunion is 3 hours 50 minutes.

Air Austral is the national carrier of Reunion Island. but Air Mauritius also has flights to Reunion Island.

How to get to Reunion Island from Mauritius

The distance from Mauritius to Reunion Island is 233KM.

Why visit Reunion Island

Reunion is a multicultural island with roots from Africa, Madagascar, Asia, and Europe. The island is rich in culture and you find a blend of many cuisine, traditions, and languages.

Despite being a tropical island of incredible beauty and a popular escape for the French, the island is yet to truly develop its hotel industry. At present, Lux Saint Gilles (owned by the Mauritian hotel and resort chain Lux) is the only five-star resort on the island. Located on the western side of the island, the resort sits on a protected lagoon and is also home to the island’s largest swimming pool.

Not only is Reunion a hiker paradise but the Island a great a year-round destination for all types of travelers!

Best time for visiting Reunion Island

Best Month to visit Reunion IslandSeasonCrowdsVacation in Reunion Island Cost
Visiting Reunion Island in JanuaryFrequent and heavy showersModerateModerate
Traveling to Reunion Island in February The hottest month of the year with heavy and regular showersHighHigh
Visiting Reunion Island in March Average temperature of 25°, some showersModerateHigh
Visiting Reunion Island in April the end of the cyclone seasonHighHigh
Visiting Reunion Island in MayAround 28° by the coastHighHigh
Visiting Reunion Island in June The beginning of the austral winterLowModerate
Visiting Reunion Island in July26° on average, 23° in the lagoon. Sea breezes, especially in the southLowModerate
Visiting Reunion Island in August The middle of the austral winterLowModerate
Visiting Reunion Island in September Some frost possible up in the mountains at nightModerateModerate
Visiting Reunion Island in October Between seasonsModerateModerate
Traveling to Reunion Island in NovemberThe beginning of the cyclone seasonModerateModerate
Visiting Reunion Island in December The onset of summerHighHigh

Interesting facts about Reunion Island

What time is it in Reunion Island right now?

Reunion Standard Time is 4 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+4). Reunion does not operate Daylight Saving Time.

Population of Reunion Island

The population of reunion island is 860 000 in January 2020.

Reunion Island Currency

Euro (€) .

Languages of Reunion Island

French is the official language of Reunion Island and Creole is the language of everyday life. Based on French, with a mixture of Malagasy and Tamil words, it is used with relatives and for informal interactions. French is generally used in formal situations. Although everybody understands it, many people cannot speak it; therefore, its use is a marker of educational achievement and social status.

Largest French city outside France

The island’s capital city, Saint-Denis is the 21st largest French city, and also the largest French city not physically attached to the land of France.

Reunion Island is part of the European Union

Although Reunion Island is located close to Africa, its a French Island which means the currency is Euro and people are “Europeans”.

Do I need a Schengen Visa to visit Reunion Island

Reunion Island, French overseas department, is not a member of the Schengen area. No visa required for South Africans with a valid passport qualifying for a 90-day stay. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months and have at least 2 blank pages.

How many volcanoes are in Reunion?

The island of Reunion is made up of two volcanic mountains, Piton des Neiges which covers the central part of the island and Piton de la Fouranaise that is located on the eastern part of the island. These twin summits have been highly eroded over time.

Olivier Levasseur Is buried in Reunion Island

A pirate nicknamed La Buse or La Bouche because of the speed and ruthlessness with which he always attacked his enemies was executed and buried in Reunion in 1730. It’s believed that his treasure ( estimated value bigger than 4.5 billion Euros) still remains somewhere in the Indian Ocean or even on Reunion Island.

Important Reunion Island Laws to know

Reunion Island is an ideal destination for nature lovers. Whether you’re visiting Reunion Island or moving there, there are important laws to know before you go.

Cannabis in Reunion Island

Cannabis is illegal in Réunion, but it’s grown illicitly and is locally known as zamal, a term that appears to be of Malagasy origin but does not currently exist in Madagascar. Cannabis in Réunion is used both recreationally and ritually.

Driving in Reunion Island

Here is some extra information you might need when driving in Reunion:

  • Cars drive on the right-hand side like in France.
  • It is strictly forbidden to drive while using items such as earphones or headsets.
  • The permitted blood alcohol level is 0.2 g/l for probationary permits, that is to say until 3 years after your license has been issued and 0.5 g/l for other drivers. Nonetheless, our insurance policy requires you to be 100 % sober.
  • All passengers are mandatory to wear seat belts.
  • The speed limit is indicated by road signs. However, you must stay cautious at all time because roads are mountainous and have some tight turns, which makes it potentially dangerous to go too fast. It is also recommended to let the locals pass you.
  • Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable in Reunion. Always look out for them on the side of the road and let them cross when needed.

Travel Insurance for Reunion Island

Use travel insurance while visiting South Africa so you are covered for theft and medical expenses. There are a lot of adventurous things to do in Reunion Island, and it’s best to have peace of mind while driving, hiking and trying some of the best food in the world.


Find out why I recommend World Nomads, check out my World Nomads Insurance review.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a booking after clicking on a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you!

5 thoughts on “Things to know before visiting Reunion Island for the first time”

  1. Sandrine Moesan

    Thanks for these info. I’m from the island myself, been a Londonder for 10yrs, lived in Australia, Portugal, and France of course. I’m still surprised that there’s nothing really online about the expat life in the island. Where to go out, Best bars, what do you do if you live there? Is not speaking French that much of an issue? Is the cost of life okay? There’s not much unfo about that anywhere so thanks for at least giving us a bit of extra details in this article!

  2. What a cool little island! I never think to go to the offshore islands when I visit places, it’s mostly a time/budget constraint that keeps me from going. This little gem looks like paradise.

  3. Great write up, it’s everything I need to know before booking a trip to Reunion! I would love to visit Reunion, it sounds like such an interesting place to visit and I would love to do some hiking there.

  4. Wow! If I lived on this island, you would never see me again. This was very informative and I appreciate how you gave us all the facts we need to know before we even book our trip. Thank you for this, I’m definitely adding this island to my list!

  5. Seems like such a cool place to visit! Thanks for this informative post of good things to know:)

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