10 days in La Réunion, France

This French island 900-km away from Madgascar is a great discovery! Many opportunities to trek, beautiful rough seas and quiet lagoons, chill vibe, good food, a mix of cultures. Try it too!

Day 1: From Saint-Denis to Hell-Bourg

  • Breakfast in La Case à Pain in Saint-Denis
  • Pick up a rental car to explore the East side of the island 
  • Visit the Roulof vanilla plantation (3/4€, from Monday to Saturday at 11am & 2pm). You can also buy some nice products the family produces
  • Drive to the Hindu “Le Colosse” temple in Saint-André and walk along the ocean to discover the local trees
  • Drive to Hell-Bourg, a beautiful typical creole village in the middle located at 950m
  • Eat a trout with watercress (typical) from the Relais des Cîmes (also a hotel)

I spent 2 nights (180€) in L’Orchidée Rose: I had a big room, with a big bathroom. Quite cold (you’re in the mountains!) There are dedicated parking spots for the hosts. A lot of info and phone numbers of the village restaurants (you need to book!). I had to pay cash (no ATM in the village at the time of writing, you need to go to Salazie).

Day 2: Hell-Bourg & Fôret de Bélouve

  • Grab some breakfast/a sandwich from a small shop in the centre
  • Walk from Hell-Bourg to the view on the Salazie (Gîte de Bélouve). Be careful: many steps and a 600m vertical drop. Signs indicate 1H45. I managed in 1H20 with many stops
  • Admire the view and do a loop walk (1h30-2H) around the Bélouve forest on “Le sentier de la Tamarinaie
  • Back in Hell-Bourg, walk down to the old baths
  • Visit the 8 rooms of the very well researched Indian Ocean musical instruments museum (7€, add 2€ and you can visit the Folio house) in a very nice typical house, with a tremendous view on the surroundings
  • Walk around the cemetery, very special and pretty with all the flowers put by the locals
  • Eat a big typical dish from Ti’Chouchou for a fair price: chouchou gratin – vanilla chicken – banana ice cream (book a table from the shop next door)

Day 3: From Hell-Bourg to Saint-Benoît, via the Takamaka valley

  • Visit the Folio house, a typical creole house with an interesting garden
  • Drive back down, park along the main road (see map below) to go walk to the “Cascade du Voile de La Mariée” (waterfall of the veil of the bride) through the village of Ilet Bananiers. It’s not a long walk (about 30minutes) but it’s not really an easy path, especially if it rained recently. The view upon arrival is however great
  • Eat at La Cascade Blanche restaurant – good lunch, with a nice cocktail in a popular place
  • Drive (be ready for a looooot of blind turns) to the Takamaka waterfall

Day 4: The South and South East coast

  • Explore lava tunnels with Volcanorun. A unique experience!
  • Drive to Cap Méchant and admire the old (but not that old) lava flows on the way
  • Take a nice walk along the ocean to the ‘Pointe de la table’ from ‘Puits arabe’
  • Walk around the ‘Anse des cascades’

Day 5: Piton de La Fournaise

  • Wake up early for a scenic drive to the Piton de la Fournaise, the very active volcano in La Réunion
  • On the way there, stop at Commerson crater and on Mars aka La Plaine des sables
  • Once you’ve arrived at the car park, you can simply admire the view or walk down many steps to the caldeira, and why not to the volcano itself!

Day 6: Saint-Pierre

  • Take a nice break in Saint-Pierre. I dropped off my car back at the airport and took a bus (Car Jaune ligne T) for 5€ (about 2hours). But of course you can do it by car too
  • Eat a nice brunch at Hippi’Eat
  • Discover the nice murals all around Terre-Sainte, an old fishermen village
  • Enjoy some beach time on the Terre-Sainte beach
  • Get a pizza from Giuletta
  • Sleep at Ô PasSage – Kaz Auberge

Day 7: From Saint-Pierre to Cilaos

  • Take an atypical bus ride from Saint-Louis to Ciloas
  • Walk up to La Roche merveilleuse
  • Eat a crêpe from L‘Instant Plaisir
  • I slept for 2 nights in Auberg’in Cilaos, in a nice room with a tremendous view on the PIton des Neiges

Day 8: Cirque du Cilaos

  • Grab breakfast and/or a sandwich from the boulangerie Dambreville
  • Go trek for the day! My recommendation is to go to Ilet à Cordes, with a detour to “La Chapelle”. It’s a long and hard walk, and you need to plan enough time to catch the bus. But the views and the experience are worth it
  • Get a spa treatment in the bath (be careful, book in advance to make sure you have a masseuse)
  • Shop local at the Archipel Métiers des Arts complex

Day 9-12: Relaxing in and around Saint-Gilles

  • I took the bus 60 down to Saint-Louis and changed there for a bus to Saint-Gilles (1h30, S4)
  • Things to do: swim in the reserved area at the Roches Noires beach, walk along the beach towards l’Ermitage, visit the aquarium, snorkel in the lagoon in L’Ermitage, watch sunset on the Boucan-Canot beach, visit the ‘maritime’ cemetery in Saint-Paul (and stop in Cap de La Houssaye on the way)
  • Places to eat: get breakfast at Chez Loulou or in La Case à Pains, get lunch at L’uni Vert or La Varangue du Lagon by the beach, have dinner at Bar à papa or Dragon Bowls
  • Places to have a drink: Les Toiles Noires (also some geek games and quizzes), le Kazbar (by the sea), le Balcon (also to dance)
  • Places to dance (free entrance): Pinkananas, Titty Twister

Day 13: Saint-Denis

  • Go buy handmade souvenirs at Le Grand Marché
  • Walk down the Rue de Paris
  • Get a drink on one of the small cafés behind the cathedral
  • Watch sunset by the ocean from the Barachois
  • Eat at La Terrasse de Bourbon
  • Last night in a very nice flat downtown (self check-in)

Some additional places on my to-do list for my next trip:

  • See Maido at sunrise
  • Walk to the Langevin waterfall
  • Admire the panorama from La Fenêtre des Makes
  • Trek to La Roche Ecrite and Le Trou de Fer
  • Go paragliding

See you soon!


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