5 Unusual Visa Free Island Destinations For South Africans – FAQ Fridays

Welcome to another edition of Travelstart’s FAQ Fridays with me, Nick Paul.

Video Transcription

Today we are going to be talking about visa free island destinations that are a little bit alternative to the usual stuff that people go for. We get asked a lot about visa free destinations and beach holidays so this one made sense. We are not going to be looking at places like Mauritius, Zanzibar or the Maldives. We are going to be looking at places which are a bit different, to give you some new out of the box ideas.

1. Reunion

First up is Reunion, which is Mauritius’ sister island. It is about 200km from Mauritius and is very different from this very popular South African holiday destination. Mauritius is all about white sandy beaches and chilling at resorts, where as Reunion is much more for the active traveller who wants to go on hikes and see dramatic scenery. It has its own active volcano and has tropical beaches. The island has recently gone visa free which is a big deal as it is actually part of France.

There are direct flights from Johannesburg which makes it really easy to get to. If you want to book a flight you can do so by clicking here, or if you would like to ask our agents more about this destination please click here.

2. Bahamas

Secondly we have something on the other side of the world; the Bahamas. A lot of the Caribbean is visa free for South Africans (Including the Bahamas). The only catch here is that if you are travelling via the UK or the USA you will need a visa for these transits countries. Keep this in mind when you are booking your flights.

What’s great about the Bahamas: It’s all about the white sandy beaches, blue water, chilling out, snorkeling and seeing some amazing under water life.

To get there one can fly into Nassau and again you would most likely have to fly via Miami or London. Keep this in mind as you will need transit visas.

If you want to book a flight you can do so by clicking here, or if you would like to ask our agents more about this destination please click here.

3. Ilha Grande

Ilha Grande is only 100km from Rio. It is relatively untouched compared to Rio which is obviously a bustling metropolis. From Rio it does not take long to get to Ilha Grande. You catch a bus from Rio to Angra dos Reis or Mangaratiba. From these places you can catch a ferry to Ilha Grande. The island itself is fantastic as it has no roads, a lot of your commuting is done by boat and activities such as hiking and snorkeling are fantastic here.

The closest airport to Ilha Grande is Rio de Janeiro which you can fly to from JNB to Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo to Rio.

If you want to book a flight you can do so by clicking here, or if you would like to ask our agents more about this destination please click here.

4. The Philippines

The Philippines consist of 100s of small islands. It’s a lot like Thailand in some ways, just minus the massive throngs of tourists.

Some of the great places that I would recommend visiting are Boracay and Coron Island.

Borocay is famous for it’s white sandy beaches and Coron is best known for its breathtaking lagoons.

If you want to book a flight you can do so by clicking here (please note that you will need to book further internal flights/ferries from Manilla to Boracay and Coron. You can use low cost airlines such as Cebu Pacific and SkyJet) or if you would like to ask our agents more about this destination please click here.

5. Galápagos Islands

Probably the most unusual of this list, the Galápagos Islands are part of Ecuador in South America.

One wouldn’t visit the Galápagos Islands to chill on the beach… It’s all about the nature and all about scientific discovery. What I would suggest is going with a tour which takes you by boat between islands.  Tours in this area are not cheap, you are looking in the region of R30 000 and R40 000. It is therefore something that you will need to plan in advance for but it is well worth the trip.

To get here you need to fly via Quito, Ecuador. If you want to book a flight you can do so by clicking here, or if you would like to ask our agents more about this destination please click here.

So there you have it, 5 unusual visa free island destinations for South Africans. If you have any travel related questions please ask them in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel by clicking here.


Our Readers Comments

  1. Hello pls how can i get flight from any where to bahamas with my south africa passport……i need a flight to bahams with uk ot america transit visa…..bcus of the airline i am seeing to bahams is schengen flight……pls i need a flight to bahamas that wont required any uk or america transit visa

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      You welcome to check for flights directly on our website: http://www.travelstart.co.za here we show all the flight options and fares for that specific route.

      All flights go via the States. Even if they go via Europe first they will then fly via the States and onto Bahamas.

  2. Hi good day.
    I am planning going to Bahamas on holiday . With a Temporal Resident Permit. Am wondering if you can assist me with.
    With Regards .
    Bayong Michael Forkwa.

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for contacting us.

      I’m afraid we do not specialise with visa related queries. For this you will need to contact the Embassy direct.

      They will be able to advise on the correct procedures to follow when applying for a visa, what documents are required and the cost.

  3. Most of South America is either visa-free or visa-on-arrival for South Africans. Travelling around South America is easy and it is much cheaper than Europe. And there are some amazing sights … why do South Africans tend not to go there?

  4. Thank you for this post, very informative. I had no idea I could travel visa free.

  5. Can anyone share any light on the ‘Ship Captain’s Visa’ – being the pardon a ship traveller receives at any port to refuel and refood for 48 hours with no visa restrictions? TIA

    • Hi Linda,

      Thanks for the interesting question.

      Unfortunately we do not specialize in this. I suggest you contact the official visa agency or Embassy direct, they should be able to assist and answer any queries you might have.

      Best of Luck!

  6. Is it possible to apply for a Schengen travel visa from OUTSIDE SA being a SA passport holder? We are experiencing huge difficulties! Surely while travelling you should be able to ‘change’ your mind and then apply for a Schengen from Turkey for example to continue your travels? HELP!

    • Hi Linda,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      I know in the past one was able to to apply for a visa outside the country. To my knowledge it should still be possible, as there are a lot of South African passport holders living in the UK which travel to the Schengen States and need to apply for their visa that side.

      I suggest you contact the Embassy direct as only they would be able to assist as they are the ones who are granting the visa’s.

  7. We are going to the UK in September – where can we fly from there without a SA visa(except Ireland) I would like to go to Istanbul, but think we need a visa now?

  8. So good to hear you do not need the french departement visas for Reunion anymore.we had a wonderful holiday there in 2009 climbing all the pitons etc .Without the hassle with the visas it so much easier to go back

  9. British Virgin Islands. The best visa free place for South Africans in the world!!!!

  10. @bd

    We were in ireland in February. We toured the south and didn’t have a visa. But as soon as u go up north u have to have a visa. Hope it helps!

  11. Do not forget about Zanzibar!! I was there 4 weeks ago without a via also!! Very nice place to be! You will need one whole week to see the whole island!!

  12. We were cruising on MSC Rhapsody in 2009 we were told no visas required for Renuion when we got closer we were told Visa required We were not prepared to pay that much for a few hours in Reunion French! Obviously Visa required

  13. Wow the comments! “Can one drive from Mauritius to Reunion Island” – you really must be a special kind of stupid to ask that.

  14. Very interesting – thank you

  15. ‘Can one drive from Mauritius to Reunion’?….SERIOUSLY????

    • maybe a motor boat lol

  16. Hi!
    You do need a Visa for the Philippines, but it can be obtained on arrival. Do u perhaps know if I can get a 6-mnth Visa on arrival??

    • You can get a 6 month visa once in the Philippines, one has to just go to the imaginations department. They are fairly relaxed.

  17. Are there places visa free with a Nigerian passport? Kindly let me know, many thanks; Alex.

    • Hi Alex, absolutely, it’s a fun happy place called Hillbrow.

      This is what wikipedia.org has to say about the tranquility known as Hillbow.

      “Hillbrow is an inner city residential neighbourhood of Johannesburg, Gauteng Province, South Africa. It is known for its high levels of population density, unemployment, poverty and crime.”

      For full details please visit – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillbrow

  18. Is reunion island also visa free with a Zimbabwean passport like Mauritius.
    And what about Madagascar? Are there direct flights there from Joburg and is it visa free with Zim Passport?

  19. Thanks Nick- fantastic guidance and great recommendations!

    Do South Africans need a visa to go to Mauritius?
    Also, could one drive from Mauritius to Reunion Island?

    Let me know

    • Reunion is a island…….Hello!!!!! you cant drive there!!

  20. Thanks for this round up of interesting and Visa free destinations for South Africans…. Ilha Grande sounds very interesting, just added it to my to-do list.

  21. Good to know! Please post more about visa free holidays worldwide for South Africans.

  22. Me and my wife would like to find more out about Galapagos,costs to fly from Johannesburg etc
    Thank you
    Nico Grobbelaar

    • Hi,

      I visited the Galapagos in April 2010. It is a fantastic place, especially if you like snorkeling or diving.

      If you want to reduce cost, you can get to Quito and look for space on a boat while you are there. I managed to save about 50% of what a prebooked trip would have cost me from SA.

      I strongly suggest to visit Ecuador as part of your trip to the Galapagos. They have active volcanoes, rain forests and beautiful Pacific coast sceneries. Ecuador is definitely not just about the Galapagos islands.

  23. Reunion is a French departement, meaning it is treated like France. One needs a French visa to visit Reunion. Been there, done that.

    • Was there 1 Jun – NO visa needed for SA passports… get your facts straight Willem. Been there done that…AFTER you. NO VISA REQUIRED.

    • In Reunion currently, a stunning place, and no visa required, in fact airport formalities quick and easy.

    • Hi Craig,

      Great to hear from you!

      Yes Reunion is an amazing island to visit. One can experience the best of both worlds from being active and exploring the island hiking or chilling on one of the tropical beaches!

      Great to know that its quick and easy when arriving at Saint-Denis! Always a good start to ones holiday 🙂

      Enjoy the rest of your time in Reunion!


  25. You did not mention Ireland

    • Ireland is not an island

    • Its my ‘Ire’land!

    • IRELAND most definitely IS an island. The entire internet is right at your fingertips, there’s no need to state incorrect facts that easily verifiable.

  26. I would love to know of specials to Egypt and places you could visit there and accommodations and hire of vehicles

    Thanking You

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