Mauritius has long been a go-to for loved up South Africans looking for a beautiful place to spend their honeymoon. But just a little way across the waters, you’ll find Réunion Island, her chic French neighbour, whose white sandy beaches, breath-taking mountains, and dreamy warm waters are quickly making this island paradise the hottest place to feel the love.
Despite its position as a wild little island in the middle of the Indian Ocean (east of Madagascar and about 175km southwest of Mauritius), Réunion Island is actually an overseas department and region of France – in fact, the flight from Charles De Gaul airport in Paris to Roland Garros airport, Réunion is technically the longest domestic flight in the world at 11 hours and 10 minutes. So, while you do need to be prepared to spend Euros when you head to this dreamy little island for your honeymoon, you can expect delicious French food, French wine, and European infrastructure, all at a fraction of the price that you’d pay for them in France, and with a distinct creole twist. Très bon!
Just hop on a flight and you’ll be sipping cocktails in no time
While you can expect tropical views, Réunion Island is just a 3 hour and 50-minute flight from O R Tambo, with Air Austral offering direct flights on Thursdays and Sundays, and Air Mauritius flying daily with a stop in Mauritius. And while it might technically be part of France, South Africans are free to visit this island dream destination without a visa – just make sure that you don’t stay longer than 90 days (which, believe us, you’ll want to do!) and that your passport is valid for 6 months from departure.
Hire a car for convenience… and to chase the best views
Réunion is a tropical island and home to two volcanoes: Piton des Neiges, which is extinct, and Piton de la Fournaise, one of Earth’s most active volcanoes – but don’t worry, the volcano is well monitored and spots that would be affected by potential lava flow are kept clear. However, these two beautiful volcanoes and their accompanying mountains and hills make for an incredible variety of beach and hilltop roads, all of which are best experienced by car. Hire a car and take a road trip to make sure you get to see every corner of the island, and be prepared to drive on the right side of the road, like in France. What could be more romantic than a driver/navigator adventure together?! Make sure to get an international driver’s license before you leave.
Pick an area, or better yet, book accommodation across this diverse landscape
Adventure lover, beach bum, mountain maid, or city slicker? No matter – whatever your type, Réunion Island has something for everyone, but for a truly unforgettable honeymoon, embrace them all!
For the best beaches… stay in Saint Gilles
Réunion’s west coast is a haven for beach bums, with kilometres of white, sandy beaches, and clear, warm blue waters to match. While some areas of the island’s coast aren’t safe for swimming because of sharks, there’s ample safe space around Saint Gilles protected by beautiful coral reefs and protective nets on the west coast to give you the real island holiday feels. However, visiting anywhere from Plage de Boucan Canot in the north (perfect for surfers) to the famous Plage de L’Hermitage (oh-so Instagram worthy) and Plage de l’Étang-Salé in the south (with beautiful black sand beaches) will guarantee a beautiful experience. For the ultimate couple experience, head to La Salines-les-Bains and hire a glass-bottomed kayak (approx. €10 or R160 for 30 minutes) together, and then watch the sunset directly over the sea in front of you while sipping on a local Bourbon ‘Le Dodo’ beer (approx. €2 or R30) from one of the numerous beach shacks.
For mountain views… stay in Cilaos
The drive up to the mountain town of Cilaos isn’t for the fainthearted – the route’s main road is famous for it’s 400 plus hairpin bends… But, it’s well worth it. Set up in the Cirque de Cilaos, this quiet town is surrounded by breath-taking mountains and known for its natural hot springs and beautiful waterfalls. If you’re looking to chill out a bit, Cilaos is a fantastic place to stop.
For city vibes…. stay in Saint Denis
The island’s capital has a remarkably European feel, with small streets and bustling industry making it feel both busy and homey. While you should definitely reserve most of your honeymoon time for the west coast beaches, it’s worth spending a bit of time in Saint Denis to take in the rich French architecture, delicious creole restaurants, and beautiful graffiti.
For adventure… hike to La Nouvelle or Marla
The geography of Réunion Island is made up of three calderas (a large cauldron-like hollow that forms following the evacuation of a magma chamber) which makes it somewhat of a hiker’s paradise – Cirque de Salazie, the Cirque de Cilaos, and the Cirque de Mafate. Cirque de Mafate, in particular, is only accessible on foot or by helicopter, and the beautiful landscapes that you’ll see along the way (and at the finish line!) are well worth the effort. Do a 2-day, 1-night hike to from Col des Boeufs to La Nouvelle and back, or a 3-day, 2-night hike to La Nouvelle, Marla and back for a fairly easy, but seriously rewarding experience.
Make sure not to miss these other unforgettable activities together
Drive up to Piton de la Fournaise volcano
While you can’t get too close to Piton de la Fournaise (it is, after all, an active volcano!) there’s a clear drive up to it where you can get beautiful views, and if you’re lucky you might even see it smoking!
Stop on the way for a walk on Mars
The drive up to Piton de la Fournaise goes through Plaine des Sables, an area that looks remarkably like it was pulled straight from Mars. Be sure to stop for photos.
Jump and slide down some epic waterfalls
Canyoning is one of the top adventure-seeking activities on the island, and is guaranteed to get your blood pumping. Suit up in a full wetsuit and helmet, and then jump, slide, abseil or zipline down some of the islands most beautiful waterfalls.
Do diving with dolphins
Surrounded by the warm Indian Ocean, there are ample companies offering potential dolphin and whale encounters.
All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart will not be held liable for loss or inconvenience resulting from the use of out-dated or incorrectly noted information.