Réunion

Best time to visit

The peak seasons are during the French school holidays from late June to early September. From October through to the New Year, holidays are also reasonably busy. After this season, everything eases down during cyclone-prone February and March. The weather normally changes for the better in April, which isn’t a bad time to a visit.

 

Climate

There are only two distinct seasons: the hot, rainy summer from December to April and the cool, dry winter from late April to October. The east coast is considerably wetter than the west. Cyclone season is roughly December to March. Temperatures on the coast average to 22°C during winter and 27°C in summer. In the mountains, they drop to 11°C and 18°C respectively.

 

Getting Around

Air

Réunion has two international airports. The vast majority of flights come into Roland Garros International Airport about 10km east of St-Denis. Coming from Mauritius, you have the option of landing at Pierrefonds Airport, in the south of the island near St-Pierre.

 

Bus

Réunion’s major towns and many of the little ones in between are linked by bus. The island’s bus service is knows as Car Jaune (yellow buses). The main gare routière (bus station) is on Blvd Lancastel on the St-Denis seafront. You can pay the driver as you board. To get the bus to stop, you ring the bell or clap your hands twice loudly.

 

Car

With most attractions located in the hills, it is recommended hiring a vehicle. No other form of transport lets you explore the island’s secret backwaters. There are some gorgeous runs, cruising along the island’s dramatic roads; heading into the mountains via the Cirques roads is a magnificent experience.

 

Visa & Passport Requirements

Though Réunion is a French department, it’s not part of the Schengen treaty. For EU nationals, a national ID or a passport suffices. Citizens of a number of other Western countries, such as Australia, the USA, Canada and New Zealand do not need visas to visit Réunion as tourists for up to three months; they need only a passport. Visas are not required by South African Passport holders to visit Réunion. Other nationals should check with the French embassy or consulate nearest your home address to find out if you need a visa.

 

Health

No vaccinations are required. Recommended vaccinations are Hepatitis A&B, Tetanus and Polio. However a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers over 1 year of age who arrive from areas where yellow fever cases are reported.

 

Money Matters

As in France, the unit of currency is the euro (€), which is divided into 100 cents. Foreign currency is best to be drawn cash at ATM’s which you’ll find throughout all towns and cities as banks that have foreign-exchange facilities and do cash exchange have been dramatically reduced since the introduction of the euro. Carrying large amounts of cash on your person is not advised, but most major credit cards (MasterCard and Visa) are widely accepted in shops, restaurants and hotels.

 

Tipping

Tipping is not compulsory but greatly appreciated to those who have provided you with a good service.

What to pack

Take your best beach and casual wear during the day and in summer months. In the winter, carry some light woollen clothing for the cooler evenings.

Please show due respect when visiting religious places by wear appropriate clothing (and remove leather shoes and belts) when entering the premises.

Remember sunblock and other protective items from the sun such as hats and after-sun.