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Welcome to THE HIDDEN GEM - REUNION ISLAND



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Finally, there is a rich and dynamic range of musical and cultural events : concerts, botanical gardens, creole estates or exhibitions. You won't be bored here!


History

This wildly beautiful and rugged volcanic island (with a very active volcano), was uninhabited when discovered by the Portuguese in the early 16th century. In 1643 it was claimed by the French. They named it Bourbon and established their first colony here in 1662. In the years that followed, slaves from Africa were imported to work the sugar plantations. The island was renamed Reunion in 1793, and it remained a French colony, except for a brief British occupation from 1810 to 1815. Over time, French immigration, supplemented by influxes of Africans, Chinese, Malays, and Malabar Indians, gave the island its ethnic mix. The island's economy is dominated by the sugarcane industry, and its main exports include sugar, seafood, rum, and vanilla. Tourism, especially from Europe, is a significant economic factor.


Why travel to Reunion

Following a previous Gold award in 2012, Reunion Island Tourism (IRT) has once again bagged this prestigious prize for their innovative application “Reunion Island” which has turned out to be a hit among visitors to the island as well as those just traveling there on their computer, tablet, and smart phone screens. Reunion Island Tourism was chosen from among 5 finalists and came out on top, largely attributed to being seen as “the most popular destination app.” Over and above the vote of the jury, which, of course, determined the winner, more than 143,000 users also voted the same way - a resounding vote of confidence among travelers to this French tropical Indian Ocean island. Befittingly the description of the app via the Reunion Tourism website says: “360° videos let you discover the island in an innovative and original way through fun and interactive virtual tours. With 360° videos, you can get a unique glimpse of the island in the form of circular panoramas of various views, such as the sunrise, the volcano, the beach, and the forest. You can also discover activities such as helicopter flights, hiking, paragliding, and much more. Experience the sensation of being immersed in the heart of the island and come and live unforgettable experiences on Reunion.” Reunion Island, born almost 3 million years ago, is a French tropical island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Take an atlas and go down the East Coast of Africa as far as Mozambique: you will see the Island of Madagascar, and 500 miles further to the east, the Island of Reunion, close to Mauritius Island. In a very small space (2,512 skm), 


What you can expect

Reunion has most of the types of landscape existing on our planet : lush green mountains, circular mountain amphitheatres, waterfalls, forests, high plateaux, sandy deserts, canyons and a volcano, La Fournaise. What you can expect To enable you to explore them, the island has over 1000 kilometres of footpaths for walking, hiking and trekking, all in a very good condition. In addition, there is an incredible variety of sports you can practise. The population of the island (780,000 inhabitants in 2005), of extraordinarily diverse origins, will give you a warm welcome, and all types of accommodation and catering are available : from the mountain cabin to the four-star hotel, from the roadside snack-bar to the luxury restaurant. 


Top 5 things to do in Reunion

1. Architecture in St Denis

You can’t go to Réunion and not spend some time in its buzzing capital, St-Denis. The best way to explore this city is on a guided tour.View the island’s fascinating history and culture around St-Denis’s architectural treasures. 

2. Dead people

It may sound odd as an attraction, but Réunion’s cemeteries are definitely worth a visit – they’re some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Shaded by tropical trees such as frangipane, graves are covered with a bright rainbow of colourful flowers and plants. There are also celebrity graves to visit. An African sorcerer, La Sitane, was laid to rest in the cemetery in St-Pierre. There are always offerings at his grave left by practisers of gris gris (black magic). Check out a real pirate’s grave (marked with skull and crossbones, nogal) at Cimetière Marin in St-Paul. Here lies the earthly remains of Olivier “˜La Buse’ Levasseur, a notorious Indian Ocean pirate who was captured and hanged in St-Paul in 1730.

3. Cool festivals

Réunion has some interesting festivals that take place throughout the year. In January there’s a wine harvest festival in Cilaos; the Tamil new year is celebrated in April; a festival of Creole music in St-Leu in August; a 10-day street fair to mark the Festival of Notre Dame De Salette in St-Leu in September; and Creole Week in October. Any place that has a festival dedicated to lentils (I’m a vegetarian) is cool by me.

4. Multicultural mélange

Réunion is one of the most successfully multicultural places ever. In Réunion, everyone just seems to get along. I thought maybe that was just my naive tourist’s view at first, but after speaking to islanders about it, they confirmed it.

5. Incredibly Strong Rum

“˜How strong can it be?’ The answer is: very very strong. Apart from being strong, the rum is actually rather delicious, especially rum arrange (infused rum). Some favourites are ginger and lemon, and coffee and vanilla. Visit La Saga du Rhum on Chemin Fredeline in Saint-Pierre Cedex, a museum entirely dedicated to rum, which also has the smallest distillery on the island.  


When should you go?

Reunion has a tropical climate, one cooled by southeasterly trade winds. Those winds help supply copious rainfall, and also drive an occasional cyclone into the area. The rainy season runs November through March. Daily highs in the mid 80s are commonplace, and overall, mean temperatures average in the high 70s; with slightly cooler conditions in the higher elevations.