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Found in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Reunion is an enchanting island with stunning white sandy beaches, picturesque volcanic landscapes and mouth-watering cuisine featuring flavours from all over the world. By car you can visit the beaches along the west coast, discover the volcanic calderas and zigzag up to the highest point on the island, Le Piton des Neiges.
Nearly all roads are paved, with the main ring road (N1/N2) and the road cutting through the interior (N3) being four-lane highways that make for quick and easy ways to get around. Secondary routes into the volcanoes and mountains are also paved but can be slippery in the wet season. Signage is good, but in French.
Driving licences: UK visitors can drive here with their UK photo driving licence.
Which side does Reunion drive on: the right.
Motorways: 80mph (130kph)
Rural areas: 55mph (90kph)
Built-up areas: 31mph (50kph)
Alcohol limits: lower than the 0.08 per cent UK limit, at 0.05 per cent; a level above this limit will result in a fine, while one above 0.08 per cent could result in imprisonment.
Driving age: 18 years.
Seatbelts: compulsory for all occupants. Children 10 years of age or under must ride in the rear seat in a secure child seat. If less than 13kgs in weight, they must be in a rear-facing seat, while those weighing 15kgs and up can ride in a booster seat.
Mobile phones and GPS: the use of a mobile phone while driving is prohibited unless in combination with a hands-free kit. There is GPS in Reunion but most drivers find a map to be sufficient.
Cost of fuel in Reunion: petrol is more expensive here than in the UK due to transportation costs.
Car hire and fuel payment: all major petrol stations and car hire depots accept credit card payments. UK card holders are advised to notify their card company that their card will be used here before travelling.
Insurance: third-party insurance is incorporated into the cost of car hire but additional comprehensive insurance is recommended.
Traffic and parking: traffic jams are inevitable in Saint-Denis and along the west coast during peak times. Most hotels provide car parks, as do all main tourist attractions.
Taxis can be expensive, with trips from the airport starting at a minimum of £15. It is possible to hail a taxi in most cities and tourist destinations; these vehicles charge on a fixed rate. Shared taxis are also available and run on the same fixed lines as many buses.
Inter-city bus services are available and run to destinations that lie on the island’s two main highways, providing a comfortable way to get from one destination to the next. These vehicles run between 06:00 and 19:00, with fares from Saint-Denis to Saint-Pierre roughly £6. For a route map and information, visit Car Jaune (Yellow Bus). There are also regional minibuses known as Ti’ Car Jaune (Small Yellow Bus) that operate around the island.
The port at Le Port receives ferries from Mauritius and Madagascar, as well as cruise ships from international destinations. It is also possible to go on a tour of the surrounding waters from the port at Saint-Gilles through companies such as Croisières et Découvertes. A one-hour glass-bottom boat ride is around £15, while a sunset cocktail cruise is £20.
Reunion’s Roland Garros Airport is the island’s busiest airport, with flights from the UK arriving via France’s Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux and Nantes. Saint-Pierre’s Pierrefonds Airport is the island’s second airport and receives flights from Mauritius and Roland Garros Airport. UK citizens do not need a visa to enter Reunion as it is an Overseas Department of France.
Saint-Gilles is the most popular seaside resort area on Reunion and where many start their island explorations. This is where the island’s most popular beaches are located, as is the wonderful Aquarium de la Réunion (Reunion Aquarium) and the Le Jardin d'Eden (Garden of Eden).
The capital city of Saint-Denis is home to some fantastic architecture, including the 18th century Notre-Dame de la Délivrance, the Grande Mosquée, the former Hôtel de Ville and many beautiful Creole houses.
The interior cirques are one of the island’s main draws, with the Cirque de Cilaos and the Cirque de Salazie being the most visited due to their accessibility. These cirques are spectacular sights filled with hot springs, waterfalls, lush forests and rocky headlands that are great for hiking.
Saint-Pierre, the capital of the south, is the second largest city on the island and boasts some stunning French-colonial architecture and religious buildings which include a Catholic church, a mosque, a Hindu temple and a Buddhist temple.
The less visited east coast is underrated. Here, visitors will witness impressive waterfalls, lush vegetation and numerous vanilla plantations.
Piton de la Fournaise is the active volcano in the southeast part of the island’s interior and watching the eruptions here is absolutely magnificent. It is a great place for hiking and to witness phenomenal panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
Saint-Leu in the west is a mecca for adventurists. Here, visitors enjoy the island’s best surfing, paragliding and scuba diving, and it has been the base of numerous surfing and paragliding competitions. It is also home to the Kélonia Martine Turtle Station and the Conservatoire Botanique National de Mascarin (National Conservatory and Botanical Garden).
Reunion has a tropical climate, but temperatures vary according to elevation. It has two seasons, dry and wet, with the west being wetter than the east side of the island. Along the coast, the temperature can rise to 29°C in the summer, while the interior temperature is around 17°C. Winters are cooler, with coastal areas experiencing lows of 22°C, while in the interior the mercury drops to 11°C. Cyclones are quite common throughout February and March.