Some would compare the island of Réunion to a piece of confetti, just 2,512km² floating in the enormous Indian Ocean. Water is everywhere: the warm waters of the lagoon lap the sand, ocean waves beat against the cliffs, dizzying waterfalls evoke the immemorial, lakes reflect the dazzling sunlight and rivers criss-cross the earth. This creates the ideal playing field for lovers of white-water rafting, diving and deep-sea fishing.
When thinking of a tropical island, the vision of a sandy beach ringed with palm trees and bordered by the tranquil waters of a lagoon come immediately to mind. In Réunion, 18 bathing sports have been tested by the European Commission, which judged the water quality to be excellent.
Réunion is also the place to be for snorkelling buffs. Just a few meters from the shore, visitors will see the first beautifully coloured fish swimming through the clear water. The view becomes hypnotising when scuba diving, as the underwater landscape is filled with diversely shaped coral, twisted forms like ancient trees, stalactites and large-leaved marine plants. This magical setting is home to a fascinating array of sea life: the trunkfish is black and covered in white dots; the surgeonfish has colourful stripes; the butterflyfish, whose black-pointed tail fin is used to throw off predators; and the turbot, which blends into the sandy ocean bed to rest.
On the bigger side of things, deep-sea fishermen track the blue marlin, the sailfish, the dorado, the giant yellowfin tuna, the wahoo fish and the bonito fish. All these species are delicious grilled or as part of a curry !
Glass-bottom boats are accessible to everyone, giving visitors a chance to effortlessly observe the underwater world of fish and corals. Dolphins almost systematically come along for the ride, making for an unforgettable experience. From June to October, the whales from the Antarctic sometimes frolic a stone’s throw from visitors to the Indian Ocean. The “whale watching chart” states the rules for approaching the whales – visitor should keep a safe distance. Even from afar, it is difficult to contain your emotion faced with these sea monsters, whose majestic silhouettes seem to hide the mysteries of the deep.
Réunion by kayak
Towards the middle of island, seemingly inaccessible gorges and impassable waterfalls are bested by the art of canyoning, which attracts a growing number of amateurs every day at Cilaos, Salazie and in the Eastern Heights. With more than 70 equipped canyons, 131 kilometres of paths, a total height difference of 28,000 metres, and thousands of lakes, waterfalls and natural slides, Réunion gives visitors many different ways of discovering this sport in complete safety. From rappel lines reaching just ten metres to vertical descents of more than 100 metres, everyone can try! And for the hardier, the Iron Hole is classed as “Abominably Difficult” and takes two days to complete.
When the slopes aren’t quite as steep, small vessels (kayaks, canoes, rafts, riverboards, etc.) and water lovers turn up to discover the majestic lakes or to take on the rapids and natural slides created by the force of the rivers. These are the ideal activities for a group of friends or a family with older children, as it combines team effort and shares emotions! All of these activities are performed with helmets, wetsuits and life jackets, and can be enjoyed all year round. However, in July and August (winter in the Southern Hemisphere), the water can get quite cold! Both paradoxical and fascinating, Réunion is a tiny territory which offers all the richness and possibilities of an entire continent !