If you're not content with over 900 islands of Scotland that make up the Shetland, Orkney, and the Hebrides, then we may have just found the ultimate island for you.
Located in the Mascarene Archipelago, Reunion Island – a French overseas territory – offers travellers the exoticism of a tropical island in the Indian Ocean. At the crossroads of European, African and Asian cultures, Reunion is a true melting pot.
The month of August 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of the addition of Reunion Island’s “Peaks, cirques and ramparts” to the UNESCO World Heritage list. In 2010, some 100,000 hectares of the island - 42% of its surface - were classified by UNESCO in recognition of their exceptional universal value.
For 10 years, this classification has placed a spotlight on the spectacular landscape and unique biodiversity of the ultimate island.
Today, France boasts more than 40 UNESCO World Heritage features, of which only 5 are natural sites, the “Peaks, cirques and ramparts” included.
The “Peaks, cirques and ramparts” were selected on the basis of two criteria (out of 10 possibilities):
- landscape criterion (vii): “to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance”; - biodiversity criterion (x): “to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value (EUV) from the point of view of science or conservation”
The uniqueness of Reunion’s extraordinary habitat has been backed up by the analysis of nearly 40 years’ worth of scientific research.
The Ultimate Island has plenty to show for its ranking among the planet’s most beautiful treasures: volcanos, biodiversity, microclimates galore, endemic species and magnificent scenery. A quick overview of Reunion Island’s 5 iconic UNESCO sites:
Piton de la Fournaise
Reaching a height of 2,631 metres, this volcano is the flagship attraction of the south-eastern part of Reunion Island. The Piton de la Fournaise is one of the most active volcanos on the planet. This majestic natural monument erupts two or three times a year on average. A fiery spectacle!
Trou de Fer
The Trou de Fer is a chasm of 300 metres in depth where magnificent waterfalls plunge from a number of rivers. A helicopter ride or a 2-hour hike offer the privilege of admiring this spectacular sight.
The Piton Maïdo offers the most breathtaking views of the Mafate site. It culminates at an elevation of 2,200 metres. Leave at dawn if you want to avoid the fog and enjoy the stunning view of a sunrise over the Cirque of Mafate.
Cirque of Mafate
Mafate, an ecotourism site at the island’s heart, is an exceptional place for hikers. This is the island’s best-preserved cirque with only a small number of year-round residents. No roads lead to Mafate. The site shows not the slightest sign of urbanisation and only footpaths can take you there! Even today, the charm of this site comes from its remoteness; it can be reached only on foot or by helicopter.
Piton des Neiges
The Piton des Neiges culminates at 3,071 metres, making it the highest point in the entire Indian Ocean. This volcano, which has been dormant for several centuries, is at the origin of the island’s formation and makes excellent terrain for hikers and nature lovers. The collapsed volcano is home to Reunion Island’s three cirques. A climb to the top at night, through virgin forest, is justly rewarded with a memorably beautiful sunrise and a view to take your breath away from Reunion’s highest summit.
© IRT/Frog 974 How to get there, and what's it like?
4 airlines fly to Reunion Island: Corsair, Air Austral, Air France and Frenchbee.
Surface area: 2,512km2
Time zone: GMT+4 (+3h in the summer and +4h in the winter in comparison to the United Kingdom)
Austral summer: November to April, 30°C on average Austral winter: May to October, 23°C on average
Throughout the austral winter season, it is possible to see humpback whales
42% of the island has been classified as UNESCO world heritage since 2010
The Piton des Neiges is the highest point of the Indian Ocean, with a peak of 3,069m
The Piton de la Fournaise is one of the most active volcanos in the world, with already 2 eruptions in 2020 (February and April)
Discover the ultimate island at www.reunion.fr