Reunion Island

I’ve wanted to visit Reunion Island for over 40 years. Why on earth has it taken me this long? I remember seeing pictures of it back in the late 70s when I browsed through a Club Med brochure. And thinking to myself: MUST go there! But somehow it has escaped me…. Until today!
We were on the dock for 0730 and when I went up on deck there it was: a densely green, piton rich landscape. Clearly volcanic. Great deep clefts in the mountains, hiding river gorges. All cloaked in dense green jungle. It is literally a volcano rising out of the ocean depths. About the size of Leicestershire. A full department of France, inhabited by around 840,000 people. The island has had a tumultuous history since its European discovery in the 1500s and today, is still mainly visited by French people. It figures in very few British holiday portfolios despite being so close to popular spots like Mauritius and The Seychelles.
The Brits have left their mark too of course. We introduced sugar, replacing earlier coffee plantations and sugar remains as 85% of exports.
So, being basically a volcano rising out of the sea, as expected it’s a dramatic landscape of volcanic peaks, steep cliffs, black sand beaches and dense, sub tropical growth. There are some golden and white sand beaches too and we had booked on a tour in the morning to visit one. Our coach took us along the very excellent motorway to the beach just south of Saint Gilles. The roads are a very visible benefit to the island from its membership of the EU. For such a smallish, relatively low populated place, the roads would do a London ring road credit. You’ll be glad to know your EU contributions have been so well spent here. 😊 The infrastructure on this dot in the Indian Ocean is beyond reproach.
It’s very French. Most people only speak French… or only will speak French. The ambience is French. The menus are French…. The wine is…….. well…. Weirdly and probably DISGRACEFULLY in the minds of most visitors…. The wine is South African!!!! LOL
The beach we visited was lovely. Protected by a massive coral reef about 400m out, it was calm and shallow, warm and clear. Lots of lovely fish. Great for wallowing in. Impossible to swim in. All along the back there were beach shack restaurants and we plonked down in a rather stylish one. Surprisingly two very stylish loungers under a huge umbrella were only 10 euro. We had a very lazy time there till 130pm when sadly we had to peel ourselves away to go back to the ship.
Dumped our stuff. Had a very quick lunch. Two long chats to the girls – being part of the EU, (hooray for something 😊 ) our phones work as per the UK here so unlimited calls and data. Then, onto the shuttle bus and out to St Gilles les Bains for the afternoon. A very nice resort town. Quite funky. Full of little shops, nice golden beach, a massive marina. Reminded me of the Caribbean in many ways. We found a lovely beachfront bar called Le Plage and settled down with our laptops and caught up on “stuff” while we watched a yacht regatta, people wandering by and drank 2 glasses of cold wine in the process.
Got back to the ship at about 6pm and made two more calls to the girls. So very very hot today. Don’t think I mentioned that before. Absolutely baking hot. And humid too. The hottest we’ve felt since leaving the UK. We sat out on the promenade deck and watched the sun go down and the ship pull away from the dock at about 730pm.
We really liked Reunion. Will we like it better than Mauritius tomorrow? Don’t know yet. Would we have liked to dive here? Oh, yes. The topography is so very promising and apparently outside the reef, the sea life is amazing and the walls just go straight down. Damn you, horrid Wolfy! Anyway, we have taken note of other dive ops for subsequent visits.
We were too tired to face dinner in the dining room tonight, so we just went up to the buffet. Really nice food. I had lamb chops and a steak. Bob had amazing king prawn curry with all the trimmings. Then we went to the show in the theatre which was three women all with amazing voices singing together as Virtuosity. They were incredible. Looking forward to seeing them again.
Tonight we finished our first 10L wine box which is very exciting. All seems to be going to plan on that front.
So…. Tomorrow when we wake up we will be in Mauritius and we are being met by taxi to go diving. Not quite sure what to expect so watch this space…..