With its sheer diversity of landscapes and an ideal climate year-round, Reunion Island is a giant playground where the whole family can create special memories to cherish forever. Whether you’re clambering through lava tubes, swimming in turquoise waters, or heading up to the highlands, there are plenty of activities for kids and grown-ups of all ages. Here’s a few ideas of things to do that are sure to please any budding adventurers.
1. Go for a walk or ramble in the great outdoors
Reunion is a true hiker’s paradise, with no less than 1000 km of marked trails. Although some of these paths are strenuous or best suited to experienced walkers, that still leaves a large number of easy hikes to choose from. Depending on physical fitness and your children’s ages, you could walk round Grand Etang lake, roam the savannah grassland of Cap Lahoussaye or explore the primary forests of Bebour and Bélouve. To get a glimpse of the cirque (natural amphitheatre) of Mafate you can hike to Roche Verre Bouteille, or trek to La Nouvelle, via the Col des Boeufs mountain pass. And don’t forget to check out the lava tubes, another family-friendly activity that’s best done in the company of an experienced guide.
2. Admire breathtaking landscapes from the comfort of a car
If you want to limit time spent walking there are still some magnificent landscapes you can drive to. You can park barely a stone’s throw away from some jaw-dropping viewpoints such as Le Maïdo, Bois Court outlook, Pas de Bellecombe, or Roche Merveilleuse. Likewise the waterfalls of Grand Galet, Niagara or Anse des Cascades are also easily reached on wheels.
3. Splash about in the turquoise waters of the lagoon
Reunion has about twenty kilometres of lagoon, protected by a coral reef. It’s an ideal place to enjoy the beach, but can also serve as a base for various water sports. A pedalo, stand-up paddle or transparent kayak is perfect for admiring colourful tropical fish and wildlife from the water’s surface. If your kids want to take a peek underwater, Reunion’s Natural Marine Reserve also offers free guided snorkelling excursions. Bring your own mask, fins, and snorkel you’ll be led on a visit of l’Ermitage underwater trail.
4. Try some ‘alpine’ sledding near Le Maïdo
There’s no snow in Reunion, but lovers of speedy descents can test their skills at an alpine slide. This can be done with children as young as 3, as until the age of 8 they can share the sled with an adult. So thrill seekers young and old can enjoy hurtling down the steel track, which has plenty of twists and turns and downhill runs. You can also make a day of it with a trip to the Maïdo viewpoint.
5. Encounter dolphins and whales
Several companies offer tours out to sea, in particular from the marinas of Le Port, Saint-Gilles or Saint-Leu. Once out on the water you might spot dolphins and even humpback whales. The whales come to give birth in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean during the southern hemisphere winter, usually from July to October. Seeing these magnificent creatures up close is a very special experience that is sure to delight the whole family.
6. Pick tasty fresh local fruit all year round
You can learn more about some of the various fruits that grow in Reunion by picking your own. This is a fun way for your little ones to fill up on vitamins and be taught where our food comes from. Between April and August you will be able to pick goyavier (strawberry guava): a small, fleshy, tart little red fruit. You can also pick citrus fruit or strawberries depending on the time of year.
7. Visit museums and cultural sites
Reunion has eight regional and local museums as well as many cultural sites that are perfect for finding out more about the island’s heritage. One of these museums, the Cité du volcan, offers a fun day out for the whole family and will help understand the volcanic forces that created the island.
Meanwhile Kélonia, at Saint-Leu, is a child-friendly sanctuary for marine turtles. In the west coast town of Saint-Gilles you’ll find the island’s only public aquarium, home to 500 fish and more than 200 species of the reef life that can be found in the waters around Reunion. And for youngsters with stars in their eyes, the Makes Observatory is a great place to scrutinize Reunion’s very clear night skies.