Getting ready to travel to Reunion? As the island is a French department, albeit an overseas one, much is similar to mainland France: most Western nationals can enter without a visa, you can pay in Euros, electrical plugs are European style, etc. Nevertheless here is some Reunion-specific practical information that may be useful. Whether you’re out and about, handling money, or contacting your insurance company, follow our advice!
Travel to Reunion
Five airlines currently fly regularly between Reunion and mainland France: Air Austral, Air France, Corsair, French Bee and XL Airways. Most of them operate direct flights between Paris and Reunion, and a wide range of connections from/to other destinations are possible from France’s capital. In addition, Air Madagascar and Air Mauritius fly to Madagascar and Mauritius respectively.
Five public transport networks can take you around the island by bus. The Cars jaunes (yellow buses) run between all of the main towns and both airports, and four local networks cover sub-regions: Citalis (North), Estival (East) Kar’Ouest (West) and Alternéo (South). Car hire is readily available at multiple locations across the island, and vehicle hire with driver is also growing in popularity.
Reunion, like the rest of France, uses Euros, and you can withdraw them from ATMs (known locally as ‘gabier’) all over the island. There are also local branches of most French banks (BNP, Caisse d’Epargne, Crédit Agricole, La Banque Postale, etc.). There are currently no money changing facilities in Reunion. At a push it may be possible to change major currencies in some banks.
Before you leave home check your medical insurance covers adventure sports if you plan on paragliding or canyoning during your trip, and also make sure you have indemnity insurance. Travel insurance may be included with your credit card, but will only apply if you pay for your trip using the same card. Check with your credit card provider.
Time of year
In Reunion the concept of ‘seasons’ is relative due to the large number of microclimates (over 100) on the island. Generally speaking, all months of the year are suitable for a trip. The southern hemisphere tropical summer corresponds to the cyclone season, and is the wettest time of year, but sunny weather still predominates. If it does rain you might just need to travel a few miles to find the sun again. Southern hemisphere winter, from April to November, is often considered the best time of year to visit. Temperatures are milder, rain is less frequent, and it can even be cold up in the highlands.
No vaccinations are needed before a trip to Reunion. There is no risk of malaria, however mosquitoes may carry dengue fever or chikungunya. Remember to protect yourself from mosquito bites with long clothes and mosquito repellents, and follow all the usual advice for a trip to the tropics (wear a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc.). Warm clothing is also advisable, especially if you plan on hiking in the highlands where temperatures can drop below zero during the cool season.
To call Reunion from mainland France – or vice versa – simply dial the 10-digit number. The island’s landline numbers generally start with 0262; 0692 or 0693 if it is a mobile phone. To call Reunion from abroad simply add the +262 country code in front of the nine digits (i.e. the 10-digit number minus the initial 0). If visiting from a European country check before you leave whether your phone provider includes roaming in Reunion at no additional cost.
Some useful contacts:
Reunion Island Prefecture: 0262 40 77 77
Duty pharmacies: 32 37
Sea rescue: 0262 43 43 43
Météo France Réunion weather forecasts: 32 50