French Natural Wonder: Réunion

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Réunion is a French island in the Indian Ocean. It is famous for its volcanic majesty, tropic greenery and black sandy beaches. The island attracts thousands of tourists from the whole world. People come here to admire wonderful natural landscapes, dive and do surfing.

Holiday weather in Réunion

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The climate in Réunion is tropical, but temperature moderates with elevation. The weather is cool and dry from May to November, but hot and rainy from November to April. Precipitation levels vary greatly within the island, with the east being much wetter than the west. More than 6 m of rain a year fall on some parts of the east and less than 1 m a year falls on the west coast. Réunion holds the world records for the most rainfall in 12-, 24-, 72- and 96-hour periods.

The tourist season lasts from the end of June until the beginning of September.

Attractions and places of interest

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For sure, nature is the major place of interest here. Réunion is home to a variety of birds such as the white-tailed tropicbird. Its largest land animal is the panther chameleon, Furcifer pardalis. Much of the west coast is ringed by the coral reef which harbours, among other animals, sea urchins, conger eels, and parrot fish. Sea turtles and dolphins also inhabit the coastal waters. Humpback whales migrate north to the island from the Antarctic waters annually during the Southern Hemisphere winter (June–September) to breed and feed and can be routinely observed from the shores of Réunion during this season.

The island hosts many tropical and unique beaches. Hermitage Beach is the most extensive and best-preserved lagoon in Réunion Island and a popular snorkelling location. L’Etang-Salé on the west coast is a particularly unique beach as it is covered in black sand consisting of tiny fragments of basalt.

There are three cirques made by volcanoes on the island. Cirque de Salazie is the biggest in Réunion. Salazie is both the name of the cirque and the Commune and includes several villages: Hell Bourg, Grand Ilet, Mare à Vieille Place. Located twenty minutes from St André, it is the most accessible of the three cirques and certainly the greenest. Nature is abundant, with one waterfall after another as you drive in and others at the end of walks. This Cirque also provides access to Mafate via the forestry road from Grand Ilet (with supervised car parking) and then on foot to the various villages.

Since 2010, Réunion is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site that covers about 40% of the island’s area and coincides with the central zone of the Réunion National Park. Established on 5 March 2007, the park protects the endemic ecosystems of Les Hauts, Réunion’s mountainous interior, and covers around 42% of the island. Notable endemic species include the Réunion cuckooshrike and the Reunion Island day gecko.

The national park constitutes one of Réunion’s major attractions. Its mountains are a popular destination for hiking and mountaineering; there is more than 900 km of marked trails, crossing such different landscapes as rainforests, sugar cane plantations and volcanic fields.

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