Golden Hour on Reunion Island

Reunion Island, or Île de la Réunion, is a tiny French Island in the Indian Ocean. Reunion is best known as a hiking and adventure destination and I’ve already written a couple of posts about those adventures (see here and here).

Reunion’s adventures are great; the mountains and volcanoes are breathtaking (sorry for the cliché but the volcano literally stopped my breathing) and completely unusual. However, Reunion’s beaches are not to be discounted either.

On the west side of the island, around the village of Saint Gilles, a huge coral reef creates a “lagoon”, where the water is relatively calm and free of sharks. The beaches are clean and natural, scattered with coral and volcanic rock, and they serve as community gathering places during the day and especially in the evening. The people of Reunion make great use of their beaches — strolling, swimming, playing, talking, walking dogs, and just…being.

Sleeping-on-beachI think this photo says it all. See the tide out in the distance? That’s where the coral reef is. The lagoon is inside it.

I spent the first three days of my Reunion trip in Saint Gilles, and was lucky enough to enjoy the beach for a couple of hours each day. I never managed to drag myself up for sunrise, even though my accommodation was only a few steps from the beach, but I did catch three beautiful sunsets. The evening light just before and after sunset — what photographers call Golden Hour — was spectacular every single night. Here are some of my favorite shots.

Beach-and-coralThe beach closest to my accommodation, near to Hotel l’Hermitage in Saint Gilles, was scattered with coral. Unlike other beach destinations in the Indian Ocean, Reunion Island leaves its beaches in their natural state rather than clearing away the coral. The coral is beautiful and makes for great photo ops, but just remember to bring beach shoes. Stepping on coral in bare feet is painful.

Ladies-on-beachBeach-walkers.

Man-and-dogsI took so many pictures of this man playing fetch with his dogs. See the dog toy flying?

Man-and-sunset_edited-1Another one. This dog is a jock.

SunsetPretty decent sunset.

Jumping-kidKids play in a natural pool created by volcanic rock at Boucan Canot, another beach in Saint Gilles. Note the upside-down boy, mid-flip.

Sunset-and-treesBoucan Canot is the best beach for walking because there’s no coral.

Kids-on-beachWe had a little party on the beach our last evening in Saint Gilles, with food and traditional Creole music and dancing. The best part of the evening was watching these kids make the most of the last light of the day. 

Dee-and-sunsetHere’s Dee, posing with her camera as the sun dips below the horizon.

Girl-on-beachMy favorite beach shot of the week.

Reunion Island also has a black-sand beach on the west coast, in the town of Étang-Salé. Unfortunately we never had time to go see it. Next time.

Saint Gilles is chilled, unpretentious, and the perfect place to relax after a fuckzausting hike through the Cirque du Mafate (although we did it the other way around). Don’t skip the beach if you go to Reunion.

I’ve got one last Reunion post coming soon.

My trip to Reunion Island was courtesy of Reunion Island TourismAir Austral, and Destinate. Opinions expressed are my own.

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9 Comments

  • Reply Roxanne Reid November 21, 2015 at 10:47 am

    The last shot is my favourite too. What a wonderful experience.

  • Reply Lani November 21, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    Killer shots! Mid-air magic 🙂

  • Reply autumnashbough November 21, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    Your photographs are AH-MAY-ZING! Gorgeous sunsets, the boy frozen upside-down… Love them all.

    So just how common are the shark attacks?

    • Reply 2summers November 22, 2015 at 12:11 am

      Thanks! There are quite a few sharks around Reunion so it’s only safe to swim in the areas inside the coral reefs. The sharks can’t penetrate it. I think there have been quite a few attacks in the other areas.

  • Reply Eugenia A Parrish November 21, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    Breathtaking shots. I have to ask: Is it pronounced ‘Sin Jill’, ‘Sin Gill’, ‘Sin Gyl’, ‘Sin Gilless’ or maybe actually ‘SAINT Gilles’? Also, is it ‘relatively calm *as well as* free of sharks’ or ‘relatively calm and *relatively* free of sharks? I think that would be an important distinction if I ever get there! 🙂

    • Reply 2summers November 22, 2015 at 12:09 am

      Hahahaaaa. You’ve totally caught me out on my grammar. Relatively calm and TOTALLY free of sharks. And it’s pronounced something like Sain JEEL. Kind of.

  • Reply 366 Days Of Making Space | The Good Holiday January 1, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    […] like her a lot. One of my fondest Heather-memories was watching a sunset on Reunion island. I made the french children run in front of our lenses. It was magical. I have a lot of respect for […]

  • Reply Caroline Hurry February 27, 2016 at 10:52 am

    Beautiful images, Heather. I really enjoyed this piece!

    • Reply 2summers February 28, 2016 at 9:13 am

      Thanks Caroline!

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