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.
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.
The 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.
We 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.
Here’s Dee, posing with her camera as the sun dips below the horizon.
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.