REUNION ISLAND FAQ'S
The remote Indian Ocean island of Reunion lies between Madagascar and Mauritius, to the east of Africa. As a French overseas territory, and is considered a part of the Eurozone despite its remote geographic location.How do I get to Reunion Island?
The Roland Garros Airport in Saint Denis is Réunion Island’s main point of entry. The car rental agencies are all located in a separate building opposite the main terminal. Exit the Arrivals Hall and cross the road towards the parking area to access the car rental offices.How do I get around the island?
Réunion is an easy destination to get around. Transport is reasonably priced and reliable, but be prepared for traffic jams near the main cities.
The most popular way of travelling around the country is by self-drive as this gives you the freedom and flexibility to explore the different regions of the island. The roads are in good condition although they become narrower in the remote areas. You drive on the right, as you would in France. Alternatively, you can hire an expert guide for the day, which is great fun as you learn a lot at the same time.
The Intercity bus travel around the island is offered by Car Jaune (‘Yellow Bus,’ buses are easily recognizable by their yellow color). There are 13 lines. Apart from these buses there are also local buses. Most lines operate between 6 am and 7 pm Monday to Saturday, with a limited number of services on Sunday. You can buy a ticket from teh driver as you board (except in the main bus stations, where you get them at vending machines). To get the bus to stop, you ring the bell or clap your hands twice loudly.
Réunion Island is part of Europe, and is a safe island. However you do need to apply common sense: avoid walking alone at night, in isolated areas, do not show that you have large sums of money or valuable objects.
Do not swim unless there is a lifeguard. Being that Reunion Island is in the middle of the warm Indian Ocean, there is an abnormally large population of sharks that circles the waters around Reunion. There have been a number of recorded shark attacks. In 2013, all open-water swimming and surfing in Reunion was banned.
French is the main language, with Creole as the second choice. Some English is spoken but the road signs and information will all be in French. It’s useful to understand some French as English fluency is rare. We suggest you get a good English-French guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10.What is the local cuisine like?
The local cuisine blends influences from Africa, India, China, and Europe. As an island the cuisine includes a wide variety of local fish. If you prefer more western-style food, you can find this in both gourmet and fast food establishments across the island. There are also a wide variety of local fruits, vegetables, herbs and other ingredients not usually found in French mainland cuisine such as Manioc, Mangue (mango), Goyavier (guava), Chevaquines (dried shrimp), Baba-figue (banana flowers which are stuffed and fried), Songe, and Ti-jacques (jack fruit).What is the weather like? When is the best time to visit?
Réunion has a hot sub-tropical climate with sea temperatures that rarely drop below 73°F. The dry season is May to October, with temperatures 68-77°F. November to April is more humid, with most rain and occasional cyclones in January and February.
If you’re not a fan of crowds, plan your Reunion Island itinerary around the shoulder season. Temperatures in April, May, and September are still warm, and you don’t have to worry about those pesky cyclones. Prices for hotels have yet to skyrocket, and you’ll find fewer tourists hogging the hiking trails or all the good spots on the beach.
During the cyclonic season (November to April), you should check cyclone warnings shown in newspapers or broadcast by the radio or TV.
Reunion is part of the Eurozone, so as in many other European Union countries the currency used is the euro (symbol: €).
It is compulsory, for the large majority of businesses, to post prices in windows. Hotels and restaurants must have their rates visible from outside.
Most shops accept international credit cards (Visa and Mastercard) but most of them require a minimum amount for credit cards payments (usually €15).
There are a number of ATM machines (called `gabier`) which don't charge you for using them.
Shopping on Reunion Island has not been influenced by modernity. Most of the shopping takes place at the markets and streets that offer local products rather than international brand-name items. The main items for sale are local handicrafts and African-influenced products, mostly found in the markets rather than stores. Wooden handicrafts are popular, and clothing made from local producers are always high on shoppers' agendas. Embroidery, woven objects, and hand-made jewelry are some of the other products sold within the Grand Market.
Popular markets include: Saint-Pierre Market, held on Fridays and Saturdays, this is one of the largest operating markets on the island; Grand Market Saint-Denis, often regarded as the most popular shopping spot; and St Paul’s Street Market, another popular and high regarded market offer a huge range of goods.
Most shops are closed on Sunday.
Most supermarkets are open from 9:00AM to 8:00PM, Monday to Saturday. Some of them are open on Sunday morning.
Emergency services: 112 (which can be dialed by any mobile phone, even if not connected to a GSM network).
Hospitals: Three main hospitals are on the island, Saint Denis (North), Saint Paul (West) and Saint Pierre (South) and small medical centers and clinics are spread across the island. It is also easy to find pharmacies.