The best time to head to Réunion for scuba diving is during June to November although it is possible to dive there on a year-round basis. Most of the diving takes place on the west side of the island but it is also possible to dive the wilder currents in the south or the east side of the island to see old underwater lava flows. Visibility around Réunion is wonderful and averages at 100ft (30m) while the water temperature ranges from 72-84°F (22-29°C).
Diving off the western coast of Réunion will reveal walls, coral gardens, caves and even some shipwrecks. Most of the dive sites are a 5-20 minute boat ride away and are relatively easy to dive save for a few exceptions which see stronger currents. From Saint-Gilles, access a calm sunlit lagoon with coral flats and sandy bottoms or explore wrecks like the Hïa Sïang. If diving off Saint-Leu, head to the busy Pointe au Sel drop-off to catch sight of pelagic marine life. To see the lava flows, head to Saint-Pierre in the south or Sainte-Rose in the east for the Anse des Cascades dive site.
The west coast of Réunion is a Marine National Park that is abundant with marine life. Up to a thousand species of fish and five species of sea turtles have been recorded in these waters. Off the west coast in coral gardens and along walls, expect to find a myriad of colorful reef fish along with moray eels, mollusks, crabs and shrimp. Schools of snapper, batfish and surgeonfish also hang around the reefs.
At the outer reefs at drop-offs like Pointe au Sel, be treated to more pelagic marine life. Large schools of trevally, barracuda and tuna visit this area and occasionally there are visits from manta rays and whale sharks. Larger species of stingray can also often be found along with large groupers.
From the surface or during whale watching trips, be amazed by more than twenty species of cetaceans. These include humpback whales, sperm whales and fin whales. Dolphins can be seen on a year-round basis.
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Réunion is an island that lies to the east of Madagascar and southwest of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean with a population of 844,994 people. Réunion is an overseas department of France and therefore part of the Eurozone. Discovered by the Portuguese in the early 16th century, the island was then occupied by the French starting from the 17th century.
The island covers an area of 970 square miles (2,511 square km) and is volcanic in nature as it lies on top of a hotspot in the Earth’s crust. One of the most active volcanoes in the world, the Piton de la Fournaise, rises to 8,632ft (2,631m) above sea level and its most recent eruption was in August 2015. The frequent eruptions of the volcano have caused little damage as lava flows tend to be confined within the caldera. The volcano is a top tourist draw to Réunion.
Climate on Réunion is tropical and varies from the east to the west of the island. The east sees more rain, especially from December to April. The west coast of Réunion is much drier and is fringed by a stretch of coral reef. The core of the island and east of the island is growing in popularity for activities like hiking. This area lies within the Réunion National Park which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2010.
Pack your hiking boots and head to Réunion National Park and choose from the many hiking trails available including to see a live volcano, calderas and impressive waterfalls. Join whale watching trips over June to November for a chance to see or swim with humpback whales. Surfing and paragliding is popular at Saint-Leu.
Fly to Roland Garros Airport in Sainte-Marie on Réunion via airlines like Air Austral, Air France, Air Madagascar and Corsair direct from France, Mauritius, Mayotte, Madagascar, Seychelles, South Africa, Comoros, and India.