Feel free visiting Reunion Island
As big fans of adventures and van roadtrips – see our roadtrip in Europe in van – let’s say that we jumped for joy when Black Sheep, a brand new van rental company in Reunion offered us to do make a little trip with them!
A van roadtrip in Reunion, is it possible?
First of all, we give youthe local context to make your mouth water or comfort you in the idea that discovering Reunion Island by van is really amazing! And if you still have some questions, here in our opinion, a “few things to know”:
- In La Reunion, roads are free, and make a total loop last approximatively 4h/5h !
- On the coast, it’s mostly flat, but when you want to go inside the island, it’s really hilly. So yes, better to have a great and new van that is perfect to take the Reunion roads!
- There is only a few vanlifers in La Reunion, so the van in Reunion island has no bad image as it can be in the south of France for example. Subject to be discrete and to respect the environment and the local people of course!
- In Reunion Island, the picnic is an institution! We’ll find a lot of perfect spots with kiosk, BBQ, bins, where to spot with your van!
- For walkers/trailers, sleeping just next to the start of your hike is a dream! You can start your walk very early without having to drive!
Here you are, on these words of wisdom, we invite you to discover here our 3 days in van roadtrip in Reunion! We had 1000 ideas in mind: North, South, East, West, but we chose the Wild South and the famous volcano “Piton de la Fournaise”, an emblematic place of our beautiful island!
Itinerary of our roadtrip in van in the Wild South
Day 1: Bivouac & BBQ at the bottom of Piton de la Fournaise
Having pick up the van (a new Volkswagen Caravelle 6 seats) in the middle of the afternoon, the time to go shopping and to make the road, we join friends on the road of the volcano, the area of Nez de Boeuf. The program includes: a great BBQ and a party that never ends where everyone remakes the world with his own words.
Romain and I are sleeping inside the van and our friends test the roof tent. Spacious and really well fixed, despite the heavy wind we had this night.
Day 2: Volcano and the Green East
Discover the Piton de la Fournaise, the Plaine des Sables and its craters
So let’s go, direction “Plaine des Sables” by the famous volcano winding road descent! We where lucky, the view was clear for us at Pas de Bellecombe! We recommend the walk to the Dolomieu crater, super impressive. But do not go without having prepared it (about 5 hours return trip for 11km, 1 or 2L of water per person and a good sunscreen).
We then went down to St. Anne by the route des Plaines. There are many things to do on the way including the small walk around the Grand Etang and the waterfall of the Bras d’Annette, or the visit of the rum distillery “Rivière du Mat” in Saint-Benoit.
Discover the East of the island by van
In Sainte-Anne, we stopped in front of the famous church that served as a scenery to François Truffaut’s film “The Mississippi Mermaid” and especially to the blue basin to have a swim! A turquoise blue water, a mix of spring water that flows into the sea!
We ended the day very quietly on the small Cayenne parking in Saint-Rose. But do not hesitate to make a stop at the Pont Suspendu of St. Anne. It was the longest bridge in the world when it was delivered in 1894 (according to wikipedia).
Day 3: The Wild South and its amazing landscapes
The extraordinary places of the Wild South
After the breakfast in front of the waves of Cayenne, we took the road to continue our van roadtrip in Reunion. And now, let’s go to the lava tunnels on the 2001 lava flow in the Grand Brulé forest. But before, a stop at Notre Dame des Laves. A church surrounded by a lava flow (but saved) and a tourist attraction of the South of the island! Do not hesitate to stop by for a trip at Anse des Cascades. If possible, avoid the weekend!
The lava tunnels. Younger, Romain had already made a visit, for my part, it was my first. And it’s crazy to say that this incredible place is there, just under our feet and it’s natural. Even after visiting underground caves in the Philippines, or Portugal (see From Porto to Lisbon> C) … we are captivated by discovering this!
After this unusual visit, we made a stop to the so-called “green” beach of Trembet. A small “very recent” beach (formed by the 2007 lava flow) and the black basaltic sand that composes it contains a lot of olivine (green-gold color), the “green”. After heavy rains, a waterfall flows along the cliff overlooking the beach …
And finally, a relaxing stop at Tévelave
Then we went for a Spa and Aperitif session at the “The White Bark” hostel in Tévelave. Not really easy to reach with the Caravelle of almost 6m, but the place is worth seeing. Our host, Corneille is adorable and his welcome is top. The spa area is great (outside) and his rhums arrangés are delicious. And above all, the spot for the van is just magical. Superb sea view from the heights of Avirons.
After a wonderfull waking up, we went back to La Saline les Hauts, to give back the van.
Ideas for a van roadtrip in Reunion
Just for information, in 3 days, we could not do everythings.
But to give you more ideas for a van roadtrip in Reunion (in the Wild South), we add a lot of great spots that you can visit (hikes, swim spots, museums…) on this article map!
Like: Grand Bassin hike, Volcano museum, Pat’Jaune cabaret, Grand Etang hike, bassin 18, Langevin river, botanical walks, the piscine des Anglais, Grande Anse or Manapany beaches, the Gouffre and the Etang Salé beach or the Pointe au Sel…
A small note about BlackSheep
Just a few van renters in Reunion Island. We just know 2 of them. But at least, we like BlackSheep Reunion‘s values (article in French): nature, people and environment respect, discover without disturbing, outdoor sports…
A few examples: in the van, we’ll find a environmentally shower gel and washing-up liquid. Outside the pure “rental”, they recommend some allowed spots, activities and places to live a real experience in the island. Plus, if you want so, Franck and Vincent will explain you more about the Reunion Island Natural Reserve Chart and give you some advices about how to make a good trip with your van on our island.
>> In brief, we hope that this article motivated you to visit Reunion Island by van (or just by foot). Because there are thousands things to do here…. On our opinion, you need at least 3 weeks to enjoy the all island. But all in good time, we just went to Europe to carry on our European van roadtrip!
Do not hesitate to give us your ideas, good deals (places, hikes, restaurants…)… or to ask any questions you have if you’re planning a van roadtrip in Reunion!