Reunion island tour by electrically assisted bike
Our reunion island tour by bike in 4 days!
Take your time to enjoy Reunion island’s landscapes and add physical activity to your trip it’s totally ok. More accustomed to trails and bagpacks, for this adventure we swapped our sneakers for a electrically assisted bikes…
You’ll find in this article our itinerary, stages, accomodations, advices… we hope i twill help you prepare your own roadtrip around our beautiful island.
Normal bike or electrically assisted bicycle?
It’s up to you… it depends on your physical condition but also if you are looking for a real challenge or like us, for a nice sportive holidays. Regarding us, both of us are sporty, but the difference in level between us is too big. Romain does a lot of VTT, in mountains with rocks… and I do bicycle often, but on road and for small trips. So I didn’t want to make double effort to certainly stay still far from him.
So we made this choice easily to do our reunion island tour by electrically assisted bicycle.
We know E-Velo (Loisibike) in Saint-Leu since a while and have already made a few trips with their bikes, like in this article (even in tandem). As it has always been good experiences, it looked normal to rent our bicycles there.
Our reunion island tour by bike’s stages
We decide to have this roadtrip in 4 days. Like that it’s a bit sporty but not too much. If your physical condition is low, do not hesitate to add1 or 2 days.
As we were celebrating our 13th anniversary, we left our tent at home and have booked cool hotels in advance.
- Km: 256 km (it also depends if you take a lot of detours)
- Elevation high: 2270 m+
- Direction: we decide to go South from Saint-Leu, but with no real reason..
Day 1: Saint-Leu > Saint-Joseph
- 3h20 for 56,83 km (without lunch)
- Elevation high: 497m+
- Quality of cycle paths: good from Saint-Lau to Le Gol factory, unpleasant small portion on Saint-Louis bridge. Good up to Saint-Pierre (even if you should not follow the « bicycle sign » after the military camp, it goes nowhere). From Saint-Pierre to Manapany, nice parallel road then we had to take the normal road up to our hostel, but very few trafic.
Material for 4 days
Meeting point at 9 a.m at E-Velo in Saint-Leu, we take :
- our bikes,
- charger (we took one for 2 to charge our bikes every night),
- anti-theft, puncture repair kit and
- 2 20L bags per person that hang on the luggage rack. By the way, we loved those waterproof bags, really easy to put and take off, and great when it’s raining, like for our day 2!
>> 2 bags + a bagpack per person is way enough for 4 days, but we add a lot of photo/video materials, so we need space.
Reunion island tour by bike, here we go!
Once ready, we begin towards the South. Up to Etang-salé, we are on the normale road but the bicycle path is large.
We make a stop at « La Pointe au Sel » and « au Souffleur »… Once at Etang-Salé, we continue on the parallel road (the closest to the sea) until we pass under a bridge on the « route des sables » road towards Le Gol factory. It’s not always correctly marked which is unfortunate as the road and landscapes are nice, even if we share the road with cars.
One adventure, many little things
1st small disappointment, we thought we could avoidSaint-Louis’ bridge by a little dusty path on our right, but no. This path is no longer ok so we had to bike on the bridge, but we took the first exit.
We’ll follow a nice parallel road with very few trafic up to Saint-Pierre. There is a lot of wind… hopefully we have the electrical assistance, otherwise it would have benn less fun !
Lunch break: for lunch you’ll find easily restaurants and snacks almost everywhere (in town). We stopped in Saint-Pierre seafront and took beers and sandwichs.
Hello Wild South
On the road again… the road is nice from here to Grand Bois (we cross Terre Sainte). No cycle path but few trafic so it’s ok ! We have to take the main road twice.
After Manapany, we arrive at our guest house at Saint-Joseph, la « Case O Zoizos ». Great surprise to begin our reunion island tour by bike! Very nice house, well situated and decorated. With a very cool swimming pool, a nice outdoor kitchen in a very pretty garden. And do not miss the breakfast…
La Case O Zoizos : phone 0693 46 99 48 – Facebook
We let our bags there and we leave to enjoy the sunset in « Ti Sable » nice beach, at 10/15 minutes from there by foot.
Ince back and after a well deserved shower (perfect pressure and temperature plus local homade soap), we order pizzas because restaurants are closed on Monday and we don’t feel like cooking.
Nice spots on the road: Saint-Leu’s seafront, Pointe au sel, « le Souffleur », Etang-Salé dark beach, « le Gouffre ». « Pointe du diable », bassin 18, bassin la Source, Grande Anse and its little mountain, Manapany’s natural pool, Ti Sable… We’ll never have enough on 1 day to see all of them !
Day 2: Saint-Joseph > Sainte-Anne
- 3H40 for 69,42 km
- Elevation high: 835m+
- Quality of cycle paths: no or very fex cycle paths. Road is ok but not very large and you have to share with cars. Hopefully, during weekdays (after 9 am and before 4pm), there is very few trafic. It’s uphill all the first part of the day and goes down after the « pont suspendu de la Rivière de l’Est » (works in progress).
After a great breakfast (as good as it is big) at « Case O Zoizos », we take our stuff and we’re ready for the 2cd day of our reunion island tour by bike.
It’s almost 11am (we started late every mornings), it’s sunny, and after just a few kilometers on take a detour to Langevin River. We don’t go to far but enough to enjoy a break watching the river.
GRR2, Mare longue, vanilla…
We take the road again towards Saint-Philippe. On the way we pass in front of the GRR2 trail’s end (9 days trail from North to the South). We’re so nostalgic as it’s one of our most crazy adventure on the island. Then we pass the « souffleur d’Arbonne », the « Jardin des Parfums et des épices » with the nice Mare Longue’s forest. There are some Vanilla’s shops. And if you’re looking for Reunion Island’s vanilla, this is the place to be!
Wild South’s beauties
Since a couple of hours, the sky is turning grey…. We thought we would maybe avoid the rain at least for the lava road, but no! The landscape is still worth it. It’s crazy to see this road, rebuilt through this lava flow that went to the see…
There are many differents flows (1986, 2007, 2004…), but quite quickly as the rain seems to follow us. After a bit more than 10km with this moonly landscape we finish the lava road to arrive at Bois Blanc.
As it’s still raining (and not just a little), on keep going without taking detours. Even at Anse des Cascades, whereas we love this place.
Moon landscapes, crazy stories
Next stop at “Notre Dames des Laves”, a church spared by a lava flow in 1977 It’s always impressive to see this. At this point we have just 20 kilometers left.
Lunch break: as we took a really very copious breakfast this morning, we’re still not hungry… even after 3 hours of bicycle ! So we just ate a cereal bar and continue as the rain doesn’t want to leave us. But in this area, there are some good restaurant to eat a creol carri (but try to arrive early, in general you won’t find anything after 1.30 pm.
We cross Sainte-Rose, Bonne espérance, it’s very green and there are many small creoles houses. We pass the famous Riviere de l’Est’s bridge (work in progress) and a small village called « Les Orangers » like in Mafate ! The is just 3 or 4 km left !
When we arrive in Sainte-Anne, we don’t go througt the village but turn right before on « chemin de Touris ». Then left, left on « Chemin Créole » where there is our Airbnb, La Villa du Bassin.
We are really close to the Bassin Bleu, approx. 300 meters. After a good and hot shower (i’m cold because of the rain), we go downtown to make the groceries. And as we are alone in the Villa, we decide to order good and copious carris at « l’Auberge Créole » (maybe one of the 2 Sainte-Anne’s restaurants) to enjoy the place.
By the way, the villa is really well situated and have many good points (swimming pool, jacuzzi, BBQ…) but there are many details which made it a bit « average ». Finishes are made quickly, the jacuzzi is not very clean, the BBQ is not sheltered, there is a babyfoot, but no balls…). So, it’s still a good adress but not a wouahou.
Nice spots on the road: many Langevin’s waterfalls and basin, Cap Jaune, Cap méchant, Tremblet’s beach (youngest beach of the word), Lava road, Bois Blanc’s rock, Anse des cascades, Notre Dame des Laves’ church, La Cayenne picnic area, Rivière de l’Est’s bridge, Sainte-Anne’s church and blue basin…
Reunion island tour by bike – Day 3: Sainte-Anne > Sans Souci
- 4H30 for 81,57 km
- Elevation high: 765m+
- Quality of cycle paths: pleasantly surprised, all the 1st part is well equiped with bicycle paths (not from Sainte-Anne, but from Sainte-Suzanne to Le Barachois in Saint-Denis). Of course, there are no much roadsigns sometimes (like in Saint-André), but better than we though. From Barachois, 2 choices are available to you, going through « La Montagne » (certainly more fun, but it would have added quite a few km and above all a lot of elevation high and it was already the longest day) or by the coastal road normally prohibited for bicycles, even electric ones.
We wake up and take a short trip to the Bassin Bleu on the way to the bakery. We brought breakfast back to the Villa and after a little splash in the pool, we take off around 10:15 am.
On the way, we stop at the beginning on our left at the Saint-Anne church, known for its baroque architecture and the wedding scene shot here for the film La Sirène du Mississippi.
Then, we head towards Saint Benoit and Bras Panon, passing through the city center and not the main road. In the direction of Saint-André, we keep our left well towards the small bridge which overhangs the Rivière du Mat (towards Salazie) to always avoid the big road. We pass between the cane fields, here the road is narrower and there is a little more traffic than the day before, but it’s fine.
Sugar’s factory and tamoul temples
Arrived at the junction for Saint-André, or Salazie, we turn right of course. And we cross the city by the central artery, « Avenue de Bourbon ». At the end of a long straight line we take on the left the avenue Mahatma Gandhi (we pass behind Sainte-Suzanne’ shopping center and Décathlon on our left and on the right is the Bois Rouge’ sugar factory! There are many Tamoul temples in the area, including the well-known « Temple du Colosse ». This is normal, since during the boom in sugar cane, labor was brought in from India. As a result, around sugar factories, there are often Indian communities that have developed.
Arriving in Sainte-Suzanne, do not hesitate to make a small detour to the Niagara waterfall (4km round trip) and by the only lighthouse on the island, the Bel Air lighthouse (under construction at the moment).
Reunion island’s best cycles’paths
Just after the lighthouse, the best is to take the North Coastal Path (sentier littoral nord). From here to Barachois, you will have 18 really nice km. A few passages at the airport of Sainte-Marie / Denis are a little touchy because it is not very well indicated, but you will always be on a path or cycle path. Even under a bridge before going back down to the seafront of Saint-Denis.
We arrive at Saint-Denis, the seafront path is very nice.
Lunch break: we eat a small carry on the seafront of Saint-Denis, it’s good, especially before attacking the 12km of the coastal road.
We therefore leave for Sans Souci, where we join our guest house for the night. The most unpleasant or even dangerous is to get on the coast road, especially with the work in progress. It’s one of the rare moments when we were not feeling safe. Then, once on the coastal road, we are not going to lie to you, it is not pleasant and we go as quickly as possible to make it stop. However, if we take off the cars and trucks driving at 90/100 km/h, the emergency lane space is rather wide, which is a little reassuring.
Phew that’s it, we arrive at La Possession. We could also have gone through the city center of La Possession or Le Port to take alternative routes, but as we want to arrive as soon as possible at Villa Garriga, so we stay on the main road. On the other hand, very important on the safety side, at each exit, instead of trying to cut the road to cars, we took the exits and we would reintegrate at the next roundabout.
Last push before we arrive!
We stay on the big road until “Cap Sacré Coeur shopping center” where we stopped. Then, it climbs well (especially at the end), but with electric bike, no problem, even after several hours. On the other hand, having a lot of flat today, we had saved our batteries during the day to be sure to have enough to reach Villa Garriga which is still at 350 meters above sea level. Results, we only used 2 out of 5 battery’s bars, but at least no stress.
Après the effort, the reward!
We therefore arrive at the Villa which is on the road leading to the start of « la canalisation des Orangers » path (way to trail in Mafate). And we are not unhappy to arrive, the place is magnificent, with great seaview, on « Le Port » and on the « Rivière des galets ». There are plenty of small living spaces and it is tastefully decorated.
La Villa Garriga : phone 0693 46 26 36 – Facebook
Deckchair in front of the swimming pool, nickel jacuzzi, small chill corner with your feet in the sand, we enjoy our welcome cocktail in front of the sunset.
We are delighted with the setting for the last evening of our reunion island tour by bike. The meal cooked by Benjamin is just delicious and I must admit that despite the desire to enjoy it at 200%, we do not last long after these 3 days of cycling.
Nice spots to see: blue basin and Sainte-Anne’s church, Hindu temples, Bois Rouge sugar factory, Niagara waterfall, Sainte-Suzanne lighthouse, the small port of Sainte-Marie, Barachois’ cannons, the lazarettos of the Grande Chaloupe …
Day 4: Sans Souci (La Possession) > Saint-Leu
- 2H20 for 43,36 km
- Elevation high: 172m+
- Quality of cycle paths: Reunion is not necessarily very well equipped with cycle paths on this part of the island but it is still pleasant to travel in the west. Always traffic but less during off-peak hours, little difference in altitude and a beautiful coast with its many beaches.
In the morning, we take our time before leaving. It is our shortest day at the top of its 45 km so we take advantage of Villa Garriga. We start perfectly with a great homemade breakfast then we chill between the pool and jacuzzi. Hard hard to leave, but you have to.
After saying goodbye to our hosts, it’s time to go down to Saint-Paul. Not necessarily super comfortable on the slopes, Romain has to stop from time to time to wait for me, but never for long.
Tour des Roches and the natural reserve
We decide to cut through Bois de Nèfles Saint-Paul and join Savanna from behind instead of going down to Cambaie. It’s a good idea, it changes the way for us and it’s pleasant, in addition we arrive at the level of the bifurcation for « Le Tour des Roches » and we take the opportunity to go through the back of Saint-Paul and its pretty road which runs along the Etang Saint-Paul nature reserve (see our article about kayaking in the reserve here… but in french).
Arrived at the end of this road, we turn right to recover Cap La Houssaye. There is a bike path… very thin, but it exists. It looks nicer this way than the other way around. Moreover, Cap La Houssaye will undergo major changes in the coming months, in particular to improve the cycling section.
Then we continue by always passing as close as possible to the beaches, Boucan, Grand Fond Saint-Gilles to Roches Noires, Hermitage, La Saline, Trou d’eau… it’s really the West Coast. On our side, it’s really the least exotic part as Romain and I come from the West.
We therefore cycle to Saint-Leu where we stop to drink a well-deserved beer and eat some snacks on the seafront, in front of the surf spot… This marks the end of our Reunion Island tour by bike. A little sad like at the end of each adventure but it’s to better engage on something else!
So we return the bikes to Loisibike. Simon does a little check of the equipment and that’s it, this time it’s time to go home!
Nice spots to see: Tour des Roches, Saint-Paul’s natural reserve, Cap la Houssaye, Boucan Canot, Cap Homard, Roches Noir, Hermitage, Trou d’eau…
To conclude this adventure, here are our few remarks.
Cycling around Reunion Island is a great adventure despite the fact that it is still far from being well equipped with cycle paths. But we expected much worse.
However, you must:
- be a little comfortable on a bike and with traffic since you often share the road with cars,
- be a little sporty even if the electric assistance makes the difference, you still pedal on average 4 hours a day,
- know how to read a map or a GPS (or else) because some passages are badly indicated, so you have to be able to find your way in case of doubt.
About the duration, on our side, knowing our island well, a 4-day trip suited us very well because we did not necessarily need to stop too often.
If, on the other hand, your goal is to discover Reunion during this tour of the island by bike, without getting up at 6 a.m., we advise you to add at least 1 or 2 more days. This will allow you to take several breaks and detours during your trip.
Well, we hope this article will make you want to make a Reunion island tour by bike and help you prepare for it. For us it was a great experience, can’t wait for the next adventure!
To discover more activities to do in Reunion island: it’s here !