Petite Ile and the Other Attractions of Reunion island

For most people, a mention of the Indian Ocean automatically conjures up images of its most popular islands, which are Seychelles, Mauritius, and the extremely expensive Maldives islands. This is actually quite normal since these islands rely a lot on tourism as a major part of their economy. As a matter of fact, in the case of the exotic Seychelles and Maldives islands, you can even say that they rely exclusively on their tourism industry. Mauritius is a bit different in that it has successfully managed to diversity its exports, which include sugar and textile, but it is also heavily dependent in tourists as a source of revenue.

Petite Ile
Image by fran├žoise_b (http://www.flickr.com/photos/francoise_2006/)

One island that most people are however quick to forget is the small island of Reunion, which is located a mere half an hour from to the west of Mauritius. This is quite normal as, contrary to its Indian Ocean neighbors, Reunion does not advertise its tourism industry as heavily. Although the island does have a thriving industry with a lot of tourists visiting the island every year, it does not rely on it so much. Indeed, because Reunion is French territory, it could pretty much ignore its visitors completely and still get on fine.

However, just like its neighbors, the island of Reunion also has its fair share of attractions and is an exciting place to visit. While it lacks the beautiful beaches of the other Indian Ocean islands, it makes up for this with some unique sights and incredible coasts and forests. In fact, the extraordinary differences from town to town are just one of the most remarkable aspects of Reunion. As an example, Petite Ile, located in the south of the island, is filled with flowers, some of which are unique to Reunion, while Saint Paul is popular for its buzzing street market.

You can also find the Domaine du Relais in Petite Ile, which is a park where visitors can either ride horses or simply go on a long walk punctuated by a picnic. The Domaine du Relais is one of the most famous places of the whole island as some of the views are simply amazing. It is however still far behind Reunion’s most popular attraction, the Piton de La Fournaise (usually called the Peak of the The Furnace in english) volcano. Most people will have already heard about La Fournaise, which is also one of the world’s most active volcanoes and whose last eruption occurred as late as December 2010. As you would have guessed, La Fournaise is the main tourist attraction in Reunion.

Another widely famous tourist attraction in Reunion is its High Plains, which offers the most amazing scenery of the island. The High Plains is a huge forest bordered by verdant cliffs and with incredibly dense vegetation. It is located near the Piton de La Fournaise Volcano and the views from the top of the plains are quite breathtaking. It is however recommended to rely on a guide when visiting the High Plains as it is all too to get lost in this huge forest.

Ashvin Sawmynaden, now based in Petite Ile and Guito Ramoune, is a travel blogger who blogs mainly about the Indian Ocean destinations