Diving Reunion

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Reunion, France

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Country: France  Area: France

Water Temp: 22 - 27°C (72 - 81°F)

Depth Range: 15 - 55m (49 - 180 ft)

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Reunion is popular for its variety of dive sites.  Beyond the reef are large flats, steep walls and shipwrecks. The morning is best for wide-angle shots as conditions are calm, while in the afternoon, macro and shallower dive sites will amaze with their wealth of corals, sponges and reef fish. 

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The west coast has the greatest coral and marine life biodiversity, while lava flows can be found on the south side of the island.

 

Climate

Temperatures along the coast average 22C (71F) during winter and 27C (81F) in summer.  The year is divided into two seasons - the cool, dry season from May to October and the hot, wet season from November to April.  During the summer months, two thirds of the annual rain falls. 

Nemateleotris magnifica, Credit

The best time to dive is from April to November, when the water temperature ranges from 27C (81F) in April to 24C (75F) in November.

Winter is the best season (June to October) to see humpback whales that come to breed and give birth close by.  The most action happens from mid-August to mid-September.  Dive conditions tend to be better in summer, with the best visibility and warmest water but there can be rough days as it is also rainy season.

Canthigaster amboinensis, Credit

Marine Conservation

A number of conservation and awareness programs are conducted on the island to help conserve marine turtles in the area.  A discovery center offers education workshops, guided tours and opportunities to participate in discussions concerning turtles such as their adaptation to the environment and the threats they face.  Sea Turtle Days are held to stimulate awareness and action, while exhibitions, aerial surveys and satellite tracking efforts are underway.

 
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La Pointe au Sel

This site has a huge drop-off, which starts around 25m (82 feet) and ends at 71m (233 feet).  It's possible to spot schools of trevallies, tunas, barracudas and sometimes manta rays, devil rays, John Dory, Napoleon wrasses, dolphins and even whale sharks.  A range of dives is on offer including drift and deep dives.  The site is recommended to experienced divers only due to the strong currents.

Leaf Scorpionfish, Credit

The Caves of Maharani

A series of cracks and caves cover this dive site at around 15m (49 feet).  For those wishing to take photos, wide-angle is preferable in the morning when the position of the sun is best.  Divers regularly see kingfish over one meter in length, while lionfish wait in the overhangs for unsuspecting prey. 

Passe de l'Ermitage

This is a cleaning station and meeting point for turtles and eagle rays.  The turtles visit this spot daily while also using the lagoon to shelter at night.  There are some extensive sea grass beds that are a good source of food for many marine creatures.

Leaf Scorpionfish, Credit

Cap la Houssaye

This is THE site for macro photography.  Divers will regularly come across nudibranchs, mantis shrimp and ghost pipefish as well as turtles, barracudas, and more.  There is a huge meadow with various sea slugs but divers need to be aware of scorpion fish camouflaged on the bottom.  Visibility can be average but is not a big problem for those taking close up shots of the macro life.

The Green House

The bottom of this site is strewn with large coral.  It looks a bit like a botanical garden as the sun shines through the water.  There is abundant marine life and the spot is also popular for night dives.

Bodianus anthioides, Credit

The Arches

This is a shallow dive with a maximum depth of around 15m (49ft).  It offers a range of fish and the sight of numerous arches makes it worth visiting.  It's suitable for divers of all levels but beginners in particular will enjoy the great diversity of coral while cruising slowly across the water.

A bit about wreck dives.....

The most famous wreck off Reunion is the Hai Siang at 55m (181ft) deep.  When it sunk it landed on its side before being righted by a cyclone.  It's a very fun dive with a descent straight through the blue water column.  Other popular deep wrecks include The Navarra at 50m (164ft), The Sea Venture at 45m (148ft) and Antonio Lorenzo at 38m (125ft).  The shallower waters also have wrecks covered in abundant marine growth, fish and other critters.

Roughskin Trunkfish, Credit

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How to Get there

Reunion has two international airports.  The vast majority of flights come into Roland Garros International Airport, about 10km east of St-Denis.  Those coming from Mauritius can land at Pierrefonds Airport in the south of the island near St-Pierre.  Air France flies daily from Heathrow to Reunion via Paris.  Other airlines fly directly between destinations in Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The Port, Credit

It's also possible to get to Reunion by sea from Mauritius.  The boat trip takes about 12 hours.

As some attractions are located in the hills, hiring a car is strongly recommended. Route Nationale 1 (RN1) is the main road around the island.

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Where to Eat & Drink

In St-Denis, visitors can eat out in Le Massale, an eat-in and takeaway place serving authentic Indian snacks such as samosas filled with fish, crab or chicken, and sweets such as Balfi Amande, a traditional sweet flavoured with almond.  L'Igloo Glacerie serves an array of ice cream creations, sundaes and milkshakes while Le Roland Garros specializes in French and Creole cuisine.  Dishes include octopus stew, ravioli and grilled duck fillets.  Saint-Paul market is also worth a visit for fruit, vegetables, coconut sorbet, samosas and bouchon (Chinese dumplings).

La Entrada a la Reunión en el Château de Maiffliers, Credit

Visitors in St-Denis also head to Cyclone Cafe, a pub-like, beer-friendly place where live bands perform a blend of electro, maloya (traditional dance music of Reunion) and drum 'n' bass.  Le Rallye is a downbeat bar with local DJs, while Moda Bar is good for karaoke fans.  In St-Pierre, one of the most atmospheric spots for a drink is Cafe de la Gare, in the old train station.

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Other Activities

Cilaos, a small town nestled inside a mountain crater, has beautiful views of the surrounding landscape with a small museum and some thermal spas.  Long day hikes are possible to areas like the Cirque de Mafate, a very remote and difficult region to access, filled with ridges and small villages and only accessible by foot or helicopter.  Paragliding is worth doing in winter when there is less rain and more sunshine along the mountain slopes.

Mountain, Credit

Family Friendly

Children can enjoy activities such as paragliding, surfing, hiking, quad biking and rafting.  Scuba diving programs, water parks, tree climbing and games at a club on the beach are all available too.

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Tips

Mosquito repellent is advised!

The local currency is the Euro and banks can exchange most currencies.

Busy beach, Credit

Credit cards are not widely accepted around the island, especially Diner's Club and American Express.

Electric current - 220V (French plug)

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