The island of La Réunion (Île de la Réunion in French) is becoming increasingly more popular to visit. Ile de la Réunion is an overseas department and region of French. Familiar road signs, speaking French, free data roaming and paying in Euro, hurray! The island is mostly visited by French people, but partly due to the effect that Instagram has on tourism, this is rapidly changing. Only a handful of Instagram influencers have been to La Réunion so far and I was happy to be one of the first. Now I’m sharing my experiences to make your trip in La Réunion even more awesome. Having explored every corner of the island, I present you the 13 most instagrammable places in La Réunion! Today in part 1: everything that has do to with the volcanic activity on the island!
PART 1: VOLCANIC WONDERS
This crater is named after the French explorer Philibert Commerson who went to La Réunion during one of his travels. You’ll come across the crater of this extinct volcano on your way to that other – still active – volcano Piton de la Fournaise. Commerson Crater is part of the same underground system, although located outside l’Enclos Fouqué. You can walk right to the egde of the 200m wide caldera and look 120m down into the void. Surely you can make some awesome pictures here and that’s why it’s my first pick in this list of most instagrammable spots in La Réunion.
Plaine des Sables
A bit further down – or should I say ‘up’ – this road towards Piton de la Fournaise, you’ll pass along Plaine des Sables. You can now safely tick the box for ‘dramatic landscape change’. More than 2.200m above sea level, this lunarlike landscape is made of red and brown volcanic rocks. It looks a bit like the highlands of Iceland, only a tad more tropical. That’s why it deserves a place in my list of most instagrammable places in La Réunion.
Piton de la Fournaise
Of course the volcano itself, Piton de la Fournaise, is also an iconic spot to take pictures. It is located inside , an 8km wide caldera, meaning the underground lava system is much larger than the size of Piton de la Fournaise would suggest.
It’s one of the most active volcanoes on the planet, but don’t get your hopes up. As opposed to stratovolcanoes, a shield volcano like Piton de la Fournaise doesn’t explode: lava just rises to the surface, not necessarily from inside the crater. Sometimes they close off the walking paths to the top of the volcano. When I was there, minor activity was going on, so we couldn’t do the walk to the edge of the crater. But I have to be completely honest with you, you have the best view from the car park and the immediate surroundings. If you do want to see it from a different and more awesome perspective, I very much recommend doing a helicopter flight. I’m sure those pictures will do great on Instagram! I vouch for Helilagon, a very professional helicopter service on La Réunion.
When you have to cross the island, you’ll most likely take the N3 from Saint-Benoit to Saint-Pierre. It is the only inland road to get from the east part of the island to the western side or the other way around. Grand Etang is a great stop along the way. Grand Etang is the largest lake on La Réunion, surrounded by lush mountains. I wasn’t initially planning on going there but I stayed in the nearby Diana Dea Lodge for one night so I figured I might as well go and have a look. Why is this in the post of ‘volcanic wonders’ you say? Well after an eruption 6000 years ago, lava flew into the valley, cutting off the river Bras d’Annette. This created a lake with no outflow.
Water levels in the lake may vary considerably. When I was there, the level was pretty low, although it could be worse. In 1998 for instance, it dried out completely. I’m putting it on my list of most Instagrammable spots on La Réunion, because I’m sure this lake has potential. You’ll be able to take a much better picture than I did during better conditions.
This trip was facilitated by the tourism board of La Réunion but opinions remain my own. I chose my own accomodation. The first part of my trip I stayed in Villa Delisle, a charming hotel in Saint-Pierre. The rest of the trip I spent in Ness by D-Ocean, a brand-new 4-star property in La Saline-Les-Bains.