Have you ever wanted to or thought of celebrating Valentine’s day or going on a romantic date with your sweetheart, right in the middle of an ocean? Well that is exactly how Jiang Yunkai and his wife planned to celebrate their love for each other.
They recently went on a romantic trip to France and explored the best of Reunion Island. They captured their best moments to be cherished forever and the outcome is beyond perfect. See it for yourself as you read on what they wrote about their experience.
Duration: 8 days and 7 nights
Budget: INR 75,000
Trip Type: A romantic trip full of fun and adventure
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No matter how old you get, feeling young at heart always helps in keeping the relationship alive and strong as ever. Since the occasion itself was so romantic, there was no way I could escape this time without taking my wife to someplace new for the Valentine’s day celebrations.
For making this occasion even more special, I couldn’t think of anything else other than taking her on a trip to France. Being synonymous with romance, I narrowed down my destination to a lesser known island known as the Reunion Island and as they say, the rest is history.
I had planned to take her to the Reunion Island which is part of the French Territory located in the southern part of Indian Ocean with Madagascar on its east and Mauritius towards the southwest. Hence, we took a direct flight from Baiyun International Airport in Guangzhou to Roland Garros Airport in Reunion Island.
We reached at around 3.30 pm and the moment we stepped out of the airport, we could see why Reunion was much famed as the “paradise on earth” during the 17th century.
The aerial view was really impressive and the landscape was breathtakingly beautiful. Though the traffic was quite upsetting, the welcome ceremony organized by the Tourism Bureau cheered us up.
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Touchdown Reunion Island
On the first day, we checked in at the Reef Seaview Resort and our first impression was wow.
The room was nicely decorated with flowers and the whole setting was very beautiful. We rested for a while and later went out to explore the city.
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Our first encounter was with the walls full of graffiti, and the interesting part is, the graffiti on walls are of two types, i.e., public and government graffiti. Going ahead on the island road, we thought the weather was really cloudy but then it never rained during our entire stay which made the climate really perfect to explore.
It was a little ironic to come across a cemetery of Catholic families which was sea-facing, and full of colorful flowers. There were no signs of gloomy feelings which turned out to be good for us too.
However, it was a great feeling to witness the magnificent terrain, rich flora & fauna that makes Reunion Island, one of the famous 34 biodiversity hotspots in the world.
We later explored the beach area and noticed that there were more dogs than people at Reunion Island.
We could watch the vast landscape for which Reunion Island is famous for other than the destructive volcanoes, the dense rainforest, the cascading waterfalls, the delectable vanilla, and rum. Later we returned to the hotel, and called it a night as we had to start early for the cruise next day.
L’Ermitage Lagoon Followed By A Romantic Sunset
We started our second day a little early and proceeded towards the L’Ermitage Lagoon as our pretty tuk-tuk driver was waiting for us.
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We reached the lagoon, had a yummy breakfast and participated in the activities for about half an hour or so.
Getting tanned was more of a concern than anything else which is why we took rescue under some shade. Later my wife came across a handsome waiter (according to her) at La Bobine restaurant where we had gone for lunch.
She said he looked like Paul Walker but the duck leg at the restaurant had caught my attention. We enjoyed a sumptuous meal and went back to the hotel late in afternoon.
Later we went to the pier and boarded our speedboat which took us right in middle of the sea to witness the most romantic sunset ever. The sun began to descend on the horizon and as clouds closed in, the hues of blue, reddish orange, pink, and purple graced the sky with total elegance.
We could see some boats at a distance and as the sun went down, it felt as if the clouds were on fire and we just couldn’t get enough of the mesmerizing views. The sky was full of colors, and our eyes were full of romantic and eternal memories.
Around The Island & Piton de la Fournaise Volcano
Our third day was dedicated entirely for sightseeing around the island and the famous Piton de la Fournaise Volcano.
On our way we came across few sporty locals and in general the people of Reunion are very fond of sports. Cyclists and runners can be seen everywhere around the island.
As we were driving, we could see the shimmering coastline and the sea was totally calm without the high tides. The weather was pretty clear and the panoramic views of the sea looked like a beautiful blue carpet spread across the whole land.
The environs looked so calm that even a loner who was playing guitar all by himself look more than a romantic to us. The only scary part about driving around was the absence of traffic lights which made us tremble a little bit as the cars used to stop all of a sudden without any signal.
Later in the day, it was time for us to experience hiking on the famous Piton de la Fournaise Volcano.
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It is a must experience for every traveler when in Reunion Island. The best part about the whole volcano tour was the landscape that kept changing dramatically.
From rugged rocky landscape, to the red plains, and then lush green forests, the sight and the views were worth the trip. It felt as if we had landed on some other planet.
A large amount of lava was gathering on the other side when we reached and it was at that time when the volcano erupted. We were really lucky to have got the chance to witness the destructive volcanic eruption in front of our eyes.
As dangerous as it may sound, it was truly an unique experience to watch the dramatic eruption.
- Make sure you wear sturdy shoes for hiking on the volcano as the rugged terrain makes it difficult to walk fast though the difficulty level is not high.
- Carry loads of sunscreen and it is recommended to wear long sleeves.
- Owing to its altitude, the weather in the morning is cooler compared to the temperature in the afternoon.
- The entire trail is marked so there is no need to worry about getting lost.
- Make sure you carry enough water as there is no facility to buy water or any other snacks.
- Littering is something which is not appreciated in the premises. Hence, carry your own garbage bags.
Notre-Dame-des-Laves, And The Vanilla Factory
On our fourth day, we had planned to visit the Church of Our Lady of Lava. It is believed that the Reunion Island was a total mess in 1977 when the volcano erupted and destroyed major parts of the island.
Amidst all this chaos, the Church of Our Lady of Lava was separated from the mainland but miraculously remained unaffected. The interiors were attractive and the calm environs made us feel so peaceful inside the church.
Our next stop was that of the famous Vanilla Factory. To witness the making of fresh vanilla pods, it is a must for everyone to visit the vanilla estate. Guided tours are available in which, one can understand and watch how the vanilla pods are made.
In the process, one also gets to taste various spices and fruits. A major drawback of these vanilla pods is that you can’t smell their fragrance at all and yet they’re sold at a very high price.
Paragliding At Its Best
Reunion Island is a natural paradise and the treasure chest of France which has more than 40 percent of its area listed as the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Having said that, the unique natural conditions of Reunion Island, also makes it an adventure paradise for outdoor sports enthusiasts.
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This is why on our fifth day, we wanted to try our hands at paragliding adventure which is an iconic sport in Reunion. The steady rise of warm air throughout the year has made Reunion one of the most famous places in the world for paragliding.
Paragliding in Reunion can be done from a height of 800 meters, and 1500 meters for a duration of either 20 minutes, 40 minutes, or 1 hour.
- Make sure you plan ahead and book well in advance.
- Plan your trip in the right season as the sea turn grayish during bad weather and paragliding is not at all fun during that time.
- The paragliding equipment as well as the coach are both old and a bit rusted. Hence, do not expect a great adventure out of it but the flying will be worth the money.
- Make sure you bring your own camera for video and photo shoot.
The Marvelous Musee Stella Matutina
The Reunion Regional Museums comprise of the Rum Saga Museum of Industry and Agriculture, Musee Stella Matutina, the Museum of Art, the Kerry, and the Volcano Museum.
Of all this, we had dedicated our sixth day to explore the popular Musee Stella Matutina which was designed by the famous L’Atelier.
Having undergone a major transformation since 1991, Musee Stella Matutina is committed to promoting the development of local tourism and the promotion of the cultural heritage.
A new science and culture project drives the functionality of the museum which focuses on both the original sugar factory building and the museum.
Equipped with a series of rich collections, innovative multimedia, and interactive technology, the museum project fulfilled the restoration of the building, the collection itself, and the gallery over a span of five years. During this time period, it is believed that architects of over 40 companies were involved in the project.
Kelonia Turtle Sanctuary, And St. Pierre
It was more or less a leisure day for us on the seventh day which is why we planned on visiting the beautiful and the exotic turtles at Kelonia Turtle Sanctuary.
The Kelonia Museum not only allows the visitors to raise awareness about the preservation of the natural and cultural heritage, but also helps them to understand the close ties between the culture of Reunion Island and the turtles.
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The observation center is located at the Pointe des Chateaux lagoon that offers panoramic views of the Saint-Leu Bay. Apart from this, the center receives many turtles that are affected by pollution or are caught up in an accident.
At present, Kelonia Turtle Sanctuary is a home to more than sixty sea turtles who live in the open Tianshui pool. It is highly recommended to explore the turtle sanctuary as it is a great source of relaxation.
Later in the evening, we checked into the beautiful Villa Hotel at Saint Pierre. Enjoying a hyped location near the beach, the hotel enjoyed its close proximity to many ice cream parlours.
While Yingying was enjoying her ice cream at the beach, we came across a couple who had just got married. It was really fun to capture their happy moments and the best part was that they did not shy away from the camera.
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We had a great time in the evening by the beach and surprisingly, my wife was able to trace a heart-shaped coral by the beach. We took a nice romantic stroll along the shoreline and returned to hotel as it had been quite a long day for us.
Exploring The St. Pierre Market & Around
On our last day, we went to explore the local market of St. Pierre and as expected, the last day turned out to be the best for us.
Understanding the way of life lies within the roots and this is where it all begins.
The sound of bargaining and the smell of fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood, filled the soul of the local market.
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We bought a lot of stuff from a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and spices that were on display.
For those who consider themselves foodies at heart, must visit the local market of St. Pierre which totally feels like a miniature of the Reunion Island.
Tips For Future Travelers:
- As far as food is concerned, do not eat the Reunion French cuisine in case you’re in a hurry. Have the patience to enjoy the meal in a proper way.
- For the lamb chop lovers, it is recommended to opt for the duck in case the lamb chops are not available.
- The shrimps and the super delicious duck legs are a must try.
- Do not miss out on the hiking excursion and the boat cruise.
- Stay assured of the romantic touch as a trip to France offers love in abundance.
Looking back on the memories, we had no idea that our trip to France would turn out to be so amazing. The moments captured in our pictures were so incredible that we couldn’t help but admire them again and again. In short, our trip to Reunion Island, was nothing less than a soul-stirring experience!
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