Reunion Islands General Travel Information

Local Time

Reunion is two hours ahead of South African standard time (GMT+4)

Visa

South African Passport holders do not require visas for a stay of up to 3 months.

Passport is required to have 6 months validity from date of travel and at least 3 blank pages available.

Note that entry and transit will be refused to holders of Temporary passports

Customs

  • The following items can be brought into Réunion duty-free: 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 1L of strong liquor or 2L of liquor that is less than 22% alcohol by volume, 2L of wine, 50mL of perfume and 250mL of eau de toilette, and other goods up to the value of €880. Anything over the limit must be declared on arrival.
  • There are restrictions on importing plants and animals, for which import permits are required.
  • With regards to currency, anyone entering or leaving the island must declare sums in excess of €10,000

Electricity

The standard voltage is 220v. Electrical outlets in Reunion generally accept a double round-pin plug or an E plug.

Health Requirements

As for travel to all tropical destinations, certain precautions should be taken, ie. the use of mosquito repellent spray or cream (available from all chemists on the island). There is no malaria in Reunion.

Please check with your local travel clinic for any health requirements, prior to departure.

Health & Safety

Overall, Réunion is relatively safe compared with most Western countries, but occasional robberies do occur. Don't leave anything of value in a rental car or on the beach.

Violence is rarely a problem, and muggings are almost unheard of. Intoxicated people are the most likely troublemakers.

Driving

Driving in Reunion is on the right hand side of the road. An International Driver’s License is required when renting a vehicle.

Unfortunately Réunion has a bad record when it comes to road safety, which means that you must drive defensively at all times. Potential dangers include drunk drivers, excessive speed, twisting roads and blind bends.

Swimming

Swimmers should always be aware of currents and riptides. Drowning is a major cause of accidental death for visitors. If you're not familiar with water conditions, ask around. It's best not to swim alone in unfamiliar places.

Recent years have seen a significant increase in attacks by les dents de la mer (sharks) on surfers. This is no reason to be paranoid, though; the risks are statistically low. The locals know their ocean, so it's best to seek their advice before entering the water.

Population & Language

There are just over 800 000 people living in Reunion. The population is composed of descendants of European,

African, Malagasy, Indians and Chinese origin. Creoles (a name given to those born on the island, of various ethnic origins), make up the majority of the population.

French is the official language in Reunion. Reunion Creole is also spoken, although not an official language.

The predominant religion is Roman Catholicism with Hinduism, Islam, Chinese folk religion and Buddhism also represented, among others.

Curreny & Tipping

As Reunion is a French Department and a European region, the currency used is the EURO.

South African Rand can only be exchanged at banks or at hotels. Banks are usually open Monday to Friday from

08h00 – 16h00.

Cash points allow the holders of foreign bank cards (Visa, MasterCard or Cirrus) to withdraw Euros.

The following credit cards are normally accepted by banks, hotels, restaurants and tourist shops: Visa,

MasterCard, Diners Club and American Express.

Where a service charge is not included on hotel and restaurant bills, a 10% gratuity is adequate

Climate

  • Réunion's climate experiences only two distinct seasons: the hot, rainy summer from December to April and the cool, dry winter from late April to November.
  • The peak tourist season is during the French school holidays from July to early September. From October through to the New Year holidays is also busy, but after this everything eases down during cyclone-prone February and March.
  • Temperatures on the coast average 22°C in winter and 27°C in summer. In the mountains, they drop to 11°C and 18°C respectively.
  • The drier winter months are the most favourable for hiking, as some of the trails are simply impassable when it's wet. The east coast is considerably wetter than the west.
  • The whale-watching season runs from June to October.

Shopping

Shopping and souvenirs – A wide variety of local and imported crafts and souvenirs can be found in the markets, certain shopping centres, specialist shops and even in some villages frequented by tourists. The main items you can purchase include: products made from sugar cane (punch, rum liqueurs etc), Bourbon Vanilla, t-shirts and pareos, spices and wooden crafts.

Important

The tap water everywhere in Reunion is drinkable; Mineral water is sold in restaurants, bars, snack bars, grocery stores and supermarkets.

Departure Tax

No airport tax is levied on passengers upon embarkation at the airport.

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