I feel like I keep disappearing on you people and re-appearing and always promising to do better- and I do promise that I will be better this time ha-ha! Life has not been great in the past couple of months (and I will catch it all up a new currently post next week), and especially this last month was very challenging and emotionally draining. However, what I have done recently is thrown myself into work and together with our team, we made something awesome come true- the #UDGetaway! We actually did it and flew 12 influencers to Reunion Island to launch the brand new Naked Heat Palette from Urban Decay(launching on the 12th of August at R850!)! I will speak more about the trip and have an awesome giveaway up next week (who doesn’t want themselves a little Heat?) and today I wanted to chat a little bit about the awesome Reunion Island and why you should visit it!
Even though we only got to stay on the island for very little time, I did a lot of research about it beforehand and read up all about it. When we wanted to do the trip for the Heat palette, we explored many locations- from the Karoo, to Dubai to Marrakesh to Mauritius, we looked at every angle that could bring the Heat to the launch. Reunion Island ended up being the best choice for many reasons (see down below!) and it is a place that I really want to visit again and explore a little more of. If you are thinking about putting it on your next destination list, here is a list of reasons why you totally should!
1.The flight from South Africa is short and you do not need a visa!
If you have a South African passport then you are in luck- you do not need a visa! If you have a Schengen passport you are also in luck- no visa needed for you either! Because Reunion Island is a French colony, if you have a Schengen passport you can visit it for up to 90 days visa-free. Same with South Africans, and for me it is just always so much easier to go to a place where you do not need a visa!
Also from Johannesburg, there are three direct flights a week on Air Austral (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays). The flight there is just over 3 hours, and the flight back is 4 hours. That is a quick nap and a snack away from Joburg! I also do not often chat about airlines (because airline food is airline food) but the food and the staff on Air Austral were great. There is a 2 hour time difference (Reunion is a little ahead) but overall its quick, visa-free flight away from Johannesburg which makes it a great holiday destination.
When we were looking at the different hotels to stay at in Reunion, there was really only one choice and that is the fabulous LUX* Saint Gilles! It is the only five star resort on the island and I have visited the LUX* resort in Mauritius before (which was also fab, you can see more here) so I expected nothing but top class from this place, and it delivered! Located on the Western part of the island (and about a 45-minute drive from the airport) this beautiful resort is located right on a private beach and has plenty to offer to everyone, from the young thrill seekers, to the honeymooners to the families travelling with kids.
The Creole villas sit in the shade of the coconut plans and filao trees, just steps from the coral-sheltered lagoon. The double rooms that we stayed in are not too big, but then again who wants to stay in a room when surrounded by such beauty?
Every room has a balcony that faces the gorgeous gardens and the ocean (I sat on the balcony doing my makeup in the mornings just to see the beauty of it as much as I could). LUX* St Gilles also has the biggest swimming pool in Reunion Island (which is 1100m2 just by the way) if you feel like lounging around, and a private beach that leads directly into the lagoon. We arrived at night and walked down the beach, and the beauty of the night sky and the ocean that this island has, had us all mesmerized.
LUX* Saint Gilles also offers a choice of three restaurants, an island bar and a snack bar. I will speak about the food later on, but man was it delicious! It is also ideally located for sight-seeing trips, as everything is about 20-30 minutes away at a maximum. If you want to experience the Creole culture at a resort than this is the perfect place for you. I loved our stay here and would come back in a heartbeat!
3. To take a helicopter ride over an active volcano!
Reunion Island has one of the most active volcanoes that erupts almost every single year- the Piton de la Fournaise! It actually just erupted 2 weeks ago, and one of the biggest reasons as to why we chose Reunion for the Naked Heat launch is because if the volcano- can you think of a better way to bring the Heat? We booked a helicopter flight with Helilagon but because it was very cloudy on the day, we could not get as close as we wanted to the volcano. However, it was still one of the best experiences of my life!
Flying over the gorgeous scenery, even though was flippen scary because I hate flying, was breath-taking. This was my first helicopter flight and I could see why people go on about these things. It is such a special experience and will forever stay in my mind. A 40 minute flight is about R2500 per person and was worth every penny!
4. The food!
I always say that the reason I like to visit any new place is to experience the local food. Beer in Prague, Goulash in Budapest and Paella in Barcelona are some of my best food memories, and I can add some yummy Reunion Island food to this list! We had a delish seafood spread on the night of the dinner, which included things like palm heart salad, lobster and toothfish, and flambé bananas. It was delicious! Reunion Island is also famous for its rum and it has some great local beer, which I even tired. Even more reasons to visit!
5. See some of the most amazing nature in the world.
Did you know that Reunion Island is a classified Natural World Heritage by UNESCO? In addition, 42% of the area on the island is a protected national park! Besides sandy white beaches, lagoons and coral reefs, Reunion is also full of gorgeous mountains, forests and a volcano!
We saw the most amazing scenery while flying over in the helicopter and it is a sight I will never forget. Even if you are not the biggest nature admirer, these views will blow you away.
6. It is an adventure island!
Now we did not get to experience this part as much as I would have liked, but Reunion offers a great variety of cool and adventurous sport activities to make sure you do not get too bored lying on those fab white beaches. Kayaking, water-skiing, hiking up the volcano, paragliding, canopying, Reunion is an island of adventure! The next time I go back I will definitely do a few of these, first one being the hike up to the volcano!
Also it us pretty much sunny and warm all year around, so if you are looking for a little getaway that doesn’t require any visa-hassle and is a quick flight away, then I think you might have just found your dream destination! The local currency is Euro, and the local language is French. I now think of it as a little, more tropical part of France that makes for one fabulous stay.