Reunion Island Dive Trip
DESTINATION: Reunion, St Gilles
DATES & PRICING: Available upon request
PACKAGE: Return flights, transfers, accommodation & diving
BOOKINGS: Full airfare & 50% of all land-arrangements, balance latest 3 months prior to departure
On the western side of the Indian Ocean, 700 km to the east of Madagascar, lies the island of 'La Réunion'. It stands, tall and lush, right next to Mauritius and is a very important part of the Mascarene archipelago. Like Mayotte, to the north west in the Comores, Réunion Island is a French department. The island is mainly renowned for the quality of its hiking and other mountain activities but the marine life, underwater topography and shipwrecks are quite unique. The marine reserve created in 2007 protects a large part of the fringing reef to the west of the island. Réunion Island especially offers very accessible, family friendly diving for all levels.
More interesting is that the island is volcanic in origin and one of the volcanoes is actually still active, and known as the “Piton de la Fournaise". The volcano is a major tourist attraction and is located within the Réunion National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Réunion Island is young, meaning the lagoons are small and not very deep. But what the lagoons lack is made up for in the open ocean. Since the island rises out of deep water, it’s a magnet for whales and boasts healthy reefs teeming with colorful fish. Above the surface, Réunon is covered in steep mountains, and as a result, is known worldwide for its hiking trails.
** Return international flights
** 11 Nights 4* accommodation at the Boucan Canot Resort, St. Gilles
** 12 dive package including weights and cylinders
** Airport transfers
** Travel, medical and diver insurance
** Personal costs
** Gratuities & service fees
FLIGHTS & ITINERARY
** Johannesburg to Reunion, departing 11:15am (SA time) and arriving 17:05pm (local time)
** Reunion to Johannesburg, departing 07:50am (local time) and arriving 10:15am (SA time)
4* HOTEL ACCOMMODATION
The hotel, classified four stars combines the authenticity of a ‘Creole’ residence with a modern comfort, a beautiful charming hotel where intimacy and discrete luxury hold the first roles. Today, four major assets characterize the hotel: an ideal situation, a typically local decoration, a top-of-the-range service and a refined gastronomy. An luxury resort on the beach, offering a unique panoramic sight on the ocean. A preserved natural site combined with a typically local architecture. A greenery treasure, anchored on a basalt spur, beat by the softness of the trade winds.
STANDARD & SUPERIOR ROOMS are spacious and luxurious. All the rooms are air-conditioned and prolonged by a balcony with a view on the ocean. Carefully and well decorated, they warmly marry wood, fabrics and light to preserve a harmonious atmosphere privileging the peace, the space and the relaxed rhythm of life. Bathrooms are all equipped with bathtub, a separate shower and separate toilets. The hotel also offers and on-site restaurant serving breakfast, lunch & dinner as well a bar.
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3* HOTEL ACCOMMODATION
A dream location in the heart of the seaside resort of l’Ermitage, close to the port of Saint-Gilles-Les-Bains, close to the casino, sports clubs, the lagoon (100meters by footpath), cinema, restaurants, night clubs and other retail outlets.
Accommodation comprises amongst others 10 comfortable and spacious superior twin rooms, a swimming pool view and a shower. Air conditioning / 60cm flat screen TV / TNT TV channels and a bouquet of Canal Sat / telephone / internet access / office desk / refrigerator.
Continental breakfast is serviced from 7.30 am to 10.30 am everyday on the terrace overlooking the pool while the beverage service station is open from 7.30 am to 7.30 pm at the bar.
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ENTERTAINMENT & SHOPPING
St-Gilles-les-Bains, the first beach resort of the Island, quite close, tourism office, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, shops and businesses. St-Paul's fairground market, on every Friday, will transport you in the world of colours and flavours (perfumes), unless 10mn of the hotel.
** Paragliding, mountain biking, cannyoning
** Diving and water sports
** Deep sea fishing, from the port of Saint-Gilles
** Tennis, golf and riding nearby
** Flying over the island in helicopter, in ULM (Micro plane) or in small plane
** One-day hikes (Taxi, minibus, 4X4, hikes)
** Discovery by car (Rental possible on spot)
PITON DE LA FOUNAISE
The site of the Piton de la Fournaise offers the possibility of unforgettable hikes on foot, on horseback, by bike or by Segway. Le Piton de la Fournaise is the island’s main tourist attraction, and offers outdoor activities and original visits, such as the lava tunnels to be discovered on the coast, or the Cité du Volcan museum. Get ready to be amazed.
PITON DES NEIGES
In 2010, UNESCO included Reunion Island's volcanic peaks, cirques and ramparts in its list of natural World Heritage Sites, due to their outstanding universal value. Piton des Neiges can continue to sleep peacefully in the knowledge that its natural heritage is well protected, since it is also part of Reunion Island's National Park. The "Piton des Neiges" may continue to sleep in peace, its natural heritage is protected well, for it is also part of the "Parc national de La Réunion".
At an altitude of 3,071 above sea level, Piton des Neiges is considered the highest peak in the Indian Ocean. The volcano, which has been dormant for centuries, is captivating due to its majestic presence in the centre of the island. The highest peak in Reunion Island, Piton des Neiges is a good hiking destination. The ideal opportunity to explore wonderfully preserved nature.
CITE DU VOLCAN MUSEUM
Those who have not been lucky enough to live this experience can discover a rebuilt lava tunnel at the entrance of the Cité du Volcan Museum, situated at Bourg Murat, just before the Piton de la Fournaise forest road. This family museum is both fun and educational, and has been revamped after three years of construction work. The visit continues with the exploration of undersea volcanos thanks to the Bathyscaphe, a machine worthy of Jules Verne.
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DIVING REUNION ISLAND
The WEST COAST offers the greatest coral and marine life biodiversity, excellent weather conditions all year round, visibility is exceptional and water temperatures vary between 24° to 30° c. There are beautiful natural coral reefs to discover and a huge variety of fauna and flora, including fire coral, soft coral, black coral, red coral and gorgonia, moray eels, lobsters, clams, clown fishes, turtles and sting ray . . . . . . . . a huge live fish tank. During certain periods of the year you could get to dive with whales and dolphins, especially from July onwards as they come to the shores of St Gilles. Other Pelagic are there all year round to be admired including Tuna, Barracuda and Jack fish.
Just beyond the reef there are large flats, beautiful steep walls and shipwrecks. The macro diving is world-class at Réunion Island, with a wide range of biodiversity. The dive sites are usually found on the outer slopes of the barrier coral reefs, but you can also find some extraordinary encounters in the lagoons. Harlequin shrimp are observed in lagoon by free divers, so it’s certain that scuba divers can find them. There are also many colorful nudibranchs waiting to be found and photographed. On the west coast a typical day of diving including diving BIG in the morning and MACRO in the afternoon . . . . . .
There are also quite a few underwater caves baring exotic names such as: Le pain de sucre, la cheminée, les trois faille’s. These are exceptional dives where the light playing in them will transport you in another world altogether.
The wrecks including the Hïa Sïang, The Navarra, The Barge. These peaceful sites are a delight to the eyes; the wrecks now inhabited by the flora and fauna are once again coming to life.
On the EAST COAST there is no coral reef but you will find beautiful and very old lava flows. One may not be able to dive as easily as on the west coast as this side of the island is a lot windier and rainier, but there are still some fantastic and maybe a little more physical dives to enjoy. Underwater cliffs are numerous and varied with depths ranging from 15 to 40 meters and unbelievable visibility.
On the SOUTH of the island there are also lava flows which are visited by some dive centers. These sites are exposed to current, however, and for experienced divers only.
SOME OF THE MORE POPULAR DIVE SITES INCLUDE:
The Caves of Maharani is an original site in about 15m (49ft), which includes a series of cracks and caves adorned with skylights. On this dive, wide-angle is preferable in the morning when the position of the sun is best. Divers regularly see kingfish over one meter in length, making close passes while hunting. Lionfish are under the overhangs waiting for unsuspecting prey.
The Hai Siang shipwreck is the most famous Reunion shipwreck at 55m deep (181ft). When the ship sunk it landed on its side, but then was righted by a cyclone. It's a very fun dive with a descent straight through the blue water column. Photographers can set up wide-angle or possibly ultra wide-angle (14mm).
Other popular deep wrecks include The Navarra at 50m (164ft), The Sea Venture at 45m (148ft) and Antonio Lorenzo at 38m (125ft). These are deep dives that require special training, however the photo potential is incredible. There are also some great wrecks in shallower water covered with abundant marine growth, fish and other exciting critters.
Passe de l’Ermitage: A cleaning station and meeting point for turtles and eagle rays. The turtles visit the cleaning station daily while also using the lagoon for shelter at night. The extensive seagrass beds provide an abundant food source.
Grand Tombant de la Point au Sel: This is one of the best dives at the island, but reserved for experienced divers since the current can be violent and unpredictable. There are great wide-angle opportunities with regular sightings of huge schools of jacks and pelagic fish (swordfish, marlin, tuna). Less frequently, divers will encounter a whale shark, hammerhead sharks or manta rays.
Cap la Houssaye: THE site for macro photography. On a regular dive you will see nudibranchs, mantis shrimp and ghost pipefish as well as turtles, barracuda and more. There is a huge meadow with sea slugs of all kinds, but beware of scorpion fish camouflaged on the bottom as they await passing prey. Visibility is average but this is not a problem for macro.
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IN THE MOUNTAINS
Travel to Reunion Island: explore the forces of nature in abundance. The jewels in the crown of Reunion Island, its volcanic peaks, craters and ramparts were included in UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites on 10 August 2010, endorsed by the Committee. This was a long-awaited and justified recognition for this European island in the Indian Ocean. A unique natural environment where the mountains merge with the sea, where the undulating relief of the landscape offers magnificent scenery, and where 30% of natural space has remained intact since the island's discovery: Reunion Island confirms its status as a destination with exceptional natural assets.
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