Discover Reunion Island: How to get from Saint-Denis to Petite Île

To start off 2018 – we took a small family holiday to Reunion Island – 5 days of quality family time. We already went last year in April and the kids absolutely loved it: mummy’s request to go to Rodrigues for the week was voted down by family council and off we went to Reunion Island – not that I mind really, but my definite travel goal for 2018 is Rodrigues!

We stayed at the same hotel as last time, Palm Hotel and Spa – a quaint and lovely 5* hotel nestled on a cliff overlooking the south western side of the island.

View from the pool of the Palm Hotel and Spa
Palm Hotel and Spa – view from the Pool

Unfortunately, we didn’t have the same type of weather – this time was much more humid and cloudy! The picture above is from our last trip. It means that we didn’t get to hike anywhere this time, but we did a few great road trips, lots of chilling at the hotel, great lunches (the food is one of the reasons we go there to start with!) … and the cherry on the cake, an amazing helicopter ride over Reunion Island. All the stories to come!

We flew into St Denis this time. Saint Denis is the main city and located on the North Eastern side of the island – we rented a car a drove down to Petite Ile, where Palm Hotel is located. It is a good hour drive starting on the amazing Route du Littoral. Along this road they are building the most expensive European road – a budget of over 1.8Billion Euros for a mere 13km! But what a sight! The old road is stunning and the new road will be a masterpiece of engineering.

Route du Littoral -
Old and New road – Source: Le Figaro

There were a lot of storms in the area, so the waves were crashing on the rocks and coming onto the road: dangerous and yet nature is so beautiful when it is so wild. Most of the roads on the island are very special (steep, narrow, extraordinary views) and even though this is definitely an expensive choice, a solution is needed: while we were there this road got closed because of a 250ton rock that nearly fell on the road, it took several days to clear it.

This makes it very difficult to reach the west side of the island, as you have to drive all the other way around and it probably at least triples the traveling time with the traffic etc. There is one option to cut through the island, but I don’t have the impression it is very fast or that locals do it (unless for the scenic drive).

Best route from Saint-Denis to Petite Ile
Map Reunion Island

We stopped at a lovely little restaurant called Le Manta in Saint-Gilles-Les-Bains – it is located not far from the beach. It has the most surprising little tropical garden – with a main dining area and a some tables located more in the garden itself. Being one of the only open in the area, we were lucky to get a table. Some restaurants and a few businesses are closed for annual leave in the beginning of January – unlike Mauritius where school year starts around the 10th January, schools in Reunion Island do not resume till the end of the month.

We had some of their local dishes and it was tasty and just what we craved… I had Rougaille saucisses: a dish you get both in Mauritius and Reunion – but in general the quality of the meat used in Reunion is far better – the porc sausages have a very distinctive smoked flavour. We also had octopus and oven baked mussels – they were excellent.

We had a little walk on the beach – the weather was just clearing out after days of torrential rain. There are a couple of major differences between Mauritius and Reunion Island and one of them is the lagoon.

Mauritius is nearly completely protected by a coral reef – this is what gives us our world renowned beaches with fine sand and turquoise waters (check out Mont Choisy Beach to get an idea!). Our French sister island has only a few places where there is a lagoon, thus where bathing is safe and Saint-Gilles-Les-Bains is one of them.

Beach in Saint-Gilles-Les-Bains, North West Coast of Reunion Island
Beach in Saint-Gilles-Les-Bains

We finished our drive and checked in to our hotel. Such a pleasure to back with some of the staff still recognising us. The kids had fun in the gardens and we enjoyed a quiet sunset – given without much sun but with a lot of clouds!


Read more about la Reunion:
My review of Le Palm Hotel and Spa
Discovering the Lava Tunnels
Volcano Stories

Other Links:
Le Palm Hotel and Spa
Le Manta
Info about the New Road – La Route du Littoral

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3 thoughts on “Discover Reunion Island: How to get from Saint-Denis to Petite Île

  1. Pingback: Discover Reunion Island: day trip to Saint Leu – Wandering Expat Family

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