Unlike nearby Mauritius, Reunion has relatively few decent beaches. There is better sand and sheltered bathing in the south-west, but much of the island is wild and rocky with strong currents, which explains the cluster of beach resorts around St Gilles-les-Bains.
WHAT TO SEE
For a spectacular view of the island's interior, the mysterious Cirque de Mafate and the volcano, take a helicopter trip from St Gilles-les-Bains with Heli Reunion (00 262 262 240000; www.heli-reunion. Com; from about £130 for 55 minutes). Maison de la Vanille (00 262 262 460014) in St-Andre provides guided tours of a plantation and sells the world's best-quality Bourbon vanilla.