The best lava tunnels in Réunion: the ones you shouldn't miss

not to be missed!

Would you like to try your hand at caving in Réunion and are wondering which is THE "best" or "most beautiful" lava tunnel to visit? How do you decide? In this article, discover our top 3 best lava tunnels in Réunion !

Lava tunnels on Réunion: a rare world heritage site

The island of Réunion is criss-crossed by numerous lava tunnels, created by the eruptions of the Piton des Neiges and the Piton de la Fournaise. This type of lava flow is a rare natural heritage on a global scale because they only concern Hawaiian-type effusive volcanoesthemselves representing only 5% of the world's volcanism!

Unlike other volcanoes, which erupt explosively, spewing out ash and rock, Réunion's volcanoes are unique in that most of their lava flows down their slopes.

As this phenomenon is rare, many countries limit or prohibit access to lava tunnels to protect the environment. In France , exploring the lava caves is authorised.

Whatever lava tunnel you choose, it's sure to be a unique experience! But back to our top 3 lava caves:

The most beautiful lava tunnels selected for a visit

The caves chosen for the visits by caving guides are primarily for their rich mineral character These include decorations on the walls and ceilings, lava stalactites and stalagmites, and the root system of trees on the surface descending into the cavity.... But they are also open to visitors for their length (many of the cavities are very short and cannot be visited) and their accessibility.

chocolate ceiling Caverne Gendarme lava tunnel la reunion
Orange-coloured lava flow tunnel 2004 la reunion

Our top 3 best lava tunnels in Réunion

This 6.5 km long gallery, located to the east of the island, is the most emblematic on the island. As well as being easily accessible, the Sainte-Rose lava tunnel includes a a wide variety of decors and "sculptures Underground: silver/chocolate walls and ceilings, stalactites, lava stalagmites, oxidation colours... The walls of the cavity are metallic grey and chocolate with parts where the basalt has oxidised, leading to yellow, orange or red colours.

Outside the tunnel, you can admire the panorama from the bottom of the Fouqué enclosure (the latest eruptions, the Dolomieu crater, etc.), the recolonisation of lava flows by plants and various endemic birds such as the papangue, the paille-en-queue and the zoizo la vierge.

  • The Spur lava tunnel, renamed the "Blue Basin Tunnel":

This tunnel is the only one on the west side of the island. Dating from an eruption of the Piton des Neiges around 340,000 years ago, it is older than the others. To get there, you have to climb 10 metres (easy), but that adds a whole new dimension to the experience! The interior is lined with white magnesite and the lava tones range from ochre to black. The tour of the cave ends with a spectacular great hall.

As for the wildlife, inside the tunnel you can see colonies of birds called Mascarene Salanganes (also known as little swallows), moorhens and bitterns.

The Caverne Gendarme is a lava cave near Saint-Philippe (east of the island), dating from the eruption of Piton de la Fournaise in 1776. Its access via the superb tropical forest of Saint-Philippe is an integral part of the visit, as it can only be reached after a 45-minute walk through the forest. This walking in tropical environments is an opportunity to find out more about the plant species and cultures of Réunion Island: forest trees, sugar cane, vanilla... right up to the majestic entrance to the tunnel, already coloured in unique hues.

Inside the tunnel, walk 360m on an orange floor coloured by oxidation, punctuated by decorations such as walls covered in chocolate or crimson colours, a vegetated daylight shaft, plant imprints "fossilised" in the lava...

If we had to make a top 5, we'd add...

  • The Citron Galet lava tunnel (in the commune of Saint Philippe)

Located near the hamlet of Le Tremblet, the Citron Galet tunnel was formed during the 1800 mudslide from Piton de la Fournaise. White-grey on the inside, this tunnel is rather large after a low but very accessible entrance. What makes this tunnel so special are the the roots of trees and plants are very present and look down towards the surface.

  • The Blue Tunnel

The entrance to the tunnel is on private property, so it is less popular with visitors. Estimated to be 22,000 years old, the Blue Tunnel stands out from most others for its hundreds of stalactites of frozen lava and its alternating rocks bluish, orange or red, and grey glittery surfaces.

At Profundo, we offer the chance to explore all these tunnels (except the Blue Tunnel). Contact us to book your visit!


Your comments


Profundo, by Jocelyn Michel

(Sole trader)

SIRET : 419 831 920 00048

La Réunion logo

We use cookies to ensure you have the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site, we will assume that you are happy with it.