What to do in Saint-Philippe on Réunion Island

cap méchant falise coast saint-philippe reunion island

Situated on the south-east coast of Réunion Island, in the "wild south", the commune of Saint-Philippe is renowned for its lush countryside and unique volcanic landscapes. With its natural heritage and outdoor activities, here's our advice on the best places to visit. Top things to do when you visit Saint-Philippe.

Visit the Garden of Perfumes and Spices

tropical plant garden perfumes and spices reunion

One of Saint-Philippe's must-see attractions is the Garden of Perfumes and Spices. This private botanical garden will immerse you in an exotic world of plants and trees endemic to the island. You'll discover medicinal and fruit plants, as well as varieties of spices such as Bourbon vanilla, cinnamon and many others. Guided tours in French and English are available to help you better understand this extraordinary biodiversity.

The lava route

To see the volcanic side of Saint-Philippe, there's nothing like crossing the famous route des laves. This section of Route Nationale 2 between Piton-Sainte-Rose and Saint-Philippe has been covered several times by successive lava flows from the Piton de la Fournaise massif. In 2007, during the impressive lava flow, the road even had to be rebuilt. Along the way, you will cross what is known as the "grand Brûlé", the coastal part of the last caldera formed by the Piton de la Fournaise, namely the Enclos Fouqué.

One of the many attractions of a walk along the lava route is toobserve the traces of volcanic eruptions of the Piton de la Fournaise. Some of the flows are easy to identify thanks to the explanatory panels set up near the sites. Photographers will be able to immortalise these unique testimonies to the power of nature.

Walk through the rainforest and explore the "Caverne Gendarme" lava tunnel

Saint-Philippe is home to Réunion's largest tropical forest.a remnant of the primary forest. After 2 centuries of intense deforestation, less than 7% of the original tropical rainforest remains on Réunion, and this is mainly located in Saint Philippe.

This is the forest of Mare Longue. In this dense, humid forest, you can walk along marked paths and admire the tangles of roots in the basalt rocks. You'll also come across native and endemic species of plants and animals, including birds and lizards.

After a 45-minute walk through the forest, you can reach the entrance to the Caverne Gendarmea lava tunnel created 250 years ago by the eruption of Piton de la Fournaise. To explore it, We strongly advise you to be accompanied by a caving guide..

Admire Cap Méchant and the Vincendo Marina

As you continue your exploration of Saint-Philippe, be sure to a stopover at Cap Méchant. This natural site on the edge of the Indian Ocean is a breathtaking sight, with its basalt cliffs battered by relentless waves. Ideal for a picnic break or simply to contemplate the scenery, Cap Méchant also has a children's play area and a rest area.

Not far from there, in Saint-Joseph, stop off at the Marine de VincendoThere is a pleasant pebble beach where you can relax (no swimming due to the risk of sharks). From here, you can take the coastal path towards Cap JauneCap Jaune, a geological curiosity at the foot of Piton Vincendo. As its name suggests, Cap Jaune is an ochre-coloured cliff formed by lava flowing into the water.

If you want to swim in Saint-Philippe, we recommend the a new water basin, called "Baril les bains".The pool has a terrace with sea views, a play area and a picnic area. The pool can accommodate up to 250 people.

Hiking and sporting activities

Hiking enthusiasts can enjoy numerous signposted footpaths crossing the commune of Saint-Philippe. The must-do itineraries include :

  • Le sentier du Trembletwhich runs alongside the Indian Ocean and offers breathtaking views of the wild, unspoilt coastline. The start of the trail is 50 metres upstream from the beach car park. This beautiful walk links La Pointe du Tremblet to La Pointe de la Table, following the steep coastline. Allow around 3 hours' walk there and back. Access to Le Tremblet beach has been prohibited since February 2022 because of the wreck of the beached boat (Le tresta star). But you can still admire the beach from the path.

- The Bassins Pilon and Joli Fond circuitYou can take a refreshing dip in the waterfall pools.

Not far from there, at Saint-Jospeh, flows the Rivière Langevin, the Mecca of canyoning. Several local service providers will be able to guide you and provide you with the equipment you need for a thrilling experience. You can even accumulate canyoning and a visit to a lava tunnel !

As well as these emblematic places, don't hesitate to soak up the local atmosphere by strolling through the markets, stopping off at a restaurant in Saint-Philippe and sampling the Creole culinary specialities.


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