An Insider View on Reunion Island

  By Stephane Bonneau

Intensely exotic, lunar landscape of the volcano with lush circuses, grandiose, vibrant, rejuvenating and preserved; Reunion Island amazes with its majestic landscapes, its authentic culture, its unique living together and its cuisine with mixed flavors as fragrant as the local vanilla…! Its one of those unique island in the world where you can swim with whales, recharge your batteries in the heart of UNESCO’s world heritage, let yourself be hypnotized by its volcanic landscape, discover Creole culture and the richness of living together. In Reunion Island, the elements mingle: water, earth, air, fire invite the traveler to a unique epic in the heart of the Indian Ocean.

Reunion Island is a French and European island.  Its a land of cross breeding; spectacular and captivating.  Reunion is a unique island in the world, characterized by its diversity. Diversity of landscapes, cultures, religions, ethnic groups, outdoor activities, accommodation and gastronomy, climates.  Discovering Reunion is like travelling around the world in one trip. Thanks to its diversity on all levels, Reunion is an island that leaves no tourist unmoved. There is something for everyone!

Top 5 surreal places to see in Reunion Islands

  • The Volcano / La Plaine ces sables

Check out the Land of Lava and explore the incredible massif of Piton de la Fournaise! This enigmatic region is the perfect witness to the birth and natural transformation of Reunion Island. Its magnetism tirelessly draws locals and travellers to immerse them in the dawn of time, the birth of the world.

Before attempting the steep slopes of the volcano, exploring the coastline is an excellent way to get a feel for the beauty of this rocky region. There, at aptly named Grand Brûlé, the black basalt contrasts with the deep blue of the ocean, while the vegetation gradually restakes its claim. The Lava Route, as it follows the different lava flows that have flowed over it to reach the sea, reveals unique landscapes shaped by the various eruptions.

If you feel no fear you can even launch yourself into the bowels of Reunion Island and its iconic volcano and explore the lava tubes, on unforgettable potholing adventures.

If you prefer the peaks, take the forest road on the volcano. Whether you go for a hike or a “volcano path picnic” in the best Creole tradition, you will find yourself immersed in an intense and spectacular atmosphere. Your heart will beat faster and your face will light up before the panoramas on show and this elusive atmosphere.

The Holy Grail is, of course, to climb Piton de La Fournaise and reach the Dolomieu Crater. This stunning hike crosses Enclos Fouqué from Pas de Bellecombe. The challenge is well worth it, reaching the top of the crater is always a surprising, magic and spellbinding moment.

  • Mafate caldera

The Cirque of Mafate is an exceptional place that is worth a visit! This extraordinarily preserved site can only be accessed on foot or by helicopter, and offers a range of breath-taking landscapes within a UNESCO World Heritage site. To make sure the Cirque remains a preserved environment, and to ensure the protection of the local people and culture, tourism here is limited and sustainable and responsible practices are encouraged.  Clean energy is used, waste management practices are implemented, environmental pollution is limited, the biodiversity is preserved, local production and consumption are encouraged and a culture of disconnection and sharing make the Cirque of Mafate a reference in terms of ecotourism.

  • Lava tunnels

A Hike to explore the secret Lava tunnels of Reunion Islands. Depths of Piton de la Fournaise, an active volcano located in the south-east of the region!  Activities includes hiking in the Enclos Fouqué, the caldera at the foot of Reunion’s volcano, and a potholing exploration of two lava tunnels whose whereabouts remains our guide’s well-kept secret… We’re ready, may the adventure begin!

  • Bébourg Forest (Jungle Forest) /Iron Hole (waterfall)

We have discovered the most magical tropical forest: Bélouve, perched on a plateau 1,300m above sea level in the East of Reunion Island. Welcome to the kingdom of the highland tamarind!  Before we set off on the path, we stop once more to admire the panoramic view of the cirque of Salazie below. Bélouve extends on a plateau, 1,300m above sea level, that can only be reached by a track from Plaine-des-Palmistes. The edge of the rampart offers spectacular views of the greenest cirque in Reunion Island.

  • Iron Hole :

Among the top 3 tourist attractions, the Trou de Fer waterfalls are the Niagara Falls of Reunion Island. Sensations and vertigo guaranteed! The Trou de Fer is a geological depression in the Piton des Neiges massif. It takes the form of a chasm almost 300 m deep. Numerous streams rush into the Trou de Fer and form a 725 m drop, forming a river called the Bras de Caverne which flows into the Rivière du Mât.  Discover this mythical place on board a helicopter.

  • Lava Road

Surrounded by the ramparts of Bois Blanc and Le Tremblet, Grand Brûlé has unique landscape, shaped by regular eruptions that have poured lava down the slope. It is part of La Réunion National Park and listed World Heritage. In this natural theatre, minerals and plants reveal the mysteries of life growing on the island’s youngest basalt soils.

Lava flows often plunge into the ocean, redesigning the coast which is of rare wild beauty. Under the open sky, braids, drapes and folds of lava are like works of art. Underground lava tunnels reveal hidden facets of the Earth’s veins.



More about Reunionese

Reunion is a land of intermingling, where a diversity of cultures are superimposed, reflecting a rich history which illuminates the daily life of Reunion. The island’s population is the result of a unique blend of Asian, Indian, African and European cultures which coexist and enrich each other in perfect harmony. The sega and maloya, the island’s traditional music, are a testimony to this multicoloured heritage and are listed as intangible world heritage by UNESCO. Their rhythms still enliven the gentle evenings of Reunion Island. The island’s cultural heritage can also be appreciated during visits: Hindu temples, century-old churches and Chinese pagodas are daily reminders of the many influences of Réunion’s way of life. Similarly, the calendar of events is an inexhaustible source of surprising events steeped in distant traditions preserved over the years.

Reunion, an example of living together

At the crossroads of European, Malagasy, Indian, Asian and African civilisations, Reunion Island is a melting pot of a thousand faces, with a unique mix of religions, culture, art and cuisine. Reunion has 858,450 inhabitants (source: Insee 2021).

Unparalleled ethnic diversity: Reunion’s population is particularly mixed. Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Chinese live in harmony. The same is true for traditional music, the cadences of the sega and maloya give rhythm to the daily life of the inhabitants. Let yourself be carried away by an original show, a music festival or a cultural event that brings together locals and tourists.

Today’s Reunionese faces, most of them mixed race, carry this history. They are colloquially referred to as :

  • Cafres: descendants of slaves or indentured labourers from Africa and Madagascar;
  • Zarabs: Indian Muslims, who share the same religion as the Arabs;
  • Malbars: descendants of indentured labourers from South India;
  • Zoreys: French people from mainland France (the French are hard of hearing when someone speaks a language other than their own!
  • Chinese: Reunionnese of Chinese origin and not very mixed.
  • yab, or “petit blanc des hauts”: descendants of the most modest settlers who were pushed to the upper reaches of the island in the second half of the 19th century.

History & Cultural beginning

Reunion Island is intensely authentic. Sharing cultures: enjoy the warm welcome of the Reunionese and taste the art of living in the Creole way! Reunion offers visits to cultural and religious sites and monuments, as well as workshops for total immersion. The pride of Reunion, respect for others is in the genes of the Reunionese. Churches, Tamil temples, mosques and Chinese pagodas are all symbols of this tolerance and are an integral part of the urban landscape.

Over the course of immigration, Reunion Island has created a rainbow population.

The settlement of Reunion Island began in the middle of the 17th century on a virgin land. The first settlers, the French, were soon surrounded by slaves from Africa, the “Cafres”, or from Madagascar. Later on, Indian, Tamil or Coromandel (New Zealand) indentured labourers joined them.

Their descendants are still called “Malabars”. The immigration of Indian Muslim craftsmen and traders, known as “Zarab'”, or Chinese, dates from the 19th century. From the 1960s onwards, a growing number of French people from mainland France came to settle in Réunion. In the 1970s, the Mahorais and Comorians also came to settle in Reunion.

Reunion, a French look with Creole charm

Reunion Island is a kaleidoscope of grandiose landscapes but also of cultures. A land of exemplary interbreeding, Reunion Island holds high the universal values of respect, benevolence and sharing.

Here, the population of Reunion and its different cultures and religions rub shoulders and share in perfect harmony: a warm welcome, a wealth of smiles, discoveries and flavours from all over the world.

Reunion, a French department, invites travellers to discover the origins of Creole culture by visiting the magnificent colonial houses, the multicoloured huts decorated with mantling, the historical monuments, the museums and gardens.


Reunion Religion

At the meeting, people pray to Christ, Allah, Shiva, Saints and other deities.  Cults coexist smoothly in this land of mixed cultures, giving it an exceptional cultural and religious wealth. Religious festivals and traditions are celebrated all year round: fire walks, Dipavali (festival of lights), Chinese New Year, Guan Di Festival, Cavadee, “Fêt Caf” on 20 December (as part of the commemoration of the abolition of slavery), Réunion Métis…

We share with you this unique privilege in the world, Reunion offers the variety and depth of its cultures and spiritualities.

Catholicism – Saint-Denis, Saint-Paul, Saint-Pierre, Saint-Gilles, Saint-Joseph, Sainte-Anne, Sainte-Rose… most of the names of the towns bear witness to the presence of Catholicism on the island. The churches are crowded every Sunday and for every feast of the Catholic calendar.

On the roads, small altars painted in red catch the eye of visitors. They are dedicated to a saint who is little known outside Reunion: Saint-Expedit. He is said to have the power to solve the most difficult cases as quickly as his name indicates!

A beautiful religious tolerance

The intermingling of populations has resulted in a diversity of religions in Réunion. You will surely be surprised to find a church next to a Hindu temple or to hear the call of the muezzin breaking the silent atmosphere lulled by the incense rising from a Chinese pagoda next to the mosque.

Rhythm of Creole, music in Reunion

Reunion Island is known for the beauty of its volcanic landscapes and its culinary delights, but it is also known for its strong cultural and musical identity!

The origins of music in Réunion

Music is truly part of the soul of Reunion Island. Pei music, dance shows or world music, Reunion Island is inspired by the different cultures around the Indian Ocean. Reunion’s towns are ablaze with the rhythm of sega and maloya, two major musical genres on the island.

Where to listen to music in Reunion Island?

Over the years, Reunion’s music has gradually been enriched and transformed by the addition of European sounds (French variety, electro-fusion, rock, reggae, etc.)The question would be where not to listen to it? Because music is present everywhere on the island! Go to the concert halls, festivals, rondavelles (kiosks) or kabars (parties) to let yourself be invaded by the Creole rhythms.

The Classic Creole picnic

Picnicking is a tradition in Réunion, a need to recharge one’s batteries. Throughout the year, whatever the season, at weekends or during the school holidays, the people of Réunion share this convivial moment and take advantage of the many picnic and leisure areas on the island.

With family, friends or lovers, families settle down in the Hauts, in the Bas, in the heart of the town, near a waterfall, a river, facing the ocean, with their feet in the water, in the undergrowth, in the shade of the filaos, the coconut trees, in an unusual place, on wooded, landscaped, grassy and shaded leisure areas, often with games installed for the children.

On holiday in Reunion Island, you will not fail to observe the picnickers on the areas. No sandwiches, salads, sausages or cheese, the Reunionese picnic is a real institution, a Creole way of life! On the menu, there is always rice, curries cooked on wood fires in pots, rougails, and many other delicacies, an authentic experience.

This change of scenery is also an opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities near the picnic areas: cycling, walking, children’s games, bowling, swimming, white water rafting…

Local Cuisines and Drinks

Infused rums, beers, wines, mineral water and lemonade: Reunion offers a wide variety of local specialties, both alcoholic and soft drinks. Pace your holiday, have a good time in the evening, enjoy a cocktail by the ocean: you’ll undoubtedly find the perfect moment to sample all the island’s specialties !

Reunionese Rums

Unmissable both in shops and in caz’ (homes), the local rum is known as ‘Rhum Charrette’ due to its label featuring a cart (charrette) pulled by an ox and loaded with sugar canes. It is sold both in glass bottles and plastic flasks known as piles plates (literally, ‘flat batteries’). Rum is made either from sugarcane juice (for ‘rhum agricole’ and aged rum) or from molasses (the residue from refining sugarcane) for traditional rum. It is closed tied to the island’s history, including its darkest moments, as the sugarcane industry developed due to slavery. A visit to a refinery or distillery is essential to understand this past, and there is no shortage of options: the largest European sugarcane refinery is in in Saint-Louis: the Sucrerie du Gol (visit the refinery and taste its sirops la cuite – ‘cooked syrups’). In Saint-Pierre, the Saga du Rhum, the result of a collaboration between the island’s three distilleries, is located in the Isautier distillery, founded in 1845. In Saint-Benoît, the Distillerie la Rivière du Mât introduces visitors to the production of traditional white rums, aged rums and rhums agricoles. Finally, the Sucrerie de Bois Rouge and the Savanna distillery, located in Saint-André, both in the east, present the complete cycle from sugarcane to rum.

The local specialty infused rum

Of course, rum can be enjoyed neat (in moderation – Rhum Charrette is 49°) or in punch (with the addition of fruit juice and spices) or cocktails. But the island’s local speciality is ‘rhum arrangé’ – infused rum – for which there are as many recipes as there are inhabitants! In fact, you can infuse rum by macerating fruits, spices (e.g. cinnamon sticks or vanilla), herbs, faham (a variety of wild orchid), etc. in it in a multitude of combinations. In markets, you can also find bags containing everything you need to make your own rum. Finally, if a bar offers café-vanille on its menu, note that this is in fact a coffee-liqueur-flavoured punch!

Island beer

Wherever you are on the island, it’s difficult to escape the frescoes painted in the colours of the local beer on the façades of cafés and restaurants. Bourbon beer is brewed locally. Its symbol is a dodo, a large turkey-like bird that once inhabited the islands of the Indian Ocean and is now extinct. To capture a little of the Creole soul, nothing beats enjoying these Péi (local) beers with some chilli sweets or samosas. Since 2011, the dodo beer has even offered a lychee-flavoured version: the ‘Metiss’.

Wine, sparkling water and lemonade

Reunion also makes its own wines. The introduction of new grape varieties (Malbec among others) on the slopes of the Cirque de Cilaos and the installation of modern wineries have led to the birth of reds, rosés and whites that can hold their own against French wines from the mainland. In private homes in Cilaos, you may also come across vin qui rend fou (‘wine that sends you mad’)! This, in fact, is wine made from the Isabelle grape variety, which was banned in mainland France in 1935 (the ban was lifted in 2003) but that has always been grown in Reunion. Cilaos is known not only for its wines: Cilaos, a sparkling water obtained from one of the cirque thermal springs is found on many tables on the island. Many people also enjoy drinking Cot, a not-to-be-missed lemonade!

Diverse cuisine with spicy flavours

Reunion cuisine is a reflection of the island’s population: diverse. It finds its origins in the culinary traditions of the different ethnic groups that have settled in Reunion. From the French to the Chinese, passing through the Malagasy, the Mauritians, the Indians and the East Africans.

The basics of Reunionese cuisine

Reunionese cuisine is very colourful on account of the large number of spices that embellish the food. Livened up by the use of chilli, it can also have a sweet and subtle character thanks to its Madagascan and Indian inspiration. The most well known Reunionese dishes are without doubt carri (Reunionese curry), sausage rougail (tomato-based sausage dish), and massalé (Reunionese masala dish). Reunionese cuisine also includes a number of fried dishes, mainly enjoyed as an appetizer or dessert. And of course, no meal is complete unless accompanied with punch and ‘rhum arrangé’ (mulled rum) or tamarind syrup…

What does reunionese cuisine taste like?

Reunionese cuisine, like any world cuisine, has its own codes of practice. The appetizer holds an important place within the Reunionese culinary tradition. Samosas, bouchons (meat-based appetizers wrapped in pastry) and bonbons piments (miniature spiced doughnuts) are enjoyed as a means of whetting the appetite.

Main courses – generally fish, pork or poultry-based – are accompanied by rice, grains, brèdes (amaranth greens), achards (spicy vegetable relish) or tomato rougail (typical Creole sauce). In all of these dishes, spices such as ginger, saffron (or turmeric) play a leading role.
As for sweets, these are generally enjoyed in the afternoon, rather than as a dessert following a meal. Usually in the form of fritters or flour-based cakes, these are eaten as a treat during a tea break. To round off a meal, delicious seasonal fruits are the choice of preference, something of which there is no shortage on Reunion Island.

If you have to wait a while before tasting this authentic and colourful cuisine, why not discover the dishes by looking at our pictures…

Things to buy

Bourbon vanilla, the best of the world

As the most demanding palates know, vanilla is highly appreciated and can be used in an infinite number of ways. Thanks to the tropical climate, which is a real breeding ground for this spice, the production of Bourbon vanilla is an integral part of life in Reunion.

The history of Bourbon vanilla from Reunion Island

The origins of vanilla and its use date back to the 16th century, when the plant was first discovered by the Spanish conquerors in South America. When it was imported into Europe a century later, it was an instant success! The taste of vanilla is highly sought after, to flavour all kinds of dishes!

Where does the name “Bourbon” vanilla come from?

Thanks to the tropical climate, the islands of the Indian Ocean quickly became the Mecca of vanilla plantations. With 1,200 tonnes produced in the 1930s, Reunion Island, formerly known as Bourbon Island, alone produced three quarters of the world’s output! The vanilla then became known as Bourbon vanilla, in homage to its origin.

Rum : Ofcourse the local rum  also known as ‘Rhum Charrette’

Local handcraft :  Artisanal craft shop all over selling local products

Festival Attraction

Reunion Island is a land of diversity that is reputed across the world for its mixed culture and the harmonious rapport between its peoples. Here in the bewitching heart of nature, populations, traditions and spirituality unite. This mix can be seen and felt throughout the island’s history and in many aspects of the local way of life. It is a melting pot which has left a legacy of festivals and cults now deep-rooted in Reunion’s culture and very much part of the islanders’ lives throughout the year.

Cavadee , Fire Walking, Chinese New Year,  Tamil New Year,  Deepavali are few of the main festivals

Things the guidebooks don’t mention

A powerful island in terms of energy

Reunion is a powerful island in terms of energy. The Piton de La Fournaise, ranked among the top 5 most active volcanoes in the world, erupts 3 to 5 times a year.

Reunion’s volcano is directly connected to the centre of the earth, so that with each eruption the energy from the heart of the earth is expelled into the atmosphere we breathe. After spending several days on the island, visitors feel a sense of well-being, an incomparable boost of energy.

In my humble opinion, the exceptional way of living together that reigns on Reunion Island is partly linked to this powerful energy in which we live on a daily basis.

Kumari Kandam or Lemuria: the lost continent

Cosmographic myth of this continent which would have been the cradle of all civilisation. Unfortunately, following a cosmic catastrophe, Lemuria (kumari Kandam) disappeared into the deep waters like Atlantis. Today, only Reunion, Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles are believed to be the remains of this lost continent.

The lost continent of Lemuria is also linked to the legend of Kumari Kandam by speakers of the Tamil language.

A legend also tells that a site in the centre of Reunion Island is the point of origin of all human life, and is also considered to be the navel of the world, the centre of the universe. In this place live “the Silent Ones” They have been walking in its forest “since time immemorial”, long before the arrival of the first inhabitants on the island. Even if their territory is immense, this site, which is kept secret, is for them a sacred place that they call the centre of the Universe….

3 – The Vortex of Etang Salé

Located on the beach of the Etang Salé, this vortex is said to be an energetic emanation of sorts, vibrating at such a frequency that the numerous visitors who regularly visit it identify it as “feminine, gentle, enveloping, regenerating”… The descriptions are legion.

Many people come here to recharge their batteries or to participate in meditation, prayer or healing circles. The history of this vortex is also linked to the lost continent known as Lemuria.


Stephane Bonneau is originally from Metropolitan France and arrived in Reunion Island at the age of 22 for a period of 1 year. 37 years later he is still there 🙂 Reunion Island offers an unparalleled quality of life in terms of climate, culture, outdoor activities, energy and the unparalleled way of living together that reigns here between the different populations. Since a very young age, he has always dreamed of travelling and that led him to working in tourism, occupying the position of international market manager. He loves discovering different cultures, meeting the locals and sharing their lives and customs.  Despite travelling all over the world, he always waits to get back home… to Reunion Island.


An Insiders View on Cyprus

By Evropi Navrozidou

Everything the guide books or tourism websites won’t tell you about the place

Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, with spectacular scenery and an enviable climate. An island of beauty and a country of contrasts with its cool, pine-clad mountains forming a complete scene-change compared to the golden sun-kissed beaches. Cyprus may be a small country, but it is a large island with a big heart; an island that gives its visitors a genuine welcome and treats them as friends.

What makes Cyprus an ideal travel destination for all?

Whether you prefer to relax and enjoy your stay on the beach or want to experience new adventures, Cyprus is the ideal place to be. The island offers a wide range of activities such as cycling on the outstanding Limassol promenade, Segway tours, participating in dance workshops and yoga sessions, golf training, countless cultural and art activities. As for the more adventurous individuals visiting the island, guests have the opportunity to enjoy team building activities such as dragon boat racing, motorbike tours, off-road bike expeditions, mountain quad safaris, antique car rallies, jeep expeditions and even horse riding.

Quad Ride

Tell us something that every traveller should know when traveling to Cyprus?

Hospitality in Cyprus is legendary and Cypriots have a unique way of creating a warm and loving atmosphere that makes people feel relaxed and welcomed. The strong spirit of hospitality always leaves visitors impressed every time they visit Cyprus.

Bring a big appetite and try a traditional meze. Meze or mezze is a selection of small dishes. It is the Cypriot style of eating where there are many different courses, but each course contains just a little of each item, enough for everyone to have a taste while incorporating what’s fresh each season. The Mezze is more than just a meal it’s all about sharing and bringing people together.

Lastly, if you do not know what to do after a morning on the beach, you can head up to Troodos Mountains just an hour away and hit the ski slopes. Cyprus is able to offer just about everything.

Any essentials that one needs to carry when they traveling to Cyprus? 

A hat, swimwear, a pair of sunglasses and your sunscreen, these are your 4 must-have pieces!

Which are the most surreal places to visit when in Cyprus?

Some of the most surreal places to visit in Cyprus are the following:
Akamas Peninsula
Larnaca Salt Lake
Troodos Peaks
Cape Creco, Ayia Napa

Ayia Napa

Can you tell us a little about the life of the locals? 

If you want to immerse yourself into the local culture, you need to know a couple of things:

Experience the café Culture:
Cypriots love coffee and particularly frothy ice coffee that we have mastered to creamy caffeinated perfection! On Fridays and weekends all over the island, the Cypriots like to gather with friends and family to share their news and stories. Hang around long enough and some cafes turn into bars and music venues, where you can spend the rest of the evening drinking cheerfully with the locals.

The “Siesta”:
The sun rhythms the day of the locals, the sun rises early (get a few things done before temperatures rise…), burns at its zenith (just give into that sleepy feeling after lunch so you’re all rested after 5 pm) and sets when life on the island picks up again (dress up well and get ready for your nightlife as in line with Mediterranean culture dinner starts and lasts late).
Embrace the slow pace of life, eat well (and slow!), and you’ll come back rejuvenated and in love with this beautiful island.

What are the local delicacies/drinks which one must try and where in Cyprus?

Meze:  No visit to Cyprus is complete without enjoying the traditional meal of many small dishes known as ‘meze’. It comprises of an array of approximately 20 dishes, starting with dips, salads and followed by casserole dishes and charcoal grilled meat or fish or both!


Loukoumia:  It has a soft, jelly-like and sometimes sticky consistency, and is often packaged and eaten in small cubes dusted with icing sugar or coconut to prevent clinging. They are exotic, intensely sweets with a delicate flavor of sweetness from most of the times rosewater and icing sugar. “It is a Cyprus delight sweet.”

Soutzoukos:  Is a traditional, chewy sweet made from grape juice that has a unique appearance (it looks similar to a candle!), and is popular at traditional festivals. The sweet is made using the surplus of grapes after the grape harvest, which is why it is commonly made in the wine-producing villages of the Troodos and Paphos regions.

Zivania: With an alcohol content of 40-99%, it is no surprise that is also referred to nationally as ‘firewater’!

Halloumi: Is the island’s most famous cheese! Made from goat or sheep’s milk, this white semi-hard cheese has been produced on the island for centuries and is traditionally prepared with a precise recipe.

What are things which one must buy when in Cyprus?

Olives : Olive oil and associated goods are probably the must buy gifts that you should bring home from Cyprus. Olives have been cultivated on the island since ancient times, and the expansion of the olive cultivars has been growing at the beginning of the 20th century after the British founded 6 new olive farms that provided this rapid expansion.

Honey: Cyprus has a long-standing tradition of honey making, producing a large number of high-quality and award-winning kinds of honey that are known for their pureness.

Rose products: Deep in the heart of the Pitsillia region of the island, is a village, Agros, known for its rose-growing and production of rose-related products. From perfumes to cosmetics, to candles, liquors and others, you will definitely try some of the local products made with the fragile light pink flowers.

Wine : Cyprus has been a vine-growing and wine-producing country for millennia and wine is and used to be a major part of the Cypriot diet. Cyprus’s wines rank among the world’s best, finest-quality wines. A big percentage of Cyprus vineyards are planted with indigenous grape varieties that have “melodious-sounding” names like Xinisteri, Maratheftiko, Lefkada and Mavro.


Which is the most romantic places to visit in Cyprus?

Aphrodite’s Rock during sunset. The combination of the beauty of this place during the sunset and its status in mythology as the birthplace of the goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite, make this place as one of the most romantic to visit in Cyprus.


What are the local festivals which one must come to attend in Cyprus?

There are many local festivals in Cyprus, Limassol stages some of the island’s best-known festivals:

The annual Wine Festival in September, the pre-Lenten Carnival; with masquerade parties, balls and grand parades, and the ancient Drama Festival at Kourion theatre.

Kourion Theatre

The things guidebooks will not tell anyone about?

Cyprus is ranked as the fifth safest country in the world when considering life expectancy, CO2 emissions, national police personnel, traffic deaths, thefts and assaults. As a small Mediterranean country, with a stable political climate, Cyprus has a strong reputation as a trouble-free travel destination.

According to you what is the best thing about Cyprus?

The island has an efficient road transport and communications network, two multi-purpose seaports located in the coastal cities of Limassol and Larnaca and two modern international airports in Larnaca and Paphos. The island’s main resorts are connected by modern highways and make transfers a lot easier. Furthermore, distances in Cyprus are relatively short, which gives delegates the opportunity to explore different parts of the island in a limited period of time. It only takes around 40 minutes to travel from one city to another while the longest distance might be around one and a half hours by car.

Evropi Navrozidou &  Drakos Team

Check out our latest package on Ireland 

Beach bumming at Culebra, Puerto Rico

By Joe Varghese

Much as we had heard of Puerto Rico, not much was known about the island of Culebra. The only thing we knew was that, till the recent past, it was used as a target by the U.S. Navy. For years, we have driven by the U.S Naval Academy in Annapolis and the Destroyers and Submarines in Baltimore Harbor. I could imagine the big guns booming and the projectiles flying towards that tiny landmass in the Caribbean. How would it be to stand on the very same beach that had endured the mighty firepower of the Naval fleet for years, we asked ourselves ! The answer was three hours away. It was an early morning flight to Puerto Rico, landing at San Juan International Airport. Puerto Rico is one of the better countries in the region, with financial and political support from Uncle Sam. This is especially true for San Juan, where the infrastructure and lifestyle is almost like that of the US. Getting out of the airport, renting a car, and driving toward Fajardo on the East coast, was a cinch. We waited at a tiny little airport to catch a plane to Culebra. I don’t know if one can call it an airport.

Another way of describing it would be a single building with a huge parking lot, on which teensy-weensy airplanes landed and took off. When the time comes, you walk up to the plane, climb in through the back door (just like you would climb into a car) and dump your bags in the back. The plane can seat about 10 people, including the pilot. Is it too hot in the plane? Just crack open the window a wee bit! On-board refreshments ? Sure I just reach into your backpack and pull out the munchies you had bought at the airport. If you are lucky, you could call shotgun and sit next to the pilot. Culebra was half an hour away, and our eyes were riveted to the window as we passed the beautiful beaches of mainland Puerto Rico, flew over the sea with its little islands and boats, till we saw the mountains of Culebra looming in the distance. It is kinda noisy in the plane, so conversations may be limited. Every once in a while the plane may hit an air-pocket, so you have to be careful with your drink, if any.

The plane has to maneuver between two mountain peaks during its descent, which can make some people nervous. We landed at the airport, pulled our backpacks from the trunk and simply walked up to the terminal, making sure the rotating propellers were a safe distance away. Once there, you have a choice of renting two wheelers or 4-wheel drives. There are also some vans that ply across different parts of the island. We took one of the vans to a local eatery, which was the house of one of the local people. As expected, most dishes consisted of sea-food, the most intriguing of which was conch. We had the local drink: Scotch with coconut milk. The coconut milk has to be fresh or it ferments, thus ruining the taste of the drink. We tried one glass and decided the Medalla, the local beer was better. We camped at Flamenco beach, reputed to be one of the top three beaches in the world. The beach has a very well maintained camp site, which was almost deserted when we went there. It is not uncommon to see wild horses on the island. There is nothing more refreshing than to wake up in the morning to the sound of the ocean, unzip your tent and walk into a breathtakingly beautiful sun rise. We walked on the white sands of the beach, appreciating the green water and eyeing the corals that were within swimming distance. Soon we came across a couple of rusty battle-tanks on the beach. Apparently, these were the targets that were to be destroyed when the Navy conducted its exercises. Certain parts of the island are still cordoned off with fences.

We shared the whole beach with less than 5 other people. A quick breakfast later, we were swimming toward the corals. A few hours later, we were trekking to a beach on the other side of the island. It is like searching for Easter eggs: you walk through the dense vegetation and suddenly there is a beach. You walk some more, and look, one more beautiful beach, this time with corals a few meters away. Every once in a while you will find some other backpacker discovering the island the same way. The Navy has stopped using the island for target practice, and most parts of Culebra, along with its beaches and archipelagos, are protected wild life refuges. The main income source of the island is tourism, mostly domestic. It is very common for mainland Puerto Ricans to jump on a boat and come down to Culebra, enjoy the beach, have a barbeque and simply head on back home. The happening spot of Culebra is the township of Dewey, named after Admiral Dewey of, what else, the US Navy. We went there to have lunch. Dewey is nothing more than a collection of houses with some bars. The docks are a short walking distance away. The place is dead in the afternoons and sees some action at night. We walked around Dewey, talking to some of the local people. A large number of the locals speak English. The population of Culebra is around 1500, and crime is almost unknown. You could leave your bag at any place and simply walk around to enjoy the scenery. On the way back, we waited at the airport for our flight. There was a guy standing next to the ticket counter, cracking jokes and having fun. Turns out, he was our pilot. A Kashmiri gentleman named Babar, who spoke to us in Hindi. What are the chances of meeting a man from the Indian sub-continent on a tiny island of less than 1500 people in the Caribbean? Globalization has truly hit even the remotest part of the world. This trip was a unique experience: the island, its people, its food, and definitely the airplane ride.

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Road to Murud Janjira Fort

By Abhik Dutta

Maharashtra, specially the coastal belt, is a fort lover’s paradise. There are hundreds of forts that have the history of Maharashtra and India etched on their ramparts. Some like Daulatabad in Aurangabad, Pratapgarh in Mahabaleshwar, Sinhagad in Pune and Govilgad fort in Chikaldara in Amravati district are hill forts, magnificent structures on hill tops overlooking the mighty plains below.

Some like Sindhudurg fort, Ratnagairi fort, and Korlai fort near Revdanda are beauties that rise above the sheer cliffs overlooking the Arabian Sea, their walls ravaged by the sea and the coastal winds over the centuries. But few forts around the world can compare with the majestic splendor of the island fortress of Janjira, a sleeping giant in the middle of the Arabian Sea and the only fort in Maharashtra which neither Chhatrapati Shivaji nor his son Sambhaji could conquer..

The Road to Janjira

Getting to Janjira is half the fun. About 165kms south of Mumbai is the sleepy coastal hamlet of Rajpuri creek. It`s a 4½ hr drive from Mumbai. From Panvel we took the Goa road (NH17). 33kms ahead at Vadkhal, we took the road to Alibaug and proceeded further towards Cheul, a wonderful coastal village. We stopped here for a while and walked through coconut and “supari” groves to the Revdanda beach. There was not a soul in sight. We passed through an Old Portuguese church in ruins and came across the ramparts of an old fort, also in ruins. Across the Revdanda creek stood the Korlai fort high atop a hill, guarding the bay like a proud sentinel.

Returning to our car, we drove across a bridge and turned right and headed towards Murud, 34kms from Cheul. A mile ahead, a road leads to the coastal village at the base of the Korlai fort. On an earlier visit to the area a month back, we had climbed up the stairs from behind the light house right upto to the fort. We had seen some of the most gorgeous views of the bay and witnessed a beautiful sunset from the top. Bypassing the village this time we drove towards Murud. The entire stretch of the coastal road was a fascinating drive with the sea playing hide and seek and kissing the road on many an occasion. We crossed a couple of small ghat sections, the sea never far from sight.

The first view of the Janjira fort is unforgettable. As the road meanders around a bend on top of a hillock, the fort leaps into sight in the middle of the sea. It’s a bird’s eye view and feels as if one is watching from the skies above. 2 kms ahead at Rajpuri, we hired a 20 footer country boat with a sail at a bargain price of Rs.150.00 for a round trip to the fort. One may also share a boat with a bigger group and pay only Rs.8 for a round trip. The waters were very choppy and the boatmen predicted early rain this year. The 25-minute boat ride across choppy waters with the spray hitting us on the face and the boat tossing dangerously was the highlight of the trip. Instead of going diagonally to the fort, the boat went straight ahead, turned back diagonally then went straight into the fort. This was done so that the swells hitting the boat from the sides did not overturn it. However, bigger boats go straight to the fort but I guess the ride is not half as adventurous.

We hired a guide for Rs.60.00 for showing us the fort. The fort was built sometime in 1515 by the Siddis of Janjira, descendants of sailors from Abyssinia. Legend has it that during the first attempts to build the fort, the ramparts collapsed, so taking the advice of a local priest, the son of the Siddi chieftain was buried alive to appease the Gods. Thereafter, it took 22 years to build the fort. There are 275 cannons in the fort out of which the largest with a range of 3 kms, is the third largest cannon in Maharashtra, the largest being at the Daulatabad fort. Amazingly, there is a freshwater tank in the middle of the fort which gets water from an underwater spring and according to the guide that’s how the fort got its name.

In 1659, Shivaji attacked the fort but could not scale the 15 metre high walls. Later, his son Sambhaji tried to dig a tunnel and even fill the channel out to the fort. However, a natural moat, 90 feet deep, surrounding the fort, thwarted his attempts. Even today, on the mainland one can see the entrance to the remains of a tunnel. In despair, Sambhaji tried to build a similar fort in the middle of the sea about 3 kms off the Janjira fort but a call of duty in another part of Maharashtra did not allow him to successfully build the fort. This fort is now called Kasa Kila.

17 kms from Murud, on the road to Alibaug, are 2 resorts. The first is the Kashid Beach Resort with split level A/C rooms with gorgeous views of the sea on one side and the hills on the other. The second is the more up-market Prakruti Beach Resort with AC rooms set in villas. Both are on the periphery of the proposed 54 sq. km Phansad wild life sanctuary. For bookings, contact The Wanderers, Mumbai.

The nearest rail station is at Roha on the Konkan railway route, 50 kms from Kashid. One may also take the Catamaran from Gateway of India, which reaches you to Mandwa jetty. From there the complimentary bus service of the Suman Motel Catamaran takes you to Alibag. From Alibag either take the S.T bus to Kashid – the S.T. Bus will be for Nandgaon a place after Kashid or for Murud, which is 20 kms from Kashid. From Alibaug one can also take an autorickshaw [the approx. charge will be Rs.150 per auto] for the 32 km drive to Kashid Beach Resort.

Other places to visit nearby are the Nawab`s palace. It is owned by the erstwhile Nawab Shah Siddi Mahmood Khan who now lives in Bhopal. Entry here is restricted but if you speak pleasantly enough to the old chowkidar who runs the place, he may let you in for a short while and allow you to see the durbar hall full of priceless marble and beautifully carved wooden furniture. Stuffed animals adorn the walls. The fort that one can see from here in the middle of the sea is Kasa Kila. On a clear day a daring boatman will take you there for Rs.500. The Dattatraya temple dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma on a hill top in Murud is also worth visiting. For the hiker, the hills surrounding Kashid Beach Resort and Prakruti Resort is a veritable paradise.