Climate of Réunion
Réunion is a tropical island that lies east of Madagascar and south of mainland Africa. Officially it is not an independent country, but an overseas department of France. The island of Réunion is often mentioned in the same breath as nearby Mauritius. There are certainly similarities between these two islands, but also differences. For example, Réunion has fewer sandy beaches and far fewer luxury hotels than Mauritius. The nature of Réunion is more impressive, especially because large parts of the island show rugged untouched nature reserves.
Two volcanic massifs define the island, the Piton de Neiges, with a highest point of 3069 meters, and the much younger Piton de la Fournaise, where there is still volcanic activity. You regularly read reports in the newspapers about lava flows damaging roads and sulfur fumes that pose a threat to local residents.
Tropical monsoon climate
Reunion has a tropical monsoon climate, type Am according to the Köppen-Geiger classification. On an annual basis, there is an average of about 1400 millimeters of rainfall, while the driest months (September and October) remain below 60 mm per month. So there is clearly a dry period and a rainy season (monsoon), with average 24-hour temperatures that remain above the 18 degrees Celsius required for this climate type throughout the year.
Due to the many height differences, Réunion has a large number of microclimates, according to some sources no less than two hundred. Especially on and around the massifs you come across many microclimates where specific deviations occur in the amount of precipitation, the vegetation and the temperature. In some places you come across large concentrations of trees or plants that occur precisely there due to the conditions that apply at that location.
Summer in Reunion
Summer in Reunion is from December to March. This is opposite to our summer as Reunion is in the southern hemisphere. The summers are significantly wetter than the winter months. Along the coast there is about 150 to 250 millimeters of rain per month in the winter months, but in the higher areas this is sometimes a multiple. Especially the Piton de la Fournaise in the southeast of the island is very wet. The amounts of precipitation here on the windward side can rise to as much as a thousand to two thousand millimeters per month (!). That is about two to three times as much as what you will experience in the Netherlands in a whole year. This small area (about twenty square kilometers) is one of the wettest areas in the world.
The temperatures on Réunion along the coast during the day are between 27 and 31 degrees. Inland, the temperature on the highest peaks drops rapidly to about 10 to 15 degrees.
The winter months (on Réunion from June to September) are the best months to visit the island. The chance of rain is much smaller than in the summer months, storms and major depressions are rare and it is still pleasantly warm along the coast, with 20 to 24 degrees during the day and 14 to 18 degrees at night.
If you want to discover nature, you should bring enough warm clothing, because the temperature difference between the coastal towns and the highest places in the interior is about 12 to 15 degrees throughout the year. That means in winter temperatures around or even slightly below freezing in the highest places and fresh weather on the massifs and in between. The advantage of the winter period is that the extreme amounts of precipitation are reduced to somewhat normal amounts.
Réunion is located on the supply route of hurricanes and tropical depressions, which form over the relatively warm seawater of the Indian Ocean in the period December to May. These depressions are the main reason that there is more rainfall in summer than in winter. Fairly large amounts of rain can fall within 24 hours if indeed a hurricane or tropical depression passes over Réunion or close to Réunion. Although hurricane season officially runs from December through April, the chances of severe tropical storms are highest in the months of January, February and March. Reunion is rarely hit full. On average, this occurs six to eight times a century and thanks to modern techniques, hurricanes are predicted in good time and the necessary measures can be taken to limit damage and casualties.
On the island of Réunion there are large differences in the amounts of rainfall that falls on an annual basis. Along the west coast this is an average of 525 to 1000 millimeters. Inland, the quantities are increasing rapidly, with a peak of more than 10,000 millimeters on an annual basis on the windward side of the Piton de la Fournaise. This is the side on the east side where a lava flow regularly flows towards the Indian Ocean. The large amount of rainwater in combination with the hot lava sometimes creates an impressive spectacle.
Saint-Gilles les Bains is the driest place in Reunion with an average of 525 mm of rainfall per year. That is about twenty percent less than the average values in the Netherlands.
Due to its location and the tropical forests, there are few days when there is not at least a single cloud in the sky in Réunion. The chance of sunny days is greatest on the west coast, where you will also find the most hotels, such as in Saint-Gilles les Bains and Saint-Leu. The number of hours of sunshine on the west coast on an annual basis averages about 2600 to 2900 hours. The town of Saint-Pierre in the southwest is the sunniest, with 2923 hours of sunshine per year.
Inland it is a lot less sunny. The mountains and hills retain quite a bit of clouds and the tropical forests create fresh clouds and sometimes fog areas. Inland, the sun shines an average of 1500 to 200 hours per year, with the lowest point being Petite-France, with only 1391 hours of sunshine per year.
The seawater temperature is always between a pleasant 23-24 degrees and an even more pleasant 28 degrees – ideal temperatures for water sports and swimming. The lowest temperatures are reached in the period from June to October, after which the seawater warms up fairly quickly to reach 28 degrees Celsius in January. UV radiation
The power of the sun is great in Réunion. For a large part of the year there is the highest solar power (UV index 11), whereby going unprotected in the sun is actually not justified, unless it concerns a very short period (10-15 minutes). Throughout the year, the use of a sunscreen with a high protection factor (minimum 30) is recommended, even for people who do not burn so easily. From our own experience it can be reported that even a walk in the morning in May with a completely cloudy sky can already cause burnt skin if you have not lubricated.
In the winter months, the UV index in Réunion is between 6 and 9 – still high and enough to burn badly if you go out in the sun unprotected for too long.
The figures below are based on long-term average climate statistics. The temperatures are displayed in degrees Celsius (°C).
|Maximum temperature||Minimum temperature||Hours of sunshine per day||Days of rainfall per month||Water temperature|
Best time to visit Reunion
Do you want to know when is the best time to travel to Reunion? You can determine the best time to travel to a destination based on the weather and climate. In addition, there are other factors that are not directly related to the weather and that can influence the best travel periods for a travel destination. Think, for example, of holidays or festive periods, which makes traveling more interesting or not, because daily life comes to a standstill as a result. The moment you travel to Réunion you arrive in tropical France. Réunion is one of the French overseas departments. The island is located east of Madagascar, which makes it part of the continent of Africa and not of Europe. It is striking that Réunion does belong to the European Union. Here you also simply pay with euros. Anyone who visits Reunion will see that it is a huge green island. The tropical climate provides a combination of high temperatures, sufficient sun and ample rainwater for nature to thrive. The combination of pleasant warm weather, beautiful nature and fine sandy beaches make Réunion a paradise on Earth.
The best time to travel to Réunion is from mid-May to October. This is the driest and coolest time of the year. Because it can sometimes feel a bit cooler, partly due to the trade winds, it is sometimes just a bit too chilly for a beach holiday. May and October are the best months for a beach holiday. If you have to take the official school holidays into account, the May and autumn holidays would be the best travel periods for a sun holiday on Réunion. The disadvantage of the autumn holiday is that it only lasts nine days, of which you have already lost roughly three days of travel time. If you want to see the many orchids in bloom on Réunion, you should travel to Réunion in September or October. The end of winter is before the blooming time for the orchids on the island. The vanilla orchid, from which the precious spice vanilla can be extracted, is grown on Réunion, among others.
The tropical coast
The coastal areas of Réunion are tropical. Daytime temperatures here are around thirty degrees during the local summer, which falls during our winter. During the local winter, it is about 24 to 27 degrees Celsius during the day. In the capital Saint-Denis there is about 1600 to 1800 millimeters of rain per year. The period from December to April is the rainy season, with a significantly higher chance of rain showers that can be accompanied by severe thunderstorms.
The cooler interior
The interior of Réunion is a bit cooler than the coast. That’s because the interior is very mountainous. The highest point can be found on the inactive volcano Piton de Neiges: 3069 meters above sea level. The higher you go, the cooler it gets. At about 1200 meters altitude it is about 25 degrees during the day in summer. In winter it is about 18 to 20 degrees with the chance of minimum temperatures that are a few degrees above freezing. At an altitude of three thousand meters, the maximums range from about 10-15 degrees in the winter to 16-20 degrees in the summer. At night it can come to frost on the ground in the coolest months. The chance of snow is small.
A natural phenomenon that you can encounter in Réunion is a tropical cyclone. The hurricane season runs from November to mid-May. During this period, there is a chance that Réunion will have to deal with severe tropical storms where hurricane strength cannot be ruled out. In addition to a very strong wind, there is often also heavy rainfall.