The Cirque de Cliaos is very popular in Réunion, for both local inhabitants and tourists. Located in the south of the island, Cilaos has approximately 6,000 inhabitants. A mountain road with more than 400 twists and turns will lead you there from the town of Saint-Louis. The road is in and of itself a genuine adventure! The majestic mountains are always bursting with lush greenery and every twist and turn gives you a glimpse of a new landscape. The weather is pleasant all year round, although it can be a bit chilly in winter (May to September). In any event, the houses are all equipped with radiators and chimneys so there's nothing to worry about. The charming village has an unobstructed view of Piton des Neiges from its main street. A number of restaurants, shops and a covered market liven up its centre. For lovers of local arts and crafts, be sure to visit the Maison de la Broderie where for a few euros you can watch the painstaking work of the embroiderers. The Archipel des Métiers d'Art is also an ideal spot to discover local savoir faire.
From a culinary standpoint, Cilaos is known for its wine and lentils which are considered to be the best on the island. After tasting them myself, I can attest to this—they are just scrumptious. A number of restaurants have them on their menus. The wine is made from grapes and other local fruits (litchi, pineapple, loquat fruits, etc.) Its sweet taste might surprise wine lovers but it is nevertheless delicious. You can buy some just about everywhere in the village and even visit the only wine cellar in Cilaos.
The Cirque is also a wonderful playground for nature lovers. A wide range of hiking paths starts from Cilaos. The Roche Merveilleuse is one of the most accessible and comes to an end with a superb view of the village. The hike to the Bras Rouge waterfall is over undulating terrain and as a result it is a bit more challenging. The hard work will pay off—a beautiful waterfall will be your reward! Gorges, waterfalls and rivers crisscross the landscape making the growth of canyoning possible. Be sure to discover the Canyon Fleur Jaune!
The family-friendly Cilaosa Park Aventure, a treetop adventure park in the heart of a cedar forest, proposes 7 trails including one for those as young as three years old!
Lastly, the past splendor of Cilaos rested on its thermal baths. If you enjoy spa holidays or would like to follow a course of treatment, you're in the right place! In order to have the time to properly visit Cilaos, set aside at least two nights, especially if you intend to climb Piton des Neiges. The island's highest summit (3,070 meters) is accessible from Cilaos. You should note that while this is the fastest path, it is also the most difficult. For hiking and nature enthusiasts, four days in the area would allow you to discover all of its natural riches. In any event, this village is a must-see destination in Réunion.