Cilaos is a very quiet mountain town in the Cirque of the same name. Getting there by road is already an adventure with stunning mountain vistas. Staying there is ideal for your mountainous adventures before relaxing in Saint Pierre by the seaside.
The spa of Cilaos
To relax your muscles, check out the Thermes de Cilaos, a medical and well-being spa leveraging the high active mineral content of the local spring water. Known for over two centuries for the properties of its waters, patients have been treating their rheumatisms and digestive system conditions here. Expect more of a medical center than a luxurious spa. The hydro-massage bathtub is rejuvenating after some adventures in the mountains and very enjoyable with its naturally warm waters (37°C).
Starting & ending point of an exclusive 7-day hike – the best of Réunion
Starting with the highest summit of the Indian Ocean towering the city of Cilaos – the Piton des Neiges – this exclusive 7-day route will take you through the 3 Cirques, the primary forest of Bélouve and to Trou de Fer – the most emblematic waterfall of the island to explore the best of Réunion on foot.
Not tempted by a 7-day trek? Still you may want to go hiking for the day: summit the Piton des Neige, venture on the popular and easy La Chapelle trail or reach one of the many surrounding waterfalls on foot. Going to Cilaos without your hiking boots is really missing out…
Cilaos is also the canyoning hotspot of Réunion Island, a world famous canyoneering center.
The best gluten-free sweet breads [Tatie Rosine]
Ever heard of La diagonale des Fous? This 162-kilometer trail running race with a positive elevation of 9,643 meters is named the diagonal of the crazy people for a good reason. What is the connection with Cilaos? Beyond the fact that competitors run by, this is where team and organizers get the best local sweet breads of the island. Tatie Rosine has spent years polishing her recipe of gluten-free and energy-packed delicacies: banana breads and sweet potato cakes are to die for and the perfect snack if you are heading up the mountains.
Food and wines
Chez Noé is the best restaurant in town where the kind staff will bring you local specialties with a good glass of infused rum. A family of butchers, the choice of meat and its cooking is excellent. To go with, the local lentils grown in the Cirque – the best in the world – are a must.
You can also taste the local wine at your own risks! If we were you, we would stick to rum or the delicious herbal tea from the garden. Or if you really have to, try the port version of vin de Cilaos – a lesser evil!
Cilaos has options for all. Our preference goes to the 4-star Tsilaosa hotel where it is perfect to rest before or to recover after some mountain action! Enjoy their great views from their roomy balconies, indulge yourself with their afternoon teas and breathe the fresh mountain air.
In case you are wondering, “tsi laosa” means the place one does not come back from in Malagasy. During the 18th century, the governor of the Mascarene Islands (Mauritius, Rodrigues and Reunion) was worried about the Bourbon Island (now called Reunion). Maroons who took shelter in the height of the island raid on farms to get food. He decided to chase them down to set the example and for years, slave hunters such as François Mussard or Jean Dugain explored the mountains to track them down, recapture them or kill them. In their inland exploration, Malagasy carriers came along, and while venturing in the unknown cirque, they kept repeating “tsi laosa, tsi laosa” climbing scary and inaccessible escarpments. The name of the hotel is a reminder of where the cirque gets in name from: Cilaos.
Claire & Marcella
- Check out this interactive map for the specific details to help you plan your trip and more articles and photos (zoom out) about the area! Here is a short tutorial to download it.
Like it? Pin it!
What esle to do in Reunion Island: just click on the inspiring images: