The small French overseas department island of Reunion is the sort of destination where it doesn’t really make that much sense to get a hire car, because most of the major resorts are all relatively close to each other, and they are all within a short bus or taxi ride from the island’s main airport.
Although there is no form of regular fixed rail passenger service anywhere on Reunion (or on any other island in the Indian Ocean), local buses ply the one or two main roads which head around the island, and these are supplemented by local taxis and a range of guided tours, which most hotels will provide.
Having said all this, Reunion still has some great driving roads, and these match the stunning tropical landscapes which can be found in the interior.
The new offshore dual carriageway heading around the north-western side of the island between St Denis and the port is expected to open in 2018. This might looks like a massively over engineered bypass of the previous coastal road, except that the former road was often prone to heavy rock falls and storm waters, hence the need to provide a diversion that went completely around all of this.
If you are visiting Reunion for a week, it might be worth thinking about hiring a car maybe for one day to go around the island, but you could just as easily do this by taking some sort of island guided tour, so it’s not particularly necessary.
There are relatively few options for boat trips from Reunion – it’s an isolated island with nowhere else nearby. Since the shape of the island is pretty circular, there are no really impressive coves to explore – but you can still take various boat trips if you want to.
Do I need a car in Réunion? You certainly don’t “need” a car in Réunion, but you might prefer to have one for general flexibility. As far as exploring the island goes, it’s best just to rent a car for a single day.