17 reasons why you need to visit Mauritius and Reunion Island

The Indian Ocean islands offer thrilling adventures and beautiful beaches for a twin-centre holiday in 2018

Waterfall in rainforest.

Winter sun is calling and if you're in search of paradise beaches, wild adventures and friendly locals, you'll want to head for the Indian Ocean to experience an exotic escape like no other in Mauritius and Reunion Island.

SEE ALSO: Where to stay in Mauritius and Reunion Island

SEE ALSO: Mauritius - the romantic island that has it all

Luxury long-haul specialist Hayes & Jarvis has introduced twin-centre holidays to the islands and while no-one needs convincing to visit the picture-postcard isles, we've picked 17 reasons why you'll want to explore Mauritius and Reunion Island right now...

1. The romance. A classic honeymoon and romantic holiday destination, Mauritius offers a wealth of beaches, spas and gourmet restaurants to enjoy with your loved one. As more and more couples seek adventure on holiday, Reunion is ideal for combining the best of hiking, exciting activities and dramatic landcsapes with your dream beach holiday.

Paradise in Africa

2. Mauritius is the most peaceful country in Africa. It has not had a standing army since 1968 and the island is not involved in any domestic or international conflicts, making it a top location to escape for a stress-free holiday.

3. The humpback whales. From Reunion Island, you can spot some of the mightiest of marine mammals including sperm, fin and humpback whales. The impressive humpbacks arrive during the Southern Hemisphere winter, which takes place from June to October. At this time, they come to bask in the heat of the Indian Ocean after a long journey from Antarctica.

Breaching Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, Indian Ocean

4. The sunsets. Nothing beats watching the sunset on holiday and at LUX* Saint Gilles in Reunion, this beautiful time of day attracts guests to the beach where you can soak up the romance and witness the sky changing colour in a heavenly setting.

5. There is no shortage of thrills. When it comes to adventure, these islands have it all. Reunion might be famous for its incredible scenery adored by active travellers, but even Mauritius will surprise you with its extraordinary adventures. Head for sprawling nature reserve Domaine de l'Etoile where you can witness wild flora as you whizz through the forests 3,500 metres high on a breathtaking zip line. There are seven wires, with the longest being 800 metres long and offering an exhilarating day out for nature lovers.

Man selling coconuts from his bike

6. The friendly locals. You'll fall in love with the genuine smiles and hospitality of Mauritians who love making visitors feel welcome on their island. From the markets to the public beaches and even the nightclubs, there are many places where you can meet the wonderful locals.

7. You don't need a visa. Whether you're travelling straight into Mauritius or starting your trip in Reunion, you don't have to worry about visas. Visiting Reunion is the same as landing in France, while on arrival in Mauritius your passport will be stamped, giving you 60 days in the country.

Hiker arriving at La Chapelle de Rosemont on the volcano Piton de La Fournaise, Reunion island

8. The volcanoes. One of the world's most active volcanoes is found in Reunion and the site of Piton de la Fournaise offers incredible hikes, horse riding and cycling. You can visit its fascinating lava tunnels on the coast and be blown away by the magnificent beauty of its otherworldly landscape. Don't miss the lunar-like lava flows of Grand Brulé - they're a must-see.

9. The luxury hotels. The hotels and resorts in Mauritius are second to none for service, spa heaven and glorious settings. Check into the five-star LUX* Belle Mare on the east coast to experiences sink-your-toes-straight-in white, powdery sand, top-notch restaurants and a wealth of unique activities. In Reunion, look no further than LUX* Saint Gilles, home to the largest swimming pool on the island, Creole-style villas and the finest beach around.

LUX* Belle Mare

10. The views. There's no better way to witness the dramatic scenery of Reunion than with a helicopter ride. Corail Helicopteres offers breathtaking tours from Saint Gilles, taking in Reunion's three cirques, the waterfalls and volcanoes. You'll get up close to peaks, tumbling waterfalls and have an amazing view over the stunning coastline.

11. Sega dancing is a must-see. The colourful and energetic music of Mauritius was introduced by African slaves during the French colonial period and uses the instruments of the ravane, maravane and triangle in a continuous rhythm, while the dancers use their arms and hips in racy moves. At LUX* Belle Mare, you can watch a weekly sega performance outside the Mari Kontan bar.

People perform traditional Sega dance in Ville Valio, Mauritius.

12. The religious diversity. Both Mauritius and Reunion have people of several religions coexisting peacefully. Hinduism is the largest religion of Mauritius, followed by Catholicism, Islam and Buddhism. In Reunion, the main religions are Catholicism, Hinduism and Islam. You'll find temples, churches and mosques in most towns across both islands.

13. They're perfect for a twin-centre holiday. It takes just 40 minutes to fly between Mauritius and Reunion.

14. The beaches. Mauritius is world-renowned for its white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. Head to the north for one of the most picturesque stretches, Trou aux Biches, while gorgeous Blue Bay in the south is another marvellous spot for swimming and snorkelling.

People shops for fresh fruits and vegetables in the traditional fresh market of Port Louis

15. The food. With their cultural diversity, Mauritius and Reunion offer terrific treats for gourmands to explore. In Mauritius, you must take a tour of the delicious street food in the capital Port Louis, where you can taste the influences of Indian, Chinese and African cuisine. Pickled tropical fruits (confit), dhal puri and ghajak are some of the specialities you must try.

16. The markets. Reunion has some wonderful markets that give visitors a real taste of the flavours, fragrances and colours of the island. Pick up Madagascan baskets or Bourbon vanilla in the markets of Saint Denis or Saint-Pierre, while browsing the many exotic fruits and vegetables on offer.

La Réunion, vanilla

17. The weirdly wonderful. The natural attractions on Reunion are as dramatic as you'd expect from this wild isle and one of the quirkiest places to visit is Le Souffleur, a blowhole in Saint-Leu where the swell of the Indian Ocean and the rocky coast produce a massive jet spray in a breathtaking natural phenomenon. Get there early in the morning to beat the crowds.

Book it:Hayes & Jarvis (01293 762 456) offers a ten-night twin-centre holiday to Reunion Island and Mauritius from £1,749 per person - a saving of up to £279 per person. The offer includes five nights at LUX* Saint Gilles, followed by five nights at LUX* Belle Mare, both on a B&B basis, along with return international flights from London Heathrow (based on 3 June 2018 departures).

Best beach holiday destinations for 2018

Best beach holiday destinations for 2018