Saint-Gilles-Les-Bains marina © Damien Boilley
Close to Saint-Paul, on the northwestern side of the island, Saint-Gilles-les-Bains is a highly popular weekend destination, offering a beautiful 12-mile (20km) lagoon and gorgeous white-sand beaches. Saint-Gilles was once a sleepy fishing village, but now it is Reunion's most popular resort, attracting crowds of visitors intent on enjoying the leisure activities, watersports and lovely beaches. Snorkelling, scuba diving and swimming are a must, but those tired of the beach can head to the Garden of Eden, a lovely botanical garden with roughly 700 species of tropical plants. Saint-Gilles has plenty of hotels and restaurants, though these tend to get very crowded at peak holiday periods and weekends.