The Secret Beach of Alan the Elephant Seal

An elephant seal? In Reunion? Yes! Keep listening…

People say that Mauritius has better beaches than Reunion. Well, that depends on what you want. If you want private, pristine, white sand beaches with 5 star hotels, then maybe Mauritius is for you. However, sunbathing is not my cup of tea, as I prefer the wild empty beaches of the south of Reunion. Crashing waves, black volcanic sand and lushvegetation. And not a tourist in sight.

I thought I knew all the beaches on Reunion. I was wrong. This year I was taken to a fantastic beach that I never even knew existed. Thanks to Niko Barniche, one of the island’s few bilingual tour guides, we took a small road on the right signposted ‘Capitainerie’, just as we approached the ‘Route des Laves’ coming up from St Philippe. A couple of kilometres away, the walk starts, with a short climb down to a truly stunning spot. It was actually formed after the volcanic eruption of 2007, which you can still see spilling out to sea.

No people. No litter. No tourists. Well, that last point is not totally true, because this beach, La Plage du Tremblet, is famous for one tourist in particular. An elephant seal. Called Alan. It’s true! For several years now, Alan the elephant seal has chosen this beach as his favourite spot to relax, catch some rays, and chill out. He originally wanted to take up residence at Cap Méchant, but was too annoyed at the crazy woman there telling him he was Satan and that he was going to hell. A wise move…

Seriously, this beach is one of Reunion’s sweetest secrets, and if you ever go down south, make sure you stop off and admire the natural beauty of L a Plage du Tremblet. And if you see Alan, please say hi from me.


elephant seal – éléphant de mer
pristine – en parfait état
to sunbathe – se bronzer
wild – sauvage
lush – luxuriant

signposted – indiqué
stunning – époustouflant
to spill out – déverser
litter – déchets
catch some rays – se bronzer

to chill out – se détendre
annoyed – enervé
hell – enfer
a wise move – un bon choix

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