French Antilles

Best French Caribbean Islands for a Winter Holiday


Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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French-speaking Caribbean Islands

Traveling to the French islands that are part of the historic French West Indies (known today as French Antilles) is one of the best decisions you can make! These French Caribbean islands are the ideal destinations to escape Europe’s cold winters.

The French islands in the Caribbean will mesmerize you with their breathtaking beaches, pristine natural landscapes, and authentic mix of Creole and French cultures. Perfect for visiting from October to April, the French-speaking Caribbean Islands are now part of France (as French departments) or have a status of Overseas Collectivity.

If you are wondering which island to choose for your next winter getaway, here is our list of the best French Caribbean Islands.

Saint Pierre - Martinique, French Antilles


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Map of French Caribbean Islands

French Overseas Territories, the French Caribbean consists of five regions (single islands and archipelagos): Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint-Barthélemy, and Saint Martin (part).

Map of French Caribbean Islands made with Google My Maps (c)

Most Popular French Islands In The Caribbean

1. Guadeloupe Island (Guadeloupe)

Carbet Waterfalls Guadeloupe

Guadeloupe is an archipelago located north of Dominica. It is made up of five islands – Guadeloupe, Marie-Galante, La Désirade, and Les Saintes. Guadeloupe is a French department, with Basse-Terre town as its capital and the euro as its currency.

The archipelago’s international airport, Pointe-a-Pitre International Airport (PTP), is located in Grande-Terre. Some of the airlines that currently fly into it are Air France, Air Canada, American Airlines, KLM, Delta Airlines, Air Belgium, Air Caraïbes, and Corsair – Click here to buy your flight tickets to Guadeloupe

Guadeloupe Island is one of the French Caribbean islands that has something for every visitor. With the shape of a butterfly, Guadeloupe Island is divided into two sides, Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre. Its left side, Basse-Terre, is mountainous, with lush forests and beautiful, exotic gardens; on the contrary, its right side, Grande-Terre, is where to be for enjoying Caribbean paradisaic beaches and all kinds of watersports.

Besides incredible landscapes, Guadeloupe showcases a rich cultural heritage, where the French colonial past mixes with the local Creole traditions. So, while on the island, you will discover many interesting musical, artistic, and culinary expressions.

Guadeloupe is also famous for producing excellent rhum (IGP “Rhum de la Guadeloupe”), so visiting a distillery is a must-do! One of the best ones is Damoiseau Distillery, located in Grande-Terre – Click here to book your accommodation in Guadeloupe Island

2. Les Saintes (Guadeloupe)

Les Saintes Bay - Guadeloupe

Les Saintes are the most secluded French islands in the Caribbean on this list. Les Saintes Archipelago belongs to the Guadeloupe Archipelago and is located between Guadeloupe Island and Dominica. The archipelago comprises eight small islands, only two of which (Terre-de-Bas and Terre-de-Haut) are inhabited.

To arrive in Les Saintes, you will have to land at Pointe-a-Pitre International Airport (PTP) and then take a ferry. The companies that operate the sails Guadeloupe – Les Saintes are Compagnie l’Express des Iles, CTM Deher, Compagnie Jeans For Freedom, and Valferry – Click here to buy your flight tickets to Guadeloupe

Les Saintes is the perfect gateway if you are looking for beautiful secluded bays and beaches where you can swim and dive. The pristine natural landscape is enriched by historical landmarks and an exciting mix of French sophistication with the colorful Caribbean lifestyle. Because of its remote location, it does not see the crowds of other French Caribbean islands like Guadeloupe or Martinique.

You can do many things in Les Saintes, from hiking up to the island’s highest point, Morne du Chameau, to getting lost in the tiny alleyways of Le Bourg town and exploring its monuments. Water activities such as kayaking, windsurfing, or diving are very popular too.

Don’t miss Les Saintes’ distinctive cuisine, where the traditional cuisine from the Antilles is enriched by French cuisine and African flavors. Typical foods from Les Saintes are fish crêpes – big-size savory crêpes filled with local seafood –, stuffed crab, and bokit – a delicious fried sandwich, and puits d’amour for dessert – Click here to book your accommodation in Les Saintes

3. Martinique

Best things to do in Martinique, French Antilles

Martinique is an island located between Dominica and Saint Lucia and is part of the Lesser Antilles. Just like Guadeloupe, Martinique is a department of the French Republic, and its capital is Fort-de-France. The currency is the euro. 

To get to Martinique, you will land at Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport (FDF), located in the city capital. The main airlines that fly into the airport are Air France, Air Canada, American Airlines, Air Belgium, KLM, ITA Airways, Iberia, Air Caraïbes, and Air Antilles – Click here to buy your flight tickets to Martinique

Martinique is perfect for a beach vacation (check out our favorite beaches in Martinique) and all kinds of watersports, but it is also ideal for those who love a good hike along the coast or through the island’s lush rainforests with tall waterfalls. Martinique also offers a rich cultural experience, with historical attractions and lots of Creole food to try.

Among the best things to do on the island is hiking the Montagne Pelée (1,397 m), the island’s sleeping volcano, and walking the coastal trail known as Presque Ile de la Caravelle. While in Martinique, don’t miss visiting the ruins of Saint Pierre, which used to be the island’s main harbor until a volcanic eruption destroyed it. Other towns not to be missed are Fort-de-France, with the beautiful Balata Garden, and the colorful village of Sainte Anne – Click here to book your accommodation in Martinique

4. Saint-Barthélemy

Saint-Barthélemy, also called St. Barts, is part of the Leeward Islands chain, and it is near Saint-Martin Island. Saint Barthélemy is a special territorial collectivity of France, with Gustavia as its capital city and the euro as its currency.

To arrive in Saint-Barthélemy, you will need to transfer to Saint-Barthélemy-Rémy-de-Haenen Airport (SBH) from neighboring islands. The airlines that will get you to St. Barts Airport are Air Antilles, St. Barth Commuter, Tradewind Aviation, and West Indies Helicopters – Click here to buy your flight tickets to Saint Barthélemy

If you are looking for a luxury vacation in one of the French-speaking Caribbean Islands, Saint-Barthélemy is the spot to be! The island is a favorite destination of the rich and famous, with flawless beaches and many opportunities for high-end shopping and fine dining. Saint Barthélemy’s culture is distinctly French but with that touch of Caribbean charm that you will fall in love with.

St. Barts is the ideal island for a beach getaway. It boasts wonderful beaches where you can sunbathe, leisurely swim, dive, surf, and party! Depending on the activity you are looking to do, you should opt for one beach rather than another.

Besides going to the beach, shopping is another top thing to do in Saint Barthélemy. Gustavia is every shopaholic paradise, with the colonial-style buildings housing haute-couture boutiques and upscale local brands – Click here to book your accommodation in Saint Barthélemy

5. St Martin (French Side)

Saint Martin is on the French side of the Leeward Islands, north of Saint-Barthélemy. The island’s northern part is a French Overseas Collectivity, while the southern part is Dutch. Saint Martin’s capital is Marigot, and the currency is the euro.

The main airport is Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM), which is located on the Dutch side of the island. Many airlines fly into it: Air France, American Airlines, KLM, Caribbean Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and Air Antilles – Click here to buy your flight tickets to Saint-Martin

St Martin (French side) is the quintessential French Caribbean island, with beautiful beaches, creole charm and hospitality, and lush nature. This Caribbean gem will enchant you with its outdoor markets, hiking trails, and delicious French cuisine with Creole influences.

The island of Saint Martin hosts more than 30 beaches, with the most beautiful ones being on the French side. Relaxing on the fine sand and swimming in crystal-turquoise waters are unmissable activities on the island.   

There is incredible nature to wonder at while in Saint Martin, as the island is part of the “Saint Martin Nature Reserve,” which boasts five different ecosystems: reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves, ponds, and dry coastal forest, that you can all admire strolling around the island. A fantastic way to explore the natural landscapes of Saint Martin is hiking the “Trail of the Froussards,” which runs between the beaches of Anse Marcel and Grandes Cayes – Click here to book your accommodation in Saint-Martin

And there you have it, the most popular islands in the French Caribbean to visit. Which one tempts you most for a winter break?

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