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Visit Les Saintes, French Caribbean
If you are looking for a vacation full of secluded bays, beautiful beaches, dive sites, historical landmarks, and delicious food, then a trip to Les Saintes, Guadeloupe, is the right choice.
The archipelago of Les Saintes belongs to Guadeloupe, in the French Caribbean. It’s located 15 km from the southern coast of Guadeloupe and is made of nine islands: Terre-de-Haut, Terre-de-Bas, Grand-Îlet, Les Roches Percées, Îlet-à-Cabrit, La Redonde, La Coche, Les Augustins, and Le Pâté.
In these French islands, you will find the typical French sophistication mixed with the laid-back and colorful Caribbean lifestyle.
The bay of Les Saintes is listed as one of the most beautiful bays in the world but remains largely unblemished by tourism. The big pro is that you will find a pristine natural landscape on Les Saintes, but with the necessary comforts such as hotels and restaurants.
If this destination of France Overseas sounds ideal for your next holiday, then here’s a quick guide to Les Saintes, Guadeloupe.
How to Get to Les Saintes, Guadeloupe
Getting to Les Saintes will take some time, but the time traveling is totally worth it! If you are arriving from abroad, you will need to take a flight to Pointe-à-Pitre (PTP) in Guadeloupe (click here for flight options and prices).
When you land in Guadeloupe, don’t go through all the hassle of waiting in a long taxi or shared shuttle queues, and use this private, door-to-door airport transfer to the port. The drivers are professional and will show you where to go for the check-in at the port.
Regular ferries connect Guadeloupe to Les Saintes, and you have different options when it comes to traveling to the archipelago.
The Compagnie l’Express des Iles offers up to 28 ferry crossings per week that connect Guadeloupe (Pointe-à-Pitre in Grande Terre) and Les Saintes (Terre-de-Haut). The trip is 1 hour long, and a 25 kg suitcase is included with the ticket (per person).
CTM Deher operates crossings from the port of Trois Rivieres in Basse-Terre (Guadeloupe) to Terre de Haut and Terre-de-Bas in Les Saintes in about 20 minutes.
The Compagnie Jeans For Freedom offers ferry transfer only on Wednesdays. The boats leave from the port of Pointe-à-Pitre, in Guadeloupe’s Grand-Terre, and arrive in Terre-de-Haut. The trip is 1 hour long, and a 25 kg suitcase is included with the ticket (per person).
The company Valferry is another option you have. The ferries depart from Trois Rivières in Basse Terre (Guadeloupe) and arrive in Les Saintes (Terre-de-Haut and Terre-de Bas) in about 20 minutes. The ferries leave a couple of times a day. Valferry also has boats from Pointe à Pitre that will arrive at Terre de Haut in Les Saintes in about 1 hour.
For a beautiful sea day, Viator offers day tours from Basse-Terre to Les Saintes sailing and snorkeling.
Where to Stay in Guadeloupe Les Saintes
We stayed at Les Lofts d’Edouard, a holiday home for two in Terre-de-Haut with a terrace and fantastic sea views from the bed. The location was ideal, close to the port, the main street with the best restaurants, and the Marigot beach. The small kitchen and the reading corner were perfect for the laziest days.
If you prefer the comfort of a hotel, the Hotel Bois Joli offers an outdoor swimming pool and lovely rooms with views of the Caribbean Sea.
Best Time to Visit Les Saintes, Guadeloupe
Les Saintes has an equatorial climate, which means you will find a warm and constant temperature all year round. The yearly average maximum temperature in Les Saintes is 28°C.
In Guadeloupe Les Saintes, you can enjoy pleasant weather and sea temperatures every month. That said, August, September, and October are the rainiest months, so you might not want to travel to Les Saintes during late summer and early autumn.
We visited Les Saintes in late December and did all the walking and hiking early in the morning to avoid the hottest hours (and the day trippers from Guadeloupe).
What to Do in Les Saintes (Terre-de-Haut)
The only two inhabited islands in Les Saintes are Terre-de-Haut and Terre-de-Bas, which are the ones you can visit. This article is focused on Terre-de-Haut, where you will find the best things to do in Les Saintes. We recommend spending a minimum of three full days in Terre-de-Haut so you can visit the island’s main sights and relax on the beach.
1. Beach Day
One of the best ways to spend your time in Les Saintes is to relax on one of the incredibly beautiful beaches of the island. In the French Antilles, “anse” means beach. Here are our favorites:
Plage de Pain de Sucre is a small bay on the northern coast of Terre-de-Haut. This beautiful beach has tall palm trees and crystal clear waters, ideal for open-water swimming and snorkeling. Plage de Pain de Sucre is one of the most popular beaches on the island, so if you are visiting in high season, you will find it pretty crowded.
Plage de la Pompierre is a white sandy beach bordered by palm trees and sea grape trees, a perfect spot for a picnic as some local families like to do. At the entrance of the beach, you will also find snack bars and restaurants, which make Plage de la Pompierre quite busy at the peak of the tourist season.
If you prefer a less crowded beach, try Anse Crawen and Anse du Figuier. Anse Crawen is a dark-sanded beach with rocks, while Anse du Figuier is a wild beach with dark sand located right in front of Grand Ilet.
2. Water Activities
The coastlines of Les Saintes are a fantastic spot for all water activities! Whether you like kayaking, paddling, windsurfing, snorkeling, or diving, there are plenty of places on the island to have fun.
Among the most beautiful diving spots, there is Le Paté-Sec, which has an underwater marine mountain 185 meters high.
The calm waters of the bays and caves of the island provide the perfect environment for snorkeling as well, and the best spots are Plage Pompierre and the bay of Pain de Sucre. Sailing is another popular activity to do while in Les Saintes.
Hiking is one of the best things to do in Les Saintes: hike up to the island’s highest points for the best views!
The most popular hiking spot on the island is Morne du Chameau, at a high of 309 meters. We recommend going up the eastern slope and then down the western one. Hiking to the top of the Morne du Chameau will take around 40 minutes, and we recommend starting early in the morning to avoid the hottest hours.
Other beautiful hiking routes are Le Morne Morel, the hill to the northwest of Plage de la Pompierre, and La Trace des Cretes; both offer great views, and while walking, you will see many indigenous plants and animals.
4. Fort Napoléon
The historic Fort Napoléon was built by orders of Napoleon III between 1844 and 1897 on the ruins of an existing fort destroyed by the English.
Located on the mire at 114 meters, Fort Napoléon overlooks Les Saintes, so you will have a wonderful view of the bay from here.
The fort can be reached on foot from the harbor in 20 minutes, and today it contains exhibitions explaining the construction and usage of the fort, as well as a detailed history of the island. We recommend visiting very early in the morning (when they open) before the day tours from Guadeloupe arrive.
Besides the view you can enjoy from Fort Napoléon, the other best part is its exotic garden, which showcases the diversity of flora found in Les Saintes and an amazing cactus collection.
5. Explore the Old Town
One top thing to do in Les Saintes is to explore Le Bourg, Terre-de-Haut’s capital. Get lost in the tiny alleyways of the Old Town while admiring the pretty houses with their gardens. The neighborhood of Le Mouillage, near the harbor, is where you will find many historical buildings.
Visit the Church of Notre-Dame de l’Assomption, Place Hazier-du-Bousson, dotted with Flamboyant trees, and the Cimetière Marin, the sailors’ cemetery.
6. Take a Day Trip to Terre-de-Bas
Terre-de-Bas is the other inhabited island of the Les Saintes archipelago. If you are staying in Terre-de-Haut for more than three days, taking a day trip to Terre-de-Bas is a fantastic idea!
Terre-de-Bas is connected with Terre-de-Haut by a ferry service. The island is quieter than the most frequented Terre-de-Haut and has two districts: Petite Anse and Grand Anse.
Petite Anse still has a traditional atmosphere, while Grande Anse has the best beach on the island. Terre-de-Bas is best known for its art craft production and hiking trails, and it will make a great day trip!
7. Enjoy Local Cuisine
Les Saintes is a great place to visit for foodies. Les Saintes’ cuisine encounters different cultures: Créole, French, and African. The combination produces excellent dishes where the traditional cuisine from the Antilles meets the fresh local products (especially seafood) and is enriched by French cuisine and African flavors.
Among the dishes you should taste when visiting Les Saintes are boudin créole – a spicy blood pudding –, fish boudins, fish crêpes – big-size savory crêpes filled with local seafood –, stuffed crab, and bokit – a delicious fried sandwich.
Another fantastic dish is the colombo, a sort of curry made of chicken or goat meat and served with rice and beans.
You can eat these dishes in most restaurants in Les Saintes, which French people from the mainland usually manage.
End your meal with the traditional tourment d’amour, a small tartlet consisting of a pie crust pastry filled with coconut jam and covered with a sponge cake. You can find the tourment d’amour with various jams besides coconut, such as guava, passion fruit, and pineapple.