ISLANDS OF GUADELOUPE: LES SAINTES
15 km of the southern coast of Guadeloupe, sits Les Saintes. A small
archipelago, made up of 9 islands discovered by Christopher Columbus
on 4 November 1493. It is known worldwide for the beautiful bay of
Anse du Bourg, that reminds you a little of Rio's Pain de Sucre. Its
is considered the third most beautiful bay in the world.
The two main islands, Terre de Haut of 4.52 Km2 and Terre de Bas of
9.45 km2 are the only ones inhabited, (Just over 3,000
inhabitants.), They are connected by a ferry that takes about 15
minutes to cross. Terre de Haut, reachable by ferry or air from
Guadeloupe, welcomes many a tourist ashore for the day. Terre de
Bas, has just one beach and a few easily accessible creeks. It is
how-ever far less frequented and has managed to maintain its charm
and tranquillity. Giving the impression of another era. Stop at
least one night to enjoy the authenticity of the place and the
peacefulness, after the departure of the last ferry at 16.30. The
islands of Les Saintes, thanks to their isolation over the
centuries, have maintained a unique character. Their offer their
visitors numerous different beaches, which in our opinion are some
of the most beautiful of Guadeloupe, many walks with unforgettable
views, similar to that of its neighbouring islands such as Dominica.
For diving fans Les Saintes is a true paradise, the dive sites are
among the most beautiful island of Guadeloupe.
|Visiting Les Saintes
Terre de Haut can be visited in a day by scooter. A trip
which will spoil you with fantastic views including the
Pain de Sucre, the beaches and the Fort. Terre de Haut's
town centre is also very pleasant to visit.
Despite the daily invasion of tourists to the town it
has none the less retained its’ charm as a typical
fishing village, with its wooden houses and local church
constructed from local volcanic stone.
on the mire at 114m, the fort can be reached on foot in
20 minutes, (With a steep incline,) or by scooter. It
overlooks Les Saintes, and its famous bay.
Fort Napoleon was constructed between 1844 and 1897 on
the ruins of an existing fort, Fort Louis, which was
destroyed by the English in 1809.
It hosted a garrison until 1889 without ever knowing
enemy fire, the fort became a jail and served as a
detention centre for political prisoners during the
second world war.
Eventually abandoned, the restoration of the fort was
undertaken in 1980 and today the fort is a museum
dedicated to the history and traditions of Les Saintes
and the Anglo-French naval battles to which it’s
coastline bears witness.
exotic garden inside the grounds of the fort, planted in
1984, showcases the diversity of flora found in Les
Saints. Visitors will be amazed by the cactus collection
and entertained by the Iguanas which roam the park.
Internet Site: www.fort-napoleon.com
Tel. 0590 610151. Open daily from 9am to 12,30. From
July till August the fort remains open until 15,00.
Closed: 25 December, 1° January, 1° May, 27 May and
Entry Fee: 6 Euros
de Bas is connected with Terre de Haut by a ferry
service, and can be visited in a half-day. It is a very
quiet fishing island. There are a few restaurants and
several sleeping options.
Terre de Bas has a shuttle bus service connecting the
port of Anse Muries and the village of Petites Anses to
the south. Petites Anses still maintains its traditional
village atmosphere with her modest houses, a church and
From the port you can proceed by foot to Grande Anse,
where you will find the only, yet beautiful beach on the
island. Approximately a 30 minute walk.
About 15 minutes further by foot you will reach Grande
Baie, not particulary impressive as a bay, but notable
for the ruins of a antique furnace on the shore.
|Sleeping in Les Saintes
the earthquake that devastated Les Saintes in November
2004, the choice of accommodation is limited almost
entirely to Terre de Haut. There are some guest house
options at Terre de Bas, best to get informed at the
tourist office at Terre de Haut.
The hotels costs vary between 70 and 300 euros a night
depending on season and room type.
Bungalows, holiday homes and apartments are numerous, as
on all the islands of the French Antilles, make
reservations well in advance, not good for last minute
One way to be immersed in the reality of Les Saintes and
save on accommodation costs is to find a room or
apartment from a local Saintois who often rent to
Prices start from 30 Euros for a room, for a bungalow
budget at least 50 Euros a night.
Pain de Sucre
A small bay with coconut palm
trees and crystal clear waters, ideal for snorkelling.
You can reach on foot by following the signs to Anse
Crawen, pass the junction for Chameau and approx 500mt
on your right you will see a small path that takes you
down to the sea.
Protected from the Atlantic by the Ilet Roche Percees,
the Plage de Pompierre is a white sandy beach bordered
by palm trees and sea grape trees under which you can
find picnic tables & shelters. Very popular beach with
several snack bars and restaurants in the area.
Tourment d’amour sellers and cold drink vendors, at
the beach’s entrance.
Grande Anse - Terre de Haut
A long beach of approx 1 km. Swimming how-ever is
forbidden because of the strong currents. Although ideal
for kite surfing.
Fond du Curé - Plage de la Colline
A white sanded beach, south of the hamlet and only a
short distance from the town centre. It is dotted with
palm trees has a restaurant, bar and dive centre.
A dark sanded beach with rocks. It is defined as a
nudist beach, but we found no evidence of such. Also to
bare in mind that nudism is forbidden on Les Saintes!
Anse du Figuier
A wide wild beach with dark sand just in front of Grand
Grande Anse - Terre de Bas
The only beach at Terre de Bas. It gets it’s name from
the hamlet of Grande Anse and is only 10 minutes away
from the landing pier. It’s white sanded and there are a
few bars and restaurants near by.
Ilet à Cabri
In front of the hamlet of Terre-de-Haut, an island whose
only inhabitants are iguanas and goats. It was military
owned up to the 20th century. It has been used as prison
and previously a leprosy hospital. There are the remains
of Fort de Josephine that was built in 19th century on
top of the ruins of a previous stand-post.
It is an ideal island for snorkelling and can be reached
|Diving in Les Saintes
For divers Les Saintes have some very
beautiful spots such as Le Paté-Sec, one of the flagship
spots in the Caribbean. Numerous divers come to Les
Saints just to dive this site. It has a under water
marine mountain which is 185 meters high, which peaks at
-15 Three pitons.
The Aquarium is an extraordinary dive with its
underwater canyons and faults, which are brimming with
marine flora, a real unerwater true life aquarium.
history of Les Saintes
Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, Les Saintes
were occupied by the French in 1648 but the settlers
didn't rest long as the island has no fresh water
sources. Because of their strategic location they where
witness to many a naval battle. The British conquered
the area in 1782 after a terrible battle. In 1816 Les
Saintes returned to Franch ownership and divided into
the two councils, Terre de Haut and Terre de Bas, the
first dry and arid, the second with a more luxuriant
The Saintois, are of Breton fishermen decent, are mostly
white. As their ancestors where fishermen their was no
use in importing a slave workforce, Slaves were only
used in only in the small pottery of Grande Baie and for
the plantations of cotton, indigo and cafe in Terre de
Bas, which held a mere hundred slaves.
The Saintois are recognized across the Guadeloupe as
skilled ship builders. The sailing boats are light, fast
and 10 meters long, they are called Saintoises.
Salakos's are typical hats used
by the fisherman of Les Saintes. Of Asian origin and
imported by Chinese workers who came to Les Saintes to
replace the slaves working in the pottery, these hats
were latter adopted by the Saintois for seafaring. Now
not so much in general use, you can still see and buy
them at Terre de Bas, La Maison de l'Artisanat, in
How to get to Les Saintes
To reach Guadeloupe from Les Saintes by
from Pointe a Pitre, Bergevin maritime station, 1-2
crossings in the morning, which take about an hour, returns late
afternoon. Around 39 Euros return.
from Trois Rivières, crossing takes 20 minutes, 18 Euros
return. Tickets on sale at the Syndicat d'Initiative. The boat
sails once early in the morning and returns late afternoon. You
can buy an inclusive ticket that includes the bus ticket to
Pointe à Pitre, Bergevin maritime station.
From Basse-Terre, daily crossings except Sundays, boat
sails in the morning. About 24 Euros each way, tickets are on
sale on the boat itself.
From Saint François, daily with a stopover in Saint
Louis-Marie Galante. Tickets on sale at the marina, where the
boat also leaves from. Crossing takes about 90 minutes. 32 Euros
return. Boat returns in late afternoon.
From Sainte Anne, the boat sails weekly in the early
morning from the fishing port of Galbas. Stop over at Marie
Galante, but occasionally the sail is direct. The return ticket
costs about 33 Euros, tickets on sale at the American Bar on the
seafront or the local crafts village. Return sail late
afternoon, again weekly.
From Marie-Galante, you can catch the boats coming over
from Saint Francois & Sainte Anne, departing early in the
morning. Crossings take about 45 minutes, 25 Euros one way.
plane: Tropic Airlines tel.
0590 202 018 (Airport Terre de Haut tel. 0590 995 032)
Getting around in Les Saintes
When getting to Terre de Haut you will find plenty of local
mini-buses, which offer various tours around the island. You can
also easily hire a scooter, we would like to recommend Jean
Michel from Jeny Location. The rates are about the same as the
rest of the island but we find Jean Michel gives a reliable
service. Les Saintes is a small island, but it is rather hilly,
the scooters normally 100cc work well as a means of transport
especially on the narrow and windy roads of Terre de Haut. If
you arrive by plane, in Les Saintes there are numerous taxi's
and a shuttle service linking the airport to the main points of
call around the island. If you need to get to the town centre to
get to you hotel, you should know that you are practically there
already. Les Saintes has virtually no cars, and scooter is the
most common forms of transport, especially as the island is so
small and arid. Several scooter & motorbike hire agencies can be
found around the town hall & pier at Terre de Haut. The average
rental price for the day is 20 Euros, 25-30 for 24 hours. Ask
plenty of questions regarding the rates & rental time, as the
agents tend to be a bit vague. Smaller motorbikes are few and
you will need to book, scooters are more plentiful, but a
driving license will be required above 50cc.
town center of Terre de Haut has some traffic restrictions,
especially in regards to motorbikes, so be careful & pay
attention to the signs, which can be a little unclear. If you
are planning to go to Terre de Bas your insurance will need to
be extending as it will not be automatically valid. A Terre de
Bas there are not any rental companies. For the more sportive
you can rent a BMX for 10 Euros a day or 4 Euros per hour.
Terre de Bas
The shuttle boat to Terre de Bas leaves every
morning from Terre de Haut and takes a 15 minutes crossing. It
leaves from the main peir
The round trip costs 6 euros, inquire at the bar to confirm
times, (Leaving 7.30, 8.30, 9.30, 11:20; return 10.45, 11.45 am
Arrange with cash on Terre de Bas.