Bouillante is perhaps the most touristy town on the west coast of Guadeloupe on Basse-Terre, also nicknamed the “Côte Sous le Vent.”
Here, you can plunge into the Jacques Cousteau Reserve, lounge in hot springs heated by volcanic activity, and explore hikes and waterfalls between the mountains, rivers, and sea!
All nature lovers and scuba divers cannot miss out on visiting Bouillante while vacationing in Guadeloupe. While there aren’t dozens of cute cafes or restaurants to choose from, it has all you need to make a weekend or week-long stay ideal.
Learn more about this special town and why it attracts so many visitors to bathe in its thermal waters below!
Complete Guide: Bouillante, Guadeloupe
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🏨 Plan your stay in advance (including flights/cars) — hotels and villas in Bouillante book out months in advance because French travelers from the mainland plan their vacations/PTO way out
🚗 Rent your car online ahead of time for the best rates
✈️ Find flights to Guadeloupe from $99 on KAYAK
🍃 Leave No Trace and travel responsibly!
💰 ATMs are available inside the Centre Commerical de Pigeon in Bouillante
🥘 Cafes and restaurants in Bouillante tend to close early, around 5–6 PM
💦 All of the hot springs are free!
🐳 Whale and dolphins can be spotted in the bay of Bouillante during the summer months
Getting to Bouillante in Basse-Terre
As is the case anywhere you visit in Guadeloupe, you’ll need to rent a car.
There isn’t a reliable bus network that takes you from town to town on Basse-Terre, so you absolutely should plan and reserve a car in advance.
From Pointe à Pitre airport on Grand-Terre, head west on the Route de la Traversée / Chemin de la Retraite, the highway that crosses through the mountains splitting Basse-Terre. Here are the directions.
If your destination is the town of Bouillante, you’ll first reach the Plage de Malendure and Cousteau Reserve and keep going.
Note: Depending on what activities you plan on doing while in Bouillante, you may want to stay closer to Malendure Beach and the side of Pointe Noire / Deshaies. If you prefer to stay closer to the town of Bouillante for its hot springs and colonial/cultural attractions, then you’ll be closer to the town Vieux Habitants and Sainte Claude where you can hike Soufrière Volcano.
Where to Stay — Hotels in Bouillante
Whether north or south, the top things to do in Bouillante are all easy to reach by car in as little as 10–15 minutes. In any case, here are some of the best hotels and apartments to stay at while in Bouillante!
- Gîtes La Nantillaise — superb, spacious apartments perched on the mountainside with an outdoor pool and terrace overlooking the bay of Bouillante.
- La Tortue Bleue — adorable bungalows with an outdoor pool and beach bar — relax in the sun after a day of diving with a ti-punch in hand!
- Gîtes Dardanelle — clean, budget-friendly hotel apartment located 1km away from the St Thomas hot springs.
Where to Eat in Bouillante — Best Restaurants
We are always on the search for the best eats wherever we go! After a day of diving, kayaking or snorkeling in Bouillante, you will get plenty hungry.
Here’s where to go to refuel:
La Roche de Malendure ($$) — A picture-perfect spot for dining on fresh fish specials, located just above Les Heures Saines dive club overlooking the Pigeon Islands. Expect to pay €15–20 for a delicious meal of fish cooked to perfection paired with local veggies and roots.
Oganik ($$) — Wood-fired pizza, wine, and cured meats. Need I say more? Get the smoked marlin pizza with passion fruit and salted caramel drizzle—you won’t regret it!
La Côte Ouest ($+) — Typical Creole-style restaurant with slow-smoked grilled chicken and meats. On Tuesdays only, they serve mussels in a creamy herb sauce for €10. Add sweet potato fries and local manioc fries and you have yourself a delicious take-home meal!
Restaurants on the Plage Malendure ($-$$) — There are several spots to grab a simple bokit (typical sandwich of Guadeloupe with fried bread), chichis (churros), and fresh fish plates. There are 4-5 restaurants in this area from Gina’s to the beachfront shacks with plastic chairs.
Ô Z’Épices ($$$) — A renowned “Haute French” restaurant south of Plage Malendure but just north of the Bourg du Bouillante. Here, you can dine on upscale French-Creole food by Chef Jimmy Bibrac.
Don’t forget to try the homemade coconut sorbet and bokit sandwiches sold by this lady on the street!
Best Things to Do in Bouillante
Considered the unofficial diving capital of Guadeloupe, Bouillante boasts dozens of dive sites—particularly inside the underwater reserve.
However, you can also explore its turquoise waters via kayak, glass-bottom boat, or snorkel.
Beyond diving, Bouillante is most famous for its natural hot springs which we’ll discover more in-depth in just a bit!
Diving in the Jacques Cousteau Reserve in Bouillante is a must. Whether it’s your first time or fortieth, the Cousteau Reserve offers an experience you don’t want to miss.
While there are about a dozen or more dive sites in Bouillante, many are concentrated around the Pigeon Islands while others are scattered throughout the Cousteau Reserve.
I dove at the Pointe Lézarde, at the southern tip of the reserve, and can highly recommend it! It’s one of the few dive sites in Guadeloupe where you can see and feel geothermal activity—hot springs rising out of the seabed!
Bouillante’s Hot Springs
Speaking of hot springs, did you know where Bouillante got its name? For the hot water, of course (“bouillante” means boiling)!
Bouillante is the only place in Guadeloupe that has natural thermal springs heated by volcanic activity that is used to make electricity. For decades, the hot springs have been like a pilgrimage site for the locals who bathe in its hot, healing waters.
The local we stayed with took us to the hot springs in the Bourg du Bouillante at night, which was a pleasant surprise! She told us all about its thermal minerals, including its beneficial thalassotherapy qualities, and how it’s truly a source of energy (both spiritually and literally) for the locals.
Today, the geothermal factory in Bouillante produces about 8% of Guadeloupe’s electricity, the only and first of its kind in all of France.
A trip to this side of Guadeloupe wouldn’t be complete without enjoying its hot waters. Here’s just a few to visit:
Thomas Bains Chauds — Increasingly popular spot among tourists. From the parking lot, follow the path for 10 minutes. The natural springs pool isn’t large, so it can get crowded quickly.
Bain Chauds du Bourg — The hot springs here are so hot that the geothermal factory takes it and mixes it with cooler seawater and then lets it run back out into the sea. Bathers come from dawn to dusk! Find parking just opposite the road. Beware — the sulphury egg smell is strong here!
Bain du Curé — These hot springs jet out directly from the rock down by the Galets Beach. There is a little shack where locals come during water shortages to collect water directly from the source.
You also have the Anse du Dépôt and the hot springs at Petit Anse beach. Click here to see all the hot springs in a downloadable PDF.
Kayaking & Snorkeling in Bouillante
If you’re not an avid diver, but still love to play in the water, then Bouillante also has amazing kayaking and snorkeling opportunities.
For this, consider renting a kayak and going on a half-day trip out to Pigeon Islands inside the Cousteau Reserve. The islands are only accessible by kayak, so you won’t be able to explore them otherwise!
The Pigeon Islands and its three dive/snorkel sites — The Coral Garden, The Pool, and The Aquarium — are all great for snorkelers.
The reef is lively with colorful tropical fish such as parrotfish, angelfish, blue tang, trumpetfish, barracudas, and the passing green sea turtle!
Kayak rental shops are located on the Plage de Malendure (where you’ll leave from) and crossing only takes 15–20 minutes (so pretty laid back!)
🌟 You can read more about kayaking and snorkeling in the Pigeon Islands here.
Beaches in Bouillante
There are dozens of beaches located down the Côte Sous le Vent, but the jewel of them all is the Plage de Malendure.
It’s a beautiful black sand beach with calm waves—ideal for swimming and snorkeling in peace. Lots of kayakers, divers, snorkelers, etc, come here because it acts as the gateway to the Réserve Cousteau and Pigeon Islands.
Bouillante has other beaches to explore, though. Galets Beach (also known as l’Anse au Sable), for example, is a prized little rocky beach where you can watch the sunset and visit the hot springs at the Bain du Curé.
La Plage de Petite Anse is also well-known, thanks to its finer white sand and typical Creole-style restaurants lining the beach. You can feel hot springs here, too, if you dig a little underneath the sand along the littoral strip.
If you’re seeking to get off the beaten path, then La Plage de Machette is a great option. It’s often deserted, so expect to see little to no tourists here. L’Anse du Thomas and l’Anse du Dépôt are ideal if you want to also experience hot springs.
Finally, one beach that often gets overlooked is the l’Anse à la Barque.
This beach is in a little cove, often filled with anchored sailboats. You may miss it if you’re speeding on the highway. You can find parking on either side and then follow the path down to the small white sand beach. This natural protected site is home to sunken ships, making it a popular diving and snorkeling destination.
You can easily see why Bouillante attracts so many travelers!
Between its beaches, hot springs, and dive sites, there’s plenty to do and see that’ll quickly fill up any weekend or week-long itinerary. (I would stay for a few months just to go diving!)
I hope this guide to Bouillante, Guadeloupe helps plan your stay! If you have any questions, drop them in the comments below.
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