Of all the towns lining the coast on Grande-Terre, Saint François tops the cake for being the calmest and most charming; uncrowded white sand beaches compete with those of Sainte Anne further south, catamarans float in and out of the breezy marina, and hikers make the trek out to the jagged peninsula of Pointe des Châteaux.
A visit to Saint François is a must if you prefer small yet active destinations where tourism mixes with local life.
At first, it might not seem like the town offers much; however, you’ll quickly discover there’s much more to Saint Francois (and this side of Guadeloupe) than meets the eye.
So, why should you travel up the coast of Grande-Terre to Saint François?
Read more below to find out all there is to do and see in Saint Francois, Guadeloupe, and beyond.
Best Things to Do in Saint François
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🚗 Make sure to rent a car to visit Saint-François and beyond!
🏡 Book your perfect place to stay on Booking.com
🍴 Reserve restaurants in advance because they fill up fast!
Top-rated places to stay in Saint-François:
- Domaine Saint François — Rustic-chic bungalows lovingly furnished with natural touches, an outdoor pool, and hammock swings.
- Aqua Lodge — Why not make your stay memorable with a floating house set on the tranquil lagoon of Saint François? So cute and ideal for paddleboarding, snorkeling, and kayaking straight off your little boat home.
- La Gîte Pointe des Châteaux — Super cute and well-equipped tiny homes with ideal location/proximity to the Pointe des Chateaux and Anse du Gourd.
1. Hike to Pointe des Châteaux at Sunrise
La Pointe des Châteaux is an incredible place to witness with your own eyes. Why all the hype, exactly?
In short, you drive out to the tip of the peninsula on Grande Terre, hike 10–20 minutes up to the giant cross on the hill overlooking the Atlantic, and get incredible panoramic views on Grande Terre, the coastline, and the surrounding islands of La Désirade, Petite Terre, and even Marie-Galante and Basse Terre in the distance.
The atmosphere at Pointe des Châteaux is unlike anything you’ll find on the lush and tropical sister island of Basse Terre. Here, at the southeastern tip of Grande-Terre, vegetation is shrubby and dry with gusts of wind powerful enough to knock you off your feet.
It’s wild, turbulent, and one of the best places in Guadeloupe to see the sunrise. You can read more about hikes and surrounding beaches in my guide to Pointe des Châteaux.
2. Visit the Family-Owned Gwadinina Rum Distillery
Touring the family-owned Gwadinina Rum Distillery is a must-do when visiting Saint François. It’s conveniently located just 10–15 minutes north of Saint François, en route to Le Moule, and makes for an easy morning or afternoon day trip.
🍹 As you may know, Guadeloupe is famous for its rum and ti-punch! That said, visiting a rum distillery while in Guadeloupe goes hand-in-hand (even if you don’t like drinking it—like me lol).
However, instead of touring a large rum factory on your vacation, Gwadinina offers an intimate and first-hand look into the behind-the-scenes of artisanal rum making.
The family-owned distillery is the only of its kind. You can learn all about the process—from start to finish—with a tour of the facility for €5/pp. You can also taste their award-winning rum (white/blanc, aged/vieux, etc) for an additional €5.
Tip: Reserve your tour time in advance. The best time to go is during the weekdays/weekends before noon.
3. Relax on the Ghostly Raisins Clairs Beach
Saint François has several idyllic beaches, one of which is the Plage des Raisins Clairs. But little do people know when they visit this beach is that they’re standing on hundreds of graves.
Uhh, what now?
About ten years ago, locals discovered human bones on the Raisins Clairs beach. Apparently, due to progressive coastal erosion, the beach began to unearth countless human bones resting underneath beach-goers’ feet. Turns out, the bones are from a buried cemetery underneath the sand, with an estimated 500 tombs.
Today, a simple sign warns tourists not to cross the metal barrier, so as to avoid further erosion of the fragile coastline. Whether unknowingly or not, hundreds of locals and tourists still frequent this beach to enjoy a relaxing day out with family under the shady palms and grape trees.
If you’re still keen on visiting, and maybe sticking your toes in the sand, a beachfront restaurant, plus several food trucks selling bokets and coconut ice cream are up for grabs right off the parking lot (parking is free, by the way).
4. Scuba Dive from Saint François
If you are based out of Saint François, you’ll have plenty of additional options for diving. There are at least three dive shops to choose from, each located around the marina in town. And while each offers discovery dives and courses (formations) the only club that offers double dives (called bi-plongées) is NOA Plongée (€95).
🤿 Diving out of Saint François isn’t like the other, calmer dive spots in Guadeloupe. At least not in my experience. Since Saint Francois bears the brunt of the Atlantic waves and wind, the waters can be awfully choppy and powerful. So, if you’re not a fan of boats, are a beginner diver, and/or get seasick easily, I’d recommend you wait to go diving until you can go in calmer Caribbean waters (like in the Jacques Cousteau Reserve).
Other than that, there are at least 15–20 dive sites around Saint Francois, stretching from just off the marina all the way up to Pointe des Chateaux and even beyond to La Désirade and Petite Terre. As is the case elsewhere in Guadeloupe, you can also try night diving.
5. Take a Windsurfing Lesson
Windsurfing is an extremely popular thing to do in Saint-Francois. You’ll see windsurfers and kite surfers out in the lagoon off the marina every day!
6. Stroll/Eat on the Saint François Marina
The marina is the heart of Saint François. There are so many wonderful places to eat and grab a drink, but I’ll name just a few of my favorite ones here!
- Café Corail — best healthy, organic brunch with awesome juices (vegan/vegetarian-friendly)
- Restaurant Karibu — an upscale and popular place for Canadian-style breakfast and brunch
- La Petite Crêperie / Krem Island — budget-friendly snack bar with drink + crêpe + dessert deals!
Make sure to reserve in advance for anywhere you want to eat in Saint-François.
7. Road Trip the Northeastern Coast
If you’re based in Saint-Francois, then you’re just a road trip away from stunning cliffside views and hikes. The eastern coast of Grande-Terre is so beautiful and dramatic!
Hop in your rental car and take a drive up to Le Moule. On your way, you’ll pass by the Gwadinina Distillery and fields of old windmills and sugar cane.
Take a break and hike the short and easy version of the Porte d’Enfer Lagoon trail before hopping back in your car and making your way up to the northernmost point of Guadeloupe at Pointe de la Grande Vigie.
With more time, you can do a whole circle of North Grande-Terre, passing through Anse-Bertrand, Port-Louis, and back.
8. Day Trip to Nearby Islets (La Désirade, Petite Terre, Marie Galante)
If you have a week or more in Saint-François, one of the best things to do is book a catamaran boat tour to take you to the nearby islands of La Désirade or Petite Terre.
Since there is the marina and large ferry port at Saint-Francois, you can also take the ferry to Marie-Galante for a day trip (though, I’d recommend staying on the island for at least 2-3 days since it’s much larger/developed than Petite Terre or La Désirade).
Both islets are worth the trip, but if you get seasick easily, doing both might drain your energy!
9. Tour the Musée des Beaux Arts (Fine Arts)
Saint-François also boasts the Musée des Beaux-Arts, which you can’t miss if you’re strolling around the Marina. It’s the first museum of fine arts created in all of Guadeloupe (2017) and features over 150 paintings, sculptures, and drawings from the 16th century–present by artists who are from, lived or trained in Guadeloupe.
10. Stroll Around the Town
If you have a free day to spare, a stroll around Saint-François is a leisurely thing to do.
Its church and plaza are cute and quiet places to visit. For more upbeat tempo, head to the fresh fish market! Just walking around and getting lost in the streets is one way to get familiar with the area and get glimpses of local life.
As you’ll see, Saint-François definitely oozes a much calmer and tranquil vibe than some of the other towns perched along the coast in Grande-Terre! We ended up spending more time here than planned, and loved it!
If you have any questions about this town or what to do around, drop a comment below.
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- The Ultimate Guide to Bouillante (Basse-Terre)
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