Les Saintes Islands are a hidden gem of the French archipelago of Guadeloupe. With stunning turquoise water, colorful Creole houses, and picturesque bays that “coup le souffle” (take your breath away), these islands are a must-see destination worth adding to your Caribbean bucket list.
A day or overnight trip to Les Saintes will change your experience of Guadeloupe. Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre (the two largest islands of Guadeloupe) offer wildly different experiences already. But Les Saintes Islands, located off the coast just south of Basse Terre, take it even further and will simply blow you away with their beauty.
Did you know? Terre-de-Haut, along with Terre-de-Bas, are the only two inhabited islands of Les Saintes, which, collectively, has 9 islets! (Who knew Guadeloupe had so many islands?!)
In this guide, I’ll spill all the secrets of the gorgeous Îles des Saintes — what to do and see, how to get there, places to eat, where to find the best beaches, and much more.
Guide: Îles des Saintes, Guadeloupe
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How to Get to Terre-de-Haut & Les Saintes Islands
The only way to get to Les Saintes, Guadeloupe is by ferry! While there is an itty-bitty airport on Terre-de-Haut, no commercial airlines fly there.
Luckily, Les Saintes aren’t too far from the main islands of Grande-Terre or Basse Terre.
If you’re based in Grand Terre, ferries leave the port at Pointe-à-Pitre. If you’re on Basse Terre island, ferries leave from the small village of Trois Rivières or from the capital of Guadeloupe also called Basse-Terre (not confusing at all, right?).
- Ferry companies: ValFerry, CTM Deher (local company)
- Price per adult: €18–24 round trip (aller-retour) depending on the company, location, and seasonality
- Departure times: 09h00 departure and 17h00 return
- Must be present for departure 30 minutes in advance (our boats left early!)
- Parking: Free at some marina parking lots. Otherwise, parking is available for 24-48h and typically costs €5.
Book online to benefit from discounts and receive your reservation by email.
🌟 Before you book your ferry tickets, decide whether you will just spend the day (9 am departure – 5 pm return) in Terre-de-Haut, Les Saintes, or if you will book a hotel for the night and return the next day. From our experience, we would’ve loved to stay longer in Terre-de-Haut. I would recommend booking at least one night to enjoy the sunset and sunrise in Les Saintes.
Best Places to Stay in Terre-de-Haut
If you do plan to stay one night in Terre de Haut, make sure to reserve your hotel well in advance.
Tip: Guadeloupe is NOT the destination to travel with a “go with the flow” spirit, as we’ve come to learn. Expect to pay €50 minimum per night up to €150+/night for a hotel in Les Saintes.
Village Le Pre — A beautifully decorated hotel-apartment on the Route Des Press Cassin beside the postcard-perfect restaurant “Les Balançoires.” Ideally located nearby the beaches (in particular, Anse à Gilot) and 1km from the town/marina. Fully and cutely equipped.
Kazajany — Spacious apartment located 10 minutes walking from the ferry port and 5 minutes to the Pisquettes scuba diving club. Includes wifi, AC, and an outdoor pool with a view on the bay and Terre-de-Bas.
Garden Bungalow (Gîte dans un jardin) — Typical Creole-style bungalow surrounded by tropical flora. Located beachside in the heart of the town and 450m from the Baie de Marigot.
Getting Around Terre de Haut Island
Once you dock at Terre-de-Haut, you should consider renting a scooter, bike, or a voiturette (mini-vehicle) to explore the island.
Terre-de-Haut is not that big — you could technically walk the length of the island in roughly 1 hour (from Fort Napoléon down to Anse Crawen), but you will easily tire. The island is hilly, and you’ll be in full sunshine for most of your promenade.
To make the most of a day trip in Terre de Haut, I would highly recommend renting either a scooter or e-bike. Most bikes and golf carts are electric. There are both regular and electric scooters for rent.
- Scooter rentals: €25 to €30
- E-bikes (vélos electriques): €35 to €50
- Mini electric golf carts (voiturettes): €65 to €80
Important Note: You can only rent/drive a 50cc scooter if you don’t have a scooter/motorcycle license. Anything more powerful (100cc/150cc), and you’ll need a special license.
With any of these transportation options, you can get to/from top attractions like the Fort Napoléon or Pain de Sucre beach within 5–7 minutes instead of walking 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Where to rent them? You will find loads of options around the main plaza right as you walk off the ferry. The rental price includes helmets for 1-2 people and gas.
Things to Do on Terre-de-Haut
Les Saintes islands are small, but they offer plenty to do and see in one or two days!
1. Visit Fort Napoléon
- Hours: 9am – 12 pm
- Cost: €5 per person
- Other info: Free parking, mask required, photos allowed, snack bar, museum shop
Start your day in Terre-de-Haut with a visit up to Fort Napoléon atop Morne Mire.
It’s up here where you’ll get to have several breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding islets and Les Saintes bay — a member of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World by UNESCO!
Classed a historical monument in 1997, Fort Napoléon and the Saintes Museum serve as a reminder and tribute to Les Saintes’ heritage.
It was first built on top of the ruins of Fort Louis (1773–1809) under Louis XVI and then rebuilt later on from 1845-1849 and 1857-1867 under Napoléon III. Despite all fortification efforts, it was never used as a military base. It closed and was later used as a prison from 1940–1942.
Today, the fort welcomes visitors all over to steep in Les Saintes history. Inside, there are two floors and 18 rooms, each paying tribute to Les Saintes past, including its maritime/fishing culture, marine biology, and, most importantly, its historical records explaining the Triangular Trade Route which spread slavery all over the New World. There’s also a well-kept cactus garden surrounding the fort grounds.
Tips: The fort is open only from 9 am – 12 pm, so you better go earlier rather than later. To get there, I would recommend either a scooter or e-bike. The road is scenic, but it’s long, hilly, and in full sun. On foot, it takes roughly 30 minutes whereas a scooter/bike gets you there in 5 minutes. Head left from the main plaza (or, if you’re on two wheels, follow the road to your right that wraps around the town and back).
2. Discover the Beaches
There are a dozen or more beaches on Terre-de-Haut and even more including all of Les Saintes! But which ones can you, or should you, visit on a day trip?
Most visitors flock to Pain de Sucre, and after visiting, we can see why. With emerald clear water ideal for snorkeling, it’s definitely “picturesque.” The only downside to this beach is the crowd it attracts.
Of course, there are plenty more beaches to enjoy off the tourist trail.
- Anse Crawen
- Anse Figuie
- Plage de Rodriguez
- Anse du Fond Curé
- Grande Anse (to see, not to swim)
- Baie de Pompierre
- Baise de Marigot
- Anse/Plage du Bourg
Read more down below to see photos and descriptions of all the ones we visited in one day (thanks to our scooter!).
3. Explore the Town of Terre de Haut
As for the town itself, its cute pedestrian street lined with cafés, shops, and delectable restaurants immediately immerses you into the quaint seaside fishing village of Terre de Haut.
From the main square, head right toward the quaint Notre-Dame de l’Assomption Catholic church with its volcanic stone facade and wooden steeple. Further down the street of Rue Jean Calot lies the colorful Town Hall and a lively square.
If you head in the opposite direction, toward Fort Napoléon, you’ll cross the famous Boat House, even more shops and bistros, and plenty of traditional Creole-style wooden homes with bright red roofs and colorfully painted doors and shutters (les volets).
4. Try Les Saintois Food — Where to Eat
Don’t forget to take note of these best places to eat in Terre-de-Haut during your promenade. In town, you have several options where you can dine on fresh fish and typical Creole food.
- Au Bon Vivre – featured on the travel series hosted by Willy Monfret (Guadeloupe’s model ‘Ambassador’).
- Les Balançoires — adorable seaside beach bar serving up fresh burgers and Asian-Creole fusion with elaborate cocktails.
- Ti Kaz’la — classic French food with a gastronmic twist from the Antilles.
- Couleurs du Monde — this harbor front colorful restaurant serves up up coffee and typical dishes on a budget.
- Local specialty — Crêpes de poisson (fish crêpes).
- Don’t forget to try a typical coconut cake from Les Saintes called “tourment d’amour“!
We personally had a delicious meal at La Fringale which included our choice of entrée, main course (tuna steaks), and dessert for €24/pp. Paul and I enjoyed a Creole gazpacho and King Mackerel tartar as our entrées, tuna steaks with delicious veggies as our main, and crème brûlée with old rhum and cream puffs (profiteroles) covered in chocolate for dessert! (Are you drooling yet?)
Note: Lunch menus in Terre de Haut will set you back around €19-24 per person, without drinks.
Beaches to Visit on Terre de Haut
Imagine zero crowds, shady palm trees, and a grassy area perfect for beachside picnics. Anse Crawen is the last beach you’ll find on the southern tip of Terre de Haut, beside Pointe Boisjoli. You can go scuba diving around this coast. Nearby is also a hiking trail that leads up to Le Chameau (the highest point on Terre de Haut).
Pain de Sucre
Pain de Sucre is almost as idyllic of a beach as it gets. Turquoise-emerald waters invite you in to snorkel and play in calm water with virtually no waves. Boats toss out their anchors and beachgoers line their towels up under the few shady palm trees on the sand. Go early — it gets crowded fast! Note: There is a dirt/rocky trail leading down to Pain de Sucre from the main road (5 minutes).
Anse Figuier is a little-known golden sand beach. You won’t find a soul here as it’s a little further to reach. Expect a bit of seaweed and lots of wind and waves, as this beach opens out to the Atlantic. From here, you have a direct view of the Caribbean country of Dominica.
Anse du Fond Curé
Just south of the town and marine lies the Anse du Fond Curé. This is a small, calm beach that looks out onto the bay filled with sailboats. Grab lunch at Les Balançoires and enjoy a cocktail with your feet in the sand. The local fish market is a 5-minute walk away.
Plage de Rodrigue
For a secluded beach experience, head all the way down the road beyond Grande Anse on the west side of the island to find Anse Rodrigue. In this little cove lies a wide-open sandy beach with small waves and little shade.
Grand Anse isn’t a beach for swimming or relaxing. Here, there seem to be lots of damage from the previous hurricane. The shore is washed away, covered in stinky sargassum. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting and scenic area to stop and look at on your way to Anse Rodrigue.
Baie de Pompierre
On the north end of Terre de Haut, you’ll find several beaches and gorgeous miniature bays with crystal clear water. Baie de Pompierre is one of them! Here, you will find a large beach lined with palm trees. Not too far away lie the Roches Percées which. you can actually visit by swimming from the east end of the bay. Picnic tables set on concrete slabs speckle the shoreline for families and couples to enjoy. Showers are located near the entrance, as well as a little beach snack bar.
Baie de Marigot
The Baie du Marigot has got to be one of the most beautiful places on Terre de Haut. With crystal clear water, this area is ideal for snorkeling and is popular for diving. You can see this bay from above as you tour the grounds of Fort Napoléon.
Anse du Bourg
Finally, spend some time appreciating the beauty of the town’s main beach — Anse du Bourg. The water reaches right up to the houses and restaurants perched and is ideal for swimming, kayaking, and relaxing. While on this beach, take a glance to your right to see the famous Boat House jutting out from the hillside.
More Things to Do in Les Saintes Guadeloupe
With more time in Les Saintes, you will be able to explore even more hidden gems of the archipelago.
There are several hikes on Les Saintes worth checking out! Unfortunately, the road to Le Chameau was closed during our visit, but normally you can either hike up to it or take your vehicle up the road to the top. The Morne Morel and the Fort Caroline are two attractions ideal for hiking (randonnée). If you take a ferry out to Îlet à Cabrit, you can also go hiking, diving, and kayaking around the coast.
Terre de Bas
Terre de Bas is the less populated, wilder island that makes up the two largest islets of Les Saintes. On Terre-de-Bas, you can also go hiking, visit remote beaches, go scuba diving and snorkeling, and more! One thing to take note of: there are no hotels, rather residences and apart-hotels on this island. One place to stay, proposed by the tourism office of Terre-de-Bas, is Coco d’Îles. You can find other accommodation options on Terre-de-Bas here. Ferries leave every day from Trois Rivières to Terre-de-Bas.
Les Saintes is ideal for scuba diving — warm waters, crystal clear visibility, and plenty of colorful marine life to see. One of the top sites is called the Sec Pâté (advanced open water certification required). Of course, there are plenty of other sites to dive including ones that are ideal for beginners. The two dive shops I know of are La Dive Bouteille and Plongée Pisquettes.
Also Read: Diving in the Jacques Cousteau Reserve
Visiting the 7 Uninhabited Islets (Îlets)
With several days on Les Saintes, you could visit the other 7 uninhabited islets speckled around Terre-de-Haut and Terre-de-Bas.
- Cabrit island
- La Coche
- Roches Percées
- Les Augustiins
- La Redonde
- Le Pâté
In particular, the protected Îlet de Cabrit, considered the guardians of Les Saintes Islands, is accessible by boat and features 5-6 hiking trails, wildlife, and snorkel/dive sites. It once was crowned by Fort Josephine (1777) but was destroyed by the English in 1809 and later used as a prison in 1851.
With that, I hope you enjoy your visit to Les Saintes! If you have any more questions about your stay, feel free to let me know. Drop your comments below.
Please remember to travel responsibly and Leave No Trace. Take care of the places you visit!
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