A one-day or two-day visit to Les Saintes? That’s the question you’re asking! I suggest discover our must-see tours and practical information for visiting Les Saintes in Guadeloupe.
South of Basse-Terre and west of Marie-Galante lies the islands of Les Saintes, a group of volcanic islets in the West Indies surrounded by the Caribbean Sea. Of the 9 small islands that make up the archipelago, only two are inhabited: Terre-de-Haut and Terre-de-Bas. For the record, this name was given by the famous navigator Christopher Columbus, who discovered them in 1493 and christened them “Los Santos “, les Saintes!
If you’re vacationing in Guadeloupe, Les Saintes is a must for your trip. It’s a place that attracts many day-trippers looking for a change of scenery, small beaches and a tropical atmosphere. Terre-de-Haut is the more visited of the two islands: more touristic, more developed, but still very authentically preserved, with a real identity. Terre-de-Bas is less well known to visitors, and is wilder, renowned for its hiking trails, pretty coves and snorkeling with turtles.
We’ve fallen in love with this verdant little corner of paradise, which is why I’m giving you my must-sees, my good addresses and the practical information you need to organize your trip to Les Saintes.
Je vous livre tous mhe must-sees for a first discovery of the butterfly island butFeel free to consult all our articles on Guadeloupe to help you prepare for your trip:
- What to do in 4 days in Marie-Galante
- Basse-Terre must-sees
- 7 things not to miss on Grande-Terre
- 24-day itinerary and our detailed mini guide
SOMMAIRE DE L'ARTICLE :
The Baie des Saintes is apparently theone of the most beautiful bays in the world! From the moment you arrive by boat, you’ll have the feeling of discovering a charming little Caribbean island, with its colorful houses, anchored boats, clear waters and well-designed mountains. A real eye-opener! Cars aren’t allowed on the island, so don’t hesitate to explore by bike, scooter (approx. €40 a day) or small electric golf carts (approx. €70 a day).
Terre-de-Haut is not very large and can be visited in a day, without too much hurry. Depending on the time of year, it is essential to reserve your means of transportation in advance because it’s all sold out! We were there the day after a party, and finding an electric buggy (with a baby seat), without prior reservation, was very complicated. We were lucky to find one on the day of our arrival, following a last-minute cancellation.
The Bourg de Terre-de-Haut is the heart of life on the island. Here you’ll find all the shops, the small town square, boutiques, schools, restaurants and most of the homes. Charming, colorful boxes that sometimes sell “Homemade Ti Punch ” with coconut or passion fruit.
Don’t forget to try the specialty of Les Saintes, the famous Torments of love, a round, soft cake filled with coconut, guava, mango or banana.
I’ll tell you a little more about it at the bottom of the article, but for those who only want to go for one day, I invite you to book a guided tour where everything is included.
The Fort Napoleon
The Fort Napoléon, built in the Vauban style, is listed historical monument. Located high up, it is rather well restored, it overhangs the bay of Les Saintes, offering a 360-degree view of the archipelago and surrounding islands. Now transformed into a museum on the history of the archipelago, you’ll learn many interesting things about the history of the West Indies, including privateers, naval battles, colonization and fishermen.
The fort boasts a beautiful botanical garden with succulents that keep a few iguanas happy. We really liked the place. The stroller is suitable for the whole visit, with just a few narrow steps to climb. After a certain hour, it’s hard to find shade on the site, so I’d advise you to get there early, so you can enjoy the place away from the crowds.
From the landing stage It takes about twenty minutes to get there on foot, with a steep climb to 114 meters above sea level. If you’ve got your own little golf cart, you can park it right at the top, on the roadside near the entrance.
Please note that the fort is open daily from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and the last entrance is at 12 p.m.
→ Admission is €7/adult and €3/child for children aged 6 to 10. Tickets can be purchased on site.
Sugar Loaf Beach
The Pain de Sucre beach, for which the island is famous, is the most beautiful beach in Les Saintes. It’s quite far from the center of Terre-de-Haut on foot, but there are two quick ways to reach the beach: by sea or land.
Once you’ve parked at the top of the path, you’ll just have to walk down a slightly steep path (which requires you to wear good shoes, no flip-flops), for about ten minutes to reach this beautiful spot. (Bring your own baby carrier or stroller).
One of the most beautiful beaches in Guadeloupe ! The beach is ideally exposed and dominated by this small volcanic hill Pain de Sucre (Sugar Loaf), rising to over 50 metres above sea level. It’s famous for its pretty bay, clear, calm waters and beautiful seabed for snorkeling, but it’s also relatively small and popular with all visitors. You won’t necessarily have a warm spot on the sand, so I recommend either going early or at the end of the day when everyone’s back on the boat! Only a few of us were able to enjoy this intimate setting at sunset, and it was very pleasant.
By boat, you’ll also have a great view of the whole beach from the sea, while enjoying the warm waters. The tour lasts half a day or a full day and combines several stops.
the pont du curé beach
If you’re spending a night in Les Saintes, you can also visit the plage du pont du curé. It’s perfect for splashing around with the kids, but also for having a good time in shallow, translucent water. Try to stand on the left-hand side of the beach, level with the rocks and a few trees, for a shady, quieter spot.
If you’re looking for a quiet beach with a bit of shade, I invite you to visit the Pompierre beach on the way down from Fort Napoléon. 800 meters long, it’s rather well protected, thanks to its location at the entrance to the bay, and features picnic cabins. It’s a beautiful spot with turquoise waters, coconut palms and a fairly calm sea. A real invitation to relax and unwind, it is much appreciated by visitors who come to spend a day on the island. You may even come across iguanas, chickens or goats!
Other beaches include the beach Anse du figuier, Grande Anse, Anse de Crawen, Baie du Marigot etc. but in just one day, you won’t have time to explore them all!
The camel ride
The chameau is the highest point in the Saintes archipelago at 309 m above sea level, and is located in the commune of Terre-de-Haut. This is THE hike not to be missed on your trip for its breathtaking panorama. In itself, the hike isn’t that complicated and doesn’t require a high level of fitness, but it’s a tough climb!
The ascent is on a tarmac road closed to vehicles, while the descent is on a steep footpath, so you’ll need to be well-shod. Be aware that the hike is in direct sunlight, so bring water, sun cream and a hat. I even recommend doing it at the end of the day for the sunset. Don’t forget your swimsuit to enjoy the beaches after the climb.
How do I get there? From the village of Terre-de-Haut, head for Pain de Sucre beach. Just after the big climb, there are signs on the left indicating “Le chameau” . This is where the hike begins.
Where to eat in Terre-de-Haut
We ate very well in Les Saintes. You’ll find some great restaurants, most of which prepare a local, fresh and gourmet cuisine. There are also a number of take-away snack bars and mini-markets on the island where you can do a little shopping. If you’re looking for very good love torments to taste, I invite you to take the main street that leads to the town hall. There’s a little house on the left with a sign reading “tourments d’amour”. It’s not open every day, and all its pastries go fast.
→ Hotel the Kanaoa: enjoy lunch in an exceptional waterside setting with a sublime view of Les Saintes.
→ Restaurant Au bon vivre with its pretty interior patio
→ I recommend you try the passion mint daiquiri and waterfront restaurant, a delight and a super-charming place, right on the water and ideal for sunset.
→ Restaurant l’annexe perfect for dinner
→ We’ve fallen in love with Les Balançoires restaurant (reservations essential).
→ Lunch at the local Toumbana restaurant (not open every day, reservations required)
🖤 Coup de cœur Balade en catamaran | Activités
Je vous propose une sortie en catamaran de 2h et ou une initiation à la voile encadrée par un moniteur pour découvrir l’archipel des Saintes. Quoi de plus beau que de découvrir cet endroit par la mer, en ayant la possibilité de faire une halte snorkeling à Grande Baie où vous pourrez peut-être rencontrer des tortues de mer. Pour ceux qui recherchent une sortie détente et découverte de la voile en Guadeloupe, cette sortie est faite pour vous !
What to see in Terre-de-Bas?
If you like peace and quiet, hiking and a change of scenery, Terre-de-Bas, with just 1,000 inhabitants, is the ideal island for a relaxing vacation. It’s a small island with fewer visitors than its neighbor, which can be visited quickly by car, but has its own charm and authenticity. It offers hiking trails that allow discover lush vegetation on unspoilt paths such as the Bois d’Inde, and enjoy exceptional panoramic views of Les Saintes. Bois d’Inde is a tree endemic to Terre-de-Bas. It is an aromatic plant whose leaves and seeds are used as a spice in tropical cooking.
To get us going, we headed to the belvedere that promises one of the most beautiful views of Les Saintes and we can confirm it! The view from the top is truly breathtaking! In fine weather, you can even see Dominica and Marie Galante, which is quite incredible.
We also made a short stop at historic monument the Fidelin pottery classified in 1997, which produced sugar forms and molasses pots until the sugar crisis of 1815. At the end of the century, terracotta was the most suitable material for making these vessels.
The beaches of Terre-de-Bas
For swimming, we unearthed the beach of the big bay, accessible below by a small staircase and which was for us, the most beautiful beach on the island: warm turquoise waters, soft sand and tranquillity. It’s also the best beach for exploring underwater fauna. Don’t hesitate to walk along the rocks lining the left-hand side of the beach to observe fish such as diodon, parrotfish, cuttlefish and other tropical fish species. And if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a sea turtle grazing peacefully in the seagrass beds. Don’t forget your snorkeling gear!
The beach at Grande Anse, also renowned for its beauty, was unfortunately covered in Sargasso when we visited in August. We made a short stop on the la petite Anse beach, on the west coast of Terre-de-Bas. We had the feeling of being at the end of the world in this unspoilt spot, a pleasant beach for swimming.
If you’re looking for a spot of snorkeling, head for Anse à Dos, a pretty, sandy beach. small cove surrounded by vegetation and lined with coconut palms.
Is it necessary to rent a car in Terre-de-Bas?
Tout comme Terre-de-haut, cars are essential for getting around the island and rental companies are few and far between. It is therefore essential to rent a car before you arrive. We had booked it 2 months in advance in the middle of August via Iguana Location. They also offer electric bikes and scooters, and are located opposite the pier. Francine and her staff were very charming! They took the time to give us a small map and show us the essentials of the island.
In terms of accommodation, you’ll find other types of accommodation in Terre-de-Basas well as villas, but you can also enjoy Bois Joli Hotel or the coco d’île residence and the Hauts de la Baie residence.
We came to spend the day in Terre-de-Bas because, good epicureans that we are, we absolutely had to try out a local, family-run institution spotted by Antoine.
→ Chez Eugénette: this is where we ate the best cod accras in Guadeloupe but also catrou and fresh fish. It’s a great place to spend a good time with Eugénette and her son, with a really warm welcome and a setting facing the sea. In August, however, the beach was invaded by sargassum! Reservations are essential, as the venue is small and packed.
| VISIT THE SAINTS IN A DAY
If you only have one day to discover the islands, I suggest book a guided excursion from Trois-Rivières to discover the Saintes archipelago. The full-day outing includes return ferry, transfers and guide, Fort Napoléon, Pompierre beach and lunch at a seaside restaurant to sample specialties. There’s also time for a relaxing swim, and you’re off again in the late afternoon.
It’s a excellent compromise for seeing the must-sees without having to organize everything yourself, i.e. booking boat transfers, tours, lunch, travel etc.
| WHERE TO SLEEP IN LES SAINTES
Les Saintes is a green little corner of paradise with a peaceful atmosphere. That’s all it took to make us love this place and convince us to put down our suitcases for two nights. Many travelers only spend a day there, but that’s such a shame, because you’ll miss out on some beautiful places and you won’t get the same experience! For our part, we love it when all these little people leave and the island regains its gentle way of life and tranquility. We have time to chat with the locals, enjoy the restaurants, and take in the beaches.
It was here, in fact, that we met an extraordinary host, incredibly kind and always helpful. Its accommodation is located right in the center of Le Bourg, a stone’s throw from all the restaurants and shops. The place is basic, but clean, and the main reason for coming is the warm welcome. Discover Chez Marie in Terre-de-Haut.
→ You will find a wide choice of accommodation in Terre-de-Hautfor accommodation.
If you’d like to logging on Terre-de-Bas, please note that there are no resorts on the island. You’ll need to target small B&Bs, villas or tourist residences.
| HOW TO GET TO THE SAINTS
To get to the Saintes archipelago, several shipping companies operate daily connections: you’ll need to take a ferry from Pointe-à-Pitre (Grande-Terre), Marie Galante (without transiting the main island ) or Trois-Rivières (Basse-Terre).
For those departing from Trois-Rivières, you’ll need to park your car in one of the company’s two chosen parking lots: Valferry and CTM Deher.
Please note that you need to arrive at least 1 hour before the boat’s departure time to park, as there are a lot of people coming and little space in the small parking lots. Once you’re full, you’ll have to find a place for yourself in the adjacent streets, and that’s not as easy as it sounds! You’ll need to pay €5/day on site to leave your car for a day or several days.
Luggage will be stowed at the rear of the boat in the designated area. There are no constraints in terms of number or weight. For our part, we had decided to take only the essentials for the two days in Les Saintes, and to leave the large suitcases in the boot of the car.
The crossing takes 30 minutes from Trois-Rivières and can be quite bumpy from Pointe-à-Pitre. (remember to take seasickness medication with you). We found CTM to be the best shipping company in terms of seating and comfort, and they also have an outdoor aft deck. You’ll find all the information you need to plan your getaway to Les Saintes on their website (rates, timetables, routes…) and you can book directly with them, either by phone or online.
To travel between the two islands, you’ll need to take the compagnie maritime Béatrix and depart at the times below (please check with the ticket office on site)
- Departure from Terre de haut to Terre de bas: 8:45 am, 9:30 am, 1 pm and 3:15 pm (count 12€/p round trip, tickets can be purchased on site in Terre-de-Haut)
- Departure from Terre de bas to Terre de Haut: 6 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.
A trip to Guadeloupe requires a lot of logistics if you’re looking for something authentic. The service providers I work with to create your tailor-made trip are hand-picked for their ethics and professionalism. They don’t do mass tourism! They will be proposed to you in the quote, only on the booking of a trip from A to Z, i.e. flights, accommodation and activities.
To request a quote and a tailor-made trip to discover the authentic Guadeloupe, contact me by email email@example.com. I invite you to read the customized travel where I present my business as a licensed travel agency.
Before leaving, I invite you to read the must-sees for a first discovery of the butterfly island andFeel free to consult all our articles on Guadeloupe to help you prepare for your trip:
- What to do in 4 days in Marie-Galante
- Basse-Terre must-sees
- 7 things not to miss on Grande-Terre
- 24-day itinerary and our detailed mini guide