Sailing in Guadeloupe, magnificent pearl of the French Antilles
The Guadeloupe, a French overseas territory with a shape resembling a butterfly, is an archipelago composed of a group of islands located in the South of the Caribbean Sea. It is the perfect destination for a sailing getaway in a distant and paradisiacal land, immersed in the beauty of tropical nature and complete relaxation.
Guadeloupe is a mythical destination for sailing, a stopover for famous oceanic regattas and a center of Creole culture. Famous worldwide for its sugar cane plantations and rum distilleries, dreamy beaches and protected natural reserves, turquoise waters and colorful villages, this archipelago offers sailors an interesting blend of Caribbean, French and African influences.
We will depart from Pointe-à-Pitre, the tranquil administrative capital, to explore the most beautiful islands by sail: Les Saintes, Marie Galante, Grande-Terre, Petite-Terre. We will anchor in charming coves, visit rural villages and coastal towns with pristine beaches, vibrant wildlife and hospitable, peaceful locals. An unmissable opportunity to savor the typical atmospheres of these places rich in nature, history and an amazing ambiance.
The embarkation point for our cruise in Guadeloupe is Marina Bas-du-Fort, a very famous marina among sailors for being the arrival stop for major oceanic regattas, such as the Route du Rhum. Surrounding its welcoming docks, rich in services, is the picturesque town of Pointe-à-Pitre, the economic capital of the Guadeloupe archipelago.
It is very pleasant to stroll through its typical streets, dotted with historical museums, small churches and neoclassical buildings. There are also squares adorned with royal palm trees and restaurants where you can savor tasty Creole cuisine. A must-visit is undoubtedly the Darse Market. It will enchant you with fresh fish directly sold by fishermen and incredible stalls filled with exotic fruits and vegetables.
Day 2, Marina Bas-du-Fort – Ilet di Gosier e ritorno, 6 miles
After becoming familiar with the boat and its equipment, it’s time to leave the harbor and reach the delightful islet Îlet du Gosier. Literally meaning ‘throat island,’ it is a protected naturalistic site highly appreciated by boaters for the beauty of its waters and the surrounding coral reef. It also hosts an important lighthouse used as a reference for nighttime landing and alignment towards the neighboring entrance lights to the bay and port of Pointe-à-Pitre.
Right in front of Îlet du Gosier stretches the city of Gosier, which never ceases to amaze with its cheerful atmosphere and beautiful beaches. Among them, the most famous is Datcha Beach, located near a charming green park. After the evening in the city, you will return to Marina Bas-du-Fort to spend the night.
Day 3, Marina Bas-du-Fort – Les Saintes, 18 miles
In the early hours of the morning, we set course for Les Saintes, a charming archipelago composed of nine islets where enchanting bays, lush vegetation, tropical climate and ancient traditions merge. For anchoring, we can choose. The most popular is in front of Pain de Sucre beach, located on Terre-de-Haut Island. It is a stretch of white sand surrounded by coconut palms and crystal-clear waters that host richly colored fish habitats. From here, you can embark on the exploration of the island nicknamed “Rio in miniature,” famous for its colorful houses, breathtaking views, culinary specialties based on local fruits and Fort Napoléon with its respective museum. Alternatively, you can access Pompierre beach overlooking a lagoon of calm, shallow waters with a wonderful turquoise color.
The other inhabited island of Les Saintes is Terre-de-Bas, much more discreet and less crowded. Here too, dream beaches await you, such as Grande-Anse, where turtles lay their eggs, and the curious village of Petite-Anse with its traditions and handicrafts, such as the typical “salako” hat made with Indian wood essence. For unforgettable sunsets, there is Marigot Bay, a quiet sandy cove where you can see fishermen returning with the day’s catch.
Departure for Marie-Galante, also known as the ‘island of a hundred mills,’ with over a hundred scattered across the territory like sentinels of numerous sugar mills and rum distilleries. The island’s atmosphere is deeply rooted in its rural past, with large sugar cane plantations, farmers in wide-brimmed hats and traditional ‘kabwé’ carts pulled by oxen along gentle hills surrounded by forests where time seems to stand still. The North coast is characterized by high cliffs and beautiful almost deserted beaches, some of which are considered the most beautiful in the entire Guadeloupe archipelago.
One of these is Anse Canot, shaped like a crescent moon and accessible only by boat. It is located just north of the town of Saint-Louis and is enclosed on one side by an imposing rock wall that plunges into the sea, while behind it, the typical vegetation of the area expands, providing shaded and cool corners when the sun becomes too hot.
In the southeast of the island, you will find the beach of La Feuillère, which offers peace and relaxation under its palm trees overlooking a lagoon of transparent water protected by a coral reef that attracts scuba divers and snorkeling enthusiasts. For dinner, you can book a table at La Playa, one of the most popular restaurants on the island to savor seafood, and then enjoy the nightlife where Creole music and dance create a truly contagious mix.
Day 5, Marie-Galante – St. Francois, 20 miles
With a long ride of 20 miles driven by the trade winds, we arrive at St.-François, a charming village located on the southern coast of Grande-Terre Island. The local marina offers welcoming docks, nautical services, shops and small restaurants. In addition to the traditional ‘tucul’ with palm-thatched roofs where you can enjoy punch and lobster in ‘sauce chien,’ an exquisite scallion sauce. Strolling along the streets of this Caribbean village, you’ll discover beautiful wooden houses, a picturesque fishing harbor, a casino and the local history museum housed in a 19th-century prison. There is also a lively market here, rich with fruits, exotic vegetables and spices.
After exploring the village, you can relax on the Raisins Clairs Beach. It is one of the most famous in Guadeloupe, with fine sand and a magnificent turquoise lagoon ideal for endless swims. Coccoloba trees, whose fruits resemble grapes and walls with wooden shelters along the beach provide pleasant spots for a tasty picnic. For those in the mood for some activity, St. François boasts the only 18-hole golf course in Guadeloupe, designed by Robert Trent Jones.
Day 6, St. Francois – Petite-Terre – St. Francois, 11 miles
The fifth day of our sailing adventure allows us to explore the beautiful nature reserve of Petite-Terre. You’ll notice it even before disembarking because of the Terre-de-Bas lighthouse, nicknamed the “lighthouse at the end of the world,” which houses a museum of fauna and flora. After mooring in one of the 15 available mooring buoys, the first impression is that of stepping into a small natural paradise. This natural park, both maritime and terrestrial, is surrounded by a coral reef and hosts an incredible fauna heritage.
The main attraction is the iguanas that live in the wild and can be observed up close. But the surrounding beaches are the preferred place for turtles to lay their eggs and host many species of hermit crabs, lizards, resident and migratory birds. Beyond a great variety of colorful tropical fish. Just snorkeling allows you to admire a wonderful natural spectacle. And if you’re lucky, you can even spot dolphins in the distance. On the mainland is also the scent of local plants and flowers is strong, including guayacs, agaves, violets and paulownias. After a day of exploration, we return to St. Francois for an evening of fun.
Day 7, St. Francois – Marina Bas-du-Fort, 4 miles
It’s our last day of cruising in Guadeloupe. But we still have a splendid day of navigation ahead of us; stops at anchor, swimming and snorkeling sessions before returning to our nautical base in Marina Bas-du-Fort. The right ending to a truly evocative tropical experience that will remain in our hearts!