Guide to visiting Les Saintes in Guadeloupe

Les Saintes islands in Guadeloupe - Terre de Haut bay
Les Saintes islands. Terre de Haut bay

Most people think of Guadeloupe as one island in the Caribbean that belongs to France, if they think about it at all. Trust me, it is a mistake not to! Guadeloupe isn’t just one island though, but an entire group of island.

One specific group of islands that belongs to Guadeloupe is the archipelago of Les Saintes (also known as Îles des Saintes in French). There are 9 islands in Les Saintes, but only two of them are inhabited.

You may wonder though why you should go to the remote island of Guadeloupe, and then go to an even more remote island in the Les Saintes island chain but trust me, it’s worth reading on to find out.

Les Saintes Guadeloupe Location

The islands of Les Saintes are located just 9.3 miles (15 km) from the south coast of Guadeloupe. When I say Guadeloupe, I mean the main island that everyone thinks of when you refer to it

Technically the main island is actually two that are named Basse Terre and Grande Terre, but you can just think of it as the main island that is home to the international airport and is shaped like a butterfly.

The Les Saintes islands are just off the southwest coast of the Basse Terre, or the bottom left of the butterfly wing for those that hate using the compass directions.

The Islands of Les Saintes

There are 9 islands in this archipelago, but only two of them are permanently inhabited. The two are Terre-de-Haut and Terre-de-Bas.

The names of all 9 are…

  1. Terre-de-Haut
  2. Terre-de-Bas
  3. Grand-Îlet
  4. Les Roches Percées
  5. Îlet-à-Cabrit
  6. La Redonde
  7. La Coche
  8. Les Augustins
  9. Le Pâté

What Terre-de-Haute Is Known For

The main island, Terre-de-Haut, is known for being a little slice of French culture in the Caribbean. It is also home to Fort Napoleon, a world class sailing scene, and some truly awesome beaches.

One of its exquisite beaches, Pain de Sucre Beach’s. This beach is near perfect. There is a rocky cliff named after the one in Brazil. Once you walk the path down to the shore you will find that there are coral reefs teaming with sea life, palm trees lining the shore, and absolutely gorgeous soft sand, and sparkling clear blue water.

There are also a ton of trails cross the volcanic landscape of Terre-de-Bas Island, home to tranquil Grand Anse Beach.

Interesting Facts about Les Saintes Guadeloupe

  • Seventy-seven percent of the archipelago is a natural reserve.
  • Largest city in Les Saintes: Petite-Anse on Terre-de-Bas Island
  • The only two inhabited islands in Les Saintes are Terre-de-Haut and Terre-de-Bas.

How to Get to Les Saintes, Guadeloupe (Iles des Saintes)

Ferry is the only way to get from Guadeloupe to Les Saintes. There is a very tiny airport on Terre-de-Haut, no commercial airlines fly there.

Once you land in Guadeloupe, don’t go through the hassle of waiting in a long taxi or shared shuttle queues, instead, use this private, door-to-door airport transfer to the port. The drivers are professional and will show you where to go for the check-in at the port.

Take the Ferry

There are ferries that run a regular schedule that will take you from Guadeloupe to Les Saintes.

Get there by boat tour

Take a sailing and snorkeling day tour from Base-Terre to Les Saintes.

If you don’t plan on spending the night there I recommend taking this sailing and snorkeling tour to Les Saintes. It’s a great way to see more of the islands in Guadeloupe without having to deal with transfers or take a lot of time.

Ferry in Les Saintes, Guadeloupe
Ferry ride form Guadeloupe to Les Saintes.

Les Saintes Hotels

Where to stay in Les Saintes Guadeloupe

Studio Grande Anse – Located right by the airport. Plage Du Pain de Sucre is within 1.7 miles of this apartment.

Excursions in Les Saintes

Are there excursions in Les Saintes?

There are snorkeling and sailing excursions that leave from Basse-Terre and take you to Les Saintes for the day.

Check out this page for more details.

Best Things to do in Les Saintes

Pain de Sucre Beach (Terre-de-Haut)

The spectacular beach of Pain de Sucre, Terre-de-Haut, archipelago of Les Saintes at 15 kilometers from Guadeloupe, French Antilles, Caribbean. You can see the incredible coral reef through the crystal clear water.

Beach of Pain de Sucre on Terre-de-Haut, archipelago of Les Saintes.

Plage de la Pompierre (Terre-de-Haut)

Pompierre beach is located on Terre-de-Haut island. Amazing spot to go snorkeling. Well protected little bay with good sand and lots of trees for cover.

There are not very many amenities here. No beach chair rentals make sure you bring your own towel or something to sit on. There are picnic tables there. Great place to swim and eat lunch.

Pompierre Beach (Plage de Pompierre) on Terre De Haut island.
Pompierre Beach (Plage de Pompierre) on Terre De Haut island.

Loisirs Aux Saintes (Terre-de-Haut)

Amazing place for canoe & kayak rentals. Rentals open from 9 am to 5 pm.

Hiking in Les Saintes

Morne du Chameau

This hike is dog friendly. Great trail for running or walking. ore crowded than the other trails listed in this post but one of the best on the island.

  • Distance: 4.7 mile loop trail 
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 1,299 ft
  • Time: About 2.5-3 hours

La Trace des Cretes; both offer great views, and while walking, you will see many indigenous plants and animals.

Morne Morel hiking trail

This hike isn’t my favorite on the island. But it does give you great views. If you have time it’s worth checking out. The trail is open year round and you won’t see very many other people on the trail.

Hike Details:

  • Distance: 4.4 mile loop trail 
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 971 ft
  • Time: About 2-2.5 hours

La Trace des Cretes

This is the most difficult of the hikes on Terre-de-Bas.

Hike Details:

  • Distance: 6.8 miles (11km)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 3200 ft (974 m)
  • Time: About 4-4.5 hours

Visit Fort Napoléon (Terre-de-Haut)

The historic Fort Napoléon was built by orders of Napoleon III between 1844 and 1897 on the ruins of an existing fort destroyed by the English.

Located on the mire at 114 meters, Fort Napoléon overlooks Les Saintes, so you will have a wonderful view of the bay from here.

The fort can be reached on foot from the harbor in 20 minutes, and today it contains exhibitions explaining the construction and usage of the fort, as well as a detailed history of the island. We recommend visiting very early in the morning (when they open) before the day tours from Guadeloupe arrive.

Besides the view you can enjoy from Fort Napoléon, the other best part is its exotic garden, which showcases the diversity of flora found in Les Saintes and an amazing cactus collection.

Anse Mire Snorkeling Spot (Terre-de-Haut)

Sailing and Snorkeling Day Tour to Les Saintes

If you don’t plan on spending the night there I recommend taking this sailing and snorkeling tour to Les Saintes. It’s a great way to see more of the islands in Guadeloupe without having to deal with transfers or take a lot of time.

Take a Day Trip to Terre-de-Bas

Terre-de-Bas is the other inhabited island of the Les Saintes archipelago. You can get to Terre-de-Bas by ferry.

I know it’s hard to believe, but the island is even quieter than Terre-de-Haut island. A great place to visit if you want to be alone.

Restaurants in Les Saintes Guadeloupe

Some of our favorite restaurants on the island are:

  • Les Muriers – French, Belgium dishes. Charming restaurant with great service and food! One of the top rated restaurant on Terre-de-Haut. Reservations are needed. Free wi-fi (always a plus). Located about 330ft (100m) from the ferry. Very convenient location. The restaurant owner did speak some English.
  • Chez Eugenette – Cajun & Creole Restaurant. Think fresh fish and creole food. Reservations needed, as it is always booked. Spoke minimal English (very common in Guadeloupe) Amazing view of the bay! Check out there website here.

Do they Speak English in Guadeloupe?

Only 0.05% of the total population of Guadeloupe speaks English. That means that of its 408,000 citizens, only 200 are English speakers.

The official language is French, as they are a part of France, though many speak Antillean Creole, a more indigenous language.

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