Les Saintes Islands Caribbean Vacation
Off the south coast of Guadeloupe’s Basse-Terre is an archipelago of eight tiny volcanic islands Iles des Saintes (Les Saintes), named by Christopher Columbus “Los Santos”. We anchored off the Port of Bourg des Saintes, and motored into the pier at the main square of Terre-de-Haut (land of the high).
As we walked through the village, we passed old clapboard buildings with elegant ironwork balconies and shuttered windows. There’s only one road, decorated with colorful flowers, that leads from one end of the 3-mile long island to the other.
The inhabitants are descendants of Brittany, the pioneers of the French West Indies, and their influence is noticed throughout the island. Along the harbor, local fishermen were returning with their catch of the day, while we sat at an outdoor cafe, sipping our freshly squeezed guava, pineapple, banana blended drink while planning our day.
Les Saintes is a little paradise with quiet bays and rocky coves carved out with white-sand beaches. These islands are frequented by day trippers from Guadelope, and many visitors remark how Les Saintes reminds them of the old St. Bart’s where time seems to stand still.
Local Island Treasures
The harbor town has a church, a town hall, and an open market. Following our noses, we stopped at a vendor stand to pick up some Saintois pastries called tourment d’amour (torment of love) that are filled with guava, coconut, and banana.
The pierside vendors sell local seafood delicacies like tazard (smoked kingfish) and ton fume (smoked tuna). The traditional Saintois cuisine combines French and Creole foods like Blaff de poissons (fish stew), crabes farcis (stuffed land crabs), and you can these Creole dishes at one of the 20 restaurants on the island.
We walked to every corner of this delightful island, and even made it to the top of 1,020 ft. Le Chameau on the island’s southern end for a panoramic view.
On the way back from the mountain, we stopped at Morne Bois Joli to see the westside views, and then returned back to the town square to order a homemade Breton crepe.
Every day, many locals congregate here during the 2-hour siesta and sit on the benches under the big trees for some shade, next to the monument that commemorates the French Revolution. (note: all shops close between 12-2pm). After 2 pm, the town wakes up again, boutiques open up, and you can stroll along the main street and even watch artists paint in their studios.
We choose to spend the rest of the afternoon at one of island’s spectacular beaches, the palm lined Answe de Pompierre (Pont Pierre) on the northeast side of town. The island’s beaches are simple and wild, left untouched in their natural setting.
Locals and visitors swim the turquoise waters and lay on the white sands, while iguanas and resident goats stroll by looking for unattended picnic lunches.
Our day on Les Saintes was delightful and we definitely want to return and stay longer before this Caribbean best kept secret gets discovered!