It is just a 15-minute ferry trip from the main island of Guadeloupe to Terre-de-Haut, the (only) town on one of the two inhabited islands of the small archipelago Les Saintes. These 15 minutes take you from a busy and exotic French Caribbean world (wide roads, luscious rainforests, waterfalls, and pristine beaches) to a slow-speed, car-free, colours-everywhere and iguanas-behind-every-tree paradise.
It is highly recommended to avoid the day trip most tourists take to Terre-de-Haut, but instead to travel to the island with the last ferry at 4pm and stay a few nights. Like this one may dive relaxed into all the colours found in the landscape, houses, and nature, while having enough time to savour the local cuisine.
Sooner or later everyone will see and taste it: the one and only, the famous tourment d´amour. These local sweet specialties are packed-by-four round cakes with fresh coconut jam or pineapple jam filling. Every morning and afternoon local home bakers like Colette arrive close to the jetty on the main street to sell their fresh pastry with a big Creole smile.
Now we are going to present you with the perfect program for you to discover both islands, Terre-de-Haut and Terre-de-Bas. You are in for a real nature-plus-gourmet adventure, believe us!
Let’s spend one day on each island. In Terre-de-Haut we can start the day with a walk to Fort Napoleon. This former fortress now functions as a museum and offers one of the best views of the Bay of Les Saintes. The garden is a funny mix of botanical treats and vivarium, with local iguanas sunbathing around.
For lunch the choice is yours. There are some amazing gourmet restaurants in Terre-de-Haut. Our latest favourite is a cosy place called Ti-bo Doudou (The Kiss). They have an amazing mix of fresh seafood plus local veggies and spices! Even your eyes are in for a treat when you see their plates. And with some luck you may also get a table directly on the beach, with les pieds dans le sable (feet in the sand).
In case this yummy place is already full do check Ti Kaz la, where the chef is simply going to spoil your tummy. You can choose (but how can you when it’s so difficult) your main dish from an exquisite menu: filet de dorade sauce maracuja (grilled filet of dorade fish in passion fruit sauce), cassolette de chatrou (octopus stew in tomato sauce),or langouste gratinée (grilled crayfish with cheese on top).
In the afternoon simply stroll to one of the beaches or go diving. The underwater world is absolutely breath-taking, really quiet, and as full with colours as the one above! Curious turtles, funny crabs shaped like the Eiffel Tower, and huge sponges inhabit this environment. If you are not so brave, simply go for a snorkel tour or enjoy the local fish walk!
In the evening drink a local cocktail in the Coconut Bar, where fresh fruits and local rum are mixed in head-turning but delicious drinks.
A short ferry trip of 20 minutes, running several times a day, will take you to Terre-de-Bas. Hiking trails begin from the little and colourful harbour. They all pass through the local forest which includes allspice trees, a symbol of the island. Don’t miss the chance to cut the leaves of the tree and smell its heavenly perfume of cinnamon, clove, and lemongrass – all three at once!
The hike and sun will no doubt make you hungry. It’s best that way as there are some lovely places on the beach in Grande Anse waiting for you. The dishes change daily, as per the catch of the day, however, the local punches (punch coco, punch maracuja, and punch carambole) are always on the menu.
Be sure you don’t miss the last boat to Terre-de-Haut at 3.45pm because time does fly when you’re having fun! Back in Terre-de-Haut I would suggest fresh crayfish for dinner, either in a restaurant or prepared at home.
We bought two fresh ones from Sylvio, the local crayfish fisherman, and after some sweating in the kitchen ended up with carpaccio of crayfish, infused in olive oil and lime zest, and pasta with crayfish in tomato sauce… delicious!