Iles des Saintes
Paradise off the coast of Guadeloupe

Iles des Saintes, also known as Les Saintes is a group of eight islands near the southern coast of Guadeloupe and are part of the French Caribbean Islands.

These islands are certainly off the beaten track. The two main islands and six rocks are Terre-de-Haut, Terre-de-Bas, Ilet-à-Cabrit, La Coche, Les Augustins, Grand Ilet, Le Redonde, and Le Pâté.

Only Terre-de-Haut and, to a lesser extent, Terre-de-Bas attract visitors. Terre-de-Haut is the most interesting, and the only island with overnight accommodations.

Amazing view of Les Saintes near Guadeloupe

Amazing view of Les Saintes near Guadeloupe

Also called Les Saintes

It has one of the most beautiful bays, trying to be a small Rio de Janeiro with a Sugar Loaf and all.

Iles des Saintes was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and was called “Los Santos”. Its history goes parallel to the history of Guadeloupe Island. Through history it was well fortified as a precious possession of Guadeloupe.

The climate is dry and water is almost non existent on the islands. They now have desalination plants to supply the needs of the population.

The population on the island is mostly descendants of Corsican pirates and therefore Caucasian in its majority. They are mostly fishermen and sailors.

Some of the very skilled sailors maneuver some large boats called Saintois. If you want to be photographed with them, please ask them politely in French.

Most visitors go to the islands for the day and mainly for Caribbean Snorkeling or Scuba Diving Caribbean. You may find there many reputable dive outfitters.

Plage Pompierre in Iles des Saintes

Plage Pompierre in Les Saintes

The Beaches

Spectacular exotic beaches abound in Iles des Saintes. In Terre-de-Haut I’d like to mention a few

Plage Pompiere is the most popular beach and sometimes too crowded. The waters are calm and it’s ideal for snorkeling

Pain de Sucre or Sugar Loaf is also well known for swimming and snorkeling.

Plage Crawen, near the Bois Joli Hôtel, was formerly an official clothing optional beach, but things have changed now due to local politics.

Grande Anse or Big Cove near the airport runway is a magnificent arc of sand but is definitely not safe for swimming.

On Terre-de-Bas, a second Grande Anse is considered one of the best beaches in Les Saintes.

Iles des Saintes

Pain de Sucre on the Island of Les Saintes

Pain de Sucre on the Island of Les Saintes

Les Saintes are perfect for the kind of traveler who looks for unspoiled tropical beauty and the serenity that comes from doing next to nothing on a vacation.

While Guadeloupe's bustling epicenter, Pointe-à-Pitre, is just a l5-minute plane hop away, it seems continents apart from the eight pristine volcanic dots that comprise Les Saintes.

Terre-de-Haut is only three miles long and about two miles wide. The five-minute walk from the airstrip to Bourg, the island's only village, takes you down a bougainvillea shaded lane.

On Bourg's main street you still occasionally see some of the men in an odd kind of headgear, a flat straw or bamboo platter covered with cloth called a salako.

It is patterned after one said to have been brought here ages and ages ago by a seafarer from China or Indonesia. Whatever its origin, the salako is unique to the Les Saintes.

Romantic coves like this one abound in Les Saintes

Romantic coves like this one abound in Les Saintes

Les Saintes are dependency islands of Guadeloupe, which in turn is an Overseas Department and Region of France. A mayor and town council oversee the day to day operations of the island.

Once in Guadeloupe Island don’t miss a visit to Les Saintes. You’ll be grateful you went.

For more information visit Guadeloupe Tourism Website

Map of the eight Iles des Saintes in the French Caribbean

Map of Iles des Saintes in the French Caribbean

Image Credits:

All courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The resorts images are courtesy of the resorts mentioned.

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