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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Go Barefoot on Les Saintes

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3. What to Do

Absorb the gorgeous bay view from atop Fort Napoleon, formerly a WWII penitentiary.  

Rent a solar-powered electric car or scooter from Top-Scoot (Main Street, 590-81-49-82, $30/day; includes map and insurance)—gas-powered vehicles are prohibited on the island—for a morning of island exploration. Zoom up toward Fort Napoléon (590-99-58-60, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. daily, $6 adults), perched on a bluff nearly 400 feet above the bay, admiring the winding coastal views on the way. Explore the restored structure (used as a penitentiary during World War II), strolling through the manicured gardens of cactus and aloe and keeping an eye out for iguanas—bona fide island residents, you’ll glimpse them peeping out of the fort’s crevices as you roam the grounds.

Hop on Captain Gilles Meens’ catamaran (Escale Caraïbes, 690-59-02-35, $135) and sail across the UNESCO-ranked Les Saintes bay, Anse du Bourg. The eccentric French sailor turned guide knows the archipelago’s every nook and cranny. Admire the surrounding six uninhabited specks of Guadeloupe, as you pass beside giant rocks erupting out of the calm sea against a landscape of distant windmills and sailboats. Once anchored off Pain de Sucre (Sugar Loaf) Beach—“mini-Rio,” as locals call it— on Terre-de-Haut, snorkel around the sandy stretch and its rocky extremities. The waters are teeming with sergeant majors, sea urchins, and other small, bright fish. Back onboard, snack on a tourment d'amour—Les Saintes’ signature round, jam-filled tartlet (try the coconut flavor), washed down with a glass of potent rum punch.

Dive with Pisquettes (three-tank dive $184, 590-99-88-80; beginners welcome), run by a dynamic bilingual duo. You’ll likely be one of fewer than five divers at La Bombarde, an easy 40-foot dive less than ten minutes from shore. One look at the bright corals, sponges, gorgonians, angelfish, and teeming schools of boga (silver spindle-shaped fish, a common sight here, known as pisquettes in French), and it’s easy to see why Les Saintes were one of Jacques Cousteau’s favorite places to explore.

Published on Feb 13, 2014 as a web exclusive.

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