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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Go Barefoot on Les Saintes

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5. Oddball Day


The pristine Grande Anse beach on Terre-de-Bas.  

Take a break from beach bumming and venture into the verdant, hilly landscape of Les Saintes. After an early breakfast at your hotel or inn, lace up your hiking boots (and don’t forget to pack water, a hat, and sunscreen) and catch a ten-minute boat shuttle (9:30 a.m., $10 round-trip on Soleil des Iles, 690-50-36-28, tickets sold onboard) to Terre-de-Bas, “the nature island” and Les Saintes’ only other inhabited plot. Home to a littoral forest, this more sparsely populated island is an ideal place to get lost in the great outdoors. Walk first to the island’s sole beach, Grande Anse, where the hiking trail map details the two-hour Trace des Falaises hike to the top of the Morne Abyme bluff. The reward for your sweat: a breathtaking view at 700 feet of Les Saintes’ eight plots (including neighboring Dominica), plus an array of local flora and fauna like fragrant West Indian bay leaf trees, melon cacti, roaming iguanas, and a pond with sunbathing turtles. Head back down toward the beach and grab a bite at Chez Eugenette (open daily, 0590 99 81 83), a seafront Creole eatery and local favorite, serving heaping plates of rice and fresh catch ($10). Stop in at the turquoise-colored wooden shack that is Maison de l'Artisanat (Rue Dans-Fond, 590-99-80-16 or 99-65-63) and try on a piece of art on the verge of disappearance: the salako ($80), a traditional bamboo, cylinder-shaped fisherman’s hat dating back to the 19th century and found only on Terre-de-Bas. Today, two elderly resident craftsmen continue to make and sell these ingenious sun protectors (sadly, their process isn’t available for public viewing). Back on Terre-de-Haut, dine on a fresh seafood or dried-duck salad (from $13)—pick your own ingredients—or on fresh fish, smoked or curried, on the serene covered terrace at La Saladerie (Anse Mire, 590-99-53-43), towering over the bay. Rest your tired legs for the rest of the evening to the tune of Guadeloupe's sultry zouk-love music—French Creole ballads accompanied by electric guitars and synthesized sounds—courtesy of the resident DJ at the convivial Coconuts Bar (Rue Benoit Cassin, 590-94-27-74), a colorful shack directly on Les Saintes’ bay, where locals gather to enjoy a mai tai or two (made with Guadeloupe’s renowned Rhum Boulogne) under the stars.


Published on Feb 13, 2014 as a web exclusive.

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