Secrets of Sailing in Guadeloupe

Sailing in Guadeloupe, the French butterfly shaped island, must be the best kept secret in the Caribbean. Interestingly, we did not see many Americans here. – it is a missed opportunity! The French island is an absolute joy to explore. And we only covered half of it. We toured the west side of Guadeloupe with is called Basse Terre and is the more mountainous region.  We did not visit the central or south areas or the east side (called Grand Terre) which is much flatter and low ground, or Marie Galant.  There is always next time. Our Itinerary and the highlights are below.

Guadeloupe Sailing & Cruising Videos

Watch our explorations.

Secrets of Sailing the world on our Catamaran - Guadeloupe Les-Saintes
Are Chutes du Carbet Worth the Dangerous Climb? Waterfalls in Guadeloupe


We stopped here for customs checkin and stayed a couple days. We enjoyed the L’Amer restaurant, the food was great but service was slow.

Lots of restaurants and shops here, in the Caribbean dirty buildings style.

We toured the botanical garden.  Not much was in bloom when we visited.  

Pigeon Island

We anchored then at Malendure, and went snorkeling at the Jacque Cousteau Underwater Marine Park.  Snorkeling was not great – most of the best coral was deeper so diving would have been better.  Malendure did not have a dinghy dock for town either, so we did not stay long.


Large anchorage with a thermal bath from volcanic steam in one corner!   

Guadeloupe has 5 hot thermal springs in the Bouillante area – see map.  Some are so hot that you can swim in them only when they are cooled by the sea.

The most famous are the Bain chaud de Thomas , the sulphurous spring of the village , produced by geothermal energy, the Bain du Curé , the beach of Anse à Sable. But there are many more, like those of the beach of Petite Anse, Bois-Malher or even at Anse du Dépôt.

The hot springs were quickly identified and used for their thermal properties by early French settlers. 

Although hydrotherapy was not developed in Bouillante, the hot waters still made it possible to create the first geothermal power plant in France . Clean and renewable electricity which produces 10% of Guadeloupe’s consumption and intends to grow up to 22%.

Basse Terre

This capital city was our next stop.  We filled up with diesel at the marina and then anchored by the Riviere de Sans Marina.  We stocked up on groceries at the Super U – amazing what you can do with a car! 

We visited the Cimitiere – not just your ordinary cemetery – here all of the burial spots have mini houses built so you can come and hang out with your loved ones who have passed.  

It was the perfect spot to explore the rainforest.  We rented a car and drove to the Chutes de Carbet – 5 waterfalls by the mouth of the volcano.  We hiked and rock climbed to 2 of the falls – an all day event.  It was breathtaking, but literally the most strenuous physical exertion I have ever done.  Stephen seemed tired, but not nearly as much as I. 

Guadeloupe Waterfall – Chutes du Carbet  

Les chutes du Carbet is a geological three tier waterfalls formation on the Carbet River in Guadeloupe, in the eastern Caribbean. Its in the middle of the tropical rainforests by the La Soufrière volcano.    If there is renewed activity in the volcano, the trails are closed.  Approximately 400,000 people visit the falls annually.  There is a very small entrance fee.   

Details on each waterfall follow.  We visited the Premier and the Second Waterfalls on our visit.

Premier Waterfall

  • 377 ft drop
  • Trail – long and steep with plenty of rock climbing. 7 miles.  Plan 6 hours for this hike.  Very Difficult.  Dangerous.  
  • Elevation: 3000 ft.  Gain during hike of 1400 ft.
  • Carbet River water source is located 1.2 miles upstream at a 4300 ft elevation.

Second Waterfall

  • 360 ft drop
  • Trail – Conveniently accessible on a paver path only 20 minutes from parking.  Your view is from an overlook deck.
  • Elevation: 2,200 ft. 
  • If you visit,  take time to also visit the Little Paradise Hot Spring, located nearby.

Third Waterfall

  • 66 ft drop
  • Greatest water volume of any waterfall in Guadeloupe. 
  • Trail – only accessible on foot to experienced climbers.  

Trail details are here.

Les Saintes Islands of Guadeloupe

Made up of nine unspoiled islands, only two are inhabited.

Terre de Haut has bistro lined streets, a turquoise water bay, and truly is an island worth visiting.  On the main village drag, less than a five-minute walk from the dock, Au Bon Vivre French restaurant with Caribbean flair, was our favorite dinner spot.  Our second favorite was actually in a hotel called Le Kanaoa, with it’s own dock and overlooking the bay.

Vauban style Fort Napoleon, overlooks the bay of Les Saintes, and is worth exploring – although only open in the mornings.  It has been uniquely preserved with a museum as well as cactus gardens throughout the fort.

Terre de Bas  We anchored at  Anse Fidelin which turned out to be one of our favorites – quiet, good snorkeling. (south of Grand Anse).