Since we arrived in Guadeloupe at the beginning of August 2021, we had not had the opportunity to discover one of the most remarkable botanical gardens of the island. Done! We strolled through the botanical garden of Deshaies. We had heard about it, but since we had been particularly lucky to be able to spend two nights at the magnificent Jardin des Colibris, a superb ecolodge located just a stone throw away from the famous garden, we didn’t visit it.
We swore that we would come back to discover this beautiful tropical garden, which had the reputation of being “the most beautiful and the biggest” of the whole of Guadeloupe. We absolutely will have to go and explore the other parks and botanical gardens of the island, to keep on the momentum. From our notes, here is what we should visit: the Garden of Beauvallon in Basse-Terre, Valombreuse’s gardens in Petit Bourg, the Creole Art Ecomuseum in Sainte-Rose, the garden of Cantamerle and the small water garden in Goyave. In short, there is a lot to see, and we are only beginning! In any case, from what we have been able to see in Guadeloupe until now, we are constantly amazed by the luxuriant vegetation and the biodiversity in general.
So, during one of the first weekends following the end of COVID-19 lockdown , we left Vieux-Fort (at the extreme south-east of Guadeloupe) for the city of Deshaies, in the north-west of the island of Basse-Terre. We might as well say it, it’s quite a tripfor us. Fortunately, the road alongside the leeward coast, the west coast of the island, is really superb. I’ll share a little secret, the section of the road alongside the east coast is much less interesting since you only drive on main roads and even on a two-lane road. In my opinion, the only nice portion to drive on is the small road that joins Vieux-Fort to Trois-Rivières. This is where we go for a swim at the Grande-Anse beach. Anyway, I’m disgressing.
Let me invite you in this article to a visit of the garden which is, in my humble opinion, a must do during your visit to Guadeloupe. We have been living in tropical islands for 10 years now (and more as far as I am concerned), and it is honestly the most beautiful garden I have ever seen, particularly considering its sheer size, its facilities, and the diversity of both flora and fauna. This botanical garden is quite an achievement!
Having driven for a good hour and a half from Vieux-Fort, we finally arrive at the famous exotic garden. There is no crowd in the morning, but the tourists have not come back yet since COVID lockdown. Moreover, without getting into a major debate here (that’s beside the point), you must have your COVID Pass to come to the garden. The garden has recently reopened with this obligation. Everybody is free to make their own choice! At the time of writing, this is still part of the restrictions. Should you be reading this article in months or years to come, it is possible (and I do hope) this obligation will be lifted. Anyway, I’ll tell you everything about that in the practical section located at the end of the article.
Once the garden entrance fee paid (and at the same time the free local resident card gotten), and some food for the animals bought (for 2€), we enter the first section of the garden. I forgot to tell you that this huge botanical park of 5 hectares is divided into 15 precise themed sections which you will be able to discover during your visit. There is only one way to walk through the park and everything is well laid out. We start with the famous water lily pond. We can observe a 50m long pond with a great diversity of water lilies, different aquatic plants and papyrus. Hundreds of Koi carps are basking in the sun.
The park is really quiet, there are but a few people and we enjoy, together with our children, observing all the fauna which appears before us. We try to give some food to the carps which are going to become enormous if everybody does the same!
We go on our way through the signposted path. Everything is well thought out, shaded and it is a real treat to walk through itin the early morning. The path brings you to the first attraction, if I dare say so: the notorious aviary. Once the security gate crossed, we discover with pleasure many lorikeets, Australian multicoloured parrots. These birds are really curious and come to see all the visitors who enter. Everybone takes advantage of this and gives them adrink in small pots purpose-bought at the entrance. We spend a good 20 minutes observing these beauties of nature living in their huge aviary. It is a really tall structure, and I think that parrots “are not so bad here”. The kids are laughing while giving them drinks, it’s playful and really nice!
The walk continues on to a gorgeous spot, full of orchids where you can observe many different varieties. While not a specialist, these flowers are always very nice to look at . Not far from there, after a curve, you can see a kapok tree, so characteristic and imposing a tree, in the middle of a beautiful lawn.
The visit continues along the path. A little further on, you can see a large banyan tree on your right, impressive by its sheer size. If you keep on, you end up in front of the garden’s famous waterfall. I did not know of its existence but I must admit that the atmosphere was awesome. Of course, it is a landscaped scenery, but it is still beautiful. The weather was not perfect while we were there but that was not important. We also took advantage of the enclosure just next to it to show superb pink flamingos to the children.
We continue our Sunday walk with a visit to the arboretum and the observation of the fauna. We would have needed much more time than we had to capture, particularly since we had to run after the kids during 2 hours (lol). There is a large number of remarkable trees as you can find species from all the continents. As you will often notice here, growing over them, you willepiphytic plants. These are plants that need a support to grow.
The path continues on through a bamboo area, along a small stream, just before arriving at the parrots’ village. Do not hesitate to observe all the small shrubs, basins, species of plants that are scattered around, along the way. You can hear the parrots from far away. The children have fun, and the parrots are beautiful. We end our visit with the small cactus corner where you will discover, , as Louis said, “everything that stings”
The visit ends with a restaurant area and a large space perfectly adapted for children. There is an enclosure with goats (children love that) and games (slides, swings, etc.). Briefly said, an occasion to settle down a little, at last, to taste a good bokit and a very good ice cream for dessert.
I might as well say it, we really enjoyed our walk in the botanical garden of Deshaies. As I said at the beginning, it is by far the most beautiful I have ever seen. For those who like to take time to observe the fauna and flora, you can easily spend 2 to 3 hours there. If you are a photo enthusiast (and without children─lol), you could even spend the whole day there!
Here’s all you need to know about the practical aspects.
Even though we all hope that Covid will go away by itself soon, I have to tell you about it. Indeed, as I write this article, this damn virus still imposes some constraints for the visit. There is a dedicated page on their website that explains everything you need to know about the measures in force and other details.
What you need to know is that you must have a COVID pass (for the over 12 ) to visit the garden. Wearing a mask is compulsory for 11 years old +. Aside from that, no other problem.
Edit July 2022: this is no longer mandatory for the moment. The best is to look at the dedicated page on their website to know the obligations/restrictions.
The botanical garden of Deshaies is open all year round, from 9 am to 4:30 pm. As far as prices are concerned, here’s the deal :
- 15.90€ per adult
- 10.90€ per child (from 5 to 12 years old)
- Free for children under 5 years old.
Please note that there are group rates if you are a group of more than 20 people. Finally, interestingly for residents like us, once you have paid for your first ticket, you can get an annual subscription for free.
You might think that it’s just a mere stroll in a garden, but in reality, it offers quite a few little extras that I think are worth noting:
- Catering: when I visited, only the snack bar “le Manguier” was open, but you actually also have access to a panoramic restaurant above the waterfall that offers you a view of the sea. I didn’t eat there personally, but from what I read, it has a pretty good reputation. As far as we were concerned, we ate at the snack bar located at the end of the walk. As I said before, the place is very well set up, with lots of shade and children’s games available. For us, it was perfect, and what we were able to nibble was quite correct for the price. We even had some good ice cream,
- Sleeping in the garden: it sounds crazy, but there is a 350m2 villa for rent on site. The description and the location make you dream. For a large family (the villa can accommodate up to 10 people) and those who like to enjoy a beautiful view of the sea, it can be a great idea! Note that there is also a bungalow that can be rented on a weekly basis (45m2),
- Entertainment, visits and school groups: you may be less interested in this, but the garden offers guided tours, and can also host conferences, workshops or school groups. It is also possible to book the entire restaurant or the garden for a particular event (wedding, baptism, birthdays, meetings, etc.).
As usual , in the articles about Guadeloupe, I remind you of how to get there. Of course, you will have to go to Guadeloupe first. If you are flexible on your dates and seasons, there are ways to find cheap flights from Paris, costing less than 400€.
I have written a complete article summarizing everything you need to know on how to get to Guadeloupe at a lower cost.
On site, renting a car rental will be mandatory to get around and be autonomous.
As far as the itinerary is concerned, everything will depend on your point of origin,obviously. When you arrive, should you have decided to visit Basse-Terre first, you can go via the North of the island and Saint Rose, then get to the garden in about 1 hour. Here is the itinerary.
There are lots of things to do and see in the area. We have just arrived, so we don’t know everything yet. Here are a few ideas:
- Go for a swim in one of the beautiful beaches of the area: the beach of Grande Anse is a must (superb), the beach Leroux, the Anse Tillet or the beach of the Perle,
- Go to the islet Kahouanne,
- Take a swim at Saut d’Acomat,
- Visit the House of Cocoa (very interesting, we went there),
- Rent a boat in Saint-Rose to discover the islets off the coast.
There would be a lot to write about things to do and see in Deshaies and around. We are going to work on it in order to offer you a complete article on this subject.
As we said in the introduction, we can but recommend you stay at the Ecolodge le Jardin des Colibris, located a few steps away from the garden. It is a really beautiful place, and you will be able to sleep in unusual accommodations, like wooden creole huts, tree houses, and many others.
Otherwise, there are many places to stay should you want to spend a few nights in the area. I have selected two of them for you:
- The Tillet apartment. O Coeur de Deshaies : enjoy a superb view of the city of Deshaies, just a stone throw away from the garden, and set in a gorgeous site. Their reputation is excellent.
- Gîte Bois-Cannelle : another superb place to stay. They offer houses for rent with a swimming pool at disposal, all of which is set in a lush greenery!
You can also look at all the good addresses around Deshaies.
I’m coming to the end of this walk at the Botanical Garden of Deshaies. I hope you have enjoyed our review and that you will want to discover this beautiful garden. In all honesty, it is, as far as we are concerned, a must-see during a trip there. The tropical vegetation is incredible, the paths are superbly maintained, the diversity of tropical plants is immense. In short, it is a remarkable garden from all points of view. For the fans of tropical forests, a stroll along the Bassin Bleu in Saint-Claude remains a must do on a stay in Basse-Terre.
See you soon for a new discovery!