Finally, we present our first article on the island of Grande-Terre in Guadeloupe – the well-known Pointe des Châteaux. It took us a while to write about this beautiful place. To give some context, we moved to Guadeloupe in early August, spent a month confined to a 5 km radius around our home, and explored the stunning Bassin Bleu during that time.
I personally began working at the beginning of October, and slowly but surely, our routine resumed. However, we also had more than three weeks of social unrest, which certainly contributed to our relatively inactive life in the extreme south of Guadeloupe. For those who don’t know, we settled in Vieux-Fort, located on the island of Basse-Terre.
You only have to look at a map of Guadeloupe to understand that going to Pointe des Châteaux is a bit like “the end of the world” for us! It takes around two hours to drive between municipalities, with traffic jams at the entrance of Pointe-à-Pitre and at the periphery of the city. Knowing that we would be travelling with our two little ones, it seemed completely impossible to make the round trip in one day.
Therefore, we decided to spend a weekend at the famous Pointe des Châteaux, with the idea of fully enjoying the place for two full days. Although the area is not vast, those who like to travel slowly and take their time will be able to spend the weekend there without getting bored. To tell you the truth, we didn’t even have the time to see all the spots we wanted to see at the beginning. Let’s go, we invite you to discover this beautiful area!
Having never set foot on Grande-Terre before arriving in the area, we were delighted to discover this change of scenery, which is very different from Basse-Terre with its lush greenery, mountains, and waterfalls. We are used to having the Soufrière volcano as a backdrop in our daily life, but here, there is no relief on the horizon.
To give you a quick overview, Pointe des Châteaux is located in the extreme northeast of Guadeloupe, on the island of Grande-Terre. Depending on where you consider it starts, it would be just east of the town of Saint-François. It’s a 10 km long cape that mostly has beaches on its northern side, while the southern side is more rocky.
This may not be what you typically associate with traveling to Guadeloupe, and even less so on Grande-Terre, which is relatively flat compared to Basse-Terre. While browsing the web, I stumbled upon two great walks in the area: the classic hike around Morne Pavillon and a coastal path. We will have ample time to do both with our family. For those who enjoy hiking, I highly recommend visiting the beautiful Chute du Galion, located at the base of the Soufrière volcano.
Below, you will find a map displaying the two hikes we completed during our weekend there. Please note that the map also includes other walking and hiking options throughout the island. Additionally, the link above directs you to a comprehensive webpage dedicated to hiking in Guadeloupe.
To access the GPS tracks for both hikes, simply click on the links provided below (.gpx format to be directly integrated into your GPS):
On Saturday morning, we set out early on a walk along the Atlantic Ocean. According to the topographic map, there are no real difficulties along the way. Unfortunately, I forgot to charge the battery of my Sony A7 III, so I missed the opportunity to take some pictures. However, I returned the next day to capture some images of the place!
We parked near the beginning of the main parking lot at Anse à la Gourde. It was around 8 am and there were no crowds. Louis was already excited to walk along the seaside with his feet in the sand! We kept Teo in the baby carrier for the time being. We began our stroll by walking along the beach of Anse à la Gourde, which offers a beautiful view of the sea, the rocky islets of the lagoon, and in the distance, the island of la Désirade. The weather was good and it promised to be a beautiful day! Walking with our feet in the sand (or almost), we enjoyed the beautiful morning light that caressed the lagoon. After a 15-minute walk, we reached Pointe à la Gourde, where the beach of Tarare offered us a beautiful expanse of white sand.
From here, the scenery changes as the path goes inland and penetrates through a small trail carved in the local vegetation. Additionally, we get a beautiful ascent that can be challenging in the early morning, but it only lasts for a few minutes. Melanie doesn’t complain too much, and it feels refreshing. We walk in the shade of a small forest of bushes, and we can see the traces of dead corals on the ground that I point out to Louis. I still don’t have a perfect understanding of all the geology of Guadeloupe, but from what I know (and confirmed shortly thereafter), Grande-Terre is a coral island (which may have been raised – I found information that it could be a raised atoll), unlike the island of Basse-Terre, which has a volcanic origin.
We walked along a path for about half an hour, sometimes through the forest and sometimes in the open air. The vegetation in the area seems relatively sparse and lacks diversity, with only a few bushes and succulent plants. Eventually, we arrived at “Chez Man Michel,” a house overlooking Pointe Tarare. This place is well-known locally because Pointe Tarare hosts a naturist beach. By following the path along the coast, you can enjoy a superb view of this famous bay. The path descends towards the Pointe and offers a splendid panorama to the west, including the famous windmills visible in the distance and the coastline, which is battered and jagged by the waves and wind. This place is truly sublime, and you can take a moment to rest atop the limestone cliffs and watch the waves crashing against the rocks. I even returned the next morning to explore the Pointe Tarare and take some beautiful shots.
As we continue our walk through the coastal forest, which boasts stunning views of the Caribbean Sea (though not visible from our current altitude), we reach the Anse à Plumes and the first salt pan, the Grande Saline. Once again, in the serene morning light, the surroundings are breathtakingly beautiful, and we have the place all to ourselves. The path runs alongside the vast salt flat, which, during our visit, was covered with white moss that the kids found fascinating. We bask in the warm glow of this perfect family moment. The trail then winds its way down through the classic island vegetation, leading us to the famous Big Cove or Cove of Salines, an absolutely stunning white sand beach with crystal-clear turquoise waters, ideal for swimming. We’ve finally reached the end of our journey.
We settled down under some trees on the beach to relax and enjoy our time with the kids. The walk itself was not challenging, except for two short, steep climbs. Nonetheless, it offered an opportunity to leisurely observe the coastal landscape of Pointe des Châteaux. We only encountered a few people along the way, and the trail was not crowded. Depending on stops for taking photos, children, and other activities, the walk takes between 2.5 and 3 hours. We thoroughly enjoyed our time and highly recommend it to anyone who wants to take their time. After the walk, we spent the rest of the day exploring Pointe des Châteaux and its few hidden gems, including its beautiful white sand beaches. I will tell you more about it later.
On Sunday morning, we arrived at the end of Pointe des Châteaux, where we had finished our hike the day before, quite early. Fortunately, at that time of day, finding a place to park was relatively easy. I could only imagine how crowded it would be during the full season and outside of the Covid period. We took advantage of this moment of relative calm to begin exploring this beautiful cape for about an hour.
After parking the car at the end of the parking lot, we set off on a short walk under the magnificent golden morning light and with beautiful weather. Our goal is to explore the high spot of the Pointe des Châteaux which culminates in the famous cross that can be seen from miles away. Our route starts along the famous Anse des Châteaux, a beautiful paradise beach with a reputation for being dangerous, so we take extra care. The sandy path then leads us through low vegetation that has been beaten by the surrounding winds. It’s a pleasant walk, and the children are enjoying it. As we climb gradually along the hillside, the path offers superb panoramas of the lagoon and the splendid island of la Désirade. The weather is clear, and we can see it all without any worry. Similar to our outing on the Sentier de la Grande Pointe (Trois-Rivières), we also observe the vegetation leaning in the direction of the wind along the stroll.
Then we reach the “most challenging” part, which involves climbing many concrete steps to nearly reach the base of the cross. The panoramic view from the top is truly breathtaking. At the summit, there are several orientation tables located at the base of the colossal cross. From this point, one can observe a significant portion of Guadeloupe’s dependencies, including La Désirade, Petite Terre islands, and even Marie Galante. The path continues along the rocky cliffs (exercise caution with children due to the lack of barriers). The walk proceeds around a small loop to provide additional scenic viewpoints, before descending through a forest of bushes towards the Pointe des Châteaux parking lot.
Honestly, this is an essential attraction. If you are unable to traverse the coastal path due to time constraints, you can still undertake this brief hike, which requires no more than an hour. It offers stunning panoramas and is relatively easy, even for children. A few tips: carry ample water, as there is limited shade, and arrive early to avoid crowds. I empathize with parents who will be carrying their little ones in a baby carrier while traversing the concrete steps.
Apart from the two walks mentioned earlier, we spent the rest of our time strolling along the road to explore the beaches of Pointe des Châteaux. Here are our personal opinions on what we saw.
This is the quintessential beautiful white sand beach, visible to your left from the parking lot of Pointe des Châteaux. The clear sandy beach is perfect for swimming, with a coral reef that offers ample protection. It’s an ideal place to take a refreshing swim after one of the two hikes mentioned earlier!
This is a naturist beach in the area, so if you visit, please be respectful of that and do not be surprised (as I was during my walk above the beach) to encounter naked people. Love it or hate it, the scenery here is stunning. From Pointe Tarare, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the beach and its surroundings. In my opinion, it is definitely worth a visit.
I think this beach is even more beautiful than Les Salines. It’s too dangerous to swim here, as the signs warn, but it’s a great spot to grab a homemade coconut sorbet from the vendors near the parking lot and stroll along the gorgeous sandy beach.
This is the beach where we parked to start our coastal walk. It’s perfect for families – big and the waves aren’t too crazy. Plus, it’s got beautiful white sand!
This beach is huge and easy to find, just after the Saint-François airfield. The water is stunning, making it a perfect spot to relax and take a swim!
La Douche is a popular spot around here where the waves rush into a hole and sometimes come out with great force, creating a small basin that’s perfect for kids to swim in. There’s lots of fun to be had here and plenty of sandy coves to explore. When we went, there weren’t many people around, so it was a really nice experience.
We didn’t get a chance to check out all the beaches at Pointe des Châteaux, but if you want to learn more about them, the link above has more information. A couple of beaches worth mentioning are Anse à la Baie (Baie Olive) and Baie Sainte-Marie. They are both isolated and perfect for those who want some peace and quiet in a natural setting. On the south side, there are also a few beaches like Anse Kahouanne, Petite Anse Kahouanne, and Degrat Beach, but based on what I saw, they’re not great for swimming.
I hope you enjoyed our adventure, with beach and hiking on the beautiful Pointe des Châteaux.
If you’re looking for a quieter and authentic spot, I suggest checking out Terre-de-Bas Island in the Saintes Archipelago.
Although we don’t always prioritize paid activities, there are still plenty of things to do in this little corner of paradise, such as snorkeling to discover the underwater fauna and flora for free, or trying out diving, surfing, gyrocopter flights, or microlight flights over the Pointe des Châteaux.
Speaking of which, we’re planning on returning to the area soon to try out some of these activities ourselves. We’ll be sure to share our experiences with you! We also had the chance to try out an amazing microlight flight over Guadeloupe during our stay – check out Melanie’s story for more details.
As I’ve been doing for many years, here are some practical details you should know if you’re planning to visit Pointe des Châteaux.
As with all the articles about Guadeloupe that you can find on our blog, I always strive to provide as much practical information as possible. Naturally, to visit the Pointe des Châteaux, you will first need to travel to Guadeloupe. In the link above, I have detailed everything you need to know about visiting this beautiful territory. However, to sum it up simply, the easiest and most affordable way to get there is by taking a direct flight from Paris to Pointe-à-Pitre (if you are French). There are several airlines to choose from, including Corsair, Air France, and Air Caraïbes. Additionally, there are occasional direct flights from various provincial cities. If you are flexible with your travel dates, it is definitely possible to find round-trip flights from Paris to Guadeloupe for less than €400. You can check out this link to find the cheapest flights from France to Guadeloupe. There are also direct flights from other locations such as Quebec, Miami, and New York.
Once there, renting a car is a must for your vacation in Guadeloupe. For many years now, we have been using RentalCars website, which allows you to compare prices of multiple rental companies on the island, ensuring you find the best deals.
Now, if you want to discover the stunning Pointe des Châteaux, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s quite isolated compared to other parts of Guadeloupe. If you’re coming from the South of Basse-Terre (like we do), it’ll take you about 2 hours to get there. We usually take the Grands-Fonds route to avoid the crowds. Oh, and one more thing: Waze is a lifesaver for navigating the roads in Guadeloupe, so make sure you have it downloaded on your phone before you set off on your adventure!
While I can’t recommend the Airbnb where we stayed, which was not expensive but not great, there are several nice places we found during our research. You can find accommodation options for all budgets. Some of the places we noted were:
Top of the range
For lower price ranges, you can check out the Booking website for options in the Saint-François area, where you will have more choices.
It’s difficult to suggest an ideal duration for a visit to Pointe des Châteaux, as it depends on various factors such as budget, travel goals, and preferred way of exploring the area.
We personally stayed at Pointe des Châteaux for two days, but we were unable to visit all the attractions and beaches due to time constraints. If you enjoy leisurely walks and spending time on the beach, we recommend spending at least two days at this location. Trying to do both in one day could be challenging and leave you feeling rushed.
We’ve reached the end of this article on Pointe des Châteaux, which happens to be the first one on the island of Grande-Terre in Guadeloupe. We hope that the photos and stories have inspired you to explore these stunning locations, which we found to be truly beautiful. One interesting fact that I forgot to mention earlier: we didn’t spot any coconut trees during our walks, which is quite unusual, don’t you think?
If you have a few days on Grande-Terre, we highly recommend trying a few hours of paddleboarding in the mangrove – it’s a fantastic experience! We hope to share more articles on Guadeloupe and discover even more paradisiacal places in the West Indies. And speaking of must-see destinations, don’t miss the Botanical Garden of Deshaies. See you soon!