Îles des Saintes is a beautiful small archipelago consisting of two inhabited and seven smaller uninhabited islands south of Guadeloupe. Its territory is about 12 sq km (less than 5 sq mi).
Like Guadeloupe, it is a French overseas department, a part of France. The official language is French and English is rarely spoken, and the euro is the only currency accepted.
We sail there after spending a week in Deshais, and a few more days anchored off Pigeon Island, just at the edge of Cousteau National Marine Park where we go for some great snorkeling.
Sailing south along Guadeloupe’s west coast can be challenging as the mountains create eddies of calm and with our luck we spend 7 hours drifting in becalmed waters with less than 1 knot speed. I know Ivo is a crazy purist and will not turn on the engines in such a no-wind situation, but I think he should at least have peace of mind and enjoy the slow ride. Instead he is freaking out, cursing the entire world, suffocating with rage, unable to do anything except deploying the kayak in front of the boat and paddle.
We even get completely stuck in a thick field of Sargasso weed. A terrible. terrible day of sailing for us.
Finally we exit the ‘deadcalm zone’ and the east winds fill the sails carrying us towards destination. 16 to 20 kt tradewinds. Ivo is happy as if nothing has happened.
Just after dark, after 14 hours of torturous sailing (distance of 25 NM with a few tacks in the Les Saintes channel), we enter the north anchorage of Iles-des-Saintes, Baie du Marigot, where we are happy to find our good friends, s/v Passages already settled and waiting for us.
The next morning we wake up in a little enchanted fisherman’s bay. We are in Iles des Saintes.
Iles-des-Saintes are surrounded by corral reefs and its turquoise waters are teaming with fish. The main industry here has always been fishing.
But since a few decades now tourists and especially cruisers have made Terre du Haut one of their favorite spot contributing greatly to the local economy.
The bay of Les Saintes is one of the most beautiful bays in the world attracting luxury yachts, cruise ships and sailboats. The locals have realized the importance of tourism and in recent times new hotels, holiday homes, and charming guest houses have sprouted without disturbing the archipelago’s wild natural allure.
Crystal waters with coral gardens surrounded by green hills, colorful fishing boats and charming little houses and restaurants, a delightful French atmosphere…It doesn’t get better than that.
Terre du Haut and its bay is also one of the most photogenic places I have ever been to. You can take pictures like post cards in every direction with your eyes closed.
The most popular anchorage is the one to the west of Terre-de-Haut under Pain-de-Sucre (Sugar Bread) hill. There are many mooring balls available the per foot per night, about 10 EU for our size boat (38feet), and anchoring is not permitted.
But, for those of us who avoid paid mooring balls there is a wonderful free-of-charge option across, on the other side of the island. Baie du Marigot.
Almost no one knows about this anchorage, some charts don’t even show it, and most cruisers don’t consider it, but it is a well protected deep enough anchorage with easy free of reefs access and good holding, and we approached it and dropped anchor at night.
It is a small bay in front of a tiny fishermen village, secluded and quiet. A short dinghy or kayak ride from the boat to the shore and then 10 minutes walk will take you to the main village on the other side of the island, Terre du Haut. Another 20 minutes up hill and you will visit the old Fort Napoleon des Saintes. Moreover, the best seafood restaurant featured in Chris Doyle’s cruising guide is right on the shore on this side.
You can stay in this anchorage for as long as you like, for free. Here, near the beach, you may even meet the sexiest goat alive.
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