Terre-de-Haut: Great Beaches . . . No Cars


The last thing you should need to do on a Caribbean island is go to yet another Caribbean island. But there’s an undeniable allure to going somewhere even smaller, more unspoiled, more secret.

Entrepreneurs all over the Caribbean lure tourists with this idea, setting up excursions to privately-owned sandbars dressed up with a few beach chairs. But Terre-de-Haut, part of the tiny Les Saintes archipelago off the coast of Guadeloupe, is an island where you might want to live. We spent a day; we would have enjoyed a week.

Terre-de-Haut is six square miles of beaches, hills and views, all accessible by bicycle, motor scooter--and nothing else. There are no private cars.


Ferries from Pointe-a-Pitre (75 minutes) and Basse-Terre (30 minutes) on Guadeloupe are the prime connection with the mainland for day-trippers and a community of year-round residents. There are also airplane connections from the Pointe-a-Pitre airport. Tour vans meet the ferries, but you can easily navigate yourself along the few roads.

We didn’t see many of the best sights; we could hardly leave the first beach we visited. Baie de Pont Pierre is a shallow cove of brilliant color, protected from the Atlantic breakers by a natural rock formation that you can swim to and easily climb. The dramatic view from the top takes in Guadeloupe seven miles to the north and Dominica around 40 miles to the south.

The other end of the island features more beaches and a 21-room hotel, Bois Joli, that gets good reviews in several guidebooks. Next time, we’d stay there.