Written by Missy Johnston
With the scents of spices and freshly baked baguettes drifting in the breezes, enjoy the French West Indies and Dominica on a crewed private yacht charter itinerary cruising from Guadeloupe to Martinique. An in between the northern French West Indies island of Guadeloupe and the southern island of Martinique be sure to visit the sovereign nation of Dominica, a Caribbean island unlike any other. A yacht charter itinerary in this part of the Caribbean Sea, is a cruise through an international world of uniquely different islands set apart from the rest of the islands in the Caribbean.
French West Indies
Guadeloupe to Martinique
Hiking Trail up Soufriere Volcano
Join your yacht at the Bas du Fort, the main marina in Pointe Pitre Guadeloupe. Pointe Pitre is the most important town in Guadeloupe and is a twenty-minute walk from the marina. There are excellent shops and fantastic Caribbean architecture with gingerbread balconies, intriguing archways and overhanging roofs. Guadeloupe is shaped like a butterfly with a river dividing the wings. The larger mountainous island is called Basse Terre and, ironically, the smaller one is Grande Terre. The west is a high, forested island with stunning waterfalls and rain forest walks; the eastern mass is a countryside of rolling hills with sugar cane and picturesque ruined windmills. Sail to Basse Terre, to explore the interior, which offers beautiful views, a rain forest and the Crayfish Waterfalls.
Les Isles des Saintes
Set sail to Les Iles des Saintes where you can drop anchor at Pain de Sucre beach for a swim and then moor for the night at Bourg des Saintes. Bourg des Saintes is a charming little village with sun-bleached red tile roofs and balconies overlooking the quiet waterfront. The island Terre D’en Haut is small enough to be walkable and has a number of attractions. You can visit the well-preserved Fort Napoleon (1867) which looks down over the harbor. There is a small museum housing antique furniture and French naval artifacts. The best view of the island group is from Le Chameau lookout tower which was built in Napoleonic times. There are a number of great beaches both large and small scattered around the island. After a leisurely afternoon exploring the sites, shopping in the town, sunning at the beach or diving with a local dive operator, it is time for pre-dinner drinks on board! The choice of restaurants for dinner is almost endless – a mixed grill of seafood and meat along with tropical salad can be had at Restaurant L’Escale, Creole dishes and poached fish are the specialties at Les Amendiers and delicious Caribbean style pizzas are offered at Pizzeria le Genois. These are but a few of the inexpensive restaurants found in Bourge des Saintes. After dinner you can sip a rum punch at a waterfront bar or the more adventurous can go on a night scuba dive.
The Indian River
After breakfast set sail to Portsmouth, Dominica, and drop anchor at the magnificent, protected Prince Rupert Bay. After clearing customs, swim, snorkel or go ashore for several excursions. The Indian River is overhung by huge swamp bloodwood trees that twist, knot and tangle into interesting wavy designs. The Cabrits National Park has well marked trails. The 18th century Fort Shirley, an old British fort, includes a small museum. A taxi will also take you to the Caribbean settlement, where you can buy handcrafts and see dugout canoes being built by traditional methods. Trips are also available to the rain forest at Syndicate.
Morne Trois Pitons National Park
Sail to Roseau, Dominica and moor at the Anchorage Hotel. This capital and main town of Dominica is the best place from which to explore the southern national park and surrounding attractions. Roseau lies close by the Morne Trois Pitons National Park. It is packed with exciting hikes. Other must sees, easily accessible by taxi, include The Emerald Pool, Trafalgar Falls and the Carib Indian Village.
After breakfast take a short sail to Scott’s Head Marine Park. This area has good snorkeling for everyone and especially for those swimmers who can enjoy a drop off of an underwater shelf which starts at six feet deep and then, as it falls into the extinct volcanic crater, drops rapidly down to over 100 feet.
The passage from Dominica to Martinique covers about 26 miles, about a four-hour sail. Drop anchor off the famous town of St. Pierre. In 1902, Mount Pelee erupted sending a fireball of hot gasses down onto St. Pierre, then one of the largest of the Caribbean ports. Thirty thousand people were killed in the disaster. Walking through the old
A black sand beach, Martinique
town, you can trace the foundations of houses destroyed in the eruption. There is a museum, an old fort, a theatre and a jail featuring artifacts from the time of the disaster. For the more adventurous, a hike through Mount Pelee’s tropical rain forest will introduce you to the local exotic plants and wildlife. There is also superb scuba diving on seven shipwrecks that sunk in the harbor during the eruption. Or, just relax and swim or suntan on the volcanic black sand beach.
Depart for Petit Anse D’Arlet where you can relax, swim and snorkel. Take the dinghy to shore and explore this charming little French Caribbean town.
Sail to Fort De France for disembarking.