By the time Columbus
sailed into Marie Galante
he had run out of saints, so he named this island after one of
his boats. From afar, Marie Galante looks as flat as a pancake,
but when you get close you realize that, as pancakes go, it is
quite substantial; over 300 feet in many places and over 600
feet at its highest point. The soil includes much clay, so the
land retains the rain and is thickly wooded and green, with many
palm trees along the coast. It is a quiet backwater, an
unspoiled haven, an ideal place to wind down, eat good Créole
meals, take quiet walks, and have a good chunk of perfect
Caribbean beach to yourself.
Marie Galante is a great
for touring by car or scooter. It is an island of dense dry
forests, lots of fruit trees and big areas of sugar cane. The
traffic is light so you do not fear for your life on a scooter
and these have the advantage of being able to amble along the
tiny farm roads that would challenge a car.
Sugar cane is the most
important crop. Ox-drawn carts are still in use and some 73
windmills remain in various states of repair, down from an
original 600. The windmills are no longer commercially used, but
Le Moulin de Bezard has been completely restored to working
order. The sails are in storage, but it is one of the few places
to see a windmill in working condition in the islands.
Nowadays, some 50 high-tech windmills on the east coast produce
a substantial amount of electricity for Marie Galante.
Look out for an
exceptional beach at Capesterre, and a couple more to its south.
A barrier reef lies quite close to shore along these beaches,
creating beautiful turquoise shallow lagoons with good
snorkeling just a short swim away. If this makes you hungry,
Capesterre has several restaurants for your midday meal.
In the northeast of the island, you can visit Gueule Grand
Gouffre, a round sinkhole with a rim about 200 feet high, smooth
sides, and an arch at the bottom open to the sea. There are
majestic cliffs around the east coast and a short walk in the
area of Caye Plate will show you the best.
From a yachting perspective, the beach at Anse Canot and those
to the south of St. Louis will be major attractions. Hikers will
be pleased to know that hiking trails have been laid out all
over the island. If you speak French you can go the tourist
office and buy a good little booklet on these trails (including
maps) put out by the forestry department.
is the main yacht anchorage in Marie Galante. It is huge,
shallow enough for easy anchoring, with an excellent sand and
weed bottom. It is a good base for exploring the island; several
places rent cars and scooters. The tourist office, which is
combined with a craft shop, is on the dock, helpful, and
is the main town in Marie Galante. Two large walls create a
moderate–sized harbor, which is partially complete, about half
the planned docks having been built. The final plan includes
another ferry dock, and three more yacht docks.
Grand Bourg is a typical country town, with a church, several
pharmacies, banks, ATMs, card phones, and some fair
supermarkets. Among the new houses are quaint old ones left from
another era. A good reason to come here is to visit Maria
Galanda, a magical little courtyard restaurant on Rue Etzol. You
eat beside old stone walls, amidst plants and fish ponds, to the
sound of tree frogs. They open for dinner at 1900 every day
except Thursday. The food is good and the set menu is
exceptional value, but they do not take credit cards.
since July 05
kawann Beach Hotel