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Hikes, Hikes, and More Hikes

Our friends Don Ellis and Delores Higareda joined us in Deshaies, Guadeloupe where we immediately subjected them to a couple of grueling hikes. But they didn't abandon ship because both ended in a treat -- the first one to a beachside restaurant and the other a beautiful botanic garden.

Then they sailed with us south along the coast to the islands of Les Saintes (also known as Iles des Saintes) which are the perfect cruising destination because of their unspoiled tropical beauty, serenity, and French style. Just six miles south of Guadeloupe, these idyllic islands float like tropical fantasies in the Caribbean Sea.

In addition to beautiful beaches and fascinating historical sites, the main island of Terre-de-Haut offers a charming village as its centerpiece, where we anchored just offshore. Unfortunately, unusual north swells and persistently strong north-northeast winds lasted the entire time we were there and motivated us to spend as much time as possible off the boat and ashore. Fortunately for us, Terre-de-Haut offered an excellent option for more hiking and learning about the imperial history of the island.

Situated on a bluff in Terre-de-Haut, Fort Napoleon was rebuilt in the mid-1800s, from the original Fort Louis that was destroyed in a battle with the British in 1809. Fort Napoléon was restored in the early 1980s and today serves as a historical site and museum. We have discovered that virtually every inhabited Caribbean island has one or more hilltop forts in various states of decay, but Fort Napoleon is beautifully reconstructed.

Within the grounds, there is a beautifully designed botanical garden for succulent plants, and we were lucky enough to see some of the resident Iguanas sunning themselves as we strolled along. As we explored the garden and walked out to the pinnacle of the Fort Napoleon grounds, we enjoyed one of the best viewpoints in the Caribbean, a spectacular view overlooking Saintes Bay, undoubtedly one of the world's most beautiful.

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