In the eighties I had the supreme pleasure of sailing through the islands of the Caribbean and I fell in love with each and every one of them. However, one island that made an impression on me more than any of the others was Marie-Galante.
This gorgeous little jewel in the Caribbean was named after Christopher Columbus’ flagship and it is here that I tasted the best Caribbean rum ever. Of course rum factories have been established here since early times as the lush vegetation of the island lent itself so well to growing sugar cane. Marie-Galante rum is strong and some are around 59° proof ,which makes them perfect as the base for some of those lovely Caribbean cocktails like Pina Colada.
One of the islands I spent a few weeks on was Basse-Terre simply because the island and the beaches along its shores are so incredibly gorgeous. We sailed round the leeward side of the island to lay anchor in one of the gorgeous bays, in Anse Deshaies, a superb bay that in the eighties had nothing on it at all just lush green vegetation. Today there are some wonderful hotels dotted in the bay that offer visitors to Guadeloupe a luxury respite from the everyday world they have escaped from.
The island of Basse-Terre is quite spectacular as it is volcanic. Today there are three glorious summits with the highest being La Soufrière which stands at over 4,000 ft. I loved exploring this island with its lush, dense tropical vegetation just bursting out wherever I looked. It is a glorious place and for anyone who loves flora and fauna, it is paradise.
Another of my favourite islands has to be Isles des Saintes which is a small archipelago that consists of eight tiny islands that lie around six miles to the south of Guadeloupe. Only two of the islands are actually inhabited and today Terre-de-Haut is thought of as the Caribbean St-Tropez. The beaches here are simply out of this world and they stretch along some of the most glorious coastlines in the whole of the Caribbean.
If like me you love snorkelling, then this island is just perfect as the waters are crystal clear and the sea life fascinating. The food is just unbelievably good and is a mixture of many influences that culminate in a unique cuisine that has to be tasted to be believed.
I fell in love with St Bart as soon as we sailed into the bay of this tiny island because a pelican joined us and remained on the bow of the boat until we dropped anchor. The bird soon returned and remained our constant guest for the whole week we were on the island. The people of St-barthelemy are descendants of early settlers who originated from either Brittany or Normandy and listening to the language that’s spoken here today, you can detect traces of Norman French.
The last of the French colonial islands we visited was St-Martin which is an extraordinary little place that’s divided in two, one half is governed by the French as a overseas territory and the southern part which is called Sint Maarten, is administered by the Dutch, as part of the Netherlands Antilles. Again the beaches and waters around St-Martin are exquisite and I remember spending many happy hours beach combing for glorious sea shells, some of which I still have today.