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Îlet du Gosier, Guadeloupe • A French Caribbean island paradise

The tiny island of Îlet du Gosier is one of the most magical places in the Caribbean, reachable from the Plage de la Datcha either by ferry or kayak. (Or you could even swim if you’re strong enough.) Here’s how to spend a day on this glorious piece of paradise.

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The story of Guadeloupe

Guadeloupe, a tiny overseas region of France, is a pretty island located at the meeting of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, and looks on a map very similar to the shape of a little butterfly. When I say it’s an island, it’s actually several. The main islands of Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre form the wings of the butterfly-shaped piece of paradise, connected by a bridge, with several smaller islands dotted about in the sea. Îlet du Gosier and the area of Le Gosier is part of Grande-Terre, the eastern wing of the butterfly.

Back in the day, Christopher Columbus was one of the first Europeans to arrive here (as he seems to have arrived on just about every island in the Caribbean; he was clearly a massive beach guy). He swiftly got rid of its original Arawak name of Karukera, changed it to Santa María de Guadeloupe, and subsequently claimed to have discovered pineapples there for the first time in human history. Presumably the Arawak people had actually been eating pineapple for as long as they could remember.

It’s one thing to change the name of an entire nation’s homeland, but claim to have discovered something they’ve known about for as long as they’ve lived, and in my opinion you’re pushing your luck, Sonny Jim.

After several nations had a good squabble about who owned Guadeloupe- the English, Spanish and French were all quite up for being the boss here due to its lucrative sugar cane industry- eventually the French won. To this day it’s been part of France and therefore also the EU. The currency is Euros, the language is French, and if any EU citizen wants to travel or live there, they can do so.

An introduction to Îlet du Gosier

The only other place I’ve truly felt as if I’m on a Caribbean desert island is on the Dominican Republic’s stunning Isla Saona. And although Îlet du Gosier doesn’t have quite the same isolated vibe, the fact that this beautiful islet is completely uninhabited makes it feel a little more on the rugged side compared to Guadeloupe’s mainland resorts like St Anne and le Plage Caravelle.

The wild island sits just off the coast of Le Gosier, and it’s very easy to reach from La Datcha beach (even if you want to swim across). The sea is fairly shallow and crystal clear, so it’s very popular with local families as well as day trippers from cruise ships.

When I say ‘wild’ I really do mean wild. There are no beach chairs crowding the sandy shores, there are zero public bathrooms, and there’s not a swanky cocktail bar to be seen. If you’re the type who needs facilities, this is not the place for you.

Docking in Guadeloupe’s cruise port

Docking here meant arriving in the city of Pointe-à-Pitre, a place which I found fascinating due to its mixture of street art, the warm smell of spices wafting all around, and the French architecture all over the place. It all combined to remind me very much of New Orleans (which by the way is probs my number one city in the entire world, if you’re interested).

After a couple of visits to the city, we were informed of one of the most beautiful and best beaches in Guadeloupe, located on a secret island. It wasn’t too far away but would for sure need several modes of transport to reach.

And the combination of the words ‘secret’ and ‘island’ meant that there was absolutely no question about the fact that we 100% needed to go there. Is Îlet du Gosier truly a secret? Not really, no. But it’s very much worth heading to anyway.

My in-depth guide to Pointe-a-Pitre.

How to get from Pointe-a-Pitre to Îlet du Gosier

The first step is to get from Pointe-a-Pitre to Le Gosier:

Taxi to Le Gosier

Negotiate a price with a taxi driver before you get into the taxi- there are always plenty waiting at the port- and then it’s smart to arrange a pick-up time from Le Gosier so that the same driver can pick you up.

The journey from Guadeloupe cruise port to Le Gosier without traffic should only take about 10-15 minutes, however the road can get pretty jam-packed with cars. Sometimes the journey can take up to half an hour of mostly crawling at snails-pace, past big rusting billboards displaying slogans in French, tropical trees and the odd wandering chicken. (But it’s so interesting to just be in a place so different to England that I didn’t even mind about being stuck in traffic).

Get the taxi driver to drop you just before Plage de la Datcha, next to a hilltop overlooking the turquoise sea. On the right side of the hill is Tabarin Beach and a pathway which leads down to a long jetty where plenty of families and children often go swimming in a little floating pool. In the distance you’ll be able to see the tiny Îlet du Gosier.

Public bus to Le Gosier

To get a public bus from Pointe-a-Pitre to Le Gosier, head to the Mortenol bus station near the Memorial ACTe museum. Currently the Ae1, Ae3 and B20 routes run in the direction of Le Gosier; pay in cash (no more than a couple of euros each way), and get off at the Parc du Calvaire stop.

Next: from the mainland to îlet du Gosier:

Option 1: Ferry to îlet du Gosier

At the end of the jetty on Tabarin Beach is the ferry stop, where a little boat runs passengers back and forth to the island all day long. (Although, beware: if it’s a quiet day the driver may well decide to take a break around lunch time.)

The journey lasts about ten minutes each way.

The ferry takes cash only, and costs €5 return trip. (2023)

Option 2: Kayak to îlet du Gosier

There are plenty of kayak hire shops around La Datcha beach, from where you can rent kayaks to carry you across the water to Îlet du Gosier. Making the journey by kayak is a really fun option (if a little strenuous on the arms), and I preferred rowing across the water to taking a ferry.

Expect to pay between €15-20 per kayak for two hours. It took us around twenty minutes to kayak to the island, and longer to kayak back as the current was stronger! We didn’t have any problem just turning up and hiring kayaks on the day, but if you wanted to book in advance check this website.

Arriving on Îlet du Gosier

The first time we stepped on to Îlet du Gosier, it wasn’t at all overcrowded and we had a little mooch around to figure out where we wanted to set up camp; there were plenty of places to choose from. Some groups literally had set up camp- tents, campfires and all. This island is a popular place for families to come and experience the outdoor elements, tropical-camping style. We found a spot a little further around the corner from the jetty, with a view back to land on our left. This became our usual place every time we returned to the island.

The sea on the inland side of Îlet du Gosier is calm and relatively shallow, as well as being classically Caribbean in that you can see what you’re treading on and in. It’s basically the ideal place for swimming whilst not feeling like you could be being polluted at the same time.

What a joy!

Eating and drinking on Îlet du Gosier

The majority of Îlet du Gosier is covered with trees, and after you first step off the ferry (or tumble out of your kayak), you’ll almost certainly be able to smell some form of barbecue taking place from within its shady centre. A little wooden kitchen has been constructed on the island, with tables and chairs set up where you can tuck in to the barbecued dreams that are cooked up right there and then. And there’s often also a lady selling homemade sorbet from under another wooden shelter. And what a jolly lady she is, too!

The coconut flavour was one of the best things I’d ever tasted, and she was pretty full on delighted that we enjoyed it so much. What a beaut.

A collection of chickens and goose-like creatures scratched their way around in the sand, some of them with posses of babies following after them and pecking curiously at leaves on the floor. I’m not gonna lie, the fact that they were always hanging out at the back of the kitchen made me wonder if they were what was being offered up on the barbecue every day, but I guess we’ll never know the answer to that pondering.

Find the lighthouse

As someone who can only take a certain amount of laying in the sun at one time, it was a given that a casual explore Îlet du Gosier should happen at some point, however small it may be. Setting off into the trees to see what we’d discover made me feel a bit like we were starring in Lost, so I was loving life despite the scratches that started to appear on my legs from the low-level foliage.

My main goal every time I was on Îlet du Gosier was to spot one of the massive iguanas that hang out in the shade; apparently they’re all over the place, although the only time I thought I heard the rustling of a reptile it turned out to in actual fact be a rather raggedy-looking chicken. Alas.

A Day at St Anne, Guadeloupe

The opposite side of the island, facing outwards towards the open sea, is completely different to the calm and secluded land-side. The rocks jut out high above the waves, which even on a calm day crash into the island with an almighty force. It’s all a bit beaut, to be honest. An old lighthouse keeps watch on the whole scene, no longer in use, although it’s possible to climb the winding staircase around the outside to keep a weathered eye on the horizon, as sailors often do.

And I may not have spotted any iguanas but I was overjoyed to discover a patch on the rocks where presumably some bird likes to tuck into a crab or two, as a whole collection of broken bright purple shells were piled together. Call me crazy but these are the things in life that keep me entertained, pals.

Plage de La Datcha

When you arrive back on the mainland- either by ferry, kayak, or by crawling out of the actual ocean- stop into one of the beachfront bars or restaurants at beautiful La Datcha. While this beach is generally busier than Îlet du Gosier (it’s easier to get to, for one thing), it’s also stunning. White sand, turquoise sea and the shade of some beautiful swaying palm trees, make it a classically beautiful Caribbean beach. And you also can’t go wrong with a crepe on the beach now, can you?

Îlet du Gosier is such a pretty little island which feels like it’s a world away from everything else. In fact, for me it’s definitely one of the best beaches in Guadeloupe. And Guadeloupe is such a generally beautiful place that if I could go back there today, would hop on a plane on the double, toot-sweet. This beautiful island had a healthy mixture of locals and visitors wherever we went- and I’m happy to say that having revisited five years later in 2023, this hasn’t changed a bit.

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