Travel the North and West Coasts of Guadeloupe

After touring the Severin Distillery and grounds, we continued driving along the north coast of Basse Terre taking in the beautiful countryside while keeping our eyes peeled looking for the Karacoli Restaurant, a world renowned waterfront eatery Joy discovered while searching for things to do. Joy told me this stop was on our “must do” list for the day.

The Beach at Karacoli Restaurant
The Beach at Karacoli Restaurant

We found the Karacoli, which means “seashell”, right down on the beach and wandered back to their outdoor deck nestled among the sea grapes and mango trees. Linen table cloths and napkins adorned each table, and several waiters and waitresses saw to our every wish. Shortly after we were seated, a small bus full of patrons arrived, and we quickly realized how popular this spot is with the locals. 
Karacoli Restaurant
Karacoli Restaurant

Listening to people around us chatting away in French gave us a sense of otherworldliness; we seemed to be the only English speaking diners present. None of our wait staff spoke English, so I had Kathy Parson’s “French for Cruisers” lying open right beside me. Her books have proven very helpful to us in both French and Spanish speaking countries, and if you plan to cruise among the islands, her books are indispensable.
The Deck at Karacoli
The Deck at Karacoli

We lingered well past lunchtime, reluctant to leave, but with several other stops beckoning, we slid into our rental car and headed south to the port of Deshaies, a tiny boat harbor tucked into the cliffs. I’d thought of stopping there had we sailed south on the leeward coast, but I’m glad we didn’t go this way as the harbor is jammed with boats, and there’s no room for visiting yachtsmen.
Looking South from Route de la Traversée
Looking South from Route de la Traversée

Our day was fast disappearing, and we still wanted to drive the steep, twisting, mountain road that more or less divides Basse Terre into north and south halves, so after our brief stop for a cool drink and a snack while sitting on the seawall at Deshaies, we wound the rubber bands on our little four cylinder rental up as tight as they would go and started the climb over the mountains on the Route de la Traversée. Route D25 climbs very steeply up from the west coast, twisting and turning sharply. We made our way past the twin mountains named “les Mamelles” (I’ll let you look up the translation for this one!), past several steep waterfalls, and gliding easily down the eastern slopes as we coasted back through Pointe a Pitre and on to Bas du Fort. Our little car was due back in the morning, and we were making up our minds whether to stay in the harbor or move on. A few days of very strong winds were in the forecast, so we decided to move to our next stop before the big winds arrived.

Sail South to Les Saintes