Traveling down from Ottawa, Canada to take advantage of the low airfares we flew USAir from Syracuse and left our car at a hotel with a park-fly deal and headed out the next morning. Some delays and we ended up on the Great Bay Express since we didn't make it in time for our flight. The friendly taxi driver was very helpful and made sure got on the ferry when he dropped us off.
The Ferry Ride
It turned out to be a nice experience. Just a bit choppy in the open water, but nothing too bad as the sun was setting. We took lots of photos on the way over but here are a couple to give you an idea.
We rented with Europcar and they had the car waiting for us at the ferry dock, so all was looking much better, the manager met us there and took us up to our villa. We made our way to the grocery store to get supplies, ate in and collapsed... happy to have arrived.
We rented the beautiful Flamands Blue for the second year in a row. Jeff is the owner and he takes great pride in ownership and keeps it well-maintained, and is constantly upgrading and fine tuning the details.
From the balcony, our first morning on the island, at the bottom of the hill is the Isle de France hotel and Flamands beach with a bit of early morning glow over the small islands.
A sample of the beautiful gardens around the villa that greet you when you arrive.
We had visited most of the beaches on our previous trips and liked all of them for different reasons. We started off the week at Saline on a remarkably calm and hot day. The sun was very intense in the late morning and despite applying spf 60 we did get a bit pink, or at least one of us did! Here is a picture of some of the wildlife at Saline, down at the far end. The 4 legged kind of wildlife!
We cooled off with a light lunch and lots of cold water at L'Esprit Saline. We had some nice sandwiches in pleasant surroundings. We had tried Grain de Sel last year and would have preferred their menu, but it was Monday and they are closed that day.
During the week we also sampled St Jean and L'Orient, both nice and sheltered for swimming, as well as Gouverneur and Flamands, both of which had some pretty good-size breakers.
St. Jean beach with a view of Eden Rock in the background:
Gouverneur beach and chairs from villa.
Far end of Gouverneur:
On Monday when we visited L'Orient there were still a few surfers out beyond the protected part of the bay. Although, we didn't have a telephoto lens, here is a shot of them from the shore.
We made use of the nice new sidewalk from the villa to visit Flamands Beach. Saturday morning, the breakers were fairly high.
On Friday morning, we decided to try the path down from the lookout in Columbier to the beach. We had done the hike around from Flamands before and wanted to try something different. Near noon, there were a few shady alcoves which we shared with a couple of lizards. The ocean was calm and refreshing.
Here are a couple of shots on the way down.
Besides visiting beaches, we did have a few other diversions. We had a wonderful dinner at Wall House with excellent service. Here is one of our waiters filleting the grilled sea bass.
For starters, my wife had the trio of chilled soups, all excellent and I had the lobster bisque topped with a pastry cap. For the main, I had the grilled Mahi Mahi and my wife had the fresh sea bass as noted above. The dinner and service were both very good. Although, we did take some pictures of this meal, we're leaving it to the expert restaurant visitors who are on the island now to fill that need. Instead, here we are very satisfied after the great meal.
We had to go for a walk before driving back and caught this view of the other side of the harbour and a second one of the tall ship moored nearby.
We took advantage of the special spa and lunch package at Hotel Carl Gustaf. For 95 e each we had a one-hour massage and a two-course lunch with a glass of wine and coffee, as well as access to the small hydro spa area, an excellent value. The massages were great and so was lunch.
Here is a view from the wonderful vantage point in the dining room at Carl Gustaf.
One famous eating place that we missed last time was Andy's Hideaway. We had lunch there one day after spending the morning on St Jean beach, after lunch did a bit of shopping in the boutiques. I had a tasty pizza and my wife had a cajun style tiger shrimp salad.
One place that we went last year that we really wanted to return to was the natural pools. The path in to the pools is not for the faint of heart since it is little more than a goat path in places along the top of the cliffs. It is about a 40 min walk at a moderate pace. Once there though, it is a special place: beautiful to look at, unspoiled, and you will likely have them to yourselves or maybe another couple.
To get to the pools you need to go to the small parking area a short ways past this sign when approaching from L'Orient and find the path to the beach.
The path to the beach looking away from the water.
The path to the pools begins at the right hand end of the beach up a small sandy hill which someone has laid these white stones on.
Once on the hill the path is fairly clear. It follows the cliff edge until you get to the pools. On the way you pass the "washing machine" rock formation in the surf and a small sheltered cove that it is possible to reach down the cliff side without too much problem. This photo is looking back towards the start of the path. You can see the path on the cliff edge and a bit of the sandy cove.
This is the sandy cove suitable for sunbathing but dangerous for swimming. Note us in shadow at the cliff top.
On the way to the pool there are usually lots of goats lining the hillside. There is also a small bench in the shade under a large rock. A welcome respite on a very hot day.
Once you get to the pools, the path ends and there is a flat area on the cliff top. If you peer over you can see one end of the pools.
There is a bit of a path down to the pools themselves and then you are there. The waves are breaking on the rocks surrounding the pools, but you are sheltered from them in a tranquil little oasis. When we were there, we met one couple on the way out when we arrived and another came for a couple of hours while we were there. The rest of the time we were alone.
Here are some views of the pools from various angles. Note that if you go in you need water shoes since there are sea urchins lining the rocks in both pool areas.
On some of the rocks surrounding the ocean side of the pools there are some interesting patterns in the rock. Here is one sample.
If visiting the pools, take lots of water and pack a picnic lunch. Don't forget to pack out what you bring in to preserve this spot. Our visit was an exceptionally relaxing day.
This was a wonderful vacation that we plan to take again next year.