What’s the most beautiful part of a beach: on the sand or under the ocean? This question may not rank up there with Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be?” but for anyone who has experienced some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, it's relevant. Especially when you're staying in Guadeloupe.
(A beach-y vista on Basse Terre island in Guadeloupe. Photo by Laura Albritton.)
As you can tell from previous posts, we’re big fans of this French Caribbean archipelago. Its islands of Grande Terre, Basse Terre, Les Saintes, La Désirade, and Marie-Galante comprise – in our opinion – one of the most beautiful destinations out there. On our recent trip we headquartered on Basse Terre, which translates to “low land” (despite the fact that Basse Terre is actually quite hilly). There we found a terrific, inexpensive place to stay (Gites Piment Café), and delicious Creole cuisine, at little spots like Cacao Café.
After our landlord gave us advice about a small, somewhat hidden beach, we set out to locate this tropical island paradise. (I described that journey in a guest post for Uncommon Caribbean.) When we finally came to Plage Leroux, the three of us, Zickie, our daughter, and I quickly fell in love. What is it exactly, that makes one beach truly capture your heart?
(Zickie with a beach that won his heart. Photo by Laura Albritton.)
In this case, the little cove with its Poinciana trees, in full scarlet bloom, certainly added something special. The fact that few people came here also made it special, because “la plage” (the beach) felt almost like we had it all to ourselves -- as though it belonged to us, although of course, it didn’t. The beauty of Plage Leroux is that it belongs to everyone, because it’s public and free. You don’t even pay to park.
But the water. Oh, it gives me the shivers remembering that fresh, clear water. The blue looked practically surreal or unreal, like the tint of a swimming pool. And it felt delectable, from the moment you waded in. The sandy floor rippled in a way that I’d only previously seen in photographs. Large orange colored starfish lay peacefully under the gentle waves. Then we donned our goggles and masks and snorkels (which thank goodness we’d brought to Guadeloupe).
(A starfish in the clear Caribbean Sea. Photo by Zickie Allgrove.)
On the left or southern side of the beach, a miniature coral reef flourished. We swam among yellow, black, and white sergeant majors. Near a coral wall, a shy octopus darted away as I approached. Blue head wrasses flitted, their tiny fins fluttering like the wings of a hummingbird.
(A blue head wrasse and other fish swim through the corals. Photo by Laura Albritton.)
The whole underwater scene just mesmerized each of us. We’d take a break, lie out in the sun, and then go back into the sea for more. The three of us had been on snorkeling trips off other islands, sometimes in conditions where the swells made it a bit difficult for our child. But here at Plage Leroux you felt safe. Because snorkeling here felt easy and calm.
(The calm sea at Plage Leroux. Photo by Zickie Allgrove.)
Although it didn’t offer the largest or more exotic coral reef, we didn’t care, not in the least. When you can walk through crystalline ocean and simply duck your head down and witness all that fascinating underwater life? Sometimes the best things in life aren’t the hardest to achieve, or the most obscure. Sometimes, nature just gives you a gift of beauty, like a friend handing you a glass of pure water.
(Corals just off-shore. Photo by Laura Albritton.)
So, what did we decide in the case of Plage Leroux? Were the sands that curved into a graceful cove the most beautiful, or the treasures we found just a few feet from shore? For once, I would have to say that swimming among the tropical fish – an experience so unexpected – will always rank up there as one of our most precious island experiences.
Plage Leroux can be found south of Deshaies, on the west coast of Basse Terre, in the Ferry/Leroux area. Look for a narrow road leading down to the sea.