In the Caribbean, there are famous beaches, where the crowds gather, and then there are the little corners of paradise, that only the lucky few -- and locals -- get to enjoy. One of the joys of going "off the track" or "off the beaten path" or whatever travel cliché you want to use is discovering these lesser-known, but no less beautiful stretches of sand and sea.
We recently traveled to Guadeloupe and stumbled across just one such beauty. Guadeloupe is an archipelago (a collection of islands) in the French Caribbean, located north of Dominica and sound of Antigua. The two largest islands, Grande Terre ("big land") and Basse Terre ("low land") are connected by a bridge and offer two strikingly different experiences. We focused on Basse Terre, which is mountainous, more agricultural, and arguably less "developed," and returned to favorites such as Grande Anse beach and Plage Leroux. But we also found ourselves here...
It was a little swath of beach, perhaps a third of a mile long or less, hidden from the main road and, as far as I could see, without any real signage. In other words, a place that most tourists would never find. And so we wandered up and down, kicking our feet in the surf, and watching the sun skirt the horizon.
We both agreed it was as pretty as any scenery we'd come across. A couple of people strolled by at one point, but otherwise, ours were the only footsteps in the (luxuriously soft) sand. Only after we'd left the beach and looked online, did we find the name: Plage Laurent. (Plage is just French for beach.) But how to tell our fellow island lovers how to reach it, in case you want to see if for yourself? Here goes my best try: if you're driving south on the west coast of Basse Terre, drive past Anse de la Perle and Anse Rifflet, and look out for a little pizza restaurant on the right called Cherry's Pizza. You're currently driving on the N2, but parallel to you, along the shore is a narrow road called Boulevard Vwe Moune. That's where you'll find Plage Laurent!
It doesn't take tramping through a forest or driving through a labyrinthine network of roads to find Plage Laurent -- you just have to know that it's there. In certain other places, a beach like this would be lined with condos and brimming with bars -- but not here. (Not that there's anything wrong with condos, or for that matter, an excellent rum shack!) It is a supremely awe-inspiring and relaxing experience to be in nature, without all the distractions that can pull our attention away. The French Caribbean remains a destination that we hope to return to again and again, due in part to the serendipity of this kind of discovery. If you make it to Guadeloupe, or Basse Terre (or you've already been), leave a comment on our Facebook page and tell us about your favorite places. Thank you!
Laura Albritton is the director of travel blog Island Runaways and also the author of four books, including Hidden History of the Florida Keys, recently published by The History Press.