A day in Marie-Galante, the island of a hundred mills

Opposite La Toubana Hotel & Spa is Marie-Galante, the quiet and authentic island of the entire Lesser Antilles arc.

Over there, the sugar cane fields stretch as far as the eye can see, paradise beaches follow one another, underwater flora and fauna surprise… Welcome to Île aux Cent Moulins, also called the Grande-Galette, which is worth the detour for a journey rich in discoveries.

Many see Marie-Galante as the Guadeloupe “of yesteryear”. Indeed, life is preserved there, rurality is preserved there so that authenticity is perceived in every corner of the island. Come along the coastal road where you will come across these cabrouets, wooden carts pulled by oxen …

Marie-Galante marks by its natural sites such as Gueule Grand Gouffre, an open pit dug by the sea 50 meters in diameter and 30 meters in height! The beauty of the site is exceptional. If you are looking for a spot for a little relaxing break, you are spoiled for choice of beautiful white sand beaches… Anse Canot, Feuillère Beach, Vieux Fort Beach… they stretch as far as the eye can see. with water with infinite shades of blue.

It is also and above all the island of rum culture! As you stroll through the sugar cane fields, you will come across one of the three distilleries still present on the island. During the tastings, don’t be surprised, Marie-Galante’s rum is reputed to be the strongest of all the islands of Guadeloupe, no less than 59 °…

The visit to the island ends with the Habitation Murat, a former colonial house, now home to an eco-museum of the island’s traditions and folk arts. Between calm, paradise and authenticity, come and appreciate the beauty of Marie-Galante, an island out of time.

(Français) La Toubana Hôtel & Spa, en route vers la 5e étoile

Before it became one of the finest hotels of Guadeloupe,  La Toubana Hôtel & Spa built its reputation step by step, thanks  to the energy and passion of the family who run it. For more than thirty years, from father to son, from parent to child,  the clan has striven to meet the needs of its clients, with sincerity,  taste and refinement. A fifth star will make this magical place  the first of its category in Guadeloupe.

In the 1950s, Robert Vial Collet, from the French region of Savoie, arrived in Guadeloupe by boat. There, he met a beautiful Guadeloupean, Michèle. They married and had three children. In the 70s, this man of vision purchased the land which was to become the site of La Toubana. At the time, his father-in-law told him he was making a serious mistake by buying a rocky cliff where neither bananas nor sugar cane would grow! In 1984, the hotel finally opened its doors, proposing 18 little 2-star “boxrooms”. In 2005, the family obtained a third star, then a fourth in 2012. The establishment was next run by Robert’s son, Patrick, and his wife, Corinne, who later passed it on to Chloe and Aston, their children, who are still in charge today.

At La Toubana, each bungalow nestles in a little cocoon surrounded by vegetation. Each one has its own beautiful patio and a breathtaking view over the sea. Inside, the shutters allow the light in, creating a calm, embracing atmosphere. The communal areas are a continuation of that atmosphere, with a cozy and chic Creole style. The restaurant and bar can be found by the infinity pool. From up there, the view over Marie-Galante and the beach of La Caravelle is stunning.

Two restaurants, two ambiances. One is by the sea, next to the beach, the other is up by the pool. Every year, the menus of both restaurants are rewritten but certain iconic dishes, like grilled lobster, always remain! Each dish is created and concocted with seasonal produce selected from small growers. We use typical, local, fresh ingredients!

The “villas” section was built and included in the hotel complex in 2014. It is totally independent from the bungalow area, with 3 luxury villas and 12 suites, including 2 with their own pools. Architect Guy Benoist and decorator Muriel Chabernaud were called upon to ensure the site retained its original spirit and distinctive charm, without adopting an overly modern style. The rooms are arranged in such a way as to make them completely independent. This bright, spacious area allows good freedom of movement. In the early morning, the spectacle of nature over the sea and the song of birds promise a wonderful day. While allowing the daylight in, the shutters create a pleasant, soothing atmosphere. Far from the hustle and bustle of the outside world, the body relaxes under the jets of the Italian-style shower. A real cocoon of happiness to share with your loved ones.

The new, fully refurbished reception area… and the beaming smiles of our staff… make you want to stay a while. And who better than the locals, who know the island so well, to put the finishing touches to your vacation? As for our beauty facilities, the Spa has a brand new reception area and relaxation lounge, as well as new cabins and changing rooms. At the beach, the seawall is now a beach in its own right. For pareos, beach tunics and bags, we have opened a handy boutique.

“When you hire a villa at La Toubana, you also get access to all of the hotel’s facilities and services, including daily cleaning, your own chef if you so wish, access to the Spa and swimming pool, as well as beach services. Our team will always do everything they can to satisfy you, within reasonable limits. If you want a butler, a yoga lesson, a chef, a massage or a swimming lesson… all of this is possible” explains Chloe. When the dream becomes reality…

Faustine François

A multitude of activities to enjoy as a family

With the waters of the caribbean and the tropical rainforest,  guadeloupe is the ideal destination for children  to enjoy a wide range of activities.

Children aged 2 to 3 years

The crystal-clear shallow water at the beach of Sainte-Anne is, without a doubt, the best place for toddlers to splash around while their parents live the dream.

Tropical plants and flowers, multicolored birds and pink flamingos… the Botanical Gardens of Deshaies are a sight to behold! The visit is perfectly suitable for young children in strollers.

A trip by boat to the Nature Reserve of the Bay of Grand-Cul-de-Sac Marin is well worth the effort. You will discover the mangroves and explore the seabed. This lagoon of 15,000 hectares is home to a unique fauna of sea birds, fish, turtles and shellfish… As well as around fifty species of coral and over 150 species of mollusks that are found in this open-air aquarium!

Children aged 4 to 10 years

When it’s too hot outside, they will enjoy a visit to Gosier Aquarium. There are around fifty tanks displaying the local ecosystems. The Aquarium recently added a touch tank where visitors learn the respectful way to approach some of the marine species. It is also equipped with the latest technology, providing a fun, interactive exploration of the marine world.

An introduction to scuba diving is possible, at the Cousteau reserve for example… from the age of 8! A children’s dream.

Kids absolutely must visit the zoo at Les Mamelles. The zoo covers 4 hectares of tropical rainforest and houses 85 Caribbean species of wildlife. Children will jump for joy and squeal with delight at the sight of parrots, monkeys, the big cats and the rhino beetle, one of the biggest insects in the world!

For fun in the water, we highly recommend the waterslides at Valombreuse gardens in Petit-Bourg.

Nearby, the Cascade aux Ecrevisses (Crayfish waterfall) is easy to reach. If the children are well-behaved, treat them to a picnic and let them take a dip!

Individually or in groups, exploring new horizons by canoe-kayak is a fun activity to be enjoyed in full autonomy!

Children aged 11 to 17 years

For board-sport enthusiasts in search of a thrill, surfing is a physical activity that can be tried from the age of 8. It is a glorious feeling to ride your first wave!

Moving from branch to branch, crossing rope bridges, overcoming a fear of heights… The treetop adventure trail “Le Tapeur” at Pointe-Noire promises an educational afternoon filled with fun and laughter.

Looking for an unusual way to celebrate a birthday? Why not hire a donut-shaped boat (no license needed) with its own onboard barbecue? Go to the turquoise lagoon of Saint-François for a festive excursion like no other.

All you need are a mask, snorkel and flippers, and there are numerous snorkeling sites in Guadeloupe. Who will find the most beautiful fish? We highly recommend a trip to Petite-Terre, to see the turtles, young lemon sharks, angel fish, barracudas, etc.

Try to keep your balance as you paddle along in a standing position on a paddleboard. The first to fall loses! Excursions available from Vieux-Bourg and Morne-à-l’Eau.

Want to take to the sea or just learn to maneuver the sail with friends and experience the thrill of tacking? There are several sailing schools all over the Guadeloupe islands. A real pirate’s holiday!

Faustine François

Hiking in the tropical rainforest

Adrien Ballanger

Dominated by the volcano, the Basse-Terre part of the “Butterfly island”, corresponding to the butterfly’s left wing, offers some incredible tropical landscapes and an outstanding biodiversity. With cascades, waterfalls and rivers, the National Park abounds with hiking trails waiting to be explored, with or without a guide.

 

Adrien Ballanger

Is there ever a more magical moment than that when the mind and body wander off the beaten track? Oh and the state of joy you feel, after walking uphill for miles to admire a view that takes your breath away! After climbing to the top of the Soufrière volcano, at an elevation of 1,467 meters, you are rewarded with a 360-degree view over the islands of Guadeloupe. The paths, some well-marked, others more discreet, take you to contemplate this stunning panorama, as well as the incredible sight of sulfur vapors rising from the craters. For this opportunity, you need the weather on your side, as the summit is often trapped in cloud. Remember to check the weather forecast before you set out in the morning.

 

Adrien Ballanger

For a different, incredible experience, walk amid tropical surroundings to the Matouba fall. This short hike takes you across a banana plantation and down a steep path to Saint-Louis river. Here, the plant world unleashes its full force and the biodiversity is exceptional. Our guide explains why the roots of the trees are visible; it is because they cannot grow through the rock. To survive, they help each other to keep their balance, intertwining to remain upright: strength lies in unity. Further along, we find treelike ferns, kinds of parasols that already existed when dinosaurs walked the earth. More than 260 varieties of ferns have been listed. We learn that the begonia can be eaten raw or cooked, and that the waterwood tree provides solid timber that is used to make furniture, particularly kitchen cupboards, as it is resistant to water. The flower with a little white tail is edible. It is known as “rat’s tail” and has a peppery taste. Our guide is a mine of information. When we reach the bottom, we follow the riverbed upstream to a pool which is fed by a little waterfall. The rigid volcanic rocks take center stage, very impressive! Here, we must keep an eye on the rainfall and surrounding terrain. A good way of checking is to pile three small flat rocks on top of an immersed stone. If the water level rises, they will disappear under water. Also, be wary if the ground is too dry.

 

Adrien Ballanger

For those who struggle with slopes, the hike to the blue pool is an easy one. It starts on a marked route and continues on a fairly wide path. When the sky is free from cloud, you can see the Soufrière massif. The white gum tree can be recognized by the presence of a white paste, which is used as natural incense. En route, we observe installations that supply the town of Gourbeyre with fresh water. All the way along, there are pools which can be reached with the use of ropes and where it is possible to swim. Once you arrive, you can relax and try to distinguish the song of the bananaquit and other species of birds that inhabit this heavenly place.