French Guiana is an overseas department of France on the northeast coast of South America, composed mainly of tropical rainforest. The ruins of 17th-century Fort Cépérou overlook the capital, Cayenne, with its colorful Creole houses and street markets. Shops and cafes surround the palm-filled main square, Place des Palmistes. The Rémire-Montjoly suburb is lined with Atlantic coast beaches.
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Atlandis Top 3 'Things to Do'
Îles du Salut
In 1931, Frenchman Henri Charrière was convicted of a murder he did not commit. He was sentenced to life imprisonment at the penal colony on Devil's Island, one of the infamous Îles du Salut, where shark-infested waters lash the rocky shores. After surviving 12 years of horrific conditions, he escaped to Venezuela. The book and movie, Papillon, recount his ordeal.
Today, a trip to the islands, about 11 kilometers offshore from Kourou, brings his story to life. Most visitors arrive at Île Royale, the largest of the three islands and the former administrative headquarters for the colony. The buildings have been converted to hotels and tourist facilities, and an abundant array of wildlife now inhabits the island, including macaws, monkeys, and agouti.
In the northwest corner of French Guiana, Plage les Hattes at Awala-Yalimapo is the most important single nesting site in the world for giant leatherback turtles.
During the peak season from April to July, more than 80 leatherbacks lumber up the beach in a single night. Their eggs hatch between July and September. This three-kilometer stretch of beach is also an important nesting site for green turtles and, on occasion, Olive Ridley and hawksbill turtles. Before heading to the beach, you can learn about these gentle creatures at the small local museum.
Also at Awala-Yalimapo are many Amerindian settlements, and you can cruise up the Maroni River and visit a permanent traditional village.
If you're seeking a beach fix, you'll find Cayenne's best stretch of sand and sea at Remire-Montjoly. French Guiana beaches are typically wild, windswept affairs, and this beach is no different, but it does have a narrow, strip of golden shoreline that is great for sunbathing. Palms and lush greenery fringe the sand, providing welcome patches of shade.
The silty waters here are not ideal for swimming but they're decent enough for a quick dip after a hike in the nearby nature reserve. You might spot sea turtles here during nesting season.
'Things To Do' information provided by Viator and TripAdvisor. Contact Atlandis Vacations for the best prices.