French West Indies
It’s easy to imagine how these heavenly Caribbean islands earned their name - which translates as Islands of the Saints. Labelled as such by Christopher Columbus when he reached them in 1493, the islands have lost none of their heavenly beauty and appeal since. Promising crystalline tropical beaches and undisturbed shallow seas, Les Saintes is a blessed archipelago and a moreish vision of unspoiled Caribbean glory.
Forest-coated island cones rise from the turquoise waters, and you can lounge on deserted beaches, or snorkel among teeming reefs that flourish with life below the warm waters. Jump into a kayak to get out on the sea, gliding above the incredible fish life blossoming just below the waves. Somewhat off the beaten track, the islands form a necklace of nine in total, but only two are occupied. Head out across the bobbing waves to revel in their beauty from the deck of a catamaran, or choose your spot on a banana-bend of soft sand like Pain De Sucre Beach. Relax in this impossibly gorgeous setting, surrounded by lush vegetation and a spectacular cliff that closely resembles Rio de Janiero’s famous Sugarloaf Mountain - and lends this beach its name.
The vast Fort Napoleon was constructed by the French to repel British attacks and is now home to a popular cactus park and gardens - which blooms with a colourful variety of flowers. Look out for the huge iguanas leisurely soaking up the sunshine.