South America and Caribbean

best things to do in brazil visit salvador de bahia

The 11 Most Incredible Things to do in Brazil

Did you know? Brazil is the 5th largest country in the world and occupies about 50% of the surface of South America. Being that vast means only one thing: endless opportunities and places to explore! I have been in Brazil 3 times and I still feel I have barely scratched the surface. That’s why I’ve crafted this list of the best places, activities, and things to do in Brazil. Take this as a bucket list, of course it will be very difficult to cross all these items with one single trip. But you can take this guide as your source of inspiration for you next trips to Brazil.

Disclosure: anitabeyondthesea.com is reader-supported. When you make a reservation through links on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission, at no extra cost for you. That will help me keep the blog up and running. Thank you!

Table of Contents

Explore the Amazon Rainforest

There are a few places on Earth nature lovers will love more than the Amazonian Rainforest. This dense tangle of vegetation and other living creatures is a fascinating heaven for all sort of life.

The Amazonian Rainforest covers 9 South American states (including French Guiana where I’m currently living), but it develops largely on Brazil.

Visit the Amazonian Rainforest from Manaus

The best way to explore the Amazon Rainforest is by flying to Manaus and start your exploration from there. There are several guided tours (especially cruises) from one to more days, that will give a great first impression of the density of the Rainforest.

Unless you are an expert explorer I highly recommend booking a guided tour as newbies are in danger of getting lost while trekking, the most important risk when exploring any Rainforest or Jungle in the world (yes much more than animal encounters).

Manaus is also one of the largest cities in Brazil and hosts one of the most important scientific centers on the Amazonian region.

Visit the Amazonian Rainforest from Belem

Belem is a metropolis emerging from the forest. If you have never experienced the humidity of the Equator it will leave you literally breathless because of its humidity. The feeling is to enter a greenhouse, suffocating if you are not used to.

But besides its particular climate condition Belem is absolutely interesting because of its strategic position on the Amazon River.

A cruise on the river and the huge Marajo Island (besides its name the island is situated on the river), will let you explore the fascinating world of the many villages that coexist on the river.

things to do in belem brazil cruize on the amazon and marajo island

Tips for exploring the Amazonian Rainforest

Bring waterproof and light clothes that will dry fast even under the sudden rains. Remember to protect yourself from the sun, the rays are not the same intensity at the Equator!

Consider mosquitoes/insects repellents. I’m allergic to those, and I’ve never used them even after spending multiple days in the Amazonian Rainforest. But still if you are particularly sensitive to mosquitoes bites bring repellents with you. Just make a test on a smaller portion of your body, like your wrist, to see if you have any particular reaction to these products.

Visit Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is truly a marvelous city (its nickname is Cidade Maravilhosa). And it’s a MUST on your Brazilian trip. Even if many are able to pack the best things to do in two or three days, I highly recommend spending at least one week to understand more deeply the different layers of this extraordinary city.

From its incredible beaches to the beautiful historical monuments, there are plenty of different corners to explore. Remember always to be careful to the neighbors you are visiting as some areas are unsafe. You just need common sense, when exploring keep always an eye on your environment.

And for the outdoor passionate there are many activities to try like paragliding, horse riding, or simply trekking in Tijuca National Park. Without forgetting of course a visit to the amazing Pao de Açucar and Christ the Redeemer.

view from sugarloaf of corcovado rio de janeiro helicopter tours

Experience Carnival in Rio

Carnival in Brazil is one of the most incredible celebrations in the world, and in Rio de Janeiro that takes the proportions of an endless non stop party that lasts for several weeks.

The atmosphere is different, everyone and their mom are dancing to the engaging rhythm of samba and there are celebrations everywhere. This is a good time to take some samba lessons and of course to attend the parades at Rio Sambodrome, check out the ticket for the entries on Viator and GetYourGuide.

For the curious, this is what a parade looks like, isn’t it great?!

See Rio from above

One of the best way to admire Rio is by taking an helicopter tour. There are many different tours but I can recommend you two depending on your budget:

The best helicopter tour without breaking the bank? Check out this 30 minutes flight, that cost only 555€ for a group of 3 people maximum. For 30 minutes that’s the best price you will get.

Although if you want to invest a little more in this bucket list experience I’d definitely go with the 1 hour tour by Gregtur Tourism Rio. It’s the most complete!

If you want to know more about the helicopter tours (duration and sightseeing) check out our dedicated blog post.

Admire the underwater life in Fernando de Noronha

Fernando de Noronha is a tropical paradise located off the northeastern coast of Brazil. This remote archipelago consists of 21 breathtaking islands and islets of volcanic origin.

Besides the undeniable beauty of its beaches and landscapes, Fernando de Noronha has a very rich marine ecosystem that attracts divers. Activities like snorkeling and scuba diving are an absolute must when visiting. But even if you aren’t an expert swimmer you can enjoy boat tours to admire the underwater life.

Did you know? Fernando de Noronha is home to Sancho Bay, which is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Good to know before going: The island is very expensive (from accommodations to food) as it’s an island quite far from the coast. Consider about 3/4 times more expensive than Rio de Janeiro. And in addition to that there are also two taxes tourists have to pay which contribute to the maintaining of the Natural Reserve. One is mandatory and will give you access to the inhabited part of the main island. While the second will give you access to the Marine National Park, you can find the tickets here.

fernando de noronha brazil
Credits to Snow-surf. License.

Marvel at Iguazu Falls

Consisting of over 275 individual falls spread across nearly two miles, Iguazu Falls is one of the largest waterfall systems in the world and has rightfully earned its place as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Iguazu Falls are split between Argentina and Brazil with he highest drop being 82 meters.

To fully appreciate the grandeur of Iguazu Falls, it’s worth exploring from both the Brazilian and Argentine sides. The Brazilian side offers panoramic views that encompass the entire falls, providing a broader perspective of their vastness. The Argentine side, on the other hand, allows for up-close encounters with the falls through a network of trails and walkways that take you right to the edge of the cascades. It’s an immersive experience where you can feel the mist on your face and witness the falls from various angles and elevations.

In addition to the awe-inspiring views, the surrounding national parks offer opportunities for wildlife spotting and nature exploration. You may encounter colorful butterflies, exotic birds, and even coatis (raccoon-like creatures) as you traverse the park’s trails.

Most recommended experience? A boat tour!

iguazu falls best things to do in brazil
Photo from Pexels.com. Credits to Christhian Gruhh.

Discover the vibrant colors of Salvador de Bahia

Immerse yourself in the vibrant Afro-Brazilian culture of Salvador de Bahia. You can explore the historic center, enjoy traditional music and dance, and sample local cuisine.

One of the most important slavery harbors during the colonial years, Salvador de Bahia has perfectly integrated the African heritage in its culture. It won’t be unusual to find African art and objects, like the stunning wax dresses! And even Capoheira is a mix of African and Brazilian cultures.

But which are the best activities to do in Salvador de Bahia? Among all the choices I’d definitely recommend exploring thoroughly Pelourinho, the pulsing heart of the city. Get lost in the cobblestones alleys and admire the local artisan shop and art studios. Without forgetting the Igreja e Convento de São Francisco and Catedral Basílica de Salvador, two colonial churches that have beautiful azulejos decorations.

pelhourinho things to do in salvador de bahia travel guide

Go wildlife spotting in the Pantanal

Embarking on a wildlife safari in the Pantanal wetlands is a dream come true for nature enthusiasts and animal lovers. The Pantanal is the world biggest wetland, and expand through Brazil Bolivia and Paraguay.

Just like in every animal related activity, you will come with great expectations of seeing the large mammals like anteaters, tapirs, jaguars, and pumas. But remember this isn’t a zoo and animals may be difficult to spot, even if you are staying on more days.

In addition to the above mentioned, the Pantanal is home to an astonishing array of wildlife. As you venture through the wetlands, you will probably encounter caimans sunning themselves along the riverbanks, capybaras, the world’s largest rodent, and a rich birdlife. With over 650 species recorded in the region Pantanal is a paradise also for birdwatchers.

Exploring the Pantanal on a safari provides an immersive experience. And depending on the type of activity you should be able to spot different animals as well. While there try to enjoy at least a guided hike in the forest, a horse riding, a day cruise and a night cruise (you will see plenty of animals and an incredible night sky!). That way you will increase your chances of seeing many animals.

jaguar pantanal things to do in brazil
Photo by Wolves201. License.

When is the best time to visit Pantanal?

During the dry season from July to October. The animals will be easier to spot as many water curses get dry, and it’s also the best time for outdoor activities. Try yourself into canoeing, one of the best way to explore these habitats. Unlike boat tours you will make less noise and you will have greater chance to spot animals.

Trek in Chapada Diamantina National Park

Chapada Diamantina is a vast area of 1 525,75 km2, that includes caves, waterfalls, and an impressive plateau (the name translates as Diamond Plateau) with several canyons. Despite its name, Chapada Diamantina is still an off the beaten path gem, and most tourism is local. And that’s what makes it even more special!

The park’s trails cater to trekkers of all levels, from leisurely walks to challenging multi-day hikes. One of the most popular and iconic treks in Chapada Diamantina is the trek to the Pai Inacio Hill, where you can witness a spectacular panoramic view of the entire park from the summit. The hike takes you through rock formations, ancient caves, and captivating natural scenery before rewarding you with the awe-inspiring vista at the top.

For more experienced trekkers, the Vale do Pati trek offers a truly immersive experience. Known as one of Brazil’s best treks, it takes you deep into the heart of the Chapada Diamantina, where you’ll encounter isolated villages, breathtaking waterfalls, and jaw-dropping canyons. The trek can be completed in 3 to 5 days, and along the way, you’ll have the chance to interact with local communities and experience the traditional lifestyle of the region.

Before setting out on a trek in Chapada Diamantina, it’s essential to be well-prepared and accompanied by an experienced local guide who knows the area’s trails and can ensure your safety. The park’s weather can be unpredictable, and conditions may change rapidly, so appropriate clothing and gear are crucial for a comfortable and enjoyable trek.

On TripAdvisor you can check out guided tours and excursions on multiple days.

chapada diamantina national park things to do in brazil
Photo by Kennedy Silva. License.

Experience the cultural melting pot of Sao Paulo

One of the first things you’ll notice about São Paulo is its architectural diversity. The city is a fascinating blend of modern skyscrapers, historic buildings, and green spaces.

Head to Avenida Paulista, the city’s most famous avenue, where you’ll find a mix of modern buildings, shopping malls, cultural institutions, and vibrant street life. This iconic avenue is the heart of São Paulo’s financial district and a hub of cultural events, demonstrations, and public gatherings.

For a taste of São Paulo’s history and culture, explore the city’s neighborhoods, each with its own distinct character. Visit the historic center, known as Centro, where you can marvel at impressive buildings like the Theatro Municipal, a beautiful opera house inspired by the Paris Opera. The São Bento Monastery, with its stunning interior adorned with intricate wood carvings, is another must-visit landmark in the area.

One more reason to love São Paulo? Its outstanding museums and art galleries. The São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP) is one of the city’s architectural gems, housing an extensive collection of European and Brazilian art. For contemporary art enthusiasts, the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo showcases a diverse range of Brazilian artworks from the 19th century to the present day.

As a cultural melting pot, there ae several different cuisines you can taste in São Paulo. Don’t miss trying traditional Brazilian dishes like feijoada, coxinha, and pao de quejo, you can taste them in one of the many churrascarias around the city. But you can also explore the vast array of international cuisines in the city’s many restaurants and food markets.

sao paolo things to do in brazil

Discover the sandy paradise of Jericoacoara

Even its name evokes a tropic paradise: Jericoacoara (literally turtles refuge) is one of the best white beach crystal waters destinations in Brazil.

This picturesque fishing village has evolved into a popular tourist destination while still retaining its laid-back, bohemian vibe. Known for its stunning beaches, unique dune landscapes, and excellent wind conditions, Jericoacoara has become a haven for beach lovers, water sports enthusiasts, and nature seekers.

The main attraction of Jericoacoara is its pristine beaches, which offer a mix of relaxation and adventure. Jericoacoara Beach, also known as “Jeri Beach,” is a breathtaking stretch of golden sand framed by swaying palm trees and calm, turquoise waters. It is the perfect place to unwind, soak up the sun, and take in the scenic beauty of the region.

One of the most iconic spots in Jericoacoara is the majestic Sunset Dune (Duna do Pôr do Sol). In the late afternoon, locals and tourists alike gather here to witness the spectacular sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.

Beyond its idyllic beaches, Jericoacoara is a world-renowned destination for wind and water sports. The consistent trade winds that blow across the region make it ideal for kitesurfing and windsurfing. The conditions are suitable for both beginners and experienced riders, and there are several schools and rental shops available for those looking to learn or practice these thrilling sports. You can easily find classes once you are there, just ask to your hotel’s reception.

The natural beauty of Jericoacoara extends beyond its beaches. The region is surrounded by massive sand dunes, freshwater lagoons, and mangroves, creating a unique and diverse landscape. A popular activity is “buggy” or 4×4 tours, which take visitors on thrilling rides through the dunes and along the coast, allowing them to discover hidden lagoons and oasis-like settings.

best things to do in brazil jericoacoara
Photo from Pexels.com. Credits to Roberto Garrido.

Explore the historical center of Paraty

Visiting the historical center of Paraty is like stepping back in time to Brazil’s colonial past. This charming coastal town, located in the state of Rio de Janeiro, boasts a well-preserved historic center that is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. The cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, and captivating atmosphere make it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a taste of Brazil’s history and culture.

The historical center of Paraty is characterized by its beautiful colonial buildings, many of which date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. The architecture reflects a blend of Portuguese, indigenous, and African influences, that slightly remind Salvador de Bahia. The buildings are adorned with colorful facades and wooden doors that makes it a postcard-like location.

Strolling through the narrow, winding streets, you’ll encounter various artisan shops, art galleries, and traditional craft stores. Paraty is famous for its cachaça, an excellent Brazilian spirit made from sugarcane, and you can find several shops selling artisanal cachaça and other local products. If you buy one don’t forget to ask for the recipe of Caipirinha a signature among Brazilian cocktails.

As you explore the historical center, be sure to visit the many historic churches that dot the town. The Church of Our Lady of the Remedies, perched on a hill overlooking the town, offers stunning views of Paraty and the surrounding bay. The Church of Santa Rita, with its Baroque-style facade, is another architectural gem worth exploring.

In addition to exploring the historical center, consider taking a boat tour to explore the nearby islands and beaches or embarking on a hiking adventure in the surrounding rainforest.

best things to do in brazil explore paraty
Photo from Pexels.com. Credits to Ruca Souza.

Marvel at the otherworldly landscapes of Lençóis Maranhenses

Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is one of Brazil’s most extraordinary natural wonders, offering a surreal and otherworldly landscape that captivates visitors with its ethereal beauty. Located in the state of Maranhão in northeastern Brazil, Lençóis Maranhenses is a vast desert-like region dotted with immense sand dunes and pristine freshwater lagoons.

The name Lençóis Maranhenses translates to Maranhão Bedsheets, aptly describing the park’s appearance. The sweeping sand dunes resemble a massive, undulating sea of white bedsheets.

What makes this national park truly unique is the presence of these temporary lagoons, formed during the rainy season. From February to June, heavy rains pour over the region, creating numerous natural depressions in the sand dunes. These depressions fill with rainwater, forming crystal-clear lagoons that can be quite deep and vast, stretching for several kilometers. The water’s transparency combined with the white sands beneath creates a mesmerizing visual effect, making it appear as if you are walking on a bed of glass.

The best way to experience the park is by hiking through the dunes, guided by experienced local tour operators who can lead you to the most beautiful lagoons and viewpoints. As there is a very little international tourism there tour operators speak mostly Portuguese.

The park is also a sanctuary for a variety of wildlife, especially during the rainy season when migratory birds flock to the lagoons, and the surrounding vegetation comes to life. You may also spot other animals such as reptiles, small mammals, and insects adapted to the challenging desert environment.

To access Lençóis Maranhenses, you will need to arrive in the town of Barreirinhas, which serves as the gateway to the park. From there, guided tours, either on foot or by 4×4 vehicles, take visitors deep into the dunes to explore the enchanting landscape.

lencois mmarahenses best things to do in brazil
Photo by Julius Dadalti. License.

One last word about the best things to do in Brazil

Now this is quite a list! But quite honestly it would be very difficult to see all of these incredible places in only one trip, so don’t hesitate to regroup them by geographical area, to be able to fully take advantage of your trip. And remember that distances in Brazil are LONG!

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salvation islands best places to visit in french guiana

10 Incredible places to visit in French Guiana

Looking for the most incredible places to visit in French Guiana? You are in the right place! Having lived in France’s wildest region for 10 years, I know a thing or two about magical places and where to find them. So without no further ado, let’s see the unmissable and most iconic locations in the land of the many waters!

Disclosure: anitabeyondthesea.com is reader-supported. When you make a reservation through links on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission, at no extra cost for you. That will help me keep the blog up and running. Thank you!

Table of Content

Salvation Islands

The Salvation Islands are among the most famous destinations in the world for dark tourism. Prisoner Henry Charrière made them world-known when he published his memoirs in the book “Papillon” (butterfly from French). Narrating his tormented years on the islands, the book shows the difficult living conditions prisoners and guardians endured through the 100 years the prisons were active.

Nowadays the remains of the buildings are still in very good condition and you can visit them on a one day trip from Kourou or even spend the night there inside the Royal Island’s only hotel.

The Salvation Islands are also one of the few places in French Guiana that benefits of crystal waters as it’s far from the coast. Enjoying the tropical ambience while also learning about the history of French Guiana, make the Salvation Islands one of its most important attractions.

Would you like to know more about the Salvation Islands history and how to explore them? In this detailed guide I tell you everything. From getting there to what to expect and see.

salvation islands kourou incredible places to visit in french guiana

Guiana Space Center

Renowned as the gateway to space, the Kourou Space Centre is a must-visit for any science enthusiast. Explore the launch pads, gain a deeper understanding of humankind’s exploration of the final frontier, and if you are lucky witness the launch of a rocket.

The Kourou Space Centre is not only a hub for launching satellites and spacecraft but also a vibrant scientific community. Scientists, engineers, and researchers from around the world gather at the center to collaborate on cutting-edge space missions and technologies.

Visitors to the spaceport sometimes have the chance to witness ongoing preparations for future launches, providing a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes work that goes into each mission.

Marais de Kaw Natural Reserve

Marais de Kaw Natural Reserve is a captivating destination for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts situated nearby Roura. It’s a vast and diverse wetland ecosystem that offers the unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature and observe a wide variety of bird species, mammals, and reptilian (mainly caimans) in their natural habitat.

One of the best ways to explore the area is by taking a leisurely cruise along its winding waterways. You can choose among two different solutions:

  • Caiman Ecolodge is a large floating wooden structure, very similar to a carbet that is on three different levels. The ground floor is the living area, the first floor is for sleeping in hammocks, while the highest level is a private area you can reserve. Excursions to navigate the marshes are onboard of small pirogues, and include also night activities to observe the stars and caimans.
  • Le Morpho is a floating boat where you can sleep, that also has access to its roof for observing birds and animals, and (why not?) even jumping from the roof into the reserve waters. All the activities are onboard of the Morpho boat, including fishing. At night you can observe the caimans hunting or if the sky is clear stargazing.

The reserve also plays an important role in conservation efforts, as it provides a protected sanctuary for numerous plant and animal species. By visiting and supporting the local economy, you will contribute to the preservation of this delicate and unique ecosystem.

Photo by Jo Carletti. License.

Tumuk Humak Mountains

Drawing a natural border between Brazil, Suriname, and French Guiana, the Tumuk Humak Mountains are more a series of hills than a mountain range, with the highest peaks being between 600 and 700 meters. The inaccessibility of the place and its remoteness make it one of the most interesting places to visit in French Guiana. In addition, of course, to its amazing beauty.

As you traverse the rugged trails, you’ll encounter a myriad of flora and fauna, including orchids, bromeliads, and a rich variety of bird species. You will also have the incredible feeling of going back in time.

Guided tours are the best and safest way to enjoy immersive journey inside the lungs of the Earth. The 10-days expedition of Guyane Evasion is one of the best ways to explore the area as you will be with an expert guide.

The Tumuk Humak Mountains are a testament to the untouched beauty of French Guiana and the Amazonian Forest. With its rugged landscapes, rich biodiversity, and cultural heritage, this mountain range offers a unique and unforgettable adventure for those willing to venture into its unspoiled wilderness.

tumuk humak mountains french guiana brazil suriname
Photo by Remi Laurent.

Petit Saut Submerged Forest

Located within the heart of the Amazon rainforest, Petit Saut Submerged Forest is one of the most unique natural (but also artificial) wonders in French Guiana.

The area changed its aspect following the construction of a hydroelectric dam on the Sinnamary River, which caused the surrounding forest to be submerged.

After 30 years, the ghostly remnants of this submerged forest creates an unique landscape, with towering tree trunks rising eerily from the tranquil waters. The sight is both haunting and enchanting. And even though you may be tempted bathing in the lakes tranquil waters I would avoid that because of the underwater fauna that lives in the lake (caimans, anacondas, and giant catfishes).

Exploring Petit Saut by renting a kayak or with pirogue tours is ideal thanks also to multiple days formulas allowing you to explore more of the lake, including the abandoned Anamites Prison. Pirogue excursions like Atmosphere d’Amazonie and Guyane Evasion are the best services for beginners and experts alike.

Would you like to know more about Petit Saut? Check out our complete guide to organize the perfect trip.

petit saut archipelago best places to visit in french guiana

Cacao Village

Home to the Hmong community, Cacao Village is nestled in the hills and can be reached within two hours from Kourou or an hour from Cayenne. But what makes this village lost in the hills, one of the most unique places to visit in French Guiana? Its vibrant community, delicious food, and the insects museum.

Every Sunday the Hmong market offers a feast for the senses with its vibrant colors and enticing aromas. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste the traditional soup and indulge in the delightful Nam Van drink.

Another must-visit is the Insects Museum, known as Le planeur bleu, where you can explore the fascinating history of Cacao and admire an impressive collection of insects, including living spiders, butterflies, and beetles.

The village also hosts the annual Rambutan Harvesting event, around the month of April, allowing visitors to partake in the harvest of these juicy fruits. And if you’re visiting in November, make sure to attend the Hmong New Year Celebrations, where you can witness traditional dances and immerse yourself in the culture of the Hmong community.

cacao insect museum most incredible places to visit in french guiana

Maroni River by Motor Canoe

La remontée du Maroni (the upriver of Maroni) is a 5 days adventure onboard of a motor canoe that will let you enjoy remote villages, beautiful waterfalls, and an incredible nature.

It’s an exciting journey that presents an opportunity to encounter indigenous communities that reside along the river, providing insights into their way of life and cultural traditions.

Some practical info: don’t forget to pack your raincoat, sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, and a small pillow for the bumpy ride. Ideally you should bring a wet suit to protect you from the sun rays also, they filter better than clothes and sun at the equator hits stronger.

For organizing your trip you can choose from different providers, the easiest ones to contact are Jal Voyages and Guyane Evasion.

Pro tip: When choosing between the upriver or downriver, I’d advise you to go with the first option. Your adventure will climax in the end with the arrival to the most remote villages. And it’s also a bit longer as you navigate against the stream.

pirogue on maroni river places to visit in french guiana

Saul village

Saul Village is a hidden gem that offers a unique and immersive experience for travelers seeking to connect with nature. Situated in the middle of the Amazonian Forest, this remote village is accessible by one type of transport only: plane.

Even though there are archaeological finds attesting an ancient Amerindian presence, the history of Saul is very recent. At the end of the 19th century the thirst for gold attracted the attention of Antillean immigrants and in particular from Saint Lucia. Saul was the name of one of the first gold diggers who installed in the region.

Nowadays nature enthusiasts can explore the hiking trails nearby. Since its location is in the heart of the Amazonian region, bird watching and wildlife spotting can be very interesting and relatively easier than in other parts of French Guiana.

Accommodation options in Saul Village are essentially rustic cabins similar to carbets, which provides an authentic experience of living in harmony with nature. The evenings offer an opportunity for stargazing, as the absence of light pollution allows the brilliance of the night sky to shine through.

saul french guiana
Photo by Ronan Liétar. License.

French Guiana Zoo

French Guiana Zoo is a sanctuary displaying only local animals that were rescued from injuries or that were born with an handicap. For this reason, don’t be surprised if you see an animal limping. Illustrative panels are there to explain more about the animal history and the species characteristics.

Try to match your visit on the zoo’s feeding schedule to admire the animals eating, and especially the larger caimans that are difficult to see otherwise.

Visiting French Guiana Zoo is an excellent activity that will let you admire the region’s animals that are difficult to spot in their natural habitat.

caiman eating in french guiana zoo

Ilêt la Mère, the Monkey Island

Ilêt la Mère is the largest island in Remire-Montjoly commune, 49 hectares. Anciently it hosted one of French Guiana’s infamous prisons. But today what makes this small island one of the most incredible places in French Guiana, is the community of squirrel monkeys that lives on it.

Let me warn you: if you are afraid of monkeys and wild animals you should avoid visiting it, as the community is very friendly and they won’t hesitate jumping on you and also try to steal small objects and food.

The excursion organized by Tropic Alizés has 3 different formulas that will leave you with enough time to explore both the ancient prisons and enjoy some free time to bathe in the crystalline waters or enjoy some time with the monkeys.

Remember though these little adorable monkeys can be quite intrusive!

squirrel monkey ilet la mère french guiana

One last word on the most amazing places in French Guiana

French Guiana is a destination that offers a captivating blend of natural wonders, cultural richness, and intriguing history. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a nature enthusiast, or a history buff, this overseas territory has something to offer everyone. From the awe-inspiring Kourou Space Center to the amazing jewels hidden by the Amazonian Forest, be ready to live and incredible experience!

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view from sugarloaf of corcovado rio de janeiro helicopter tours

Rio de Janeiro helicopter tours that are worth your money

Are you ready to take your exploration of Rio de Janeiro to new heights? A helicopter tour is THE ultimate way to witness the beauty of la “Cidade Maravilhosa”. From the world-famous landmarks like Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer statue, to the white sand beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro unveils a whole new dimension when viewed from above. Without no further ado let’s see among all the Rio de Janeiro helicopter tours which is the best for you!

Disclosure: anitabeyondthesea.com is reader-supported. When you make a reservation through links on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission, at no extra cost for you. That will help me keep the blog up and running. Thank you!

Table of Content

Don’t have the time to go through the whole post? Pick our choices!

The best luxurious ride? The 1 hour Rio de Janeiro helicopter tour by Gregtur Tourism Rio. This is a private ride and the 4240€ fee will let you have the helicopter all by yourself. The helicopter can have up to 5 passengers meaning the price for each passenger is down to 848€ for 5. That’s not very expensive considering it’s a 1 hour flight.

The best helicopter tour without breaking the bank? Rio Adventures 45 minutes helicopter tour would be my go to, especially if you are a group of 3. This Helicopter tour is one of the most complete and will let you see the best sight of la Cidade Maravilhosa. The take off site is about 1 hour and 30 minutes outside the city center (Copacabana) take your time to prepare the itinerary to get there.

If you wanna go lower on your budget consider also the Rio Adventures 30 minutes flight, that cost only 555€ for a group of 3 people maximum.

corcovado christ the redeemer rio de janeiro helicopter tours
Photo from Pexels.com. Credits to Matheus Bertelli.

The Best Rio de Janeiro helicopter tours (comparative table)

So how do you choose the right company for you? Of course the budget is probably one of the most important things to consider. But it’s not all! When booking your helicopter tour consider the sightseeing you will see, the flight duration and take off area.

Note: the prices below are the best for each company based on the different providers. For this reason some booking will send to Viator, others to TripAdvisor, and some also to GetYourGuide. I did the research for you so that all you have to do is pick up your favorite tour in the table below and hit the “Book Now” button.

DurationPassengersSightseeing*Price
Gregtur Tourism Rio60 min.max 5🗽⛰️🏖️🌳🏙️🏟️⚪4.240€/group
Rio Adventures45 min.max 3🗽⛰️🏖️🌳🏙️🏟️720€/group
Rio Carioca Tour Ltda45 min.max 4🗽⛰️🏟️⚪330€/pers.
Gregtur Tourism Rio30 min.max 5🗽⛰️🏖️🌳2.750€/group
Rio2Fly30 min.max 2🗽⛰️🏖️🌳570€/group
Rio Adventures30 min.max 3🗽⛰️🏖️🌳555€/group
Rio2Fly30 min.max 5🗽⛰️🏖️🌳265€/pers.
Rio Carioca Tour Ltda25-30 min.max 4🗽⛰️263€/pers.
Gregtur Tourism Rio15 min.max 5🗽⛰️🏖️2.165€/group
Helisight15 min.max 4🗽⛰️🏖️1.045€/pers.
1.130€/pers.
Helisight6-7 min.max 5🗽⛰️100€/pers.

Sightseeing explained

For more detail check out each tour singularly.

🗽= Christ the Redeemer (there is no Corcovado Statue so…)
⛰️= Sugarloaf Mountain
🏖️= Copacabana Beach
🌳= Tijuca National Park
🏙️= City Center, learn more about the city center with this self guided tour.
🏟️= Maracana Stadium
⚪= MAC Museum of Modern Art in Niteroi

sugarloaf mountain rio de janeiro helicopter tours

Rio de Janeiro Helicopter Private Tour – Gregtur Tourism Rio

🕒 60 minutes flight

🚌 Hotel pickup included.
🚁 Take off from City Center.
👤 5 persons maximum.
💰 4.240€ per group.

There are no doubts that this helicopter tour is the most complete in our list. Not only because it has the longer duration, but also because it starts from Santo Dumont Airport that is a few meters from the city center. While the majority of the other tours take off from an heliport that is about 1 hour and 30 minutes from the city center.

The tour fly by many iconic spots, including the beaches of Ipanema and Leblon. During the one hour flight you will also get to cross Rio de Janeiro bay to explore Niteroi and the iconic Modern Art Museum (the MAC). The MAC is very easily recognizable because of its shape reminding an alien spaceship.

Book your helicopter tour with Gregtur Tourism Rio here.

niteroi mac museum modern art rio de janeiro brazil
The MAC Niteroi, photo from Pexels.com. Credits to Caroline Cagnin.

🕒 30 minutes flight

🚌 Hotel pickup included.
🚁 Take off from City Center.
👤 5 persons maximum.
💰 2.750€ per group.

The 30 minutes flight of Gregtur is very expensive, a full group of 5 will pay 550€/person. But you always have the advantage of taking off from the city center, so you will see more landmarks.

Book your helicopter tour with Gregtur Tourism Rio here.

🕒 15 minutes flight

🚌 Hotel pickup included.
🚁 Take off from City Center.
👤 5 persons maximum.
💰 2.165€ per group.

The 15 minutes flight is the shorter version proposed by Gregtur. This flight pass by Corcovado, Sugarloaf mountain and on Copacabana beach. The price is fixed to 2.165€, meaning if you book the full flight you will pay 433€ per person.

Book your helicopter tour with Gregtur Tourism Rio here.

best helicopter tours in rio de janeiro

Rio de Janeiro Helicopter Private Tour – Rio Adventures

🕒 45 minutes flight

🚌 Hotel pickup is NOT included.
🚁 Take off from Recreio dos Bandeirantes (1 hour from the City Center).
👤 3 persons maximum.
💰 720€ per group.

Rio Adventure helicopter tours have the most competitive price, but that’s also because the 1 hour transfer isn’t included. Consider between 18€ and 25€ for the taxi to get there.

This helicopter tour is one of the most complete. In addition to the sightseeing mentioned in the comparative table above, you will get to see many more sights including Rocinha, the largest favela in Rio.

When flying by the Christ the Redeemer, you will not make a full spin around the statue but you will be able to see it from each side of the helicopter.

Book your helicopter tour with Rio Adventures here.

🕒 30 minutes flight

🚌 Hotel pickup is NOT included.
🚁 Take off from Recreio dos Bandeirantes (1 hour from the City Center).
👤 3 persons maximum.
💰 555€ per group.

Rio Adventure 30 minutes version is a very good compromise between budget-friendly and see-the-most-landmarks. Their price of 555€ par group make them the most advantageous with a cost of 185€ per person.

Book your helicopter tour with Rio Adventures here.

view of the center of rio de janeiro helicopter tours

Rio de Janeiro Helicopter Tour – Rio Carioca Tour Ltda

🕒 45 minutes flight

🚌 Hotel pickup included.
🚁 Take off from Barra da Tijuca (40 minutes from the City Center).
👤 4 persons maximum.
💰 330€ per person.

Wanna explore Rio de Janeiro and beyond? This tour will bring you to Niteroi and the iconic alien spaceship of the MAC Museum of Modern Art.

The helicopters of Carioca Tour company can host up to 4 persons. And since their tour is not private you may end up with more passengers. Also they have a policy of minimum to passengers per flight otherwise they will cancel the flight.

Book your helicopter tour with Rio Carioca Tour Ltda here.

🕒 30 minutes flight

🚌 Hotel pickup included.
🚁 Take off from Barra da Tijuca (40 minutes from the City Center).
👤 4 persons maximum.
💰 263€ per person.

Considering that you have the flight time from the heliport to the city center you will only see Corcovado, Sugarloaf Mountains and Barra da Tijuca Beach. It’s still a nice ride, but isn’t it worth investing a few more to see more landmarks?

Book your helicopter tour with Rio Carioca Tour Ltda here.

christ the redeemer corcovado guanara bay rio de janeiro helicopter tours
Photo from Pexels.com. Credits to Iuan Gonçalves.

Rio de Janeiro Helicopter Tour – Rio2Fly

🕒 30 minutes private flight

🚌 Hotel pickup is NOT included.
🚁 Take off from Recreio dos Bandeirantes (1 hour from the City Center).
👤 2 persons maximum.
💰 570€ per person.

This helicopter ride is a great solution for couples who are willing to spend some quality time in Rio de Janeiro’s air without breaking the bank.

With this private flight you will enjoy all the top landmarks including Corcovado, Sugarloaf, and the South Western part of the center, including the enchanting area of the Jardim Botanico.

Book your helicopter tour with Rio2Fly here.

🕒 30 minutes flight

🚌 Hotel pickup is NOT included.
🚁 Take off from Recreio dos Bandeirantes (1 hour from the City Center).
👤 5 persons maximum.
💰 265€ per person.

This tour pass by the same areas as the private tour, but with the slight difference that you may be with other passengers. Also if you are flying solo you will be with at least one more person. One last thing to keep in mind is that the helicopter tour will be cancelled if it’s only for one person. In that case, they will propose you another slot or a refund.

Book your helicopter tour with Rio2Fly here.

view at night of rio de janeiro helicopter tours

Rio de Janeiro Helicopter Private Tour – Helisight

🕒 15 minutes flight

🚌 Hotel pickup is NOT included.
🚁 Take off from Heliport on Sugarloaf Mountain.
👤 4 persons maximum.
💰 1.045€ per person.

How iconic would that be to take off from the Sugarloaf Mountain? Very iconic, but unfortunately the price tag is comprehensibly quite high. With 1.045€ per person that is the second most expensive solution to fly over Corcovado, Copacabana, and of course the Sugarloaf. You live only once they say!

Note: the helicopter ride does NOT include the ticket to get on top of the Sugarloaf mountain.

Book your helicopter tour with Rio2Fly here.

🕒 15 minutes flight

🚌 Hotel pickup is NOT included.
🚁 Take off from Heliport Lagoon (nearby Jardim Botanico).
👤 4 persons maximum.
💰 1.130€ per person.

The area of Jardim Botanico in Rio de Janeiro is one of the most hyped. With that said it shouldn’t surprise you that taking off from the Lagoon’s heliport is the most expensive solution among all the helicopter tours in Rio de Janeiro.

The 15 minutes tour, will let admire you the classics from above, Corcovado, Sugarloaf Mountain and Copacabana. Before gently posing again on ground.

Book your helicopter tour with Rio2Fly here.

🕒 6 minutes flight

🚌 Hotel pickup is NOT included.
🚁 Take off from Heliport on Sugarloaf Mountain.
👤 4 persons maximum.
💰 100€ per person.

It’s quite contradictory, but Helisight has the cheapest and the most expensive helicopter flight options. With this 6 minutes flight that take off from the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain you will have the time to go on a round trip to the Corcovado and back.

Book your helicopter tour with Rio2Fly here.

corcovado christ the reddemer statue helicopter tours in rio de janeiro
Photo from Pexels.com. Credits to Athena.

FAQ about Rio de Janeiro Helicopter Tours

What’s the price for an helicopter tour in Rio de Janeiro?

The price range variate a lot depending on the type of tour you are taking. The lowest price starts at 100€ and the highest is 1130€ (prices are per person). That mean there is a place for every budget! Even though I’d recommend investing a little more on a longer flight.

How should I dress for an helicopter tour?

Consider you will be up in the air at the mercy of the wind. Avoid scarves, hats, and everything that could easily fly away.

Are the weight restrictions?

Yes, there are weight restrictions, so be prepared to provide accurate weight information when booking your tour. Ensure you meet the requirements to avoid any complications on the day of the flight.

aerial view of rio de janeiro helicopter tours
from Pexels.com. Credits to Andre Manuel.

One last word about the best helicopter tours in Rio de Janeiro

With the promise of soaring above Rio de Janeiro’s iconic landscapes, a helicopter tour presents an unparalleled opportunity to admire the city from a different point of view. By considering factors such as tour options, sighseeing, duration, and pricing, you can confidently choose a helicopter tour that suits your preferences and budget. So, buckle up, prepare your camera, and get ready to embark on a thrilling journey!

Are you going to la Cidade Maravilhosa soon? Check out our guide about the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro. And for planning your first trip to Brazil check out our favorite things to do and places to see!

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10 Fun Facts about French Guiana you didn’t know!

We have a saying in French Guiana that perfectly illustrates France’s wildest region: “La Guyane, personne ne vous croira“. Launched by French Guiana’s tourism board at the beginning of 2000, it translates as “French Guiana, nobody will believe you”. This short but effective motto resumes the region’s uniqueness, incredible biodiversity, and history that are the base for exciting adventures in the Amazonian Forest. But is French Guiana truly unique? I will let you judge yourself with these surprising fun facts about French Guiana.

Disclosure: anitabeyondthesea.com is reader-supported. When you make a reservation through links on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission, at no extra cost for you. That will help me keep the blog up and running. Thank you!

Table of Contents

10 French Guiana Fun Facts

1. It’s a European region

Say what? Yes! As weird as that may sound, French Guiana is one of France’s 5 overseas departments, making it effectively part of Europe. And all that comes with that: currency is Euro and laws are from France.

Also a small precision as in French it says Guyane, remember not to confuse it with Guyana. An ancient English colony, and now one of South America’s independent countries. Together with Suriname, the territories are known as the three Guyanas. From awarak, the land of the many waters, because of the Amazon river.

Petit Saut artificial archipelago in French Guiana.

2. It’s WAY larger than you think

Being next to Brazil doesn’t help, as French Guiana is a hundredth of the 5th largest country in the world. But the territory is pretty large itself.

In fact, it’s France’s second largest region and it’s almost the same size as Austria, 83.846 km2 versus 83,858 km². I bet you wouldn’t guess it by looking at a world map!

3. Europe’s space dreams take off from there

If you are a space geek you may already know this, Europe’s spaceport is situated there! Following Algeria’s independence in 1962, French Guiana’s ideal geographical and climate conditions made it the best candidate to become France’s new launching site.

In operation since 1968, it has been the launch base for a wide range of rockets, from sounding rockets to heavy-lift space launch vehicles. Without forgetting the satellites: you have probably heard of Webb or JuIce right? They both took off from Kourou’s spaceport.

Would you like to know more about Europe Spaceport and how you can visit it? This Centre Spatial Guyanais guide is perfect for you. And If you want to attend a rocket launch, check this out!

ariane 5 epc in french guiana space center

4. You have to cross its borders… by canoe!

Wedged between Brazil and Suriname, getting out from French Guiana is an adventure in itself! In addition to Cayenne’s airport, which serves almost exclusively Paris, the only way to get away is by crossing the borders on a motorized canoe.

Even if most recently a bridge was built on the Oyapock river connecting Brazil and France, the only way to reach Suriname is still via one of the motorized canoes that cross daily the Maroni river. Remember that if you want to get to Paramaribo from there!

5. It’s one of the largest sea turtles nesting sites in the world

From its west coast (Awala Yalimapo) to the center (Cayenne) its beaches are renowned worldwide as some of the largest sea turtle nesting sites in the world. Every year three types of sea turtles make a thousand kilometers to rejoin this beach and lay their precious eggs.

If you have the chance that’s an amazing experience to witness by the way! And one of my personal favorite reasons to visit French Guiana.

6. You probably have a “piece” of French Guiana in your kitchen

Have you ever used cayenne pepper? This very strong variety of pepper has probably given its name to the region’s largest city, Cayenne.

The etymology of the word cayenne derives from the ancient Tupi language and means capsicum. Although, the origin of the name Cayenne isn’t sure. As some historians say the name may come from the Wayanas (an Amerindian people) who called the river Kalani or Caiane.

7. It was one of the most infamous prisons in the world

After France sold Louisiana to the United States in 1803, the government needed a new location to “stock” its prisoners. French Guiana’s coast seemed ideal. It was the beginning of a project that made proliferate multiple prison camps, many stayed active for over a century.

Soon the prison camps became famous for their atrocious living conditions. The tropical climate and diseases killed many prisoners through the years.

Among the most famous prison camps today you can still visit the ones of the Salvation Islands, Saint Laurent, or the Annamites Prisons nearby Macouria.

Salvation Islands nearby Kourou. Iles du Salut, French Guiana

8. French is not the only language spoken

Besides French being the official language, French Guianese creole is widely spoken, they even teach it in schools. Together with these also Amerindian languages, Maroon creole, Hmong, Portuguese, Mandarin, and Haitian are widely spoken.

There are so many different cultures in French Guiana that you may definitely be surprised!

9. It has the highest percentage of forest area in the world

According to FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), French Guiana is the region that has the highest percentage of forest area in the world, 98,3%. Although, as it’s not an independent country, Suriname is the country with the highest percentage of forest 97,4% in 2020.

Can you imagine how rich their ecosystem is? Nature is definitely one of the main reasons to explore this territory. The adventures are endless for those who dare to enter its green gates!

10. It used to be one of France’s biggest rice producers

At the peak of their production, Mana, a small village nearby Awala Yalimapo produced 16% of France’s total rice production and exported more than half of it.

The thriving production lasted about 30 years, from the 80s to 2011. Unfortunately, the coast’s erosion caused the interruption of every activity. And the area was almost completely abandoned after 2011.

If you liked this trivia, there is so much more to learn about French Guiana!

There are a few places in the world that can give you that “getting away” feeling. And French Guiana is definitely on top of that list! If you want to have a peek at all the experiences you can have there, check out our French Guiana section.

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kayak on petit saut french guiana

Hidden Gems in French Guiana: Exploring Petit Saut Artificial Archipelago

French Guiana never cease to surprise you! When you think you saw all the amazing landscapes and diversity this land has, you still manage to find something different. And that’s the case for Petit Saut Dam. Following the growing need of energy in the region, in 1994 the dam was built on the Sinnamary river. The reservoir, that covers a surface of 365 km², about 3 times the size of Paris, has created an unique landscape where small islands alternates with the “skeletons” of the submerged forest.

Disclosure: anitabeyondthesea.com is reader-supported. When you make a reservation through links on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission, at no extra cost for you. That will help me keep the blog up and running. Thank you!

Table of Contents

How to get to Petit Saut

The site is between Kourou and Sinnamary, and it will take you about 1 hour to get to the pier from Kourou. The road to get there is paved, but due to the torrential precipitations of the rainy season often it becomes bumpy.

Best time to visit

There are no doubts that during the dry season you will have less chances to get caught in the bad weather. There is less water and you will find occasionally golden sand beaches. The access to some points by kayak or pirogue is not possible anymore because of the scarcity of the water.

You may also test your luck and visit during March’s small summer that lasts about 2-3 weeks. If you are lucky enough you will have a lot of water but no precipitations making your navigation easier.

How can you navigate the lake?

It really depends on your equipment and the type of experience you are looking for. Essentially you have two options, very different from each other. Let’s see them!

By kayak

Kayak is indeed a great solution to explore the submerged forest and small islands in the artificial lake. The animals are also less disturbed by the noise and you may see them more easily. On the other side you will be able to explore a smaller portion of the lake and canoeing all day can also be tiring let’s be honest!

How can you get a kayak?

If you are based in French Guiana and have the right car to carry your own kayak or rent it. But I’d recommend this option only if you are familiar with kayak/canoeing and you have previous experiences. For rentals (kayak only) you can check out Camp Maripa nearby Kourou, see location des canoes, or loca pirogue nearby Matoury.

Otherwise there are guided kayak tours, which are great for observing animals that may be hidden to the non-trained eyes. For rentals (onsite + guided tours) check out Baakaboto, Aud’ à la Guyane, and Kano Dilo.

One of the best alternative you have is Oumar Village. It rent huts with private toilets, water, and an oven (hammocks in case you don’t have them) where you can spend the night. But also kayaks that are on a small branch of the artificial lake. In case you pick this solution, in the weekends of the dry season you should make a reservation at the number +594 594 36 72 93.

kayak under the rain in french guiana

By pirogue

Very different from the kayak, pirogue excursions are an awesome and more relaxing way to explore Petit Saut. Their only inconvenience is the engine noise, you may see less animals. Although that’s not always true! I know of people seeing jaguars at dawn during their pirogue excursions. It’s also based on luck.

How to reserve my pirogue excursion?

There are several operators which organizes day trips on the lake. If you have enough time check out 2 or 3 days excursions to fully appreciate the ambience. And honestly sleeping in the Amazonian Forest is one of the best experiences you could do in French Guiana.

  • Atmosphere d’Amazonie is great for those who wants to test their fishing skills. They also have an excursion purely focused on animals observation.
  • Nature de Guyane focuses on birds and animals watching. And exploring the lake onboard of the pirogue.
  • Peyi a bel has fishing sessions to catch the famous Aimara, called water tiger.
  • Guyane Evasion has a camp at Saut Lucifer, a beautiful rapid among the rocks. The camp is very large and has also a football/volleyball small terrain. They propose fishing activities.
pirogue on petit saut artificial archipelago

What to expect from an excursion to Petit Saut?

The submerged forest

The landscape is absolutely unique, with the submerged forest looking like a tree cemetery in the middle of the water. Since the inundation of the forest many hectares of forest were submerged by the waters and killed mostly of the vegetation that wasn’t high enough to survive. Even after all these years the tallest trees stand still.

That’s partly explained because of the mineralization process that let the wood lose its organic properties, thus making it inert and resistant. Even so, don’t trust the trees stability, due to the strong rains and winds some trees may still fall.

If you have the chance to navigate nearby the trees you may see small parasitic plants, birds, spiders, insects, and even snakes. Despite being dead the trees are still home to many different forms of life.

submerged forest in petit saut french guiana

Animals

There is a large variety of animals that can be observed while navigating the lake. An incredible variety of birds like toucans, parrots, kingfishers, and woodpeckers are among the most beautiful. And how not to mention the recurring sound of the paypayo, the screaming piha.

On the mammals side you may see spider monkeys and howler monkeys, tapirs and otters. Be careful to the last ones, they are cute but aggressive if there are baby otters nearby. Jaguars are also present but very rare to spot.

If you booked an experience on more days you may navigate at night and that’s when reptilians are out, especially caimans. Snakes are more difficult to spot but in some cases you may see them also with the daylight.

The ruins of ancient prisons

Before the water covered everything, along the river there was once an ancient complex, un bagne des Annamites, which served as one of the many other prisons in French Guiana.

Nowadays you can safely explore the ruins comfortably sit in your kayak or pirogue or even venture inside the building. Just like any other abandoned structure at your own risk, be careful to the collapsing risks or poisonous animals.

bagne des anamites sur petit saut french guiana

This photo, as well as the one on the cover were taken by Servane and Vincent, our co-adventurers. Thank you so much for sharing this lovely experience with us! You can find Servane’s beautiful pictures from French Guiana’s fauna and flora on her Instagram page.

Embark on an unforgettable adventure at Petit Saut

If you like kayaking or are intrigued by the submerged forest, don’t skip the chance to explore Petit Saut. It’s indeed a great experience! Are you planning to visit French Guiana soon? Great you are in the right place! In our dedicated section you will find many guides, day trips and inspiration to explore France’s wildest region.

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Balata Garden, Jardin Balata, Martinique

The best things to do in Martinique on a cruise stop

Martinique is a beautiful Caribbean island that is also a popular stop for many cruise lines. Got only one day to catch the island essentials? In this guide, we will explore the best things to do in Martinique on a cruise stop. With its sandy beaches, lush rainforests, and vibrant culture, you will have plenty of activities to choose from!

Disclosure: anitabeyondthesea.com is reader-supported. When you make a reservation through links on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission, at no extra cost for you. That will help me keep the blog up and running. Thank you!

Table of Contents

Go hiking on an active volcano

If you are an outdoor enthusiast, Martinique’s North has some great hiking trails. One of the most interesting? Without a doubt Pelée Mountain, the island’s active volcano. Remember to wear hiking shoes and comfortable shoes. The trail is medium/expert level with some climbing points. It will take you between 1.30 and 2.00 hours to get on top and the complete hike is about 4 hours.

This is definitely not a relaxing activity, but it’s an incredible experience, and if the weather is good you can expect amazing views once you are on top of the volcano.

Note: Most excursions you will find on the internet, have only a brief stop to the panoramic points you can access by car. If you want to hike Pelée Mountain, you should negotiate with one of the taxis at the terminal.

Explore Fort de France

Fort-de-France is the largest city in Martinique, and it’s also a great place to explore on a cruise stop. The city is known for its vibrant markets, historic architecture, and delicious cuisine.

Visitors can wander through the colorful market stalls. Among the most interesting to visit you should note the Spice Market, perfect to buy a tasty planteur or rhum arrangé, or the Park’s Market, the most authentic and the local’s favorite market, to buy every kind of local fruits and vegetables.

Fort de France is also home to several historic sites, including the Schoelcher Library and the Fort Saint-Louis, one of the best historical attractions in Martinique. The Fort which dates back to the 17th century was the center of many important battles for the control of the island.

fort de france martinique
Photo by Vlad Podvorny. License.

Wander in Galata’s lush forest and visit Latouche Dwelling

The Balata Gardens are one of the most beautiful locations in Martinique. A few kilometers outside Fort-de-France, the gardens contain over 3,000 species of tropical plants and flowers, there are more than 300 different types of palms alone! Visitors can stroll through the gardens and admire the colorful flora, including orchids, heliconias, and bromeliads.

The highlight of the gardens is the treetop walkway, which offers stunning views of the surrounding rainforest. And for passionate photographers, how not to mention the feeder outside the ticket office which attracts hundreds of hummingbirds every day.

Latouche Dwelling was an ancient distillery that was almost completely destroyed during the Pelée volcano eruption in 1902. Nowadays it hosts Martinique Zoo and you still can see some engines that were used when the dwelling was an active indigo and manioc workshop.

Why am I coupling the two? Because for a reduced ticket you can visit both of them. If you have enough time to see only one, I’d recommend Balata’s gardens for the lush beauty of their forest.

hummingbird eating in balata garden

Visit Diamond Rock and Memorial Cap 110

The iconic rock formation is located just off the coast of Martinique and has a fascinating history as a British naval stronghold during the Napoleonic Wars. You can take a boat tour to see the rock up close and learn about its history.

When visiting, stop by le bourg du diamant, Diamond Rock’s Village. A small fishing village with a beautiful white sand beach. Diamond Rock’s beach is also the location of the suggestive Memorial Cap 110, a tribute to the tragic shipwreck that claimed the life of 42 slaves in 1830.

Take a rum tour

Martinique is famous for its rum, and several distilleries on the island offer very interesting tours and tastings. Some popular options include the distilleries La Favorite, De Paz, and Dillon.

Almost every tour includes at least one distillery in its program. Many mention Habitation Clément which is both a distillery and a place of interest regularly hosting art exhibitions. You can check their agenda and learn about the ongoing exhibitions.

Note: when shopping for alcohol, remember to check the quantity you are allowed to carry on the boat and the plane back home. The custom may seize part of your precious liquors!

Habitation Clément, Le François, Martinique rum distillery
Photo from Unplash.com. Credits Marvin L.

Take a food tour

Martinique is known for its delicious Creole cuisine. You can try local specialties like accras (fried cod fritters), colombo (a spicy curry dish), and boudin (blood sausage).

There are two different ways to discover Martinique’s local cuisine: street food tasting at the local markets or taking a food tour. Our pick: Esthelle’s food tour! Embark on a culinary adventure to discover samples of tasty local cuisine. The tour is also packed with the best sightseeing you could consider for a daily trip: from Balata Cathedral to Saint Pierre, and how not to mention the stop in De Paz distillery. It is really a must! Wine is also included.

Go snorkeling or scuba diving

Martinique’s clear waters are home to a variety of marine life, including colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, and sea turtles. Snorkeling or scuba diving is one of the best things to do when in Martinique!

There are several locations where you can snorkel, one of the most beautiful locations is in the South-West villages like Trois Ilets or Anse Arlet. Although you may be short on time depending on your cruise.

A great alternative is Pol’s sailing tour. Departure is from Case Pilote a few kilometers from Fort de France and you will embark on board a catamaran to discover the island’s highlights and discover underwater life. The eco-friendly launch is included and you will get to taste the delicious local products.

snorkeling in martinique crystal waters

Photo from Unplash.com. Credits Dan Gold.

Enjoy a day at the beach

I get it, you are cruising around the Caribbean, so you may be tired of sunbathing and relaxing, and yet Martinique is breathtaking and has some incredible beaches that are worth visiting. It’s really difficult to pick a few favorites, depending on what you are looking for there you go:

  • Anse Mitan has a breathtaking view of Fort de France’s bay and its surroundings. It’s also the departure for many short catamaran cruises and snorkeling tours.
  • Anse d’Arlet is one of the most photographed spots on the island, you probably have seen the village’s church a few meters from the beach in many advertising photos.
  • Les Salines, also known as Saint’Anne, is a beautiful beach in the South-East of Martinique. When visiting on a cruise it is one of the most touristy beaches, if you prefer something quieter maybe you should look elsewhere.

What to do? Lay your towel on the sand, swim in the crystal clear waters, and enjoy the sunshine. To get there just rent a taxi outside your terminal.

Note: all these beaches have white sand and are in the South of the island. As you get in the North, the island is wilder and beaches have darker sand as a result of the volcanic activity of Pelée Mountain.

saint anne les salines beach in martinique

Book a tailored tour and see your favorite locations

Gather your favorite travel companions, and enjoy a fully custom tour to pick your favorite choices from our list. The price is fixed at 380€ and it can take from 1 to 7 passengers. Check out the offer here, before booking it I’d recommend you to discuss with the driver for suggestions and special requests.

The price doesn’t include entry fees. You can book the tickets from Viator or the single locations websites.

Frequently asked questions

Which is the closest beach to the cruise port in Martinique?

Plage du PLM is a very small but nice beach, which is also the closest to the cruise terminal. You can snorkel or enjoy a drink from the bar nearby. To get there from the cruise terminal by walking will take you an hour, the distance is 4,6 km. Even if it’s nice, the best solution is to take a taxi or tour and go elsewhere.

When is the best time to visit Martinique?

From April to May. That time of the year is considered low season and the weather is still good. Rain season begins in June and ends in November. While the peak season is from December to February.

Chateau Dubuc, Dubuc Castle, Martinique
Chateau Dubuc, Dubuc Castle, Martinique

Which is the currency? And do they accept dollars?

As a region of France, Euro is Martinique’s currency. Most locations will accept only Euro and credit cards. The closest ATM to the cruise terminal is Point compte nikel, at 95 Av. Maurice Bishop, Fort-de-France. You can also ask your driver to stop by one before leaving the city.

Which language do they speak in Martinique?

French is the first language. But many people especially those who work in tourist environment speak English. Before booking any tour or activity, make sure it’s translated for non-French speakers.

Note: You can apply this also to Guadeloupe if you are stopping over there.

Take your sunscreen and sunglasses and enjoy Martinique!

And don’t forget your mask for snorkeling! If you are preparing a cruise to the Caribbean you may be interested in our recommendations. Each island is absolutely unique and special. You won’t regret your choice!

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Cocoteraie beach in Kourou, French Guiana

The most beautiful beaches in French Guiana

If I say French Guiana in South America, your first thought may be idyllic white beaches and crystalline waters. You are wrong! Even if French Guiana is Nature’s paradise, its ocean waters are far from turquoise. The reason behind this is not pollution, but it’s due to the great rivers, the Amazon above all, that carry their sediments into the ocean. Nevertheless, beaches in French Guiana are still ideal to spend a few hours because of their wild beauty. But which are the most beautiful? Let’s see.

Disclosure: anitabeyondthesea.com is reader-supported. When you make a reservation through links on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission, at no extra cost for you. That will help me keep the blog up and running. Thank you!

The list follows a geographical order, starting from the West. In French Guiana, there aren’t many beaches as the seaside is covered by one of the densest mangroves in the world.

Table of Contents

Les Hattes nearby Awala Yalimapo

Les Hattes Beach is known by marine biologists as it’s one of the biggest sea turtle nesting sites in the world. Every year leatherback, olive ridley, and green sea turtles swim for thousands of kilometers to come back and lay their eggs. This happens between March and June. While hatching happens between May and September.

Outside of this incredible experience, Les Hattes is a 5 kilometers beach where you can quietly bathe and observe sea birds. It’s a very nice picnic place to spend some time.

Before taking the road back to your itinerary stop by neighboring Kalinha’s village to buy some artisan objects. Their wooden statues are some of the finest in French Guiana.

leatherback sea turtle in awala yalimapo French Guiana
Photo from Pexels. Credits to Jolo Diaz.

Montjoly in Remire Montjoly commune

Remire-Montjoly is the neighboring commune of Cayenne and one of the cutest residential areas in the region. Montjoly is a long golden sand beach that is divided into two parts. Coming from Cayenne, the first part is mainly wild. There is the Saline trail that is one of the best sea bird watching points in French Guiana. While the second part is a residential area. Access to the beach is still possible, although the location is less private.

Montjoly is also where the famous route des plages (Beach Avenue) begins. The long road connects Montjoly and Remire, and it’s also where you will find some of the best restaurants in the area: La Belle Amédée, L’Oasis, L’Auberge des Plages.

Just like the Hattes Beach, The North Eastern area of Cayenne’s Island is one of the most important sea turtle nesting sites in the area. It’s very common to see turtles and also hatching.

Montjoly beach, plage de Montjoly, French Guiana

Gosselin Beach nearby Remire

Situated on Remire’s side of Beach Avenue, Gosselin Beach has a beautiful view of Remire’s Islands and is surrounded by Montravel and Rorota hills.

You can either enjoy the beautiful view while having lunch at L’auberge des Plages, or from the top of Rorota hill, a very nice trail where you can spot several wild species of animals.

Gosselin gets a little bit crowded during the weekend, but it’s still rather desert compared to the European coasts.

Gosselin Beach nearby Remire, French Guiana

Saint Joseph Beach on the Salvation Islands

Saint Joseph is the second island by the size of the Salvation Islands. It was once where the most dangerous prisoners stayed and also the adult cemetery of the three islands, nowadays it is a heavenly paradise you can spend a few hours while visiting the amazing Salvation Islands.

There are no risks in bathing there, as big round black rocks surround the fine sand and protect the shore from the strong sea currents. As it’s 12 kilometers from the coasts, the water is very clean, and the view on Devil’s Island is heavenly.

Did you know? The Salvation Islands cemetery is just behind Saint Joseph Beach and has one of the most beautiful views of it as well as of the other Islands. Maybe as a way to let the haunted prisoner’s souls finally find peace?

Would you like to know more about the Salvation Islands? In this detailed travel guide, I tell you everything about them!

Saint Joseph Beach on the Salvation Islands

Rocks Beach in Kourou

The Plage des Roches in Kourou is well-known by the locals for its tall beautiful palms as well as one of Kourou’s symbols, the Dreyfus Tower. The small lighthouse is a tribute to Alfred Dreyfus, the Salvation Islands’ most famous prisoner, who was completely exonerated after its condemnation.

This is your go-to place if you want to do some fishing, sunbath, or even play beach volley. There are often many spontaneous players especially on Sunday when the city volleyball club does beach volley sessions.

Rocks Beach is where one of Kourou’s most prestigious hotels is situated: Hotel des Roches. Their bar La cage (the cage) is ideal for sipping cocktails during happy hour.

Pim Poum in Kourou

Very close to Rocks Beach in Kourou, Pim Poum Beach deserves a short mention in this list. This little bay of about 150 meters is ideal as its very peaceful and shaded. It also has a nice bar in the sand, the Copacabana. Perfect if you are picnicking on the beach.

Pim Poum is also where Kourou Nautical club is based. You can rent canoes or paddles, and take sailing lessons. You can check their website here for their schedule and prices.

Note during the weekend it gets very crowded as it’s small. Be patient, there is a place for everyone.

swing in Pim Poum beach in Kourou

Honorable mentions: Guatemala’s beach for bird watching

When people get for the first time in Kourou they often are surprised to find an unusual panel before arriving in Kourou. It says “Guatemala”. On the right side of the Kourou river’s delta, this wild territory is sprinkled with very few farms and incredible nature.

There is a trail that goes on to the forest side, where you can spot many rare birds: woodpeckers, birds of prey, kingfishers, etc… But the most interesting sights are the sea birds flocks on Guatemala’s beach. You can admire red and sometimes also black ibis, roseate spoonbills, and skimmers among the most common but there are many more species around.

The ideal moment to observe them is before sunset between 4 and 6 PM.

skimmers fishing in Guatemala nearby Kourou French Guiana

Things you should know before going

Are beaches safe in French Guiana?

Short answer yes they mostly are, but always consider the environment. Try to don’t leave your things unattended and don’t carry expensive or too showy items. Also avoid wandering to the beach when the sun is down, even as a couple.

Be aware of the tide

The difference between low and high tide is impressive. There are several (hundreds!) meters of difference between the two. The main causes behind this are the mud bank formations generated by the Amazon sediments.

Before getting out check the upcoming tides on Meteo Consult Marine. If you want to enjoy the warm ocean waters you should look for the high tide. While for bird watching it’s easier to see the birds with the low tide.

low tide showing mud on the coast in Kourou
low tide showing mud on the coast in Kourou

Are the beaches in French Guiana crowded?

Generally no. Although during the weekend there will be more people than in on working days. Also when it’s the sea turtles’ nesting time, there will be more people observing the sea queens. No matter how many people there are always think of the animals’ safety and respect.

Sometimes you may also long for quietude and peacefulness while some stereo speakers next to you are sending music to their fullest. It’s many local’s way to enjoy music. If it really bothers you, you may try asking politely, but honestly, I won’t bother. Move instead.

Are you preparing for a trip to French Guiana?

I’ve got you covered. Thanks to our experiences, tips, and guides about French Guiana won’t have more secrets for you! And if you still have questions feel free to write us. We have already helped several people move or explore France’s wildest region.

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Musée départemental Alexandre Francophonie

Things to do in Cayenne, is Cayenne worth visiting?

From the colorful central market to the beautiful creole architecture in the ancient town, there are some interesting things to do in Cayenne when visiting! Don’t know where to start? With this detailed travel guide, you will be able to plan the perfect itinerary for visiting Cayenne.

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French Guiana Flag, the old and the new, Meaning and History

French Guiana is not an independent country. In fact it has the status of an overseas department of France. As such their national flag is France’s tricolor. But they do have a representative flag, and during its history, French Guiana has known many different “colors”. Before as a colony and nowadays as a region of France. Do you know all of them? Let’s see.

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French Guiana pronunciation in English (+ the local languages)

Which is the correct French Guiana pronunciation in English? And how is it written and pronounced by the locals? Did you know that there are about 40 different languages that are spoken in French Guiana? In this blog post, you will find how to say French Guiana in the most spoken languages in the territory. As well as some facts about the name, such as its etymology.

French Guiana pronunciation in English (+ the local languages) Read More »