Swimming with Turtles in the Anchorage
After two nights in Les Saintes it was time to creep a bit farther up the Windward Island chain to the main island of Guadelupe. As Les Saintes is officially part of Guadelupe we had already completed the customs and immigration formalities. We stopped and anchored off the town of Basse Terre for a few hours and took the tender into the commercial dock to visit the ATM and get a French Digitel Simm for the phone. We then set off for our overnight destination, the anchorage near Pigeon Island, a marine park originally associated with Jaques Cousteau the legendary french underwater film maker, diver, conservationist and co-developer of the aqualung. The anchorage, in the bay by Pte Malendure, is a mixture of sand and has patches of sea grass which brings green turtles in to feed. We snorkelled around the boat and immediately saw a sea turtle, snake eel (lovely!), cushion starfish, pufferfish and we even found two small sand dollars, the skeletons of Clypeasteroida sea urchins.
The snorkelling out at the marine reserve around Pigeon Island(s) is excellent. The water is deep enough around the islands to avoid the worst of the coral bleaching which has almost universally affected the reefs we've seen so far up to around 4m of depth. There plenty of evidence of soft corals and a reasonable population and diversity of marine life. On shore there's a few commercial dive operations and bars, but we ate at wonderful Le Rocher de Malendure , perched on the cliff top promontory on the south side of the bay. As lone diners amoungst the flowers and iguanas, we sat and watched the sun sink into the horizon with the silhouette of Pigeon Island in the foreground. A great atmosphere, excellent food and friendly, family service.