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An Escape to Pristine Beaches

There is no finer beach than Plage de Pompierre, which curves around the bay like a half-moon and is set against a backdrop of palms. The beach lies only a 15- to 20-minute walk from where the ferry from Basse-Terre docks. Unless a cruise ship is in port, the beach is generally uncrowded, filled with mainland French enjoying the powdery white sand wearing next to nothing. If you want to bare all, head for Anse Crawen, on the western coastline. It is the legal nudist beach, although people often go nude on the other beaches, too. The best snorkeling is on the southern coast at Plage Figuier, which, chances are, you'll have almost to yourself.

Diving Off Terre-de-Haut

Scuba diving is not limited to mainland Guadeloupe. The underwater world off Les Saintes has attracted deep-sea divers as renowned as Jacques Cousteau, but even the less experienced may explore its challenging depths and multicolored reefs. Intriguing underwater grottoes can be found near Fort Napoléon on Terre-de-Haut. Two well-recommended outfitters include La Dive Bouteille, Plage de la Colline (tel. 590/99-54-25; www.dive-bouteille.com), and Pisquettes, Le Mouillage, in Bourg (tel. 590/99-88-80). A resort course designed for unlicensed scuba divers costs 53€, and a one-tank dive for already-certified divers goes for 48€, with all equipment included.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.