Things To Do In Cayenne
Cayenne City is an intersection of the Caribbean, South America and French culture. Majority of the people in French Guiana lives in Cayenne which is located along the coast. It is the largest town of a country that is still under French territory. Cayenne pepper is an extremely hot spice derived from the chili plant. It is named after the capital and has been their main export product for more than a hundred years. It is a progressive city that is encompassed by the wonders and charms of the Caribbean.
Other sources of revenue include income from agriculture, tourism, and mining. The country has large reserves of bauxite as well as huge deposits of gold. There are plans to strengthen the economy by developing the mining industry and processing timber from the forests. The city has a variety of attractions to offer and an opportunity to meet their hospitable locals. A visit to Cayenne and its interesting landscape will leave a lasting impression in your memory.
When To Go:
Strategically situated at the northern part of the Equator, the city of Cayenne has minimal regular climate varieties. The weather is mainly tropical, arid and humid all throughout the year, yet in the dry season months (July to December) the heat is more tolerable. For practical reasons, the dry season is the best time to visit because it is around this time when flight deals and hotel accommodations are reasonably priced. Avoid travelling in the city during the rainy/monsoon months (April to June) to avoid being inconvenienced by cancelled flights due to bad weather, heavy rainfall and floods. With a tropical atmosphere, the normal temperature is at 25° Celsius all year round.
The list of attractions and things to do in the city of Cayenne is enumerated below:
Before you are allowed to enter this tourist attraction, along the border there are medical authorities who gives a shot of Yellow Fever vaccination complete with medical papers that you must show to the other side of the island to be allowed access to the key areas of the attraction. The Devil’s Island is a popular remote tourist spot that contains three separate isles (Iles de Salut, Iles Royale, and Ile du Diable). Iles du Salut or the Isles of Salvation is a group of islands which was named after the rescue of the French settlers who fled there during the 18th century. Until 1946, almost after 100 years the island group served as a French Penal Colony French colony and considered a “death sentence destination” for most prisoners. They were kept in open cages and exposed to the weather directly. The administration and the guards with families were very much against it and some were transferred to the nearby Ile Royale.
Today, Ile Royale is a small tropical paradise and accessible from Kourou via a shuttle ferry. Traces from the horrible past can still be seen like some old ruins of the prison cells. The guides narrate that even some prisoners were brought here for execution. More of them were also sent to the dreaded “Hospital”, which was rather the death house for them. The building is still standing there up to now. There is also a church that you can visit on this island.
In addition, a museum was set up here where you can learn about the famous prisoners (Alfred Dreyfus and Henri Charriere). A good selection of restaurants and luxury hotels are also available. You can walk through the island and visit one from the other within 2-3 hours back and forth and admire the nature and lush vegetation. To summarize, the entire island is a unique experience. For swimming it is not advisable because of the strong current and the heavy presence of sharks. There are no beaches on this island. The third island - Ile du Diable (north side) is not accessible to visitors because there is a fenced monitoring center of the European Space Agency that specializes on the Ariane program.
The three historic islands are beautiful and idyllic. The flora and fauna are amazing. The guides are very accommodating and it is somewhat hard to believe that this ideal place and paradise like attraction was once a prison and had torture chambers on its territory. It was a French penal colony where inmates that were considered more dangerous or outcasts of the society were incarcerated and hardly managed to escape because of its treacherous cliffs and its shark-infested waters.
Marshes of Caw
The Marshes of Caw is a good experience if you do not and have never been yet inside the Amazon jungle. Availing the tour package is the best way to understand what the marshes can offer. The boat trip is interesting especially if you are a birdwatcher. You can spend some time fishing and in the afternoon take a stroll in the nearby creek. It combines the bird fauna and a flora of diverse marsh. There are kingfishers and otters that dwell on these waters. It is highly advisable to stay for a night and drive up into the mountains of Kaw before sunrise. The view is truly remarkable. There is also a night safari where you can tour on board a canoe at night and see the wildlife.
Through the help of the tour provider you can explore the marsh from morning until evening. The morning rise in the dugout of the Kaw River is meant for bird watching and seeing the zebu cattle grazing in the water. After it you board the electric motor powered canoes up to the creek of Wapou. Then embark on the mainland for a nice walking tour in the primary forest to a hut where after being welcomed with cocktail drinks you can have lunch of grilled chicken, tabouleh, cheese and dessert. After the meal you can spend a few moments of relaxation for an introduction to gold panning and river fishing. Then take the hike to the woods to reach the canoe with valuable explanations of the trees and wildlife (lots of cute monkeys and tarantulas!). After a quick snack while waiting for nightfall, the canoe tour heads out this time to search for the caiman alligators (dozens of species can be observed). The place is wonderful, a haven of peace and quiet. After an hour's drive through the forest by canoe you can get back right into the swamp and enjoy a memorable stay in one of the inns located in this marsh resort.
The Remire –Montjoly Beach is one of the rare places in French Guiana where water is less brown and calmer. It is a good option to find Brazilians and Peruvians. This beach is always filled with a lot of people, and is home to many interesting photos you can create with your camera. In front of the beach is the Rémire Island, which is ideal for those who need to have contact with nature. Bring your coolers and garbage bags, as there are no restaurants there.
Schedule a visit around the months of September – October to attend the laying and the emergence of the giant leatherback turtles from the Atlantic Ocean. On this popular season the beach becomes a magical place to watch this natural spectacle. You can watch (discreetly, as these nesting turtles are kind of sensitive around too many people and human noise) as they emerge from the sea and slowly make their way to the sandy beach and start digging for holes where she can lay and keep her eggs safe then return to the waters to leave her eggs behind. Conservationists protect it here and make marks on where they are kept and warn beach strollers to avoid these protected areas. By dawn another magical spectacle happens as the eggs hatch and little turtles emerge out of the sand and rush towards the waiting sea.
Place des Palmistes
The Place des Palmistes is a very nice attraction filled with palm trees and colonial-style houses. Do not hesitate to have a drink on the bar and terrace restaurant called "The Cabbage Trees" and go people watching.
It is one of the major tourist spots in the city where couples or families can enjoy long walks, a visit to the museum, or watch the colors of the carnival parades during feasts and national holidays. Even if the palms are common in the Caribbean Guyana, their number and length make this a particularly nice place whatever the time of day.
The Fort Ceperou is the best observation deck to have a great view of the sea and Cayenne. The climb is short and you can take time to admire the idyllic sights from above this old fortress. Located on accessible heights, Fort Cépérou at sunset offers a beautiful panorama; one side shines on the city of Cayenne and the other on the rainforest.
It is an old fort that was built during the 17th century and appears a bit unkempt and dilapidated but it is still a good vantage point to see the entire city and a great part of the islands.
The Musee Departemental is a small and original museum located in the center of Cayenne. It is a must-visit if you want to get an idea of the history of the city and know the variety of its flora and fauna. It has a very interesting and original presentation of the insects that can be found along French Guiana. There is not much visitors and you can enjoy everything in peace.
This interesting museum takes you into a journey to the history and richness of French Guiana. A part of the exhibition is about its historic and political past while another side shows the exploration of gold, the history of prisoners of war, and other biodiversity. For children, it is a universe of information that they will love to know. The museum is ideal for the whole family to explore and learn so much about Cayenne and French Guiana.
The Jardin Botanique is very beautiful and lush. There are trails through the trees, artificial lakes, and animals. At night there are events and presentations of regional music and jazz that always amuses every guest to this side of the city. It is a great place to stay at the end of the day after a tour of the landmark attractions and varied points of interests all around the exciting city.
The place is very original and located a bit far from the city center. It is where you can admire the native flora of the French Guiana. There are man-made ponds, gazebos, and benches sprawled and surrounded by trees. Even if its summer or in hot weather it is still nice to stay around here and just sit on the benches near the water. On weekends it gets filled with so many locals, mostly families with children.
In French Guiana, there are no large rivers where it would be nice to swim because of the brown muddy water and it is fully applicable to the Cayenne River. It is a river where it is nicer to relax in the shade of a tree, walk slowly along the shore and catch fish. This is a refreshing alternative to visit in the city of Cayenne. This is where the young people of the city gathers and hang out, chat, or play game boards, a perfect meeting point for couples and where most family picnics happen during the weekend.
The Vieux Port is a busy harbor where you can see the main river of the city. From this pier, you can see many cars, people who go fishing, people who are dating, and those who just wants to see and admire the sunset.
It is a historic site in the city of Cayenne that is well maintained and where it is safe to walk even at night. The port is not hard to miss because it is easily accessible from all points of the city. It is located in the continuity of the fish market and near the vegetable market.
St. Saviour Cathedral
The St. Saviour Cathedral is also called the Great Cathedral of Cayenne. Although it is not as big compared to the other basilicas of Brazil, the church epitomizes simplicity in a striking structure, It has traits or designs similar to the rest of the city, the so-called “Creole” style of architecture. Right next door there is a bus stop and is not far from other sights.
The cathedral is worth going to if you want to find a quiet time to pause and give thanks to the higher being. It perfectly fits into the premises of the urban landscape, like an oasis in the middle of a busy metropolitan area.
Avenue du General de Gaulle
The Avenue du General de Gaulle is the busiest avenue located in the center of Cayenne. It is dominated by Chinese shops that sell souvenirs, clothes and different things for a very affordable price. It is also filled with lots of small restaurants and quaint cafes, jewelry shops and clothing store options located on the same type of buildings on both sides of the avenue.
You can also find tourism offices, car rental agencies, government establishments, travel agencies and flight offices. It is very nice to stroll both day and night and it is a “highly pedestrian” road which means people prefer to walk more than ride cars or any means of transport to get to another point of this city. This is a very enterprising street that is situated just a stone’s throw away from the equally famous attraction in Cayenne City; Place des Palmistes.
Koati Le Petit Train
The Koati Le Petit Train is a great option to get an idea about the city especially when considering that driving a car in Cayenne is not the easiest option for mobility plus the parking problems you may encounter in the city center. The ride itself does not take long and takes just more than an hour. The pretty train is very cheap and for 8 Euros you get a guided city tour of 1 hour and 30 minutes.
It is interesting for anyone wanting to settle in Cayenne or for anyone who wants to see the key points of the city. The driver and guide are really friendly and funny and keep the ride interesting and fun to do with their wit and humor. This is a train that operates on certain days and places. It starts from the Place de Palmistes then goes all the way to downtown Cayenne. You need not walk up and down the street just to get a quick idea of Cayenne City. Inside a Koatit train, all you need to do is just sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery.
Cayenne City is an exciting place to discover and one of the ideal travel destinations of the Caribbean. Lined by beaches, remote islands, lively neighborhoods, markets, ancient religious structures, parks and gardens, old forts and Creole style architecture, it is quite surprising that in the midst of development and progress the people remain humble and continue to lead a traditional life in the rain forest areas.