French Guiana — Attractions
French Giana has its own share of eco-tourism destinations, being home to an incredible stretch of Amazonian rainforests that are alive with a stunning selection of flora and fauna. Winding rivers pierce through the jungles, while the coast offers pleasant beaches and serves as a strategic starting point for island excursions and fishing tours on the Caribbean. Those seeking a cultural immersion can walk the streets of the capital of Cayenne for great museums, visit the spaceport or explore the indigenous Amerindian and Maroon communities in Guiana Amazonian Park. Towns everywhere celebrate Mardi Gras with infectious enthusiasm.
Center Spatial Guyanais
The Guiana Space Station is not to be missed when in the territory. It is one of the world’s most active space and satellite rocket centers, so your chance of seeing a live launch during your visit is high. A guided tour of the ultra high-tech facilities is a must, as well as a look around the museum's interactive exhibits and attractions. Plan ahead and book in advance especially if you need a German or English–speaking guide.
Address: Kourou, N French Guiana
Iles du Salut
Iles du Salut (the Islands of Health) are also known as the Salvation Islands, once serving as the refuge for missionaries who wanted to escape the plague on mainland French Guiana. It is composed of several small islands, namely Ile du Diable, Ile Royale and Ile Saint Joseph, all of which play significant roles in the history of the territory. Ile du Diable, otherwise known as Devil’s Island, was once a major part of a penal colony that imprisoned the worst criminals of France. The ghostly islands welcome tourists who dare to explore their eerie chambers and tiny confinement cells.
Address: Kouru, N French Guiana
Camp de la Transportation
This prison camp once received boatfuls of prisoners to be processed for confinement or execution. Most of the camp has been restored, but the small prison boxes, cells and public execution areas have not lost a bit of their fright factor.
Address: St Laurent du Maroni
The vibrant capital offers its own unique charms, from a bustling port to the historic Place de Grenoble (Prefect Residence). It is also home to a well-maintained botanical garden and several coastal attractions. In the heart of town are two impressive historical and cultural museums, featuring excellent exhibits on the indigenous people and legendary penal settlements of Iles du Salut. The Musee des Cultures Guyanaises and the Musee Departemental Franconie should definitely be on your list if don't have time to visit the islands and the Amerindian settlements yourself. The city is also noted for its beautiful architecture, including the municipal library and the Cathedrale Saint-Sauveur de Cayenne.
Address: Cayenne River, French Guiana
Maison de la Reserve Natural l’Amana
French Guiana’s wildlife is diverse; in fact, it the country is home to one of the largest nesting sites for leatherback turtles. Maison de la Reserve Natural l’Amana can be found in the heart of Awala-Yalimopo and Plage Les Hattes, which are the best sites for exploring various Amerindian settlements in the region. The reserve features a turtle biology museum and a couple of scenic nature trails.
Address: Awala-Yalimopo, French Guiana
The sweeping beaches of this coastal area are known to have the best waterfront scenery and kite surfers in the region. If you are interested in kite boarding yourself, you will have to bring your own gear, as there are no schools or rental facilities in the area. The Montjoly region offers excellent hiking trails up the stunning Montagne du Mahury and in the beautiful Le Rorota lake area. It is also home to Fort Diamant. The Grand Matoury Nature Reserve is only a three-mile trek up La Mirande if you are into bird watching.
Address: Remire-Montholy, French Guiana
These ancient gardens were established in 1879, and are filled with all kinds of Guianese flora. The site is an excellent escape from the hustle and bustle and many locals describe it as a hideout in the middle of the city.
Address: Blvd de la Republique, Cayenne