I would’ve never known it was there without the sign and the small collection of scooters wedged between the road and the bush at the top of the hill. Even if I did know it was there, I would’ve never guessed it was as enchanting as it turned out to be. All I knew was that Pain de Sucre was supposed to be a MUST-SEE among all of the beaches on the tiny fairytale island of Terre-de-Haut, a jewel of the Guadeloupe archipelago. So said nearly everyone I’d asked about Guadeloupe’s best beaches since I arrived for a quick visit back in March. Pain de Sucre would take my breath away, they said. Soon after I set off down the path that led to the beach, I was sure they were right.
Unlike the paved roads and well-worn paths to the other Terre-de-Haut beaches I’d enjoyed to that point of my trip –– Pompierre and Anse Crawen –– the trek to Pain de Sucre was a rugged, rocky, and uninviting.
From the road, you descend through the bush between a cluster of private homes. Goats graze about (you find them most everywhere in Terre-de-Haut) as children scamper about their yards. One neighbor shouted across the way at another as she hung her laundry while I sheepishly trod along, hoping that I wasn’t disturbing the peace.
Past the homes the bush and rocks persisted. Off in the distance, the faint sounds of surf could be heard. Excitement was brewing in my belly. Not so much for the surf as for the persistently difficult path.
Most of the best places (especially beaches) I’ve come to really love on our uncommon travels have shared a certain level of inaccessibility, the better to keep crowds away, the experience special. Pain de Sucre was shaping up to be the same.
The path took a quick right turn at the base of the initial decline stretching along a ridge above the sea toward another sign confirming I was heading in the right direction.
From there, another short decent through a tricky set of boulders and loose rocks.
It seemed right out of a dream. A crystal-clear aquamarine sea lapping at a cozy cove of golden sand, a mound of earth prominently towering over it all –– just beautiful.
It is the distinctive mound, of course, that gives Pain de Sucre its name, the peak serving as the Caribbean’s answer to the larger and much more popular Sugarloaf Mountain in Brazil. That proverbial mound of sugar attracts millions of visitors each year. At Guadeloupe’s Pan de Sucre, though, the rugged path ensured I remained one of less than 15 people on the beach during the whole time I was there.
Getting to the head of the rocky trail that leads to Pan de Sucre is easy from anywhere in Terre-de-Haut. The island is tiny, after all, and there are very prominent signs all over the place. Once you get there, though, you’ll want to have some sneakers or sturdy sandals on your feet for the trek down to the beach.
As an alternative, you can always hop a boat ride over to Pan de Sucre from the downtown area. A nice jetty awaits in the shadow of the sweet peak, making these secluded shores reasonably accessible even for those with disabilities.