The top tourist attractions in French Guiana are unique compared to neighbouring countries, mainly because it’s the last remaining fraction of mainland South America that is still controlled by an overseas nation. France had been in control since 1604 and influenced its culture, traditions, history, art, and architecture. Take them away and you get a country that is innately beautiful. French Guiana shares its western border with Suriname.
Îles du Salut or what tourists know as “Salvation Islands” used to be the favorite destination of 18th century colonists until they were transformed into a penal colony. More than 2,000 convicts where held in its prison at one time and many of them died because of inhumane conditions. By 1946, the settlement was shut down and the islands became a peaceful retreat once again. You can learn more of its dark past at Île Royale, Île du Diable, and Île St. Joseph where the administrative headquarters, political prisoners, and solitary confinement cells are respectively located.
Rémire-Montjoly comprise of two towns characterized by long stretches of beaches. Side-by-side they create the best waterfront in the country. They are among the top tourist attractions in French Guiana but Montjoly is particularly known for its historic ruins, hiking trails, and Plage Montjoly, the best beach in the area.
Cacao is a quaint village with charming wooden houses on stilt. Hmong refugees who came all the way from Laos had been living here since the 1970s. Cacao’s marketplace is worth a visit because of the Hmong weaving, embroidery, and Laoatian delicacies sold there.
Maison de la Reserve Natural l’Amana is a nature reserve with one of the world’s largest nesting sites for giant leatherback turtles. It features a small museum where visitors can learn more about these gentle giants. Turtles nest at Plage Les Hattes from April to July but the eggs don’t hatch until July to September. In these months, the nature reserve is one of the top tourist attractions in French Guiana.
Camp de la Transportation is an eerie destination located in St. Laurent du Maroni. It is an old prison with small cells, leg shackles, and dormitory-style toilets. Camp de la Transportation also features public execution areas which have been partially restored. Guided tours are available for tourists.