Cayenne is the capital of French Guiana which is actually an overseas region of France. If you are not sure what to do in Cayenne, here are some great things to do in Cayenne!
French Guiana is situated in South America right at the top of Brazil. As French Guiana is considered as France, it’s like there is a little piece of Europe in South America.
This topical piece of France is not the easiest or cheapest place to visit, but it’s nice for a quick stop in Cayenne if you’re visiting South America. You will get a taste of what it’s like to live in a small city so close to nature, with some great trails and beaches to spot many different wild species. While also getting to chance to eat some great food amongst the colonial buildings in the centre of Cayenne.
3 days is perfect for a quick stop in Cayenne, French Guiana. My own itinerary for Cayenne was only 2 and 1/2 days, it was supposed to be an extra day longer, but I ended up staying an extra night in Brazil. So really suggest the whole 3 days.
Things to Do in Cayenne
You probably haven’t even heard much about Cayenne or French Guiana, which typically means a place is not touristic. That is very much the case in French Guiana, but there are still some great things to do in Cayenne.
Pace yourself on the hiking trails for Salines Trail and Rorota Trail, I did both trails on the same day, about a 1-hour walk between the paths along with another 1-hour walk home. I was dead, dehydrated and so so sunburnt!!! And pulled a muscle in my leg, so yes I suggest doing them in 2 separate days…
As transport is non-existent, unless you have a car it’s hard to get around Cayenne so you have to walk. Here are some of the great things to do in Cayenne.
1. Salines Trail (Sentier des Salines)
This beautiful trail starts at the end of Avenue Saint Dominique. It’s a really nice trail, very easy and takes you past beaches, Lac de Montjoly and over the Mangroves.
The trail ends at the north-western end of the beach. It might be easier to walk back on the trail to get off and go back down the other end of Montjoly beach.
I walked the trail in reverse but somehow got through some muddy openings in the trees from another road, walked through a shallow part of a stream and found the end of the trail. I think I went down the wrong road maybe and there was an easier way in via the road Lotissement Stanis Voie B but you still have to cross the stream and I don’t know what it’s like at high tide, might be deep…
2. Montjoly Beach (Plages Montjoly)
Plages Montjoly isn’t the best beach in the area for swimming, but it is a spot where Olive Ridley and Leatherback turtles lay their eggs. Which happens between April and September, It’s best to go late evening to spot some.
3. Rorota Trail (Sentier du Rorota)
The Rorota trail is known for you to be able to see sloths, monkeys and butterflies. I saw some squirrels and many beautiful butterflies. You can’t always rely on nature to put on a show. The trail entrance to Rorota is quite out of the way. Take a car or taxi, otherwise, it’s a long long walk from your accommodation. The trail is about 5.6km altogether from the entrance.
You will walk along the stream running from the small waterfall, then past various lakes and to the viewpoint over the beach, depending on which way you chose to go around the trail loop.
The lonely planet guide states an easy 4km loop. I disagree with easy. There were many fallen trees in the path, which I had to climb over/ under and through bushes. At one moment I thought I was lost and was running out of water. Towards the end, I saw more people, families, dog walkers and runners.
Make sure you take lots of water with you and a few snacks to keep you hydrated, as it’s very hot and there are no shops nearby to buy drinks.
4. Gosselin Beach (Plage de Gosselin)
Make sure to head down to the Plage de Gosselin which is by far the best beach in the area. The water is warm and a brown colour due to it mixing with the Amazon river, but it’s actually really nice, minus the small stings from baby jellyfish (which my friend told me was). The water is not too shallow at high tide and you can properly swim without touching the ground.
The beach is quite clean, and the sand is soft. This is the place where all the locals go, I visited twice in the afternoon and there were quite a few people. Again bring your own drinks and snacks there are no shops nearby. But there is a restaurant called Auberge Des Plages about a 15-minute walk away which looked good.
5. Cayenne City Centre
There are not that many classic tourist places to visit in Cayenne, but there is some great food. With influences from neighbouring Brazil, The Caribbean, Europe and Asia there are plenty of choices.
I suggest checking out Place des Palmistes which is basically the centre square. Full of beautiful palm trees, If only they pedestrianised the area and didn’t let cars park around it. It would be much more beautiful.
There are some really pretty colonial wooden buildings around Cayenne, you will see loads just strolling the streets but the best ones are on Rue de Rémire.
On Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, early morning till around noon. The central market is open selling a variety of different things, alongside fruits and vegetables. I wasn’t there on the day it was open but I would have visited!
A quick stop at Fort Ceperou will give you some slight views over the city, sea and towards the mountains in Montjoly.
6. Grand Hotel Montabo Beach
Also, check out another beach which is behind the Grand Hotel Montabo. You will need to drive here from the city or it’s a 50-minute odd walk. Another place where Turtles lay eggs, an organisation called KWATA work here with the turtles in coordination with WWF.
I would have liked to find out more about them, but I didn’t have the chance! As so much seemed closed or deserted.
Best Things to Do in Cayenne
Hopefully, this list of things to do in Cayenne, French Guiana gives you some ideas! I had a very local experience here in French Guiana, making friends with a local couple who showed me around. I hope if you are travelling around South America you will consider popping over and checking out Cayenne and French Guiana. It will give you a whole different experience compared to the rest of South America.
Have you ever been to French Guiana before? Let me know in the comments!