Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in French Guiana

Central & South America

By Erica Silverstein

French Guiana, an overseas territory of France located on the northeastern coast of South America, is a tropical paradise that offers a unique blend of rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and diverse wildlife. As one of the last truly wild places on earth, French Guiana is a haven for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers.

One of the top attractions in French Guiana is the Guiana Space Centre, Europe’s main spaceport. This state-of-the-art facility allows visitors to witness rocket launches and explore interactive exhibits that showcase the history and future of space exploration. The Guiana Space Centre is a must-visit for anyone interested in the wonders of the universe.

For those seeking an up-close encounter with nature, the Amazon Rainforest in French Guiana is a treasure trove of biodiversity. With its dense jungles, winding rivers, and exotic wildlife, the Amazon Rainforest offers visitors the chance to explore its hidden wonders. From hiking through lush trails to spotting rare bird species, an adventure in the Amazon is an unforgettable experience.

Another popular tourist attraction in French Guiana is the Îles du Salut, a group of islands located off the coast. Home to an infamous former jail, the Îles du Salut now serve as a reminder of the region’s dark past. Visitors can explore the ruins of the jail, stroll along picturesque beaches, and observe the diverse marine life that inhabits the surrounding waters.

Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or an avid adventurer, French Guiana offers something for everyone. From its space exploration facilities to its pristine rainforests and historical sites, this hidden gem in South America is waiting to be discovered.

Cayenne City Center

The city center of Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana, is a vibrant and bustling area filled with historical sites, cultural landmarks, and a lively atmosphere. Here are some of the top attractions in the Cayenne City Center:

Attraction Description
Fort Ceperou A historic fort located on a hilltop overlooking the city, offering panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Place des Palmistes A beautiful park in the heart of the city, known for its lush greenery, palm trees, and charming colonial architecture.
Saint-Sauveur Cathedral A stunning cathedral that showcases exquisite architecture and intricate artwork, attracting both tourists and religious pilgrims.
Musée Départemental Franconie A museum dedicated to the cultural heritage of French Guiana, featuring exhibits on the region’s history, art, and indigenous peoples.
Marche de Cayenne A bustling market where visitors can find a wide range of locally produced goods, including fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, and artisanal crafts.
Plage de Montabo A picturesque beach located just outside the city center, offering a tranquil escape and opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.

Visiting the Cayenne City Center is a must for anyone traveling to French Guiana, as it provides a glimpse into the rich history, vibrant culture, and natural beauty of the region.

Îles du Salut (Salvation Islands)

The Îles du Salut, or Salvation Islands, are a group of islands located off the coast of French Guiana in South America. The islands were originally used as a penal colony during the 19th and 20th centuries and are now a popular tourist destination.

The most famous of the islands is Île Royale, which housed the prison’s administrative buildings and facilities. Visitors can explore the former jail, including the cells, guardhouses, and hospital. The most infamous prisoner held on Île Royale was Captain Alfred Dreyfus, who was falsely accused of treason in France and later exonerated.

Another island in the group is Île Saint-Joseph, which was used to house political prisoners. This island is known for its isolation cells, where prisoners were held in solitary confinement. Visitors can also see the remains of the penal colony’s cemetery and a small chapel.

The third island in the group, Île du Diable or Devil’s Island, is the smallest and most remote. This island was reserved for the most dangerous and incorrigible prisoners. The infamous French prisoner Henri Charrière, also known as Papillon, was held on this island before his eventual escape. Visitors can tour the remains of the jail buildings and enjoy the beautiful beaches that surround the island.

Today, the Îles du Salut are a UNESCO World Heritage site and are managed as a nature reserve. The islands offer a unique mix of natural beauty and historical significance, making them a must-see destination for visitors to French Guiana.

Guiana Space Centre

The Guiana Space Centre, located in Kourou, French Guiana, is one of the most technologically advanced spaceports in the world. Operated by the French space agency, CNES, and the European Space Agency (ESA), it serves as a launch and tracking site for various space missions.

The Guiana Space Centre offers visitors a unique opportunity to witness space launches and explore the fascinating world of space exploration. It is open to the public and offers guided tours that provide an up-close look at the facilities and technologies used in space missions.

One of the main highlights of a visit to the Guiana Space Centre is the chance to witness a live rocket launch. The centre is responsible for launching satellites, spacecraft, and rockets into space. Visitors can experience the thrill of watching a rocket take off as it accelerates into the sky, leaving behind a trail of smoke and fire.

During the guided tour, visitors have the opportunity to visit the Space Museum, which provides a wealth of information about space exploration. The museum showcases a wide range of artifacts, including satellite models, rockets, and photos of past missions. Visitors can learn about the history of space exploration and the impact it has had on our understanding of the universe.

Another highlight of the Guiana Space Centre is the Jupiter Control Room, where mission control for satellite launches takes place. Visitors can observe the precise operations that go into preparing a satellite for launch and witness the intense work that is involved in ensuring a successful mission.

In addition to the launch site and museum, the Guiana Space Centre offers a range of other attractions. Visitors can explore the nearby beaches and rainforests, which are home to a diverse array of flora and fauna. Opportunities for hiking and wildlife spotting are plentiful, providing a unique natural experience in conjunction with the space activities.

The Guiana Space Centre is not only a key hub for space activities, but also a major tourist destination. Its unique blend of technology, nature, and history make it a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in space exploration.

Important Information:

Due to the nature of ongoing space missions, access to certain areas of the Guiana Space Centre may be restricted at times. It is recommended to check the official website for any temporary closures or restrictions before planning a visit.

Kaw Nature Reserve

The Kaw Nature Reserve is a protected natural area located in French Guiana, a French overseas department in South America. It covers an area of approximately 2,120 square kilometers (820 square miles) and is known for its diverse ecosystems and rich biodiversity.

The reserve is named after the Kaw River, which flows through its territory. It is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species, including several endangered and endemic species. Visitors can explore the reserve’s lush rainforests, mangroves, savannahs, and wetlands, and observe rare birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.

One of the highlights of the Kaw Nature Reserve is the chance to see the giant river otter, an iconic and endangered species that is rarely seen in the wild. The reserve also offers opportunities for hiking, boating, and fishing, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the beauty of nature.

Guided tours are available in the Kaw Nature Reserve, which provide visitors with a deeper understanding of the reserve’s unique ecosystems and conservation efforts. The knowledgeable guides share information about the flora and fauna, as well as the ongoing research and conservation projects taking place within the reserve.

For nature lovers and adventure seekers, the Kaw Nature Reserve offers a truly unforgettable experience. Its untouched landscapes and remarkable biodiversity make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring the natural wonders of French Guiana.

Key highlights:

  • Diverse ecosystems including rainforests, mangroves, savannahs, and wetlands
  • Rare and endemic plant and animal species
  • Giant river otters
  • Hiking, boating, and fishing opportunities
  • Guided tours with knowledgeable guides

Devil’s Island

Devil’s Island, also known as Île du Diable, is one of the infamous Îles du Salut, which are a group of islands located off the coast of French Guiana. This small island was once a penal colony and is now a popular tourist attraction.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Devil’s Island was used as a place to send French prisoners, particularly political prisoners. The harsh conditions, including brutal treatment and isolation, made Devil’s Island one of the most feared jails in the world.

Today, visitors can explore the remains of the jail and learn about its history through guided tours. The island showcases the ruins of the old jail buildings, including cells, guard towers, and administrative buildings. There is also a museum on the island that displays artifacts and information about the prisoners and the prison’s history.

In addition to its historical significance, Devil’s Island offers stunning natural beauty. The island is covered in lush vegetation and is surrounded by pristine beaches and clear blue waters. Visitors can take hikes through the island’s trails, relax on the beaches, and take in the breathtaking views.

Location Off the coast of French Guiana
Coordinates 5.2850° N, 52.5845° W
Access By boat from Kourou or Cayenne
Visiting Hours 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Admission Free, but boat tours may have fees

Visiting Devil’s Island offers a unique opportunity to learn about the dark history of French Guiana’s penal colony while also experiencing its natural beauty. It is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Cacao Reserve

The Cacao Reserve is a must-visit destination in French Guiana for chocolate lovers and nature enthusiasts. This lush reserve is located in the heart of the rainforest and is dedicated to preserving and promoting the local cacao industry.

The reserve offers visitors a unique opportunity to learn about the process of chocolate production from bean to bar. Guided tours take visitors through the various stages, starting with the growth and harvesting of cacao pods. Visitors can witness the intricate process of fermenting and drying the beans before they are transformed into the delectable treat we all love.

Not only does the Cacao Reserve provide a fascinating educational experience, but it also offers a chance to taste some of the finest chocolate in the world. Visitors can indulge in a chocolate tasting session, where they can sample different varieties and learn about the subtle flavors and complexities that make each one unique.

In addition to its educational and gastronomic offerings, the Cacao Reserve is also home to a variety of wildlife. Visitors may be lucky enough to spot colorful birds, playful monkeys, and even the elusive jaguar during their visit.

Whether you are a chocolate connoisseur or simply appreciate the beauty of nature, a visit to the Cacao Reserve is an unforgettable experience that showcases the unique cultural and natural heritage of French Guiana.

Tumuc-Humac Mountains

The Tumuc-Humac Mountains are a mountain range located in the southwestern part of French Guiana. Spanning over 2,000 square kilometers, these mountains are part of the larger Guiana Shield, which stretches across several countries in South America.

Rising to an elevation of over 1,400 meters, the Tumuc-Humac Mountains offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. These mountains are known for their rugged and picturesque terrain, with dense rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and rocky cliffs.

The Tumuc-Humac Mountains are home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including many species that are unique to this region. Visitors can explore the mountains on foot, hiking along the numerous trails and admiring the rich biodiversity that can be found here.

One of the highlights of a visit to the Tumuc-Humac Mountains is the opportunity to interact with the local indigenous communities. These communities have long inhabited the area and have a deep knowledge of the mountains and the surrounding ecosystems. Visitors can learn about their traditional way of life, participate in cultural activities, and even stay in traditional villages.

For adventure seekers, the Tumuc-Humac Mountains offer a range of activities such as rock climbing, rappelling, and zip-lining. These adrenaline-pumping experiences allow visitors to fully immerse themselves in the stunning natural beauty of the mountains.

Overall, the Tumuc-Humac Mountains are a hidden gem in French Guiana, offering a unique and unforgettable experience for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts alike. It is a destination that should not be missed for those seeking a truly off-the-beaten-path adventure.


Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni is a charming town located in the western part of French Guiana, near the Maroni River. It is known for its rich history and unique cultural heritage.

One of the main attractions in Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni is the Camp de la Transportation, which used to be a notorious penal colony during the 19th and 20th centuries. Visitors can explore the ruins of the former jail and learn about the harsh conditions that prisoners endured.

Another must-visit site in Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni is the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church. This beautiful wooden church, built in the 19th century, is known for its intricate carvings and stunning architecture.

Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni is also a gateway to the Maroni River, which offers opportunities for scenic boat tours and fishing trips. Visitors can explore the lush rainforest and spot exotic wildlife along the riverbanks.

The town is also home to several museums, including the Musée des Cultures Guyanaises, which showcases the region’s diverse cultural heritage, and the Musée du Bagne, which documents the history of the penal colony.

For nature enthusiasts, Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni is a great starting point for exploring the surrounding natural wonders, such as the Réserve naturelle des Marais de Kaw-Roura, a vast protected wetland area teeming with bird species and other wildlife.

In addition to its historical and natural attractions, Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni offers a vibrant culinary scene with a wide range of restaurants serving local Creole and international cuisine.

Whether you are interested in history, culture, or outdoor adventures, a visit to Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni is sure to be a memorable experience.

Jardin Botanique de Cayenne

The Jardin Botanique de Cayenne, or the Botanical Garden of Cayenne, is a beautiful and educational attraction located in the capital city of French Guiana. This botanical garden is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and those interested in the diverse flora and fauna of the region.

The garden covers an area of approximately 10 hectares and is home to a wide variety of tropical plants and trees. Visitors can explore the different sections of the garden, which include a palm grove, a medicinal garden, an orchid greenhouse, and a collection of local fruit trees.

One of the highlights of the Jardin Botanique de Cayenne is its collection of exotic plants from around the world. This includes rare species of palms, cacti, and bromeliads. Visitors can learn about the unique characteristics and uses of each plant through informative signage and guided tours.

In addition to its impressive plant collection, the botanical garden also houses a small zoo, where visitors can observe local wildlife, including birds, monkeys, and giant otters. The zoo also plays an important role in preserving and protecting endangered species native to French Guiana.

Whether you’re a botany enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply looking for a peaceful and beautiful place to relax, the Jardin Botanique de Cayenne is a must-visit attraction in French Guiana. Take a leisurely stroll through its lush gardens, enjoy the sounds and sights of nature, and learn more about the fascinating plant and animal life that call this region home.

Camp de la Transportation

Camp de la Transportation, also known as the “Devil’s Island,” is one of the most infamous tourist attractions in French Guiana. It served as a penal colony from 1852 to 1953 and housed some of the most dangerous criminals in French history.

The camp is comprised of several islands, with Devil’s Island being the most well-known. Visitors can take a boat tour to explore the remnants of the jail buildings, including the cells where prisoners were held in harsh conditions. The tour also offers a chance to learn about the history of the camp and the stories of the prisoners who were sent there.

One of the most notable inmates of the Camp de la Transportation was Captain Alfred Dreyfus, who was wrongly convicted of treason in a highly controversial case. He spent four years on Devil’s Island before being exonerated and released.

  • Explore the jail buildings and cells
  • Learn about the history of the camp
  • Hear the stories of famous prisoners
  • Take a boat tour to Devil’s Island
  • Experience the harsh conditions of the penal colony

Visiting Camp de la Transportation is a somber and thought-provoking experience, as it offers a glimpse into the dark history of French Guiana. The site serves as a reminder of the injustices of the past and the importance of human rights.

Paul Isnard Track

The Paul Isnard Track is a famous hiking trail located in French Guiana. It is named after Paul Isnard, a French Guianese pioneer and explorer. The trail covers a distance of approximately 20 kilometers and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding rainforest and natural beauty.

Hikers can expect a challenging and rewarding experience as they navigate through the dense jungle, crossing rivers and streams along the way. The trail is well-marked and maintained, ensuring hikers can safely explore this stunning part of the country.

Along the Paul Isnard Track, you may encounter various species of wildlife, including colorful birds, monkeys, and reptiles. The trail also allows you to observe the unique flora of the region, such as towering trees and vibrant orchids.

The Paul Isnard Track is a must-visit destination for adventurers and nature lovers alike. It offers an opportunity to immerse oneself in the beauty of French Guiana’s natural landscapes and experience the rich biodiversity of the region firsthand.

When hiking the Paul Isnard Track, it’s important to come prepared with proper hiking gear, including sturdy shoes, water, and insect repellent. It is also recommended to go with a guide who is familiar with the trail and the surrounding area.

If you’re looking for an unforgettable outdoor adventure in French Guiana, don’t miss the chance to explore the Paul Isnard Track. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner, this trail promises an exhilarating journey through one of South America’s most stunning wilderness areas.

Remire-Montjoly Beach

Remire-Montjoly Beach is a gorgeous stretch of coastline located near the capital city of Cayenne in French Guiana. This beautiful beach is a popular tourist destination for both locals and visitors alike.

The beach offers pristine white sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters, making it the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun. The peaceful atmosphere and stunning natural beauty of Remire-Montjoly Beach make it a great spot for picnicking, sunbathing, and swimming.

One of the highlights of the beach is the opportunity to see nesting sea turtles. Remire-Montjoly Beach is an important nesting ground for four species of sea turtles: the leatherback, green, hawksbill, and olive ridley turtles. Visitors may be lucky enough to witness these magnificent creatures during nesting season.

In addition to its natural attractions, Remire-Montjoly Beach is also home to a variety of beachside restaurants and bars. Visitors can enjoy fresh seafood, tropical cocktails, and breathtaking views of the ocean while dining on the beach.

For those looking for adventure, Remire-Montjoly Beach offers opportunities for water sports such as kayaking and paddleboarding. The calm and clear waters make it a great place for beginners to try out these activities.

Overall, Remire-Montjoly Beach is a must-visit destination in French Guiana. Its stunning natural beauty, nesting sea turtles, and variety of activities make it an ideal spot for both relaxation and adventure.

Maroni River

The Maroni River is a major waterway in French Guiana, forming part of the border between French Guiana and Suriname. Spanning approximately 515 kilometers, the river is one of the most important transportation routes in the region and is surrounded by lush tropical rainforests.

The Maroni River is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, making it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts. Visitors can explore the river by boat, taking in the breathtaking scenery and spotting various species of birds, monkeys, and reptiles.

Location Length Main Attractions
Between French Guiana and Suriname Approximately 515 kilometers Lush tropical rainforests, diverse wildlife

In addition to its natural beauty, the Maroni River is also known for its rich cultural heritage. The river is inhabited by various indigenous communities, including the Maroons, who are descended from African slaves. Visitors can learn about the traditions and customs of these communities while exploring the river.

One of the highlights of a visit to the Maroni River is a trip to the village of Papaïchton, which is located along the river. Here, visitors can experience the unique way of life of the Maroons and learn about their history, art, and cuisine.

Overall, the Maroni River offers a unique and unforgettable experience for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in the natural beauty and cultural heritage of French Guiana.

Marais de Kaw-Roura Nature Reserve

The Marais de Kaw-Roura Nature Reserve is one of the most biodiverse and ecologically important areas in French Guiana. Located on the north coast, this vast wetland is considered to be one of the largest nature reserves in Europe. Covering an area of approximately 94,700 hectares, it is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species.

The reserve is characterized by its unique combination of mangroves, coastal savannahs, and flooded forests. This diverse range of habitats supports a rich array of wildlife, including numerous bird species, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. Visitors to the reserve can expect to see species such as the giant river otter, black caiman, jaguar, and a variety of macaws and toucans.

One of the most popular activities in the Marais de Kaw-Roura Nature Reserve is birdwatching. With over 200 bird species recorded in the area, it is a haven for ornithologists and nature enthusiasts. Guided birdwatching tours are available, offering visitors the opportunity to spot rare and elusive species such as the Guianan cock-of-the-rock and the red siskin.

In addition to its ecological significance, the nature reserve also plays an important role in cultural and historical preservation. It is home to several indigenous communities, including the Amerindian Wayana and Teko tribes, who have lived in the area for generations. Visitors can learn about their traditional way of life and explore their villages, which are situated within the reserve.

Location North coast of French Guiana
Area Approximately 94,700 hectares
Species Over 200 bird species, including Guianan cock-of-the-rock and red siskin
Activities Birdwatching, wildlife spotting, guided tours
Communities Home to indigenous Wayana and Teko tribes

Visiting the Marais de Kaw-Roura Nature Reserve is a unique opportunity to explore the incredible biodiversity and cultural heritage of French Guiana. The reserve offers a range of activities and experiences that allow visitors to connect with nature and gain a deeper appreciation for this remarkable region.

Fort Cépérou

Fort Cépérou, located in the capital city of Cayenne, is a historical landmark and one of the most popular tourist attractions in French Guiana. Built in the 17th century by the French colonialists, the fort was strategically positioned on a hill overlooking the city and the Cayenne River.

The fort played a significant role in protecting the French interests in the region during the colonial period. It also served as a military base and a jail. Today, visitors can explore the ruins of Fort Cépérou and learn about its rich history.

From the top of the fort, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Cayenne and the surrounding area. This vantage point provides breathtaking views of the city’s colonial architecture, the lush rainforest, and the Cayenne River.

Fort Cépérou is also a great spot to watch the sunset. Many tourists gather here in the evening to witness the beautiful colors illuminating the city and the river.

If you visit Fort Cépérou, make sure to bring your camera, as the fort offers plenty of photo opportunities. You can capture the unique blend of history and natural beauty in this picturesque setting.

Overall, a visit to Fort Cépérou is a must for anyone interested in the history and culture of French Guiana. The fort’s unique location, historical significance, and stunning views make it one of the top attractions in the region.


What are some top-rated tourist attractions in French Guiana?

Some top-rated tourist attractions in French Guiana include the Guiana Space Center, Îles du Salut (Salvation Islands), Cacao Historic District, Tumuc-Humac mountains, and the Amazon Rainforest.

Can you tell me about the Guiana Space Center?

The Guiana Space Center is a major tourist attraction in French Guiana. It is Europe’s main spaceport and is used by the European Space Agency, the French space agency, and the multinational company Arianespace. Visitors can take guided tours of the space center and learn about its role in space exploration.

What can I see on the Îles du Salut?

The Îles du Salut, also known as the Salvation Islands, are a group of islands off the coast of French Guiana. The main island, Île Royale, is home to the ruins of a former jail, which was famously depicted in the book and movie “Papillon.” Visitors can explore the jail ruins, visit the museum, and enjoy beautiful beaches.

What is the Cacao Historic District?

The Cacao Historic District is a charming village in French Guiana that is known for its preserved architecture from the colonial era. The district features brightly colored wooden houses, cobblestone streets, and a vibrant atmosphere. Visitors can stroll through the town, visit local shops and restaurants, and learn about the history of the area.

What should I expect to see in the Tumuc-Humac mountains?

The Tumuc-Humac mountains are a stunning natural attraction in French Guiana. They are part of the larger Guiana Shield, which is one of the world’s oldest geological formations. Visitors can explore the mountains’ pristine rainforests, hike through the wilderness, and marvel at the diverse flora and fauna of the region.


The 25 Biggest MISTAKES Tourists Keep Making in Paris

Photo of author

Erica Silverstein

Erica, a seasoned travel writer with 20+ years of experience, started her career as a Let's Go guidebook editor in college. As the head of Cruise Critic's features team for a decade, she gained extensive knowledge. Her adventurous nature has taken her to Edinburgh, Australia, the Serengeti, and on luxury cruises in Europe and the Caribbean. During her journeys, she enjoys savoring local chocolates and conquering various summits.

Leave a Comment