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11 Best Things To Do in Cayenne, French Guiana

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Are you looking for the best things to do in Cayenne for when you travel to French Guiana? Then you've come to the right place. From rainforests to rapids, and cities to islands, this place has it all.

Are you ready for an adventure? Then let's get into it right away! Here are our 11 favorite things to do in Cayenne, and everything to know for when you travel to French Guiana.

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Where is French Guiana?

French Guiana is a small country located in the "Guyanas" of South America. It is the southernmost of the Guyanas, located just north of Brazil. Many people don't even realize that these three small countries even exist, no less that they are not Latino!

where is French Guiana

French Guiana is the most southern of the Guyanas and is located just above Brazil.

Is French Guiana an Official Country?

While we like to recognize French Guiana as its own country, it's not technically an official country. It actually is a French territory.

How Can I Get to French Guiana?

The capital of French Guiana is Cayenne, and there is an International airport. It is particularly expensive to fly here, which is why we decided to travel there overland from Suriname. If you'd like to know exactly how to do so, you can check our full article below.

Flying from the US, we found that the cheapest of the Guyanas to fly to was the country of Guyana (the northernmost country of the Guyanas). The cheapest country to fly to French Guiana from is in fact France, as French Guiana is actually still a part of France. So if you are flying from Europe, we suggest flying to France first to get here.

Cities that fly direct to Cayenne are only from French territories and include Fort de France in Martinique, Maripasoula and Saul in French Guiana, and Paris in mainland France.

Flight Tip: Use Skyscanner to put from "your city" to "everywhere". Then  you can see which is the cheapest airport in the area to fly (Guyana, Suriname, or French Guiana). Also, you can check the calendar to see which are the cheapest dates for your destination!

Search for a flight to the Guyanas:

Looking to travel from Suriname to French Guiana? Well we've mapped out exactly how to do it. Check out our article below to learn more.

Are you planning to travel to French Guiana? We did a whole trip through the Guyanas via public transportation, and are here to share our knowledge. In this particular article we will be covering how to travel to French Guiana from Suriname.Traveling through the Guyanas is not the easiest, but

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Entry Requirements for Travel to French Guiana

Now that you know how to get to French Guiana, it's important to know if there are any restrictions for entering.

Visa Requirements for Travel to French Guiana

Although French Guiana is considered to be a part of France, it is not actually part of the Schengen Zone. You can visit French Guiana for a period of up to 90 days without needing a visa. We were told that French nationals don't have restrictions for staying in French Guiana, but if you are French we definitely suggest double checking with someone from the embassy.

Covid Requirements for Travel to French Guiana

All restrictions due to Covid have now been lifted in French Guiana.

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French Guiana Local Adjustments

Traveling to a new country there is a lot to know. Here are some of the things to keep in mind for when you travel to French Guiana.

What is the Official Language in French Guiana?

While many people assume everyone in South America speaks Spanish, this is actually not the case at all. In French Guiana they speak- you guessed it- French.

What Currency Do They Use in French Guiana?

While the other two Guyanas have their own currency, French Guiana actually uses the euro, since it is technically France! So if you are traveling from Europe make sure to hold on to those euros. We also found that not many places take credit card, so cash is key.

What Plug Types Do They Use in French Guiana?

The outlets in French Guiana support plug types C, D, and E. Plug type C is the most common European plug, which has two round pins. Plug type D has 3 round pins in a triangle, and Plug type E is the same as C but with thicker pins. French Guiana runs on a standard voltage of 220 V, and 50 Hz.

Can You Drink the Tap Water in French Guiana?

For a long time the tap water was not safe to drink. Now there are many areas close to the coast that have drinkable tap water. We suggest confirming with a local depending on what spot you're in.

Tipping in French Guiana

Tipping in French Guiana isn't common, so it's not something you really need to worry about.

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Travel to French Guiana: Things to Do in Cayenne

Now let's check out all of the fun things waiting for you to do there! Here are 11 things to do in Cayenne during your travel to French Guiana.

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Things to Do in Cayenne #1: Explore the City

The first thing that got our attention was the city's motto: "fert aurum industria", which means "work brings wealth". Cayenne has quite a lot of things do. The residence of the prefect in the Place de Grenoble, the Canal Laussat, and the Botanical Gardens are just some of them.

The Musée Départamental Franconie and the Musée des Cultures Guyanises feature good exhibits on indigenous peoples and the penal settlements on Devil's Island.

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Things to Do in Cayenne #2: Canoe Down the Rapids

Spots like Kourou, Iracabo, Counamana and the lower Sinnamary are great for canoeing through the rapids. The rivers are a mixture of calm water and mor challenging rapids, such as those at Hermina.

This is definitely one of the best things to do in French Guiana.

Things to Do in Cayenne #3: Explore the Infamous Iles Du Salut

The Islands of Salvation ("Îles du Salut" in French) are a group of small islands of volcanic origin just 11 kilometers off the coast of French Guiana (14 km north of Kourou) in the Atlantic Ocean.

There are three islands in here: Île Royale, Île Saint-Joseph and the smallest yet most important one, Île du Diable.

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Things to Do in Cayenne #4: Follow Papillon’s Footsteps on Devil’s Island

From 1852 to 1938, more than 80,000 prisoners arrived, and due to the terrible sanitary conditions of the island, many of them did not return from there. The only way to escape was by boat, and then an impenetrable jungle had to be overcome, so it is not known how many convicts managed to escape.

The prison was closed in 1946 and most of the prisoners returned to France, although some decided to stay in French Guiana.

If you haven't read it, "Papillion" (Butterfly in French) is a great novel from 1969 that narrates the tales of a man sentenced to forced labor in French Guiana for a crime he did not commit. You can visit the island and walk through the main character's steps!

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Things to Do in Cayenne #5: Go Birdwatching in the Mouragues Nature Reserve

Nature is all over the place in here. See its wildlife at the Mouragues Nature Reserve, which goes from Roura to Regina and is well known for its diverse scenery and flora. Definitely considered a popular activity amongst things to do in French Guiana.

You can also go south towards Brazil to the Kaw Swamps, which are host to a lot of species of birds, like the toco toucan and the flamingo, as well as caiman.

Things to Do in Cayenne #6: See the Jungle from the Ground or the Air

Much of the interior of the country is covered with huge swathes of primary tropical forest, protected as a national park. You can buzz over the jungle canopy on a microlight plane, or negotiate the winding trails on a mountain bike, with trips organized in Cayenne, Saul, Montsinery-Tonnegrade, St Laurent and St Georges.

Things to Do in Cayenne #7: Shake your Booty at Cayenne Carnival

Want to know the best time to travel to French Guiana? Well, it's during its fabulous carnival each year.

Carnival here is a big event that happens between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday. Every Sunday for over two months, carnival groups in Cayenne, Kourou and St Laurent de Maroni parade to incredible music in unique original costumes.

Mardi Gras is the parade of the red devils. Ash Wednesday sees the crowd dressed in black and white to witness the death throes of King Carnival. If you like carnivals and festivals, this is one of the best things to do in French Guiana.

Things to Do in Cayenne #8: Take off to Kourou

One of the most popular things to do in Cayenne is to take a day trip to Karou. In the incredible city of Kourou you will find things like the Guyana Space Centre. The city is full of super modern buildings, but one of the main reasons why people visit it is because you can get lucky enough to see a rocket launch!

Another great spot to visit here is Fourgasier Falls, a set of waterfalls that you can find only an hour away from the city.

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Things to Do in Cayenne #9: Go Turtle Spotting at Remire-Montjoly

Are you a big turtle fan? then you need to come here. You can find leatherback, green and olive ridley turtles that come here to nest.

The best part is that these types of turtles lay their eggs at different times of the year. This way, you can see them almost at any time you come.

Leatherback turtles lay them from April to July, green turtles from January to May, and olive ridleys from June to August. Out of all the things to do in French Guiana, this was one of our personal favorites.

Things to Do in Cayenne #10: Visit an Amerindian Village

Amerindian people have been getting reduced in population. The good thing is that in the north coast of South America you can still find The Wayana.

Many still follow traditional lives. You can visit riverside Amerindian villages in Haut-Maroni and Haut-Oyapic. Visits are restricted, so you need a permit from the Prefecture in Cayenne to be allowed.

Things to Do in Cayenne #11: Get Lost in Nature in Guiana Amazonian Park

The Guiana Amazonian Park is the largest National Park of France. This is part of the Amazonian forest, which happens to cover 41% of the region. It is also one of the largest national parks in the world.

The only way to get into here is by airplane or pirogue. It's impossible to access it from the sea-shore.

travel to French Guiana

How to Get Around Cayenne

We actually had a very particular situation when we visited Cayenne. A guy we met at the bus station had offered us a ride, and then we ended up staying with him for a few nights. He brought us around everywhere with his car, so we ended up not taking a single form of other transportation! 

We do know that there is a public bus system in Cayenne, and tickets are around 1 euro. Uber is not available, but there are taxis that can take you around, Just make sure to tell them to put their meter on, and pay attention to Google Maps to make Sur they are taking you in the right direction.

If you'd like to visit areas outside of the city, there are buses that all connect to major cities and landmarks around French Guiana. However, if you'd like to explore more in less time, then it may be worth it to rent a car for the Cayenne airport.

Rent a car in Cayenne:

Where to Stay in Cayenne

We definitely suggest staying in the city center of Cayenne near the main square. This way you can enjoy the great architecture, market, and a lot of different restaurants and bars.

As we ended up staying with a local, we don't have particular hotel suggestions. However, if you'd like to search for a place to stay in the center, we've attached a map below for you.

How Safe is Cayenne, French Guiana?

While many areas of South America can be extremely dangerous, we found Cayenne to feel very safe. Many of the people that live in Cayenne come from the mainland of France for a different lifestyle, and overall the vibe of everyone there is amazing. While the tourism isn't super developed, the people are very welcoming to tourists, and we thoroughly enjoyed all of our encounters in French Guiana.

It's important to note that while we had a very pleasant experience, we also heard about a lot of sketchy tourist scams in French Guiana that happen.

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Other Things to Know For Travel to French Guiana

Now you're almost all ready to travel to French Guiana! But here are a few other things to keep in mind.

What is the Weather Like in French Guiana?

The weather in French Guiana is pretty tropical, so it never gets cold, and is very hot and humid. French Guiana experiences a very large amount of rainfall, especially from the months of May to July.

When is the Best Time to Visit French Guiana?

Definitely the best time to visit French Guiana is in February, so that you can experience their vibrant carnival celebrations.

Packing for a Trip to French Guiana

Here are a few things we suggest you to bring on your trip:

  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Reusable Water Bottle (we use this water bottle from Cafago because it holds the temperature)
  • Umbrella
  • Flip Flops (we personally always get Havaiana flip flops, as they are comfy and long lasting)
  • Sneakers (for the outdoor activities)
  • Zippered Bag or Backpack (to secure your belongings) - take a look at these backpacks for travelers!
  • Power Bank (we use Anker power banks, as they are super long lasting and sturdy)
  • Bathing Suits
  • Light Casual Clothing
  • Drone (We use the Mavic Mini Pro 3 because it's super light and doesn't sacrifice quality)
  • Action Camera (we use the Insta 360 X3 because it's small & waterproof)
  • Travel Adapter (we use Tessan travel adapters as they are affordable and reliable)

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French Guiana may be a small territory, but it definitely has a lot to offer. If you are planning on coming here, we recommend you to get a lot of mosquito repellent, sunscreen and thirst for adventure!

Also, don't forget to check out the rest of our South American Guides. This way, you can plan a larger trip and get the best out of this beautiful area.

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