French Guiana: An Option for EU Yachts for Hurricane Season

With no limit on stay if you are an EU citizen and currently still open to EU yachts, French Guiana is an attractive option for yachts currently stuck in the Caribbean basin and wanting to find a safe haven for hurricane season. Davide Matelicani of Marina Saint Laurent du Maroni reports on the current situation, logistics and what to expect.

Published 3 years ago

;pink building with a green umbrella and people sitting outside on chairs at tables
The cafe at SLM Marina.

Current Situation:

The current situation here in French Guiana is that all visiting yachts must enter via Saint Laurent du Maroni or Degrade des Cannes. Kourou and the Salvation Islands are not open to visiting yachts at the moment.

Only EU flagged vessels are allowed to remain in French Guiana until the current Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. That said, EU vessels with some non-EU crew on board, and non-EU vessels with an EU skipper and/or crew, have been able to enter. Entry appears to be decided on a case-by-case basis. The authorities are being very reasonable and understand that this is one of the few places yachts can still seek shelter for the up-and-coming hurricane season.

Non-EU vessels with non-EU crew are permitted to transit and stop to re-fuel/re-provision without coming ashore.

All crews arriving must undergo self-quarantine aboard their yacht for 14 days.

**Update 14 May, 2020** As of today the 14 day quarantine is no longer obligatory, it is only advised.

Here are Marina Saint Laurent du Maroni we provide support for provisions, water and internet for this period. After the 14 days, crews are free to move around town subject to current lock-down restrictions.

Yachts can also relocate to an anchorage away from the marina, however, services are not provided by the marina staff for those choosing to do so.

Immigration formalities for EU citizens are not required and customs formalities are handled by the marina.

For those considering a stay in French Guiana during the hurricane season, we expect that the above mentioned restrictions will be eased.

Getting to French Guiana:

Getting to French Guiana from the Caribbean is not the herculean task that many believe. It just requires a bit of patience and some tacking. As the currents are in fact a series of eddies moving northwards, it is even possible to find an assisting current. It’s just a matter of luck!

Extract from Chris Parker’s Tropical Season 2020:

Heading for Guyana/Suriname: If I were on a vessel capable of really close reach sailing, April might be a good time to make a move, as the N Boundary of the ITCZ (Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, with nasty squally weather) is generally near or S and E of French Guyana, so most of the trip is with moderate ENE Trade Winds, but adverse current.

In May-June the squally ITCZ can lift into this area, bringing more variable conditions but with intervals of inclement weather.

Later in June or July, when N Boundary of ITCZ often lifts N of 12N, vessels heading from SE Caribbean to Guyana/Suriname may find mostly mild conditions but adverse current. Meanwhile, I would stage in Trinidad/Tobago if possible, or in Barbados or Grenada (or as far S and E as possible).

The Weather in French Guiana:

The dry season starts in August though even in the rainy season there is plenty of sunshine, especially in Saint Laurent du Maroni where the micro-climate is relatively mild.

aerial view of an anchorage with a small wooded island on the left and a small settlement on shore to the right
A view of the mooring field off SLM Marina.

Yachting Infrastructure:

The infrastructure for visiting crews is not as developed as in the Caribbean (no haul-out, limited availability of spare parts etc.), but, there are many advantages nonetheless.

In Saint Laurent du Maroni, the marina is situated in the centre of the historic town. Everything is within walking distance. As the yachts are in fresh water, the hull is automatically cleaned. Yes the water is brown due to sediment, but it is not polluted and you can use it for bathing.

Potable water is available for customers of the marina free of charge (in limited quantities when using your own containers), and yachts can come alongside the jetty to obtain large quantities (for a fee). Internet is available from your yacht and it is fast.

There are 20 mooring buoys in Saint Laurent du Maroni that have only just been replaced. They can handle yachts up to 45 Ton. Larger yachts (up to 40m in length) can be accommodated by taking a second buoy. Rafting of two vessels is permitted.

The marina cafe / bar is currently closed due to the epidemic, but we hope that this will change within the next month or so. French Guiana still remains one of the least affected regions in France.


As French Guiana is part of France, there is no limit to your stay if you are a European citizen. Non-EU citizens are generally given a 3 month visa upon arrival, but it is worth checking with your embassy as there are exceptions.

Useful Links:


Davide Matelicani
Marina Saint Laurent du Maroni
[email protected]
Marina WebCam


The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of or World Cruising Club.

Related to following destinations: , ,

Related to the following Cruising Resources: , ,

You must Login or Register to submit comments.