Houat is easily accessible by boat from Belle-Île and several ports in Morbihan. Ferries arrive at Saint-Gildas, whose streets are lined with flower-draped houses and whose port harbours colourful fishing boats; specialist fishing is the island’s main economic activity.
The main reason to visit Houat is for its beaches. East of St-Gildas is the sweeping crescent of Treac’h er Gourèd backed by the smaller sweep of Tréach ar Salus. In the west of the island is the attractive cove of Tréach ar Beniguet, which offers great views over the continent and the surrounding islands.
Take a hike
At 3 miles (5km) long and less than a mile at its widest, Houat is easily accessible on foot. The island has 10.5 miles (17km) of coastal paths, which take walkers over moorland and past dunes where asparagus grows wild – a protected species that only flourishes here and on Portugal’s Algarve.
Houat’s only tourist attraction is the Eclosarium, a museum that explores the world of phytoplankton, the marine organism that is responsible for 80 per cent of the world’s oxygen; the museum also looks at the island’s history and an on-site shop sells seaweed-based products.
Small is best
Southeast of Houat is Hoëdic, which measures just 1.5 miles (2.5km) long and about half a mile wide. Like its sister, Hoëdic has some lovely beaches with the best ones situated in the south and east. However, unlike Houat, the smaller sibling has more to see.
The fort houses a permanent exhibition on Hoëdic’s history and organises guided tours of the island’s natural environment and heritage for French speakers. There are two Neolithic sites in the centre of Hoëdic: the Menhir de la Vierge and the Dolmen de la Croix, which date back to 5000 BC. The Pointe du Vieux Château offers great views over the coast.