Guadeloupe the Definitive Guide on Things to Do & Where to go

Overview

If you’re looking for a fun, relaxing and tropical place to go on vacation, Guadeloupe is a fantastic option. The beaches in Guadeloupe are simply beautiful and clear, with miles of beautiful sandy beaches. The coastline is breathtaking and varies depending on the area. The sand at Grande-Terre is white, while the sand on the leeward coast is brown, and at the end of Basse-Terre, you can actually find black sand because there are volcanoes you can visit.

Guadeloupe consists of two main islands, Basse-Terre & Grande-Terre, which are separated by a salt river and whose combined shape resembles a butterfly. There are also two smaller islands, Iles de la Saintes (a collection of four small islands in the south), Marie Galante (south), La Desirade (east) and two small islands under La Desirade called Iles des les Petite-Terre.

Guadeloupe is a French colony and this makes for an interesting mix of Caribbean and European cultures, similar to that of Martinique and St. Barts. Ideally, it is recommended to speak a minimum of French as not everyone speaks English.

Guadeloupe is great for snorkeling and diving as there are some spectacular coral reefs not far from the beaches. The Pigeon Isles is one of the best places with an underwater reserve, along with the crystal clear Cousteau Reserve, which is filled with multicolored fauna.

The best way to see Guadeloupe is by car or scooter, both of which are very affordable.

Islands of Guadeloupe

  • Grande-Terre
  • Basse-Terre
  • Iles des Saints
  • Iles des les Petite-Terre
  • Marie Galante
  • La desirade island
  • Grande-Terre

The Grande-Terre is a beautiful island surrounded by coral reefs with white and black sandy beaches, cliffs and rolling hills with extensive farmland. It is a popular destination among visitors, especially: Pointe-à-Pitre, Gosier, Saint-François, Pointe des Châteaux, Le Moule, Pointe de la Grande Vigie and Port-Louis (excellent dive site).

Pointe des Chateaux (Castles Point)

Located on the easternmost part of the island, the spectacular view attracts many visitors, allowing you to see neighboring islands; La Desirade, Iles des Les Petite-Terre, Marie Gallante, Iles des Les Saintes and sometimes more! Despite the name, there are no castles, it is actually a reference to the majestic carved rocks formed by the raging waves.

Beach of Sainte-Anne

There is, of course, the most popular Club Med Caravelle beach that is accessible to everyone and the Bourg beach, with a small marina, great for swimming and has every beautiful white sand beach as seen in postcards. Please note, entrance is paid on weekends if you go by car. But you can park the car along the boulevard.

Saint Francois

A large seaside resort and fishing port, which is a favorite destination for many because of its beautiful beaches and rich landscape. Centered around an old market, you will find nurseries, a fishing wharf (where you can buy fresh fish every day), fresh fruit and vegetable traders and a diverse range of local traders, giving the town a certain vibrancy and atmosphere. At various times of the year, there are parades, dances, festivals, and local fairs, along with numerous restaurants, hotels, a casino and many other activities, including a beautiful golf course. One of the great things about Saint Francois is the easy access to other islands as you can take a boat to many destinations such as; La Desirade, Petite-Terre, and Marie-Glante. If you are looking for a great holiday villa in Saint Francois, Guadeloupe, we recommend Villa Belle Allee, a short distance from the city center.

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Porte d’enfer: the gates of hell

Despite the name, La Porte d’Enfer is a protected bay with calm waters and a small palm-lined beach with high limestone cliffs, giving it a uniquely fascinating allure. The beach is great for swimming, especially for small children and adventurous travelers can explore the limestone cliffs and the surrounding area.

La Porte d’Enfer is close to Le Moule, so you can explore the city after visiting the beach. Guadeloupe’s beaches are hardly known for their seclusion, but this beach is a little further from the crowds, making it a perfect spot for some vacationers.

Visit a Rhumerie – Rum distillery

Cabane a Rhum Damoiseau is in Le Moule (ph 23 78 23) on the way to Pointe des Chateaux which is an artisan where you can visit everything from crushing the sugar cane to the fermentation bath of vesou (sugar cane wine becomes rum). It’s very interesting, but all the smells and sounds are a bit overwhelming at some point, and you have to watch out for the bubble of goo that comes out of those pits when the wind comes up!

Mangrove exploration in the Grand Cul de Sac Marin reserve

Located in the north between Grande Terre and Basse Terre, the nature reserve has been protected by intensive hunting since 1990, which had an adverse effect on the natural fauna there. It is possible to take a tour of the mangroves and learn about this fascinating part of the island.

The festival of female chefs (or the Fête des Cuisinières)

Aculinary nirvana voted one of Guadeloupe’s most spectacular events and usually held in Pointe-á-Pitre in August. The festival has a banquet open to anything that lasts for hours, and traditional Creole costumes are common. Dances and parades continue the event. Relying on its double roots, Creole foods and French foods mix together.

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Pointe a Pitre

Guadeloupe’s largest city is a mix of old and new and is perfectly located between the two main islands, which have helped develop. The city has had a colorful past with countless fires, hurricanes, and earthquakes, but is high today. It is a bustling city with a great market where you can buy fresh fish, vegetables, herbs and all kinds of other things every day. The market is open every morning and is located in the center of Pointe-a-Pitre.

Another worthwhile visit to Pointe-a-Pitre is the aquarium, which contains a huge range of beautifully colored fish housed in huge tanks. The staff is extremely visiting and it’s a nice break from the Caribbean sun! Deshaies Botanic Garden

The Botanical Garden is located in the northeast of Basse Terre in the beautiful village of Deshaies. You can find more than 200 species of native plants along with wildlife and picturesque waterfalls and ponds. Highly recommended for nature lovers.

Basse-Terre (Lowland)

Despite its name, Basse-Terre is actually Guadeloupe’s tallest and largest island in the east. It is rich in wildlife and there is an abundance of things to see and do.

National Park of Guadeloupe

One of the main attractions is the National Park of Guadeloupe (Parc Naturel), which offers approximately 300 km (188 miles) of marked trails leading to the rainforest, where visitors can observe many tropical animals and plants. The scenery on these hikes often includes waterfalls (like the Cascade aux Ecrevisses) or lakes (like the Grand Etang). On Grande-Terre, hiking trails run through the mangrove or along the cliffs of the Atlantic coast.

La Route de la Traversee is the road that runs straight through Basse-Terre and the National Park (Parc National). It is a beautiful region, surrounded by mountains and forests with several lagoons for swimming and plenty of places to walk. In particular, there is a zoo with a suspension bridge where you can walk through the forest 15-20 meters above the ground! There are many paths that lead to waterfalls, but the most beautiful are Cascade aux Ecrevisses and Saut de la Lézarde. Cascade aux Ecrevisses is an intimate, picturesque waterfall with a lot of lush vegetation and a beautiful warm pond with a waterfall where you can swim. It is well worth the trip as it is quite remote and there is a place where you can have a picnic with tables and chairs etc. Le Saut de la Lézarde is another piece of paradise similar to the cascade which is again calm and sublime and consists of a 30-foot waterfall a huge swimming pool for swimming and an open cave with trees and climbing plants hanging on the walls. Turn right to l’Orée du parc, direction Vernou and follow the signs.

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La Soufriere volcano

An important landmark in the Guadeloupe landscape, as it is the highest mountain in the middle of Basse-Terre and is a spectacular day trip! It can be done in half a day, but you have to be fit and we recommend wearing shoes and drinking enough water! If you want a tour group, please contact HazEco.

The volcano hike is a breathtaking experience, but it’s not for the faint-hearted. In 2004, the main parking lot was destroyed by a landslide, so you are now required to park further down, which means an additional 30-minute walk through the forest, which is a bit longer and more rocky. The sulfur smell is not very intoxicating at all. A little trivia: Originally, the steam was condensed and used as a medicinal drink.

Capesterre-Belle-Eau

Located in the southeast of Basse-Terre, Chutes du Carbet is the most popular destination in the region and also of Guadeloupe, consisting of three huge waterfalls, a must-see! The first is difficult to access and reserved for specialists, the third requires 2 hours of hiking and has an incredible 20m waterfall. The second is more easily accessible and takes about 1 hour to go back and forth, but it’s still a great hike with only the sound of falling water in the mangroves. The view is simply breathtaking and was noted in the logbook of Christopher Columbus when he called Guadeloupe ‘Karukera’ which translates to ‘the island of beautiful waters. We recommend that you take a raincoat and put on approximate rain gear as it rains a lot!

Capesterre-Belle-Eau Kassavery may be one of the last places in the Lesser Antilles to sample the famous Manioc cake made from coconut and banana.

Visit a Rhumerie – Rum distillery

Severin distillery in Sainte Rose (ph 28 91 86) is a bit more industrial and cleaner than others. They are very friendly and you can freely taste rum, punch and everything else they brew. They have a garden in the back and a guide to explain the many plants, etc. The Ouassous grows served in the Domaine de Severin restaurant in the colonial house in the garden, which is great fun.

Isle de Pigeon

Considered one of the best places for snorkeling and diving, Isle de Pigeon is a small island just off the west coast of Basse Terre above Bouillante. The sea is not very deep and is perfect for snorkeling as you will see similar views as those who dive! You are not required to take a boat, you can also rent a kayak and paddle or join a kayak tour as the island is only about 1 km from the coast. Besides, there are no pigeons here, despite the name!