Guadeloupe The Definitive Guide On Things To Do & Places To See General Overview If you're looking for a fun, relaxing and tropical place to go for a holiday then Guadeloupe is a fantastic option. The beaches in Guadeloupe are simply beautiful and clear, with lovely sandy beaches stretching for miles. The coastline is breathtaking and varies depending on the area. The sand at Grande-Terre is white, whilst the sand on the leeward coast is brown and at the end of Basse-Terre you can actually find black sand as there are volcano's which you can visit. Guadeloupe is made up two principal 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 the likes of Martinique and St. Barts. Ideally it's recommended to speak a minimum French as not everyone speaks English. Guadeloupe is great for snorkeling and diving as there are a number of spectacular coral reefs not far from the beaches. The Pigeon Isles is namely one of the best spots with an underwater sanctuary along with the crystal clear Cousteau Reserve, which is filled with multi-coloured fauna. The best way to see Guadeloupe is either 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 vast farmland. It's a popular destination amongst visitors, especially: Pointeà-Pitre, Gosier, Saint-François, Pointe des Châteaux, Le Moule, Pointe de la Grande Vigie and PortLouis (excellent diving spot). Pointe des Chateaux (Castles Point) Situated at the most eastern part of the island its spectacular views draw many visitors, enabling you to see neighbouring islands; La Desirade, Iles des les Petite-Terre, Marie Gallante, Iles des les Saintes and sometimes more! Despite the name, there aren't any castles, its actually a reference to the majestically carved rocks formed by the ferocious waves. Sainte-Anne beach
There is of course the most popular Club Med Caravelle beach which is accessible to anyone and the bourg beach, with a little marina, wonderful for swimming and has every pretty white sandy beach as seen in post cards. Attention, an entrance fee is paid on weekends if you go by car. But you can park the car alongside the boulevard. Saint Francois A large seaside resort and fishermans port, which is a favourite destination for many due to its beautiful beaches and rich landscape. Centered around an old market, you can find nurseries, a fishermans wharf (where you can buy fresh fish each day), fresh fruit and vegetable merchants and a diverse range of local traders, which brings a certain liveliness and ambiance to the town. At various times throughout the year there are parades, dances, festivals and local fairs along with numerous restaurants, hotels a casino and a range of other activities including a superb golf course. One of the great things about Saint Francois is its 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're looking for a great holiday villa in Saint Francois, Guadeloupe we recommend Villa Belle Allee which is a short distance from the town centre. Porte d'enfer: the gates of hell Despite the name, La Porte d'Enfer is a protected cove with calm waters and a small palm-lined beach backed by high limestone cliffs, which give it a uniquely captivating allure. The beach is great for swimming, especially for small children and adventurous travelers can explore the limestone cliffs and surrounding area. La Porte d'Enfer is close to Le Moule, so you can tour the town after your visit to 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 your way to Pointe des Chateaux is artisanal where you can visit everything, from the crushing of the sugar cane to the fermentation tub of vesou (sugar cane wine becoming rum). It's very interesting but all the odors and sounds is a little overwhelming at some point, and you got to watch out for the bubble of goo coming out of those tubs when the wind picks up! Mangrove Exploration at The reserve of the Grand Cul de Sac Marin Located in the North between Grande Terre and Basse Terre, the natural reserve has been protected since 1990 due to intense hunting, which had a detrimental effect on the natural wildlife there. It's possible to take a tour of the mangroves and learn about this fascinating part of the island. The Festival of Women Cooks (or the FĂŞte des CuisiniĂ¨res) Aculinary nirvana proclaimed as one of Guadeloupe's most spectacular events, and usually held in Pointe-ĂĄ-Pitre in August. The festival features a banquet open to all that lasts for hours, and traditional Creole costume is prevalent. Dancing and parades proceed the event. Belying its dual roots, Creole foods and French foods intermix. Pointe a pitre
Guadeloupe's largest city is a mix of old and new and is perfectly located between the two main islands, which assisted its development. The city has had a colourful past with numerous fires, hurricanes and earthquakes, however it stands tall today. It's a bustling city with a great market where you can buy fresh fish, vegetables, spices and an array of other things on a daily basis. The market is open every morning and is situated in the center of Pointe-a-Pitre. Another worthwhile visit in Pointe-a-Pitre is the aquarium, which contains a vast array of beautifully coloured fish housed in huge tanks. The staff are extremely visit and it makes a nice break from the Caribbean sun! Deshaies Botanic Garden The Botanical Garden is located in the north east of Basse Terre in a beautiful village called Deshaies. You can find over over 200 varieties of native plants along with wildlife and picturesque waterfalls and ponds. A must for lovers of nature. Basse-Terre (Low Land) Despite its name, Basse-Terre is in fact the highest and largest island of Guadeloupe located to the east. It's 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 provides around 300km (188 miles) of marked trails leading into the rainforest, where visitors can observe many tropical animals and plants. The scenery on these walks often includes waterfalls (such as the Cascade aux Ecrevisses) or lakes (such as the Grand Etang). On Grande-Terre, hiking trails lead through the mangrove or along the cliffs of the Atlantic coast. La Route de la Traversee is the road that crosses through the middle of Basse-Terre and the National Park (Parc National). It's a gorgeous region surrounded by mountains and forests with several lagoons for swimming and plenty of places to hike. Notably, there is a Zoo with a suspension bridge where you can walk around the forest 15-20metres above the ground! There's lots of trails that lead to waterfalls, however the finest are Cascade aux Ecrevisses and Saut de la Lézarde. Cascade aux Ecrevisses is an intimate, picturesque cascade with lots of lush vegetation and a beautiful warm pond with a waterfall where you can swim. It's well worth the trip as its quite secluded and there is a place where you can have a picnic with tables and chairs etc. Le saut de la Lézarde is another slice of paradise similar to the cascade, which is again tranquil and sublime consisting of a 30 foot waterfall a huge pool for swimming and open sided cavern with trees and creepers hanging off the walls. Take a right to l'Orée du parc, direction Vernou then follow the indications. La Soufriere Volcano An important landmark of Guadeloupe's landscape as it is the highest mountain situated in the middle of Basse-Terre and is a spectacular day trip! It can be done in half a day, however you need to be fit and we recommend wearing shoes and taking sufficient amount of water! If you want a tour group, contact HazEco. The volcano hike is a breathtaking experience, however it isn't for the faint hearted. In 2004 the main parking lot was destroyed by a landslide so you are now obliged to park further down which means an extra 30 minute hike through the forest, which is somewhat longer and rockier. The sulphar smell is
not very intoxicating at all. A bit of trivia: Originally the steam was condensed and used as a medicinal drink. Capesterre-Belle-Eau Situated in the south east of Basse-Terre, Chutes du Carbet is the most popular destination in the region and also of Guadeloupe, comprising of three huge cascades, which is a must see! The first one is difficult to acces and reserved to specialists, the third one needs 2 hours of hiking and has an incredible 20 meter high water-fall. The second one is easier to access taking approximately 1 hour to get there and back, however it's still a great walk with only the sounds of falling water in the mangroves. The view is simply breathtaking and was noted in Christopher Columbus' log when he named Guadeloupe 'Karukera', which translates to "the island of beautiful waters. We recommend you take a raincoat and approximate wet weather gear as it rains a lot! Kassavery of Capesterre-Belle-Eau is potentially one of the last places in the Lesser Antilles where you can taste the famous cake of Manioc made of coconut and banana. Visit a Rhumerie - Rum distillery Severin distillery in Sainte Rose (ph 28 91 86) is a little more industrial and cleaner than others. They're very friendly and you're able to freely taste rum, punch and anything else they're brewing. They have a garden in the back and a guide to explain the numerous plants etc. The grow Ouassous which are served at the Domaine de Severin restaurant in the colonial house in the garden, which is very nice. Isle de Pigeon Considered as one of the best places for snorkeling and scuba 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're not obliged to take a boat, you can also hire a kayak and paddle or join a kayak trip as the island is only approximately 1km from the shore. By the way, there are no pigeons here, despite the name! Reserve Cousteau situated at Isle de Pigeon is simply incredible and is one of the best places on Isle de Pigeon. There are boat trips here with glass bottoms so you can admire the coral reef and vast array of sea life. Some boats will stop after about an hour and you can borrow a mask, tuba and palms and jump in the sea to see up close what's out there. The captain will then attract fish with bread, so they can swim right next to you. You may need to inquire about this before. You you can scuba dive nearly everyday at la reserve cousteau regardless of your level. Check out http://www.heures-saines.gp for more information. Iles des Saints - Islands of the Saints Described as some of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean, Iles des Saints is a group of picturesque islands south of Basse-Terre. There are very few cars and the best way to visit is to rent a scooter or walk. There are a number of historical sites to visit such as Fort NapoĂŠĂŠon (dates back to 1867), which has exhibition and iguanas. There is a number of beautiful beaches, in particular 'Pain de sucre', along with various shops, galleries, restaurants and the like. Try climbing the "Chameau" (309m), the magnificent circular view is well worth the effort!
Terre-de-Haut is the largest and most populated islands of Les Saintes. It is an incredible place with fabulous walking, snorkeling, and places to stay and eat. Many people take only day trips to this island, but its worth a few nights in its own right. If you're looking for empty beaches, a quaint village, and the feeling of having an island all to yourself, this is the place for you. To get there you can take a boat from either Trois rivieres, Pointe a pitre or St francois and potentially some other places. Iles des les Petite-Terre Located south of Pointe des Chateaux, under La Desirade in the east of Guadeloupe, Iles des les Petite-Terre is a magnificent desert island occupied by a few iguanas and some birds called 'sucriers'. You can take a day trip there and once you arrive you find a paradise perfect for snorkeling and swimming. Please note, hunting and fishing is forbidden. Marie Galante Her name is taken from Christopher Columbus' caravel and she is the largest of the islands depending on Guadeloupe and is approximately 1-2 hours from Saint Francois or Pointe a Pitre. The island is very chilled out and was a haven for writers and painters for inspiration. It was originally the home of the rum distilling which is easy to see based on the amount of natural vegetation there and they still carry the sugarcane by cart. You can taste rum at one of the local distilleries or take a walk and discover the beauty of a landscape scattered with windmills and ruins of former sugar refineries. The beaches are regarded as the most beautiful in Guadeloupe. La desirade island Picture an overturned ship in the water and that kind of describes La Desirade. It's the least touristic places in Guadeloupe (with only two hotels), mainly because it is quite mountainous and rocky with not much vegetation. The lack of contact is probably why the inhabitants are so friendly and relaxed as the lifestyle is very calm. La Desirade is 11km long and 2km wide, with desert-like terrain, coconut and sea grape trees along the coast and a large cactus garden at the eastern end. The northern side of the island is uninhabited, consisting of a rocky coastline with rough open seas, whilst the southern side has beautiful sandy beaches and reef-protected waters. If you're looking for a place to get away from the hussle and bussle of touristic places and want to checkout some beautiful secluded beaches and smaller farmers villages, then this is the place for you. It's best discovered on a scooter as its quite hilly. Las Vegas Golf Courses