Guadeloupe is an archipelago in the Caribbean sea, consisting of two main and several smaller islands. Two main islands are Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre, which form the shape of a butterfly.
I was in Guadeloupe for two weeks in June 2014, which is already considered an off-season time. There were still many tourists at this time, but the most surprising thing about all of the Caribbean islands is that even in the high season, all of the beaches are almost empty. Unbelievable, but it is true. And it is good for taking pictures or just admiring the breathtaking scenery.
Since Guadeloupe is considered a French overseas department, it is a part of the Eurozone and therefore the currency is Euro. The prices in the most touristic areas of the island tend to be a bit higher than in Europe, but it is still not a very expensive destination even for budget travelers.
What did I do during my two – week stay in Guadeloupe?
Guadeloupe is one of the most diverse Caribbean islands I have visited. The eastern part of the island is more touristic, with breathtaking sandy beaches and palm trees and expensive resorts, while the western part is more suitable for the nature lovers. Here you have the waterfalls, the volcano, rainforests and so on.
See the waterfalls
Guadeloupe is an island with plenty of waterfalls. The most famous ones are Les Chutes du Carbet, but there is a long hike until you reach them. If you do not feel like walking, you can visit several smaller waterfalls, located just few hundred meters away from the main road.
Shop at Pointe-A-Pitre
Pointe-A-Pitre is the capital city of Guadeloupe, and, at the same time, the biggest city on the island. It is located between two butterfly wings, Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre. If you are going to Pointe-A-Pitre to see some good beaches, you better look somewhere else. There is no public beach there, and there is a port, hence the water is dirty and not good for swimming. But, only a short bus ride away (the bus station is located right in the centre of the city), there are several great beaches, for example, Le Gosier, which is 10 minutes away. So, if there are no beaches, what else can you do there? Go shopping, of course! Here, you can find discounted French goods, for example cosmetics, perfumes and clothing. This is how a typical shopping street looks like:
There are also two open – air markets in Pointe-A-Pitre, where you can buy fresh, home – grown fruits, vegetables, spices and so on.
Hidden in the city’s narrow streets, you will find several souvenir shops. Even if the prices tend to be high, it is worth to at least take a look.
Spend a day at Plage de la Caravelle
Plage de la Caravelle is the home of famous Club Med Resort, but the beach is open to public. It is located in the St. Anne parish, and it is accessible by public transport. Before you enter the beach, you will see some parked vans which sell food and drinks, so you do not have to bring your own with you. There is plenty of shade at the beach, but you have to be careful of falling coconuts. If you like surfing, there is a windsurf centre at the end of the beach. Or you can just swim in the warm water and enjoy on the sun. If you arrive by bus, you have to leave before 6 PM, because buses stop running after that time.
Hike to the top of Pointe des Chateaux
Pointe des Chateaux is a viewpoint, located at the south – east part of the island, not accessible by public transport. From the top, you can see other islands of the archipelago, if the weather is clear. From the bottom to the top, it will take about 25 minutes of slow walking. Bring enough to drink with you, and a sunscreen, because there is no shade on the way up. When you reach the top, you will be rewarded with a great view.
La Malendure beach is the beach with black sand and it is known as the most famous diving and snorkeling spot on the island. They organise snorkeling excursions to the nearby Pigeon island and Jacques Coasteau underwater marine reserve. You can also go snorkeling from the shore, and you do not have to be lucky to see turtles in the water, because there are plenty of them. You wil also spot many tropical fish. The only bad thing about this beach is, that the deeper the water gets, the poorer the visibility is, because of the black sand.
TIP: It is a good idea to rent a car while in Guadeloupe, since public transport connections are not very good. Buses connect the main cities on the island, but they do not have a fixed schedule, and they do not connect the more remote areas of the island, where most of the attractions are. There are several car rental companies at the airport, and you can rent a car for as little as 15€ per day.
TIP 2: Learn some basic French expressions before you go to Guadeloupe, because even people who work in the most touristic areas, do not speak English at all or speak it very poorly. It is good if you know at least how to ask for directions in case you get lost.