Reset Password

Your search results
December 7, 2020

Ashore in Guadeloupe: Things to Do and See

The remarkably alluring butterfly shaped archipelago of Guadeloupe features a French-Creole culture, rainforests, picturesque beaches, coral reefs, an active stratovolcano, and banana,  pineapple, and sugar plantations. Made up of two main islands separated by a narrow  mangrove channel, this overseas region of France is a captivating place with an assortment of  activities as different as each island in this gem of the Leeward Island chain.  

basse terre

Basse-Terre, the western wing of the butterfly, is home to volcanic mountains, more than 66  square miles of tropical rainforests, miles of hiking trails, and the Guadeloupe National Park.  Off the western coast is Cousteau Marine Reserve, the underwater portion of the park, with plentiful opportunities to snorkel and scuba dive. On shore, if you would like to stretch out your  sea legs, there are 190 miles of hiking trails within the park, identified by UNESCO as a World  Biosphere Reserve. As you hike along the jungle trails, you will notice a diverse range of plant  and animal species including over one hundred different varieties of orchids and a multitude of  native bird species.  

guadeloupe diving

More adventurous hikers should take the Chemin des Dames trail up to the still live (but as of  now not active) La Soufrière Volcano, the highest peak in the Lesser Antilles. To learn more  about the steaming and gurgling seismic wonder, make advanced reservations to tour the  Observatoire Volcanologique le Houëlmont. On the lower eastern slope of La Soufrière, hike to  the multiple waterfalls known as Les Chutes du Carbet tumbling down the volcano’s face. Also  take time to investigate the Etang As de Pique, a large crater lake surrounded by hills and  valleys.  

guadeloupe waterfalls

An alternative and more relaxing way to stretch out the sea legs is to visit one of the dazzling  beaches on Basse-Terre. Plage de Grande Anse is one of the most beautiful settings in  Guadeloupe. Relax in the shallow clear water, sit on the sandy shore or enjoy a crepe in one of  the waterfront cafes. Another option is Anse de la Perle, where you can imbibe at one of the  small beach bars and take in the delightful Caribbean vistas.  

guadeloupe yacht rental

While on Basse-Terre visit Deshaies, the setting for the British television series, Death in  Paradise. The waterfront village is the epitome of a Caribbean Island town with its pastel  colored buildings and shorefront eateries grilling freshly caught seafood. While in Deshaies,  grab a bite at Paradise Kafe, a true island “dive-bar”. Close-by is the Jardin Botanique de  Deshaies, where you can meander along paths beside lush tropical plants and colorful birds,  past lily ponds, manicured gardens and the ever present views of the sea. Just around the  corner is Sainte-Rose, where the Musée du Rhum presents exhibits showcasing the history  and techniques for making rum. Visitors can see the equipment and process of making rum in  barrels and can then sample the product. 

guadeloupe gardens

Renting a car is the best way to get around the largest island in Guadeloupe and the Route de  la Traversée is a destination in itself. For the non-hiker, this coast to coast scenic highway is an  optional way to enjoy Parc National de la Guadeloupe with many roadside overlooks and picnic areas as you pass through rainforests and sugar cane fields. The route takes you by the  Cascade aux Ecrevisses, a natural waterfall fed swimming pool. Additionally, this scenic stretch  of road takes you past the Zoo de Guadeloupe, a jungle habitat for over eighty-five species of  animals, even some rare and endangered. Enjoy the animals as you walk across rope bridges along the Rivière aux Hérbes.  

guadeloupe natural swimming pool

Several miles south across the Caribbean Sea, Iles des Saintes consists of two islands and  several small uninhabited ilets. The most popular of the two inhabited islands is Terre-de-Haut,  a quintessential Caribbean setting with a European flair. Rent a scooter or golf cart to tour the beaches, villages, and cultural sites of this quaint island inhabited mostly by fisherfolk. If you  desire to relax sur la plage, Anse du Pain du Sucre is the most known and preferable for  swimming, but Plage de Pompierre and Anse Crawen are also notable for their alluring scenery.  

guadeloupe anchorage

If you prefer more activity, Bourg des Saintes, the largest town, is set on a hillside overlooking  one of UNESCO’s “most beautiful bays in the world” Les Saintes Bay, and is a wonderful  village to stroll down main street and take in the sights and smells of the boulangeries and  cafes. Visit Fort Napoleon and enjoy modern art and marine battle exhibits, then tour the  historic seventeenth century barracks and prison cells. If you enjoy historic ruins, you can also hop across the bay to Ilet à Cabrit and explore the ruins of Fort Joséphine. 

fort napoleon

Terre-de-Bas is the larger of Les Saintes and is more primitive. There are small villages, local  arts and crafts, beaches, and hiking trails to discover on this mountainous island. Gros-Cap is  the main village and the rendezvous point for the hiking trails. Hike up Grand Montagne for a panoramic view of the azure waters surrounding Guadeloupe. 

guadeloupe hiking

About 35 nautical miles to the east of Iles des Saintes, Marie Galante is a round island with flat  terrain and an impressive sandy shoreline. Sugar farms are plentiful as are the ruins of  windmills, beaches, and rum distilleries. Grand-Bourg is the main village on this island named  after Christopher Columbus’ ship, and consists of a neo-classical church and art deco inspired  architecture. Just outside the town is one of the more prestigious artisan rum distilleries,  Domaine Poisson, offering tastings and tours where Père Labat rum is made using the same  process as cognac. To learn about the history of the key ingredient for rum, visit Château  Murat, a museum that pays tribute to the culture of Marie-Galante and the sugar industry. Tour  a restored colonial mansion, ruins of the sugar factory, a windmill tower and herb garden. Must see beaches include Anse Feuillard, Anse Canot, Petite-Anse and Vieux-Fort. 

guadeloupe culture

Head back north to the eastern wing of the butterfly that enjoys a somewhat different  topography and climate than its western neighbor. Grande-Terre is the more populated  economic center of Guadeloupe and Point-a-Pitre is a delightful example of the Creole culture.  There is much to see and do in this Caribbean hub city that has been the center of commerce  for over 400 years. 

guadeloupe catamaran charter

To appreciate this island nation more thoroughly, begin with a visit to Mémorial ACTe, a  museum that exhibits the history of slavery and colonialism, from plantation slavery to post abolitionist times, to the modern day influences. Through paintings, sculptures, film, and  photographs, Caribbean artists portray varying viewpoints. Built on the site of a former sugar  factory along the waterfront, this dramatic granite and steel structure houses a poignant and  inspiring collection. At night, the multicolored lights of the museum twinkling on the water is an  amazing sight. 

guadeloupe slavery museum

As the center of trade, Pointe-a-Pitre offers a gamut of shopping experiences. Search for  perfumes, jewelry, and luxurious French imports as you stroll along Frébault, Nozières, and  Schoelcher Avenues. Additionally, Center Saint-John Perse is a lively shopping area that  provides a variety of goods. For a more local flavor, Saint-Antoine Market is a colorful outdoor  market that offers up spices and other local food goods. At Marché de la Darse, the main  produce market, sample the variety of fruits, vegetables, seafood and spices. Take a break  from shopping under a palm tree in Place de la Victoire, a public park in the heart of the city. 

guadeloupe market

Outside of Pointe-a-Pitre, Grand-Terre is home to many scenic and unique beaches. Head north toward Port Louis to visit the Plage du Souffleur, considered one of the islands best  beaches, or east along the southern coast to the lively beach town of Sainte-Anne for a more  active beach scene. If you are looking for waves, Le Moule on the northeastern coast, is known as a surfing destination. While on this side of the island, visit Damoiseau Rhum, the largest  distillery in Guadeloupe, before heading to the far eastern tip of Grand-Terre, La Pointe des  Châteaux. This rocky windswept point is a place of craggy beauty with its namesake rock  formations that simulate castles. 

guadeloupe yacht charter

Five miles off of Pointe des Châteaux, La Désirade is the oldest island in the Lesser Antilles  and is a geological reserve. Once a leper colony, this remote spot is desired for its incredible  beaches Fifi and Souffleur and Le Morne du Souffleur, a rugged hiking trail. For adventuresome visitors, hop on a 4 x 4 and enjoy the wild terrain of the Reserve Naturelle Nationale de La  Desirade. 

yacht rental guadeloupe

There is so much to see and do in the island paradise of Guadeloupe and this is only a morsel  of what this French overseas territory has to offer. On land, on water, or underwater, this Caribbean destination with a delightful climate provides some of the most beautiful scenery in  the world.