The French archipelago of Guadeloupe is situated in the sunny and beautiful Caribbean, more precisely, sandwiched between the island of Dominica to the south and Antigua & Barbuda and Montserrat to the north. The archipelago of Guadeloupe is comprised of 6 main islands – Basse-Terre (where the island’s capital is located), Grande-Terre, Les Saintes, La Désirade, Marie-Galante and Petit Terre. Each island has its own charm and offers many exciting activities.
I lived in Guadeloupe for a period of almost 8 months, while working as an English Language Assistant for the British Council. I lived not far from the town of Le Gosier and taught at two of the local schools. The time I spent there was sincerely one of the most exciting and best times of my life. It is, in my opinion at least, one of the most culturally diverse places to visit. It is a French island and part of the European Union but is also very much a Caribbean island with its own vibrant local culture.
Below are some hints and tips for your visit to Guadeloupe.
Guadeloupe: Caribbean paradise
- Make sure you book your ticket early. As Guadeloupe is part of France, flights there are considered to be domestic and therefore are priced at a much more affordable rate in comparison with the other Caribbean islands. Best priced airlines to make your trip there are Corsair and Air France.
- When you arrive at the airport, be prepared for the overwhelming heat as no matter what season, Guadeloupe is hot and humid. Dress warm for the flight but wear layers which you can remove on arrival.
- If you get a taxi from the airport, the nearest towns are Abymes and Pointe à Pitre, do not pay more than €30. Any higher would be a total rip off.
- AirBnB does sometimes offer some great flats and villas. Many a family member of my fellow English Languages Assistants stayed in very nice villas for a good price, but there are also several comfortable hotels in the popular beach front town of Le Gosier where you can stay. Recommendations are: Hotel Canella Beach, Karaibes Hotel and La Créole Beach.
- Enjoy the local cuisine! Accras; chicken, goat, pork colombo and the many lightly spiced fish with fragrant rice are just a few ideas of dishes which are strongly flavoured but perfectly delicious.
- Try the rum! Planteurs (juice with rum and sometimes a slice of lime), Ti Punch (rum, lime and sugar) and neat rum are served everywhere and priced at €2/3. White rum is usually more popular than the darker or amber rums, which you can have on their own or mixed with juice to create a sweet and refreshing drink which will surely tickle your taste buds.
- Swim with turtles, surf, snorkel…. There is so much to do for sea and ocean lovers, as the warm waters are plentiful with brightly coloured fish, rays and large and small green turtles. The waters around the towns of Bouillante and Pointe Noir are particularly good areas to spot these graceful creatures. The islet of Petit Terre is also definitely worth a visit as you can barbecue there to your heart’s content and swim in the clear water amongst all the varied flora and fauna.
- Sun tan on the white and black sand beaches… The town of Sainte Anne’s principal beach is one of the prettiest of the archipelago, as is that of Port Louis and Anse-Bertrand (mind out here for the mosquitoes that come out when the sun sets!). The beaches of Grande Terre are white as are those on Marie-Galante and Les Saintes, but the beaches of Basse-Terre are a lot darker, owing to the volcanic activity of the Soufrière volcano not far from the capital city Basse-terre.
- Shop at the local markets. Pointe à Pitre has a fruit and fish market every day by the port and Le Gosier has an excellent market on Friday evenings. I would buy the majority of my fruit and vegetables at this market, getting great flavours out of the home-grown mangoes especially.
- Learn some Créole! Although Guadeloupe is a French island, one of France’s overseas departments, it does have its own local language, which is Créole. It is a mixture of French and African languages and widely spoken as a first and second language amongst Guadeloupe’s inhabitants.
- Explore the history! Les Saintes has quite a majestic fort which surveys the sea from its hill on Terre-de-Haut, Fort Napoleon. There is also the Fort Fleur D’Epée in Le Gosier and the old plantations and windmills on Marie-Galante.
It is easy to travel around the archipelago. Shuttle boats leave almost every day from Pointe à Pitre port to Marie-Galante and Les Saintes and a boat from the town of Saint François will get you to La Désirade.
Above are just a set of suggestions on places to visit and what to look out for on your visit to Guadeloupe. I hope you have an amazing time!
About the author
A BA (Hons) French and Spanish graduate from University College London, Maísa Edwards is a keen language enthusiast. Although well traveled around Europe, she has also visited Brazil many times where she explored several aspects of its culture with her Brazilian family as well as living and working in the Caribbean islands. An avid reader with a great appetite for learning, she is also a writer of short stories and poetry. Find more of her works on her website Marie-Isabel.