The Guadeloupe archipelago is made up of 5 islands, so you‘ve got 5 good reasons to visit it. This sunny destination will completely seduce you with the warmth and the generosity of its people, its exotic fruits and its zouk music. These French islands are a true little paradise where life is good!
Guadeloupe islands are situated in the Caribbean. This single word is a dream. And I can tell you there is no chance to meet Jack Sparrow…. Even though….keep your eyes open!
We took off to Guadeloupe islands from Paris-Orly for a 550€ roundtrip ticket on a special offer from Air France. We landed in Pointe-à-Pitre (what a funny name) under a gentle tropical rainfall, which contrary to Belgian rain was hot, and that was quite pleasant! The next day, we began our islands tour under a beautiful sunshine.
1/ Grande Terre is rather touristic (many hotels and beaches). As far as hotel accommodation is concerned, l’Auberge de la Vieille Tour is a beautiful place in Gosier, although a bit expensive. If you stay there, do not hesitate to visit the gardens. You can also find an accommodation at the Club Med in Sainte-Anne or at Pierre & Vacances in Saint-François. I chose a cheap bed and breakfast on the website amivac. It wasn’t very nice but was quite suitable for the time we spent there, as we were always on a jaunt!
As far as tourism is concerned, here is a list of what you can do during your stay:
– The Mangrove, with its saltwater river and its extraordinary wildlife, is a must-see. Have a look around the Pointe à Pitre market and pass by the Petit cul de sac marin (if you arrive from the bottom of the island) to arrive in the Mangrove by boat in the Grand Cul de Sac Marin.
– There is nothing particular to see in Gosier. I still believe that the beaches there have more character than those in Saint-François and Sainte-Anne, which are tourist attractions in my opinion.The îlet du gosier is also very lovely. You can either swim there or take the little shuttle boat between the îlet and the beach of Gosier. Don’t forget your mask and your snorkel, as well as a snack.
– I really enjoyed the Pointe des Châteaux. It’s the meeting point of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The waters there are pretty rough and the wind blows high, but what an astonishing sense of freedom! – The porte d’enfer is situated in the very North of the island. No beaches there, but magnificent cliffs. You can go hiking to the trou de madame coco and the trou du souffleur. The trek is easy but rather long, especially in full sunlight, as there are very few shady places to shelter from the sun.
2/ Basse Terre : this part of the island is full of nature. If you like that, then go to:
– Bouillante, where you can see the réserve Cousteau, a very nice place for scuba-diving. For this activity, I chose the CIP, a very friendly and dynamic team. It is also possible to dive on wrecks as well as during the night, depending on your diving level.
– By car, follow the route de la traversée (a road which links the east to the west of the island…and vice versa). You will be in the heart of the forest, surrounded by luxuriant vegetation. On this road, you will find the Cascade aux Écrevisses, a lovely place. But what is really worth seeing is the Saut de la Lézarde (somewhat off the road).
– The Grande Anse beach, after Deshaies, is a really pleasant place.
– I fell for the Grande Anse beach in Trois Rivières (completely south), a calm, quite deserted, magical black-sand beach. But beware, the rollers there are very strong, so much that I lost my swimsuit! Just opposite this little corner of paradise, you will see one (and only one – you just can’t miss it) restaurant. It is called la Cabane Créole, if I’m not mistaken. The owner is a colorful, very friendly guy. He offers an outstanding cuisine and a really good Planter’s punch…
– If you like doing sport, I suggest you take a trip to the summit of the volcano La Soufrière. Plan to leave early enough so that you can enjoy a clear view. Also check the weather forecasts. Unfortunately, it was raining and very foggy when I got there. We could barely see more than 5 meters around and didn’t go to the top. Out of luck.
– Are you a rum lover? Than visit a distillery. There are plenty of them and I don’t have one in particular to recommend you. Each one has its particularities, so check out your travel guide and choose the one that interests to you most.
– Finally, the chutes du Carbet are really worth the trip. There are three of them and the trek (rather the walk) is more or less long depending on which one you want to see. I saw the second falls. How charming! I also recommend you the Cascade Paradise (made me think of a Tahiti shower gel ad). Quit the parking of the chutes du Carbet and go down until you find little wooden “steps” on your left (there’s no entry sign). Walk down the steps (approximately 20 minutes) and you will arrive in a heavenly place, with hot springs! On the way back, we stopped at a nice little restaurant, Naturel Bambou (on the route de l’habituée) on the left side of the road after leaving the falls and the forest.
3/ Les Saintes : they are small but paradisiacal. The visit of the island takes no more than one or two days.
– This island is also known as l’île des iguanes. And indeed, we saw one iguana! You can rent a scooter (for one or two persons) to discover the area for approximately 25€ a day. Simply go for a ride without any plan, nice surprises await you.
– The plage du pain de sucre is a must-do. The waters are completely clear. Wearing your mask and snorkel, you won’t notice the time passing by.
– Reach the Fort Napoléon, from where you will enjoy a magnificent view.
– Try and enjoy the ‘tourment d’amour’, a delicious little coconut-filled cake, so yummy!
4/ Marie-Galante is called the authentic island and la Désirade the secret island. We stayed 15 days in Guadeloupe, but didn’t have the time to discover them. Nevertheless, people say they are well worth seeing!
5/ L’ilet à Caret, where we were real tourists. At Saint-Anne market, a stand offered different one-day trips. The ad looked promising: a boat takes you for one day to a sandbank with 15 palm trees and a barbecue. We decided to do this excursion and we didn’t regret it. So we took the boat with a guide, a nice young lady who told us some facts about the island. There were only 8 people on board. We stopped in Pointe-à-Pitre market and went for a walk in the Mangrove. After that, we dove near an islet. There was nothing left, nothing right, neither in front, nor back. We felt like we were the only ones in the world. Then our guide brought us to dive (with mask/snorkel) near a wreck just beneath the surface. We had so much fun! Finally, we reached the îlet à Caret, a magnificent place. The only drawback was that there were too many tourists, but that’s quite normal. We had some rest during the lighting of the barbecue. We ate, drank some Planter’s punches, splashed around and then unfortunately… it was time to get back on dry land. That was an incredible day, full of good mood and laughter.
If you have the opportunity, then visit l’île de Petite Terre. I deeply regret not going there. Some friends of mine spent the most beautiful day of their journey on this island. They saw rays, sharks, dolphins,… Have a good trip!
Some practical information:
– To rent a car, I suggest you Location Reflexe in Baie Mahault, approximately 25€ a day.
Translated from La Guadeloupe, ou plutôt les îles de Guadeloupe: 5 destinations en une by Emilie