Guadeloupe Travel Guide [y]

[y] Guadeloupe Vacation Guide

Guadeloupe looks like a butterfly sitting in the Caribbean with its two main islands separated by a narrow channel called Riviere Salee. This French island is still a secret to most Americans but is one of the most breathtaking with its dramatic mountains and lush tropical forest. The eastern island, Grande-Terre, has rolling hills, sugar plantations and the resort towns of Gosier, Saint-Anne and Saint-Francois.

Basse-Terre, on the west, has a wilder landscape with mountain ranges, a live volcano, rain forests, white sand beaches around the exterior and some of the best diving in the world. Guadeloupe’s smaller islands to the south and west are also beautiful places to visit. The most popular, Terre-de-Haut, has a small village and harbor, good beaches and restaurants and less-expensive hotels.

And as you’d expect from the French, dining is a truly divine experience. The French Caribbean fare is a unique combination of spicy Creole and classic French dishes. And remember, this is the Caribbean, where they move at a much slower pace. Your patience at restaurants and around the island will be rewarded!

Getting to and Around Guadeloupe

AIRLINES

American Airlines flies to its hub in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and then offers two American Eagle flights daily to Guadeloupe. There are also connections available through Martinique.

Air Canada flies between Montreal and Guadeloupe every Saturday. Passengers can also fly from Toronto on one of the daily nonstop flights to Barbados. From there, passengers can transfer onto other carriers, most likely LIAT.

Air France flies into Guadeloupe every day from Paris, with connections from Britain and most of Europe. Air France also offers service to Guadeloupe from Miami. Antigua-based LIAT connects Guadeloupe with the other Caribbean islands.

CAR RENTAL
Renting a car is a good way to see all of Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre, the two larger main islands. There are rental agencies at the airport and at some of the resorts.

TAXI
Taxis are available but are quite expensive. There are taxi stands at the airport and the larger hotels and in Pointe-à-Pitre and Basse-Terre.

Weather in Guadeloupe

The average temperature in Guadeloupe is 82°F in summer and an average of 76°F in winter. The rainiest months are between June and October.

What to do in Guadeloupe

Beaches
While most of Grande-Terre’s eastern coast is rough, there’s a nice beach for swimming at Le Moule at Porte d’Enfer.

  • On the western side of Grande-Terre, Port-Louis is the most popular.
  • On the northern side of the peninsula leading to Pointe des Châteaux are a couple of remote beaches: Anse à la Gourde and Anse Tarare, an adjacent nudist beach.
  • On Basse-Terre, the best beaches are along the northern side of the island near Deshaies and Saint-Rose. The stretch of coast from Pointe-Noire to Saint-Rose is one of the most beautiful on the islands.

BOTANICAL GARDENS/RAINFORESTS
Parc Zoologique et Botanique de la Guadeloupe (Rte. de la Traversée; 590/988-352), is a Botanical garden and zoo that showcases mongooses, iguanas, and crab-eating birds. Parc National de la Guadeloupe (Basse-Terre; 590/808-606; call for trail map), is 42,750 acres of lush rain forests, waterfalls, wildlife, and a volcano.

HIKING
You can hike many short trails on Guadeloupe that take in waterfalls, rainforest and botanical gardens. Serious hikers head for longer, more rigorous trails in the Parc National de la Guadeloupe, including one to the volcanic summit of La Soufrière and another to the base of Chutes du Carbet, the Eastern Caribbean’s highest waterfalls.

DIVING
The country has many first-rate snorkeling and diving sites. Guadeloupe’s top diving site is the Réserve Cousteau at Pigeon Island off the western coast of Basse-Terre.
Ilet du Gosier, which can be reached by boat from Gosier on Grande-Terre, is a snorkeler’s dream. Nautilus (97 Rte. de la Glacière, Bouillante; 590/988-908), conducts dives in an underwater reserve that Cousteau considered one of the best in the world.

RUM DISTILLERY
Distillerie Reimonenq (Bellevue, Ste. Rose; 590/288-278), shows Guadeloupe’s greatest export, Rhum Agricole, go from sugarcane to pure rum, which locals say you can drink without fear of a hangover.

GOSIER
A big resort area, Gosier is a small village with many shops and restaurants along the main street. The big hotels and a casino are on the Pointe de la Verdure, in Bas-du-Fort or around the Marina.

SAINT-FRANCOIS
The second-largest resort area, Saint-Francois has a yacht-filled marina lined with restaurants, luxury hotels, and boutiques.

SAINT-ANNE
One of the three big sea resorts of Guadeloupe with two of its loveliest beaches protected by a coral reef.

TERRE-DE-HAUT
You can cross by ferryboat from Trois-Rivières, Pointe-à-Pitre, or go by airplane. This group of islands, of which the main ones are Terre-de-Haut and Terre-de-Bas, are stunning. Visit Fort Napoééon and the “Chameau” the highest point of the island for a magnificent view.

Where to Stay in Guadeloupe

Le Verger de Sainte-Anne (Saint-Anne), is a family-owned hotel near the Saint-Anne village and the beautiful beach and coral reef. The owners of this six-bungalow complex will help plan excursions and activities around the islands. Beautiful flowering vines cover the cottages.

Cocoteraie Hotel (Saint-Francois), is a luxury resort on the water near a marina and the Robert Trent Jones golf course. The hotel has 50 suites, 21 of them have the swimming pool view, 15 have the ocean view. All the rooms are equipped with air-conditioning, television, radio, telephone, a bathroom, a mini-fridge, and a balcony.

Sofitel Auberge de La Vieille Tour Hotel (Gosier), is a four-star hotel situated around a mill from the 18th century. Located in the town of Gosier, the hotel has 181 rooms, many with ocean views. All rooms have air conditioning, television, radio, telephone, bathroom, shower, and minibar.

Créole Beach Hotel & Hotel Mahogany (Gosier; 800/755-93136), is a 384-room resort on the beach with tropical gardens all around. A very lively hotel with two restaurants and a bar, it’s a favorite spot of visitors from all over the world.

Habitation Grande Anse Localité (Deshaies), has simple, quiet bungalows with great views on a beautiful stretch of beach.

L’Auberge les Petits Saints (Terre-de-Haut; petitssaints.com), is a great place to stay on Terre-de-Haut. The charming, quiet hotel is full of antiques from all over the world and offers a great view of the bay and beach. There is a pool, bar, and sauna. All bedrooms, except a one-bedroom bungalow and a separate guesthouse, have queen-size or twin beds. The guesthouse has five spacious rooms and is good for families. The restaurant serves some of the best food on the island.

Bois Joli (Terre-De-Haut; ifrance.com/boisjoli), is one of the most isolated resorts on the island. A complex of pink-stucco buildings offers both simple conventional bedrooms within the main house, plus eight bungalows set near the beach. All units have small bathrooms, mo

Where to Eat in Guadeloupe

The local French Créole dishes combine traditional French cuisine with a dash of Africa and India. Fresh seafood appears on most menus and specialties include shellfish, smoked fish, stuffed land crabs, stewed conch, and curry dishes. Guadeloupe is perhaps one of the great gourmet centers in the Caribbean, with many restaurants coming highly recommended.

Chez Jackye (Pointe-Noire, Deshaies; 590/98-06-98), sits just 30 feet from the sea. This local favorite serves the classic African and Creole dishes the island is known for.

Le Genois (Terre-De-Haut; 590/99-53-01), is a French bistro on the water near the Ferry terminal. Fish, steaks, and confits of duckling are some of the specialties, but they also offer smaller plates and wonderful pastries.

Restaurant L’Agouba (Gosier), is a great local spot for barbeque and fresh fish.

La Caféière Beauséjour (Pointe-Noire, Deshaies; 590/98-10-09), if you can find it, it’s one of the dining secrets of Guadeloupe. Chef Bernadette Hayot-Beauzelin serves delightful dishes flavored with fresh produce and herbs grown right on the property, which means the menu changes daily. Some say it’s the best meal on the island. Make sure to call ahead for directions and reservations.

Restaurant Clara (Ste. Rose; 590/28-72-99), is a mix of classic French fare and Creole flavors. Specialties include brochette of swordfish, skate fish with rice and curry and a secret sauce that is served with most dishes.

La Varangue (Saint-Francios; 590/88-79-81), is the beautiful poolside restaurant at Hôtel La Cocoteraie is open from breakfast through dinner. The menu is just as delightful as the view with creative local treats.