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Explore Guadalupe

Explore Guadalupe sometimes known as the Butterfly Island, on account of the shape of two of its major islands. Guadalupe is a group of islands in the eastern Caribbean, and is a French overseas department. It is located southeast of Puerto Rico. 

Islands

  • Basse Terre: green and lush vegetation, mountainous with a sulphuric volcano.
  • Grande Terre: flat and dry with a lot of beaches, some of them very touristic.
  • Marie Galante: the biggest island out of mainland Guadalupe.
  • Les Saintes: composed of Terre de Haut and Terre de Bas, one of the most beautiful bays.
  • La Désirade: Natural and relatively untouched.
  • Petite Terre: uninhabited and untamed.

Cities

  • Grande Terre
  • Pointe-à-Pitre: with its suburbs, it is the economic capital of Guadalupe
  • Gosier: maybe one of the most interesting places of Guadalupe to enjoy nightlife. (You can enter most nightclubs with proper clothes, that is, no sneakers, no shorts)
  • St François if you go at the eastern point of Guadalupe, you will reach La Pointe des Chateaux, a scenery made of sand and rocks which have vaguely the shape of a castle. From there, you can look up at the islands La Désirade, Petite Terre, Marie Galante, Les Saintes, La Dominique but also have a perfect view of the islands Grande Terre and far away Basse Terre.
  • St Anne is a very nice town but also very touristic (probably the primary touristic area of Guadalupe). There are loads of things to do or see, including:

Beaches: Caravel (where the Club Med is located (the beach is public, as required by French law), the town beach with its blue water and for the overall atmosphere, the Bois Jolan beach, it‘s very atypical.

Sainte Anne is very vibrant; the restaurants are open until late at night.

Le Moule the town of the Moule is a beautiful place if you want to stay away from the agitation of Pointe-à-Pitre, Gosier and Baie Mahault. Just outside the town: You can visit the archaeological and ethnographic of Edgar Clerc museum. You can see exhibitions about Arawak and Carib Indians civilizations.

In the town: You can enjoy the boardwalk during the day as well as in the evening. For the people who like surfing and have a good level, you can find one of the famous surf spot of Guadalupe at the entrance of the town. There is a restaurant next to “le spot”. You can find a shopping mall at the entrance of the town and in the downtown. Shops are open from Monday to Saturday, including Saturday afternoon, something rare in Guadalupe. You can see a very charming downtown with its church, its old ruins. Going to Saint-François Direction: If you look for a beach, you can go in the beach “l’autre bord” or “l’anse à l’eau”, when you leave downtown. You will see the “maison Zavellos” which is an old colonial house. Some say it’s a haunted house. The town of Moule also has, one of the first rum distilleries which produces the famous Damoiseau rum. If you like walking, you can go to the “baie Olive” there are beautiful cliffs or go to the beach “plage des rouleaux”.

Morne à l’eau, renowned for its amazing cemetery composed of burial places made of black and white tiles.

Anse Bertrand, not far from there, you can visit La pointe de la Grande Vigie, northern point of mainland Guadalupe. You can also go to Porte d’Enfer, a beautiful still stripe of sea between scenery of reefs. From there, walk one hour along the cliff, and you will discover a Souffleur, kind of geyser due to the pressure of the sea.

Abymes nothing special to see, but the weekend, there are local nightclubs.

Baie-Mahault: the industrial and commercial zone of Guadalupe, nothing special to do or see. Here stands the biggest shopping mall of the island.

Don’t miss the spectacular waterfalls in the jungle of Basse-Terre. Some are within 5-10 minutes walking distance from the nearest parking lot, some require at least 3-4 hours of hiking (those are, of course less frequented by other tourists and you might find yourself alone at a spectacular waterfall in the middle of nowhere – an amazing experience!).

The local rum distilleries offer tours (check for opening times as they may vary from season to season) which are certainly worth the while since rum production is a very integral part of Guadalupe’s economy. And sampling the local rums is definitely worth the while.

Even though they might not be the best way to get around the island, a ride on the bus is still an experience you should not miss. Cheap, full of locals, conducted by fearless drivers, you can enjoy the beautiful Caribbean panorama to the sound of Guadalupean zouk music. Some routes are not good for passengers with weak stomachs. If you’re careful, you can hitch a free ride on the back for some “realistic” tourist experience.

Guadalupe has been a French possession since 1635 except for the years 1813-1814 when it came into Swedish possession as a consequence of the Napoleonic Wars. The island of Saint Martin is shared with the Netherlands; its southern portion is named Sint Maarten and is part of the Netherlands Antilles and its northern portion is named Saint-Martin and is part of Guadalupe.

Guadalupe is an archipelago of nine inhabited islands, including Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre, Marie-Galante, La Desirade, Iles des Saintes (2), Saint-Barthélemy, Iles de la Petite Terre, and Saint-Martin (French part of the island of Saint Martin).

Climate

Subtropical tempered by trade winds; moderately high humidity

Terrain

Basse-Terre is volcanic in origin with interior mountains; Grande-Terre is low limestone formation; most of the seven other islands are volcanic in origin

Culture

Guadalupe is a very mixed island culturally waves of successive immigrations of Indians, Lebanese, Syrians, Chinese makes it an Eldorado where living together is paramount.

The bus system is infrequent and unreliable. Cars can be hired at the airport in Pointe-à-Pitre or booked online on sites such as Rentacar and Satevan. The main roads are of the same quality as metropolitan France, but smaller roads are often uneven, pot-holed and frankly dangerous. Prudence is required! Drivers are often undisciplined, but rarely aggressive.

French is the official language. Antillean Creole is a language also spoken primarily in the French (and some of the English) Lesser Antilles, such as Martinique, Guadalupe, Îles des Saintes, Dominica, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago and many other smaller islands. Everyone speaks French but few people understand English which has however influenced Antillean Creole since the British seized the island several times.

What to do in Guadalupe

Scuba diving and snorkeling. There is an amazing assortment of tropical fish, even in water less than one meter deep. For those who can’t swim, glass bottomed boat trips are on offer.

There are many festivals to attend to in Guadalupe. In Guadalupe they call them “parties on the street”. They use colorful ribbons and tie them round their wrists to resemble the colors of all the nations. Their parties last all through the night until the early morning. They sometimes call them “swatson”.

What to buy

Characteristic of the Antilles is the colorful tiled Madras fabric.

The local made rum is also distinctive and very cheap to buy. Certainly worth sampling (during an evening at one of the beautiful beaches or at home when showing vacation pictures to friends and family to warm everyone up to Caribbean temperature)

What to eat

Not to be missed, the plate Colombo (chicken, rice, curry), imported from India, has become the typical regional plate.

What to drink

The local drink is white rum. Do try the “‘Ti Punch” (Petit Punch/small Punch) (rum, lime, and sugar cane/brown sugar). Packs a wallop, so be prepared to melt into the island way of life.

Stay safe

Bring lots of sunscreen!

Also, keep hydrated, especially when hiking in the mountainous areas. A hat is often a good thing to have because the sun can get extremely hot.

Respect

While officially a part of France, the country does not have a Europeanized way of life. In fact, life in the Caribbean has a much slower pace. Busses run very infrequently, taxis are hard to find, smaller stores open or close not always on time, queuing in stores is sometimes very time consuming. Try to fall into the local pace and do not complain about minor annoyances as Guadalupians will see that as an offense to their way of life. And they are proud of the distinction between Caribbean and metropolitan (French) life style!

In most Post Offices you will find an automatic machine (yellow) with a scale and a screen. Just put your mail on the scale, tell the machine (French or English) the destination, pay the indicated amount and the machine will deliver a printed stamp.

Explore Guadalupe for  a life time experience.

Official tourism websites of Guadalupe

For more information please visit the official government website: 

Watch a video about Guadalupe

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