Brush up on your Francais and head to this decidedly French, undeniably Caribbean Archipelago.
Part of the French West Indies, Guadeloupe has it all: rain forests, waterfalls, sandy beaches and charming villages.
Like a gargantuan butterfly that has landed between Antigua and Dominica, Guadeloupe is really two islands connected by a narrow channel. The left “wing” is Grande-Terre, and the right “wing” is Basse-Terre. Offshore, on smaller surrounding islands – Marie-Galante, La Désirade and Iles des Saintes – you can step into societies that have changed little over the centuries.
The more sophisticated of the two wings, Grande-Terre delights with white-sand beaches and rolling hills. The island’s biggest town, Pointe-à-Pitre, is a European-style shopping village offering an array of goods with made-in-France labels – and at savings of an estimated 20 to 30 percent. You’ll also find kerchief-clad vendors in open-air bazaars hawking breadfruit, pineapples, sweet mangoes and local crafts.
Museums abound here. Saint-John Perse and the Schoelcher Museum are housed in colonial manors. The Edgar Clerc archaeological museum enlightens visitors about Guadeloupe’s Amerindian ancestors. Culture buffs might seek out the zoological garden, the orchid garden, or coffee and cocoa plantations.
Grande-Terre also has the majority of the destination’s accommodations; lodgings range from family-owned guesthouses to French chain resorts, many of them located in Le Gosier and in polished little resort towns strung along a street called Riviera Road.
Tropical Day Trips
Basse-Terre is a draw for nature lovers. An astounding volcano, La Soufrière, which lies sleeping at its center, is the Eastern Caribbean’s highest point at 4,813 feet. Don’t miss a drive or hike through the nearby rain forests in the 74,100-acre Parc National de Guadeloupe, or a day on Grand Anse, one of the island’s best beaches, known for especially soft sand.
Tradewinds, or les alizés, as the locals say, keep the temperature about the same year-round – about 5 degrees warmer in the summertime, a great time to visit since resorts rates drop and crowds are scarce.
The wildlife is awe-inspiring. In the air alone, you might spot sugar birds, cow herons, black woodpeckers, moorhens and brown gannets.
French imports make dining on Guadeloupe a pleasure; in fact, its restaurants have given it something of a reputation as a culinary destination. The destination boasts more than 200 restaurants, some on the front porches of local homes. The local cuisine is a blend of French and African flavors, with lunch, or le déjeuner, the main meal of the day. Start with a rum drink, then try creole creations such as stuffed land crabs, stewed conch and curry dishes. French wines are commonly served with the meal.
Three offshore islands make super day trips. On the more rural Terre-de-Haut, part of the Iles des Saintes off Guadeloupe’s southwest coast, you’ll find pristine beaches and families descended from Breton sailors. To the southeast is Marie-Galante, where some of the Caribbean’s best rum is produced. Remnants of colonial sugar mills are quaint reminders of the island’s past as a sugar producer. The beaches are spectacular. And to the northeast, La Désirade is a recommended day trip for its untouched landscape and beaches. Friendly residents greet visitors in small fishing villages.
Casinos. Discos. Nightclubs. Dinner/Dances.
Air Canada. Air France. Air Caraibes. American Eagle. Continental Airlines. LIAT. US Airways. US Air and Continental connect with Air Caraibes in either San Juan or St. Martin. Corsair. Cubana De Aviacion. Air Antilles Express.
Airports: Guadeloupe Pole Caraibes located near Pointe-a-Pitre.
Starting on April 6th 2013, American Airlines will operate a weekly direct flight to PTP (Guadeloupe Islands) from MIAMI.
American Airlines will provide a Boeing 737 aircraft, offering the comfort of 16 business class and 134 economy class seats. The late morning departure will enable passengers to benefit from an easy connection from all over the US, with an arrival in Guadeloupe Islands in the afternoon!
All US citizens traveling by air to and from Bermuda and the Caribbean are required to have a valid passport to enter the United States.
Canadian citizens must have proof of citizenship, either a valid passport or a passport that expired not more than five years ago, or other proof of citizenship in the form of birth certificate, or a voter’s registration card, or government-issued driver’s license.
A return or onward ticket is required of all visitors.
Pointe-a-Pitre, the commercial center, and Basse-Terre, the capital city. National Park rain forest and La Soufriere volcano. Pre-Columbian drawings at the Archaeological Park. Hindu Temple of Changy. Fort Delgres. Fort Fleur d’Epee. Pointe des Chateaux and Pointe de la Grande Vigie. Carbet Falls.
Certificate of Good Conduct.
Residency Card (one of the couple must have resided on the island at least one month).
Medical Certificate issued within 3 months of marriage.
No fee is involved.