Guadeloupe spreads its tropical butterfly wings in shimmering colours, with expanses of blue and green punctuated by the sinuous lines of the white beaches...
A French overseas territory, Guadeloupe is an archipelago in the West Indies located in the southern Caribbean Sea. Its two largest islands, Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre, separated by the Salt River, each evoke a butterfly s wing, hence the archipelago s nickname. The hilly island of Grande-Terre has long beaches and vast sugar cane fields from which rum is produced. On the island of Basse-Terre, nature lovers enjoy visiting the Guadeloupe National Park with its Carbet Falls and the Grande Soufrière volcano. There are also small islands such as Marie-Galante, La Désirade and Les Saintes. Guadeloupe thus invites to the seaside pleasures, to the discovery of natural land and sea treasures such as the Cousteau reserve, but also to a traditional culture rich in colours. For the history of Guadeloupe, its folklore and its delicious cuisine, consult your Guadeloupe guide.
Both a Region and a French Overseas Department (971), Guadeloupe shares the same currency, the same language and the same level of health and social services with metropolitan France. However, the change of scenery is very present when you arrive on the island for the first time and well beyond the simple difference in temperatures. The dual Franco-Caribbean identity has generated a mix of faces, cultures, mentalities and a way of life different from that of France.
You won't be scared of animals here: no sharks along the coast, no snakes or giant spiders. Of course, bark beetles (centipedes with painful stings) are to be avoided.
At sea, be careful because the lionfish (also called flying scorpion fish), with its poisonous spines, has unfortunately been present in the West Indies for a few years now. Its venom remains active even after its death. In terms of health, you benefit from the French health system. Remember to bring your health insurance card. A few instructions of vigilance are also to be respected if you have to circulate in certain poor neighbourhoods, in particular to protect yourself against leptospirosis; start by avoiding walking barefoot. Finally, in terms of safety, certain districts should be avoided at nightfall... as everywhere else in the world.
A destination "open" all year round
With an average temperature of 27°C, peaks of 32°C in June, July, August and the absence of clear-cut seasons, tropical nature is generous in terms of temperature. A mercury below 20°C appears to be a real event here, a topic that is all the rage in the front page of the local daily newspaper... It is customary to say that there are two annual tourist seasons: the high season, from November to April, and the low season, from May to October. But this is a sunny destination all year round, especially when it's cold in Europe! Of course, there is the hurricane season (from June to the end of November), during which strong depressions and sometimes memorable cyclones can hold travellers back. But these phenomena are constantly monitored and anticipated. Probably because of these climatic vagaries, the season is then much calmer in terms of tourist numbers. However, if you stay on the islands during the winter, the archipelago will seduce you just as much, and you will live with the inhabitants of the strong moments facing the possible outbursts of mother nature.
Don't panic though: a very effective system of warning and personal safety has been set up by the local authorities. From mid-December to mid-June, the weather becomes drier again, with a more bearable humidity level. On the whole, the prices of stays are clearly down at the end of April, after the Easter holidays. During the summer holidays (June, July and August), the temperature and humidity are higher, but a family holiday is easily possible. This is also the ideal time to enjoy a cruise as the sea is calmer unless there is a storm warning, of course. Beware, in July and August, the price of air tickets and accommodation tends to rise again because many West Indians living in the mainland return "home" at this time.
Before leaving, if you are promised sunshine all year round, superb beaches of fine sand, a turquoise and warm sea, do not imagine that these are excessive arguments because Guadeloupe really has all these assets. The weather is good all year round even if it can fall heavy rains outside of the winter season. You have the choice between white, golden or intense grey sand if you are on a volcanic beach. You can "take it easy" in Sainte-Anne, Saint-François or Gosier (in Grande-Terre) or you can prefer water hiking in the rivers, bivouacking in the tropical forest, climbing the volcano or deep-sea fishing (in Basse-Terre)!
The archipelago combines exoticism and modernism, comfort and nature, relaxation and invigorating outdoor activities, not forgetting the thrills of the sea or the many water sports activities.
With its exuberant nature of chlorophyll, surrounded by a still preserved coastline, the archipelago is a great playground. Swimming, water sports and leisure activities, adventures at sea... Some of the activities revolve around the seaside. If you have never had the opportunity to try scuba diving, now is the time to go for it! The rich seabed of the Guadeloupe archipelago invites you to discover the Big Blue. The transparency of the water is reassuring, and so are the certified instructors! It is very easy to practice diving here, with mask and snorkel, bottles or freediving for the more exercised or with an adjustable helmet, especially in the natural reserve of Bouillante. Moreover, you can rent all kinds of boats, sail with or without a skipper, with or without a motor, go on a cruise around the archipelago... The more sporty ones will enjoy deep-sea fishing, windsurfing, surfing, jet-skiing, kitesurfing, flyboarding, kayaking, pedal boats... and the more meditative ones will stay peacefully in the shade in their hammock or on the sand, scanning the horizon.
Aerial leisure activities (flying over in a plane, paragliding, helicopter, ULM, free fall...) are also an original way to discover the archipelago from another angle and to enjoy new sensations.
Hiking inland, trekking or canyoning circuits, accompanied buggy rides, 4x4, motorbike, bivouac in the forest... We leave, on foot, in search of the waterfalls and their deep basins, where the baths are as many rewards after a good walk. The steep botanical trails offer even more sensations. Connoisseur or not, the walker will be enchanted by the luxuriance of the species and essences of this tropical garden. Also to be discovered, the world of traditional agriculture, with sugar cane plantations, banana plantations, coffee factories, cocoa plantations... Finally, let's mention an Ecomuseum and Heritage itinerary, which crosses the road of rum distilleries, colonial houses and Creole villas.
The towns of Basse-Terre and Pointe-à-Pitre offer exciting themed guided tours.
The first economic sector of Guadeloupe, the tourist activity is distinguished, over the years, by a real search for balance and a greater diversity of accommodation and activity offers. Beyond the economy generated by the seaside resorts located more generally on the Grande-Terre, alternative modes of accommodation have emerged in recent decades to develop considerably; ecotourism is now booming. The establishments are playing the card of sustainable development and are turning to solar power sources, the preservation of water resources and buildings made with ecological materials. This diversification of the offer is beneficial for the islands of the archipelago, both for entrepreneurs who invest in the green economy and multiply ecotourism initiatives and for travellers seeking more rural and authentic stays and the population to whom this activity provides employment.
We are familiar with the sun-rum-coconut trilogy! Clichés or basic ingredients for the party? During your walks and excursions, you will certainly notice this friendly aspect of the Guadeloupean character. The taste for partying is not a simple formula here. There is always an opportunity to have fun, put on music and sketch out dance steps. As proof, to the eleven public holidays recognized in metropolitan France are added nine days off in Guadeloupe (Monday and Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Mid-Lent Thursday, Good Friday, Saturday Gloria, May 27, July 21, November 2). The calendar of patron saint's days is also impressive, and there is also the Carnival period, festivals, open-air zouks... Of course, the ti-punch (a real anti-stress remedy) helps to maintain the atmosphere.