To visit Guadeloupe has been on my mind ever since I watched the tv series Death in Paradise. The French Antilles are one part of the Caribbean that is extraordinary because of the mix between French, Creole and East Indian cultures. It’s a heavenly-looking part of the world with a vibrant way of life that can be felt easily in everyday life and on the streets.
Guadeloupe Quick Facts:
As a French overseas territory, Guadeloupe is part of the European Union. Citizens of EU, US, UK, Australia and Canada do not need to apply for a visa for a 3-months tourism stay. However, they need to show a valid return ticket. Euro is the official currency.
Guadeloupe covers the two main islands, Basse-Terre and Grand-Terre and smaller Marie-Galante, La Desirade and Iles de Saintes.
The administrative capital is Basse-Terre but Pointe-A-Pitre is the largest city in the archipelago.
On September 19th 2017, Hurricane Maria battered Guadeloupe and caused serious flooding and extensive damages.
Why Visit Guadeloupe?
It is a European Union territory and the EU citizens do not need a visa and even can work if they want to (and find a job).
The cultural mixture creates a passionate blend of French, Creole and Indian ingredients that can be translated into the islands’ lifestyle, local cuisine and even pace of time.
The beauty of the islands and the slow-pace of life provide the visitors with the great opportunity to relax and enjoy the mild climate and the water-sport activities.
The cultural mix is also very well incorporated into the music and dance scenes throughout Guadeloupe’s islands. There are some traditional local dance styles like zouk and compa that you can enjoy watching during the three-months-long Carnival in Guadeloupe (January, February and March).
Where to Go and What to Do in Guadeloupe?
The two main islands are as far in landscape meaning as close they are geographically. Basse-Terre is covered with lush greenery, has mountainous landscape and even a sulphuric volcano. Gran-Terre is a dry and flat but has many beaches. There are many opportunities to have fun and spend incredible vacation no matter if you are solo, for a romantic getaway or travel with children. Here are some suggestions:
- Go for a scuba diving and snorkelling.
- Attend a festival – they are called ‘parties on the street’.
- Look around for the Porcelain Roses, the emblematic flower of Guadeloupe.
- Visit the Guadeloupe Aquarium with your kids.
- Go for a hike. The archipelago offers a good range of hike choices and you should take advantage of its almost 200 km marked trails.
- Like difficulties? Then do the Volcano Trail during the second week of June.
- For the sporty travelers kayaking, canoeing, pedal boating, surfing and kitesurfing are on offer. And if you really want to challenge yourself, join the Triathlon ‘Half IronMan’.
- For a Guadeloupe-flavoured honeymoon, try the Tourment D’Amour cakes made by banana, coconut or guava and go for an easy walk and a refreshing swim to the heart-shaped Les Bains Amour.
- For the shopping-loving female traveler, there is a good variety of Madras cloth, the Indian-inherited cotton fabric now traditionally used for Creole costumes.
- Some of the points of interest in and around the city of Pointe-A-Pitre are Memorial ACTe, Musée Schœlcher, Anse Tabarin, and Market Darse.
Tips for Visiting Guadeloupe
It is better that you rent a car at the airport because the bus connections are infrequent and unreliable.
Use the boat connections to visit the smaller islands.
If you are fluent in French it will definitely help you a lot. If you are not, try to learn a few words before arriving.
You have to use a lot of sunscreens, wear a hat and drink a lot of water during your stay. The climate is tropical and there are two seasons – dry (from January to June) and wet (from July to December).
Medical services are good and the European citizens can use their International Health Insurance Card.
You should be aware that Guadeloupe is on the list of Zika virus countries and pregnant women or those who want to get pregnant should not travel to the archipelago.
Dive in the magnetic rhythms of Guadeloupe, its enticing food and colourful mix of people and cultures. Take a breath and enjoy the Caribbean at its best!
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