The following article on best things to do in Guadeloupe is a guest post by Dominika
The Caribbean represents an amazingly diverse region.
Some of the islands even belong to the European Union, which makes them extremely easy to reach with the European passport.
The French Antilles are ones of them.
So today I would like to tell you about the best things to do in Guadeloupe, the biggest of the French islands.
This 4 days Guadeloupe itinerary will show you the best natural attractions which you should definitely visit while traveling to the island. As a bonus, you will find some extra places to see when you will have more time to spend.
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European Standards in Caribbean Paradise
As I mentioned before, Guadeloupe forms a part of the French overseas territory. Which means that European Union citizens need absolutely no visas to visit it. In fact, your ID will be everything you need if you travel directly from Europe.
This fact leads also to some other benefits. The roaming usually works exactly the same as if you’ve been traveling to continental France. Which means cheap calls and Internet packages in profitable prices, according to your Internet operator of course.
Guadeloupe is an integral part of France. Which means you will experience many French standards, traditions, and behaviors.
You can enjoy typical French baguette each morning, but smear it with a delicious Caribbean coco jam. Unfortunately, you also need to be prepared that local inhabitants speak only French and Creole in most cases, and they are reluctant to communicate in English.
Accordingly, the currency in Guadeloupe is Euro which is another facilitation for the Europeans. The prices are not the lowest, but on the other hand, there is plenty of natural attractions that you can enjoy for free
The Best Things to Do in Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe and its surrounding smaller islands have a lot to offer. Literally, everyone will find something interesting for himself.
First of all, the islands offer amazing beaches. Almost every biggest town has a wonderful city beach, like La Datcha in Gosier, Raisins Clairs in Saint-François, or city beach in Sainte-Anne. There is also plenty of independent beaches, like Grande-Anse, Petite-Anse, or my favorite Plage de La Caravelle.
All they are not only beautiful but also filled with attractions like snorkeling spots, kayaks, kitesurfing schools, and many others.
But if you will only turn your face into the inner direction of the island, you will gain the opportunity to find exciting hiking trails in the jungle in the middle of the island. Most of them are located in Basse-Terre region, which is the most mountainous part of the region.
Active tourists and adventure lovers will definitely not be disappointed. Below I will show you some of the most stunning things to do in Guadeloupe. Be sure to note them in your Guadeloupe guide and include on your travel bucket list!
The Complete 4 Days Guadeloupe Itinerary
First of all, let’s talk about transportation on the island.
The main cities in Grand-Terre are pretty well connected with a new bus line Karu’lis. They even route more or less as it is indicated in their online timetables. Nevertheless, they still not 100% sure.
The buses in Basse-Terre are even more unpredictable. The bus routes actually only when its driver wants to. Which is more annoying for travelers, since the greatest trails and natural attractions have their place in this region.
So the best solution to have an intense road trip is to rent a car to fully enjoy the Guadeloupe itinerary time. Which is very easy on the island, since there are many local and international car rental agencies on the place. Once you have your transportation, you can start your travel.
Day 1: Rocky Wonders of Grande-Terre
Personally, I was surprised how much Guadeloupe is rocky.
I imagined that wide sandy beaches cover the shore all around the island. But in reality, there are many places which form amazing cliffs and increase adrenaline level in travelers’ blood.
Some of them are located in Grande-Terre and are quite easy to reach with a car in just one day. So I propose them for the start of your Guadeloupe itinerary.
Pointe des Chateaux
The trail of Pointe des Chateaux is one of the most popular on the whole island. You will find this picturesque landscape on the most Eastern shore.
This spot includes an amazing cliff with a stone cross on its top, and a few huge rocks immersed in the Atlantic Ocean. The whole area makes a great impression.
Pointe des Chateaux is also easy to reach thanks to a small car parking just next to the cliffs. Moreover, it is one of the places from this Guadeloupe itinerary that you can reach with public transport. The main trail along the shore takes one hour to walk, but if you’re in a hurry you can climb only to the cross peak to get the best view.
The Hell’s Gate (fr. Porte d’Enfer) is another rocky shore treasure in Grande-Terre and it definitely should be a part of your Guadeloupe itinerary while visiting this part of the island.
Porte d’Enfer is extremely deep grotto situated under a cliff. The best view is from the sea, but even the hikers can feel some adrenaline there. Above the grotto, there leads a picturesque hiking trail which will let you take a sneak peek into the hell.
Before reaching the grotto you will enjoy a lovely walk along the ravine that the sea seeps into the land and finishes with a small beach. The area is filled with wooden tables and benches since this lovely place is a common weekend BBQ spot for local families.
Pointe de La Vigie
Pointe de La Vigie is just a few kilometers from Porte d’Enfer, so it would be a shame not to visit it. The trail is short and starts with a car parking, so it is an ideal spot to end the first day of the Guadeloupe itinerary. This cliff is a place on the most Northern cape of Guadeloupe and the views are stunning. Highly recommended to visit.
Day 2: The Land of Beautiful Waters
Since the day no. 1 we spend on the open space, exposed for direct Sun, hanging in the shadow of the jungle on the day no. 2 will be a great relief. Moreover, some water attractions will be included.
The first people who were living on the island years ago, named it Karukera which means The Land of Beautiful Waters. And they had a good reason for that.
The Carbet Falls is a must-see nature spot on any list of things to do in Guadeloupe.
It consists of three waterfalls, and two of them rise high up to 100 meters. This fabulous nature wonder is seen even from the sea. Waterfalls are hidden in the jungle, in Basse-Terre region. But reaching one of them is extremely easy.
Its trail starts next to a car parking at the entrance to the Guadeloupe National Park. And the path is built of wooden bridges which makes it affordable even for small children. The walk to the second of waterfalls takes around 20-30 minutes and rewards you with an incredible view of powerful nature.
The trail to the first of Carbet Falls tempts mostly the hikers with much better condition. The walk through the jungle could take up to 2 hours, but the prize will be worth the effort. At the end of the path, you will reach the bottom basin of the waterfall.
After the intense hiking in the jungle, it is time to relax a bit.
Not far away from the entrance to the Carbet falls, you will find some stairs leading down. After a few minutes walk you will reach small heaven in a deep forest.
In this place, the river creates a small natural basin with a few meters waterfall. The water here is surprisingly cold, so a bath will be a great relief after the hiking effort. This place is a weekend spot for local communities to relax and have some fun with jumping into the chilly water.
Day 3: Soft Nature Exploring
After two intense days, I propose to plan a trip with more relaxing and calm attractions. You will have the opportunity to take a rest before the last biggest task, and you will get to know better the local environment.
Botanical Garden in Deshaies
This place enchanted me the most in Guadeloupe. Deshaies Botanical Garden is a place where you will have the opportunity to explore the greates greenery wonders of the Caribbean region.
Visiting this parc is definitely one of the best things to do in Guadeloupe. Hanging around in the garden will take you at least two hours (for me it took three).
And it is not only because of the colorful flowers, or stunning trees’ shapes. But because of cute inhabitants of the parc. Even since it is a botanical garden, it is also a home for some species of animals. So you will spend your time with adorable lorikeets parrots, flamingos, Koi carps, or funny Guadeloupian goats.
And most of the animals you can feed with the special food delivered by the park, so your experience will be even greater.
Since you will be visiting the West coast of Guadeloupe in a relaxing mood, I highly recommend you visiting the Coffee Museum.
Even if it is small, it will much spread your knowledge about this extraordinary yet well-known plant and drink. You will learn how the coffee is grown and how the whole process of its production looks like.
The museum’s board will also tell you more about the history of coffee and you will take a look on diverse tools used by people to get out the most of the beans.
And in the end, you will enjoy the coffee degustation and have an opportunity to buy some fresh products in a local shop.
Day 4: Climbing the Volcano
I saved the most exciting adventure for the last day. The mountainous Basse-Terre region is a home for the highest volcano in the Lesser Antilles – La Soufrière.
Taking the effort and climbing it is one of the best things to do in Guadeloupe. To get to the main volcano trail, you need to head to Saint-Claude city and park your car near Bains Jaunes.
This is where the contemporary trail starts. The whole hike will take you around 5 hours, so be sure to have enough water and snacks with you.
The trail itself leads on the mountainside with stunning views of the whole area. With good weather, you will be even able to see the distant islands looming on the horizon. The path is stable but challenging since while you will be closer to the summit, you will need to climb on bigger and bigger stones.
But even so, the hike is great fun and will be a wonderful recreation adventure for active travelers.
Have Some Extra Time? Awesome!
Guadeloupe is rather a small island but has so much to offer than 4 days might not be enough. So if you will only have some more time to spend on this gorgeous island, I have got some other attractions for you.
In fact, the Guadeloupe region includes also some smaller islands: La Désirade, Marie-Galante, Petite-Terre, and Les Saintes.
You can easily visit any of them by purchasing a day-trip on a motor or sailing boat. During this kind of trip, you will pleasantly spend your time on snorkeling, diving, visiting the islands with a guide, and eating fresh local meals.
This kind of trip is perfect for water lovers since boat skippers know the best spots to observe the underwater world and meet amazing animals, like turtles or dolphins, in their natural environment. And if you are looking for some more excitement, be sure to visit Jacques Cousteau’s Underwater Reserve.
Maison du Cacao
Just next to the Coffee Museum, Maison du Cacao (eng. The Cocoa House) is a perfect place to visit if you would like to dive into local agricultural life and history.
The plantation of cocoa will surely enchant your senses and will provide you unforgettable memories. Moreover, you will get to know how the local chocolate sweets are made, and I can simply say that the Caribbean chocolate with the addition of cane sugar is de-li-cious.
Pointe-à-Pitre and Mémorial ACTe
To be honest, Pointe-à-Pitre, the biggest city on the island, was a place that disappointed me the most during the whole trip. But there is one spot in this city that I recommend to visit.
If you would like to find out more about the local history, I encourage you to visit Mémorial ACTe which is the Caribbean Center for Expressions and Memories of Trafficking and Slavery.
This modern building will take you on a trip through the centuries of inglorious history of the world’s slavery.
For obvious reasons, it focuses on the Caribbean region, but it also concerns the problems of other countries, even in nowadays times. It is a perfect place to visit for some meaningful reflection during the carefree vacation.
Costumes and Traditions Museum
This museum, in contrary to the huge Mémorial ACTe, is a small family enterprise which offers the unique experience of the everyday Caribbean life. Mainly, the exhibition concerns the costumes and local fashion over the centuries on the Lesser Antilles.
But in a great addition, the owners will tell you some interesting stories about the lives of their ancestors. You will be able to take a sneak peek of the past houses and family traditions. Standard, everyday life of people is sometimes the most interesting part of traveling.
Let’s be honest, the Caribbean is usually associated with pirates. And pirates… with rum. So the math is simple. They say that Guadeloupe is the island where the best rum in the world comes from.
And in fact, the main ingredient of local rum is fresh and sweet sugar cane, which makes it taste delicious. On the island, you may choose among the local distilleries for your visit. Many of them have kind of rum museums, where you can learn more about this drink, its history, and the production process.
Usually, those trips are connected with degustation to make your visit even sweeter.
Where to Stay on Your Guadalupe Itinerary
Sainte-Anne is a perfect spot to base yourself for this trip.
I spent some time in the area so I rented a studio at Caribgites. For those wanting a bit more of a vacation vibe, just along the same beach and close to the center of town is La Caravelle Hotel, a luxury hotel with everything you could possibly need.
Guadeloupe—The Island of Diversity
As you can see, there is plenty of things to do in Guadeloupe for any type of travelers. Everyone will find some great activities for himself, starting with lying on the beach and drinking the coconut water, through visiting parks and museums, and finishing by hiking in the jungle or climbing the volcano.
While planning your Guadeloupe itinerary be sure to include the most interesting spots. Fortunately, riding the car on the island is relatively easy and pleasant. No one rides too brave or too fast.
I get the impression that Guadeloupian drivers really feel the Caribbean chill and do not hurry too much. Moreover, the island is small enough to take a ride from one end to the other one in less than two hours.
Guadeloupe is a perfect island for people looking for some exotism but used to the Western standards. And everyone will be happy to visit it: both beach lovers and hiking fans.
Dominika recently decided to start a life as a location independent person. She describes herself as a multipotentialite and aims to lead different ways of life. Be sure to visit her blog Sunday In Wonderland, where she describes her Caribbean adventure and share the cost of traveling in the French Antilles.
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