The British-French crime TV series Death in Paradise is set on the fictional island of Saint Marie, but did you know that the actual filming locations are in Guadeloupe, a tropical insular French region located in the Caribbean? So, if you’re a fan of Death in Paradise and want to visit the filming locations for yourself, I’ve listed below some places up to Season 12, and tips to help you plan your trip to Guadeloupe. I’ve also compared Saint Marie and Guadeloupe for those interested in learning more about what’s fictional or not in the TV series.

When I mentioned my trip to Guadeloupe for my friend’s wedding, I was very surprised that a few of my colleagues knew exactly where it was located. That’s when I first heard of the show Death in Paradise, which has been running for more than ten seasons. We quickly got hooked and watched the first three seasons as we were finalising our itinerary.

The show is perfect for a relaxing evening, and it doesn’t require any prior knowledge or commitment to enjoy. It combines culture, scenery, humour, and entertainment into one package. With its stunning landscape, beautiful beaches and vibrant culture, it’s easy to see why the show’s producers chose this location for the series. And it got us very excited about our itinerary in Guadeloupe!

The island of Saint Marie

Saint Marie is a fictional small island located in the Caribbean, close to Guadeloupe. In the first episode of the show, the Commissioner introduces Saint Marie as an island that “was colonised by the French who lost it to the British, who lost it to the Dutch. The Dutch lost it back to the French. The French then handed it back to the British in the mid-70s, so about 30% of the population is still French”. This explains why characters speak mostly English in the show and gives a perfect opportunity for jokes about the French and English rivalry.

Guadeloupe is mentioned in the first episode of the show. It is actually where the show is filmed. But if you plan to visit Guadeloupe, it’s important to note it isn’t like Saint Marie. It’s true that the French lost it to the English a few times, but the Dutch aren’t mentioned in Guadeloupe’s history. The huge difference between Saint Marie and Guadeloupe is that France never handed Guadeloupe back to the British. Unlike most former French colonies in the Caribbean, Guadeloupe (like Martinique) remained an overseas department of France, and people speak French and Creole (a language based on French) but not English (except for tourists if you’re lucky). 

The history of Saint Marie might actually be closer to the history of Dominica (which is different to the Dominican Republic). This small island country in the Caribbean is located between Guadeloupe and Martinique, two overseas departments of France. Once a French colony (1715-1763), it later found itself under British rule – despite a few attacks from the French – until finally gaining independence in 1978. While some place names, including the capital Roseau, bear a French touch, the official language of Dominica is English, although Antillean Creole, derived from French, is also widely spoken.

Death in Paradise filming locations

Let me take you on a tour of the various filming locations used in the show that we got to visit during our time in Guadeloupe. The main filming location for Death in Paradise is the town of Deshaies, which serves as the fictional town of Honoré. It’s a picturesque fishing village on the northwest coast of Basse-Terre Island, one of the five islands that make up Guadeloupe. 

Warning: There’s a risk of spoilers if you haven’t watched all the episodes of Death in Paradise!

The numbers in brackets refer to the map at the end of the article.

Honoré Police Station

The Honoré Police Station (1) is a key location in the show, where the team of detectives, led by the Detective Inspector, solve the various murders that occur on the island. In real life, it is the church office in Deshaies, located on the right when you face the church.

The church

We can spot the red pointy roof of the church on Saint Marie Church almost every time they show a wide view of the island. It is shown from much closer in a few episodes. That’s where Sergeant JP Hooper gets married in the last episode of season 5. In real life, it is the Paroisse Saint-Pierre and Saint Paul (2) in Deshaies.

Catherine’s Bar

Catherine’s Bar, named after Catherine Bordey, the mother of Detective Sergeant Camille Bordey, is another popular location of the show located in Deshaies. It is where the detectives often go to unwind after a long day of solving murders. We enjoyed doing the same after a more relaxing day exploring the beautiful sights!

The bar in the first season was La Kaz (3) and it was then relocated to Le Madras (4), which is a bit bigger with an open-air terrace located on the waterfront.

While we were scuba diving in Bouillante, our dive master actually recommended dining at Le Madras, not even knowing our interest in the show. It’s a lovely setting with beach views, and we could spot turtles as we enjoyed our delicious lunch. Inside, they had a few photos of the main actors from the first seasons.

The Shak (Detective’s House)

The Shak is the house where the Detective Inspectors live in the show. It is located just a few minutes north of Deshaies, on one of the most famous beaches, Anse La Perle (5). The Shak looked a lot more inviting and idyllic in the show than in real life, but we could easily recognise it thanks to the tree that goes through the middle of the house. Fences were installed to protect it, so don’t expect to enjoy the view or pose on the veranda.

The beach

Anse La Perle Beach is not only used for the scene with the Detective’s house. It’s often featured in the show for many of the scenes filmed on the beach. The heads and the island on the north side make it quite remarkable. 

Langley Resort Fort Royal

Langley Resort Fort Royal* (6) is a luxurious resort located north of Deshaies, just after Anse La Perle. It is where the production team stays during filming, and it is also where some scenes in the show are filmed. The resort is set on a beautiful beach, and it offers guests a range of amenities, including a spa, a restaurant, and a bar.

You’ll also recognise a few locations featured in the show, such as the dive shop (7) – where you can also rent sailing equipment or take lessons – that is featured in the second episode of the first season.

Deshaies Botanical Gardens

The Botanical Gardens (8), located south of Deshaies, are another beautiful location used in the show. The gardens are home to a wide variety of tropical plants and flowers, but my highlight there was the stunning parrots who could say a few words!

You can have a peek from afar at the house where the first Detective Inspector of the show, Richard Poole, was murdered. It’s an opulent, luxurious four-bedroom villa available for rent*.

The man-made waterfall was also used as a backdrop for the reception in the 2023 Christmas episode.

Zoo de Guadeloupe

The Zoo de Guadeloupe (9) was featured in the second episode of the eighth season. I’m not a big fan of zoos and captive animals (and the remarks during the episode made me smile), so we didn’t visit this filming location.

Government House

The Government House is the Commissioner’s workplace. We never see it in the show’s first seasons, but it then becomes one of the regular places featured in the TV series. The town hall of Pointe Noire (10), between Deshaies and Bouillante, is transformed into the Government House for the show.

Honore harbour

There’s an airport in Saint Marie, but visitors can also arrive by boat on the island, with their own vessel or via the ferry from Guadeloupe. The harbour is also located in Deshaies (11), and the fans of the TV series will recognise it easily with its small pedestrian bridge. A walk on the jetty will allow you to see the bay and, of course, the picturesque church with its red roof.

Mount Esmee

This one is a real plot twist! So, I had to include it on the list because after watching the first episode of Season 6, you’ll be itching to know where to find that epic hike and stunning beach that offer those awe-inspiring views of the volcano. I’ll have to burst your bubble because that volcano isn’t actually in Guadeloupe.

Although they used Guadeloupe’s volcano observatory (the Observatoire Volcanologique et Sismologique de Guadeloupe, 12) as the filming location for the Saint Marie Volcano Observatory, the jaw-dropping Mount Esmee is nowhere to be found nearby. We decided not to go to the observatory because it is closed to visitors, and there’s no amazing view from there.

In the first shot of the episode, you might catch a glimpse of the main volcano in Guadeloupe, La Soufriere, looming behind Mount Esmee. While La Soufriere offers a beautiful hike on a good day (which doesn’t often happen), it’s nothing like what they made Mount Esmee out to be, and it isn’t near a beach. So, my conclusions from my detective work are that the production crew employed some special effects to superimpose a breathtaking volcano from elsewhere into the scenes!

Sign indicating "La Soufriere" with the mount in the background and a beautiful blue sky

Interestingly enough, there were discussions about filming an episode in Montserrat, a neighbouring island. However, due to the challenging sea conditions between Guadeloupe and Montserrat, they decided not to risk moving all their filming equipment there. Now, I can’t confirm if the volcano they superimposed in the Guadeloupe footage is from Montserrat or some other stunning spot.

Saint Barnabas Island

Sergeant Naomi Thomas comes from Saint Barnabas, a small island near Saint Marie. When she goes back there for her best friend’s wedding in the fourth episode of Season 12, the team from Saint Marie joins her to solve a crime.

Saint Barnabas island does not exist in real life. It’s a fictional island like Saint Marie. The church featured for the wedding is actually Notre-Dame de la Visitation in Port Louis (13), on Grande-Terre, one of the two main islands in Guadeloupe. It’s not far from the capital and international airport, Pointe-a-Pitre.

However, I believe some of the views used to present the island are not from the Port Louis area. I recognised the beautiful bay of Les Saintes and the famous Pain de Sucre (14) featured in the opening aerial shot of the episode. The topography is very different near Port Louis: Grande-Terre is mostly flat.

Where to holiday in a villa like in the series

If you’d like to live out the luxurious holiday style so often depicted in Death of Paradise (minus the murder, of course), why not consider staying in one of the many stunning villas with breathtaking sea views? While I can’t guarantee any of these villas were featured in the show (except the villa where DI Pool was murdered*), I found these accommodations in Deshaies or nearby (Pointe Noire, Sainte Rose) that could create the memorable experience that so many viewers dream about while watching the witnesses being interviewed in their villas:

  • Villa Mahogany* – While the interior isn’t full of luxury, the stunning view from the private swimming pool is what makes this accommodation stand out.
  • Villa A Ciel Ouvert* – The beautiful opulent interior of this villa with panoramic views will make your stay special.
  • kazAnne* – Another holiday house that isn’t opulent inside but has unbeatable sea views from the pool.
  • Canopee Vue Mer* – Another option with breathtaking views.
  • Beausejour Guest House* – A smaller accommodation with stunning views.
  • Le Jardin des Ilets* – It’s a bit further south than Deshaies, but these holiday houses are worth considering if you dream of sea views.
  • Tropical Soul* – There’s no pool and it’s quite basic, but if you’re after a stunning view, the two-bedroom house has a splendid terrace (picture above). Note this isn’t the case for the one-bedroom house.
  • Habitation Arrakis* and Du Côté de Chez Swann* – Two other spacious accommodations where you won’t miss the pool, as there’s a spa on the stunning terrace with sea views.

Other lovely options to consider that are smaller than villas and not as opulent but could be interesting for fans who fell in love with Saint Marie:

  • Ti Cabanon* – From this apartment, you’ll feel like you’re living in the heart of the show as you can see both the port and the church that are so often featured in the TV series.
  • Appartement Tillet* – The one-bedroom apartment can be a great option for couples on a tighter budget who still want to enjoy stunning views.

Life in Saint Marie and Guadeloupe

Saint Marie isn’t Guadeloupe. Still, Death in Paradise offers an opportunity to learn about the culture of Guadeloupe and showcase some of the island’s history and traditions. Indeed, many cultural experiences featured in the show are based on life in Guadeloupe and the Caribbean. Here are some of the things we observed in Saint Marie in the show that matched Guadeloupe’s culture.

The heat and humidity

In the first episode, Detective Inspector Richard Poole asked: “is it always this hot” and got the response: “No, sometimes it’s even hotter”. This is really how it feels for northern Europeans. We stayed with friends who arrived from European France or nearby, and not only did they struggle with the heat, but a few also got badly sunburnt. Make sure you’ve got the right clothes when you visit Guadeloupe!

Bites

Some might think Neville Parker makes a big deal out of mosquito bites and his crazy obsession with avoiding them. The Detective believes it’s due to his special blood type. Now, I can’t confirm the science, but I totally relate since I’m O-positive, and I was devoured within hours of arriving in Guadeloupe. Forget the mosquitoes, though – it was the midges (or yen-yen as the locals call them) that got me. Should you ever find yourself admiring the sunset on a beach in Guadeloupe or wandering around the mangroves, make sure to cover your legs!

Tourism is a major activity

The show often features tourists in their luxurious villas with stunning views. And this is close to real life in this part of Guadeloupe: you’ll find many stunning villas to rent near Deshaies and Pointe-Noire.

Festivals

They regularly mention festivals or carnivals during the show. These are inspired by the Caribbean culture. For example, Saint Ursula’s Day (which is a big festival in Saint Marie featured in the sixth season) is celebrated in the British Virgin Islands, and Erzulie (featured twice in the show in seasons two and seven) seems to be a voodoo festival in Haiti.

We didn’t visit Guadeloupe during the carnival season, but from what our local friends describe, it’s a unique experience that we would have loved to witness. 

It has a history of slavery

In the episode A Murder on the Plantation (season 2), the show touches on the slavery past of Saint Marie, which sounded quite close to the actual history of Guadeloupe.

The beautiful and dreamy scenery

This is often the main reason why fans of Death in Paradise want to visit Guadeloupe, so you’ll be happy to know the turquoise waters, sandy beaches, and lush greenery are all real and easy to find all around the archipelago.

Fauna

The show regularly features a green lizard, an anolis rocket. While they’re endemic to the island of Martinique, more south than Guadeloupe, they are common in Guadeloupe.

Inspector Richard Poole steps on a sea urchin in the second episode of the first season. He’s very unlucky, of course, but it’s still something that can happen while in Guadeloupe: one of my friends can testify.

Rum

When DI Richard Poole spits his drink in the third episode of the first season, he asks what’s in it. Catherine answers: “Rum, lime and ice, but mostly rum.” It’s very close to the most popular drink in Guadeloupe, Ti Punch, which is made of rum, lime and sugar.

The first time the next inspector, DI Humphrey Goodman, visits Catherine’s Bar, she serves him a local rum. From his reaction, it’s pretty clear that local rums are not meant to be bottomed up, and this is very true in Guadeloupe.

Voodoo

The third episode of the first season touches on the voodoo religion, an important Creole belief that has been part of the culture of Saint Marie for hundreds of years. Nowadays in Guadeloupe, voodoo – or its derivative quimbois – is very discreet.

Missing luggage

The Detective Inspector missing his luggage when flying from London is a running joke in the first two seasons of the show. And we couldn’t get it out of our head on our way to Guadeloupe.

With all the conflicting information we received from Air Canada about our luggage, we really thought we would not get our luggage when we landed in Guadeloupe, especially after our friend waited for four days before getting hers and the lady sitting next to me on the plane telling me she got hers a couple of days late a few times. In the end, we didn’t have any issue at all with our luggage, but it seems that this joke in the TV series may be based on real-life experiences.

With this in mind, be smart when you pack your belongings, ensuring you have all your valuable items, medicine and some clothes to start your trip in your carry-on bags and mix up items between your two pieces of luggage if you travel as a couple.

The island time

In the show, a character remarks, “The entire island moves at quarter speed” (episode 1 of season 7). While not entirely true for Guadeloupe, it captures the relaxed rhythm found on many islands. Whether in the Caribbean or the South Pacific, I always find island life offers a refreshing break from the fast-paced societies we’re used to. It’s a chance to slow down, savour the moment, and escape the constant pressure to perform and compete. We should all re-learn to appreciate life’s simple pleasures at a leisurely pace.

Tips to visit Guadeloupe when you’re a fan of Death in Paradise

When to plan your trip

We visited Guadeloupe from late May to early June, just before the start of the hurricane season. We had the great surprise that the filming for the new season (season 13) of Death in Paradise had just started! According to the ad they posted to recruit extra, they planned to film until October.

We were able to see the filming locations with added decor for the show, including the famous jeep and sidecar, spotted a few actors and were even able to watch from afar a scene filmed outdoors with all the main characters. 

However, the filming happens during the low season in Guadeloupe. Deshaies was still a bit vibrant in May but became very calm in June, with many businesses shut down for their annual break. You may have a better time in Guadeloupe if you visit earlier in the season. 

Where to see filming locations and actors

If you’re in Guadeloupe during the filming, you may spot the DIP signs around Deshaies and its surroundings. Remember, people are working, and most filming locations cannot allow observers, so don’t be too nosy and keep your distance so as not to disturb the filming. 

We loved taking pictures of a special character we kept meeting: Harry. It is the cute lizard that has become the Detective Inspector’s roommate. There’s no particular filming location to find a similar lizard, but keep your eyes open as we spotted a few green lizards around town in Deshaies (including one at the police station – so it might actually have been Harry?!).

Tours to filming locations

You can join a tour if you’re short on time or don’t want to drive around to look for the filming locations.

Have you visited any of these Death in Paradise filming locations in Guadeloupe? Share your experience in the comments below!

Map of Death in Paradise filming locations

Eloise

Eloise is the creator and writer of MyFavouriteEscapes.com. She writes about her experiences exploring exotic destinations and finding hidden gems closer to home. Her goal is to share tips and stories to inspire and encourage others to go on their own adventures. She loves outdoor and nature-based activities like scuba diving, hiking, kayaking, and sailing. She grew up in France and has lived in England and Turkey before calling Australia home for the past decade. So let's get ready for another adventure!

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