At first, when you research information about visiting Guadeloupe, you may think it’s another great destination for beach and fun in the Caribbean, which is true. So is Guadeloupe worth visiting over another destination in the Caribbean? Here’s why I believe it is.
What Guadeloupe is famous for
Guadeloupe is an idyllic destination particularly famous for its beautiful beaches, delicious cuisine and rum, exciting landscape, incredible marine life, fascinating Creole culture and also the show Death in Paradise. Let me tell you more about each.
Guadeloupe is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. The island has over 270 miles of coastline, with both white and black sand beaches. And it’s not all about sunbathing. You’ll find many water-based activities available from the most popular beaches.
The most famous beaches in Guadeloupe are Saint Anne on Grande-Terre, Grande-Anse on Basse-Terre, Malendure on Basse-Terre and Pain-de-Sucre in Les Saintes.
Guadeloupe is home to an active volcano, La Soufrière, that visitors can hike with the hope of getting fantastic views of the archipelago and the craters. But it’s known for attracting clouds, so don’t get your hopes too high.
Many visitors are also impressed by the beautiful rainforest and the beauty of some waterfalls (such as Acomat near Deshaies and Cascade des Ecrevisses on the Route de la Traversée) and the height of the Carbet Falls.
My favourite natural wonder in Guadeloupe is the Les Saintes archipelago. It has one of the most beautiful bays in the world.
Guadeloupean cuisine is a blend of African, French, and Creole influences. The island is famous for its seafood, including lobster, crab, and shrimp (ouassous). One of the most popular dishes is accras, which are salt cod fritters. Another must-try is bokit, a sandwich made with fried dough filled with various meats and vegetables. Creole restaurants also often serve goat (cabrit), chicken (boucane or colombo) and sometimes even more traditional pigtails.
You cannot visit Guadeloupe without tasting a traditional sorbet coco and the simple but delicious cake Tourment d’amour.
It’s impossible to visit Guadeloupe without learning more about rum. The rum in Guadeloupe is different from the rum in many other places. It’s not to everybody’s taste, but the rum in Guadeloupe is very special. Plus, it’s also an important part of life in the archipelago. Many distilleries in Guadeloupe offer tours and tastings.
Guadeloupe has a rich cultural heritage reflected in its music, dance, and art. One of the most famous musical styles is zouk, which originated in the French Caribbean in the 1980s. The island is also home to several museums, including the Memorial ACTe, dedicated to the history of slavery and the slave trade in the Caribbean.
Snorkelling and scuba diving
Guadeloupe is famous for being a fantastic scuba diving destination, with many scuba diving shops around the islands. It is home to one of the most reputed dive sites in the Caribbean, Sec Pâté. The Réserve Cousteau is another popular destination for snorkelers and scuba divers. Read more about our experience scuba diving in Guadeloupe here.
Responsible travel tip: Did you know that your sunscreen could harm the fragile ecosystem of the coral reef? It’s essential to be mindful of what you’re applying to your skin when snorkelling or swimming near the reef. The best way to protect your skin from the sun is to cover up with long sleeves and pants. If you must use sunscreen, choose a mineral-based one to avoid harmful substances (see the full list here). Mineral ingredients are less harmful to the environment and provide excellent protection. Apply the sunscreen at least 20 minutes before entering the water to ensure maximum effectiveness.
Death in Paradise
Some people discovered Guadeloupe thanks to the TV show Death in Paradise, a British detective series with more than ten seasons. After seeing the idyllic landscapes in the background of the murder scenes, many were tempted to visit the archipelago. If you’ve watched the show, it can be fun to visit filming locations. Those travelling during the low season might even spot the filming crew in action.
Why visit Guadeloupe?
Why Guadeloupe is an excellent place to vacation
Many people visit Guadeloupe to seek sun and beautiful beaches. For French speakers, it’s an ideal destination in the Caribbean. For English speakers, the language barrier adds a touch of exoticism. Guadeloupe is a region of France, and it’s pretty safe with good infrastructure. It’s relatively easy to move around Guadeloupe. Although many only visit for sunbathing and swimming, there are a lot of various activities offered in Guadeloupe for nature lovers, such as scuba diving, sailing, kayaking, hiking or even canyoning. Check out this 10-day itinerary in Guadeloupe for inspiration.
Why Guadeloupe is different to other Caribbean islands
One of the things that sets Guadeloupe apart from other Caribbean islands is its French influence. The islands are a department of France, which means that visitors can expect a Caribbean culture with a French twist. This is reflected in the architecture, food, and language. Another thing that makes Guadeloupe unique is its varied landscape, which includes everything from black sand beaches to jungle-wreathed mountains and an active volcano.
Although Guadeloupe is a touristy destination, it’s not as developed as many destinations in the Caribbeans and visitors often enjoy the authenticity and how visitors can interact with local life.
The food is also something special in Guadeloupe. They take great pride in their cuisine, which is often tasty and well-presented.
Main activities for tourists in Guadeloupe
There is no shortage of things to do in Guadeloupe. Beach lovers will be in heaven, with miles of pristine sand to choose from. Those who love the outdoors can explore the islands’ national parks, which offer hiking trails and lovely waterfalls. Watersports enthusiasts can explore the underwater wonders while snorkelling and diving or enjoy cruising on the water while kayaking, sailing and surfing. And for those who want to experience the local culture, there are plenty of opportunities to sample traditional Creole cuisine, visit rum distilleries or enjoy carnival season at the beginning of the year.
Safety in Guadeloupe
Is Guadeloupe safer than other Caribbean islands?
Guadeloupe is one of the safest destinations in the Caribbean islands. The crime rate is low, and violent crime is rare. However, as with any destination, it’s important to take basic precautions like keeping an eye on your belongings.
Driving in Guadeloupe can be impressive for those not used to narrow, winding roads. Locals don’t always slow down or give space. It is better to avoid driving at night and during heavy rainfalls.
Dangers in Guadeloupe
While Guadeloupe is generally safe, there are a few dangers to be aware of. One of the biggest concerns is the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika, dengue fever, and chikungunya. It’s important to take precautions like using insect repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants, especially during the rainy season. Midges can also carry illnesses, so avoiding places near mangroves at sunset is recommended.
Hurricanes and weather events in Guadeloupe
Like many Caribbean islands, Guadeloupe is at risk for hurricanes and other weather events. The hurricane season runs from June to November, with the peak season in September and October. If you’re planning a trip during this time, it’s important to keep an eye on the weather forecast and be prepared to change your plans if necessary.
Is organising a trip to Guadeloupe easy?
If you’re considering a holiday to Guadeloupe, you might wonder how easy it is to organise a trip there. In this section, I’ll address some common questions about visiting Guadeloupe.
Is Guadeloupe easier to access than other Caribbean islands?
Guadeloupe has an international airport in Pointe-à-Pitre. Travelling from Europe, you can find direct flights from Paris, Marseille, and Lyon. Travelling from North America, you can find direct flights from New York, Miami, and Montreal.
Once on the island, you can easily hire a car or join tours to explore the islands.
Do they speak English in Guadeloupe?
The official language of Guadeloupe is French, and many locals also speak Creole. While English isn’t widely spoken, you can usually find someone who speaks it in tourist areas and hotels. It’s a good idea to learn some basic French phrases before you go, but don’t worry if you’re not fluent – most locals are friendly and happy to help as long as you start the conversation with a smile and “bonjour” and don’t expect them to understand English easily.
Can you find English-speaking guides in Guadeloupe?
Finding English-speaking guides in Guadeloupe for the most popular tourist attractions is possible. It’s a good idea to book a guide in advance to ensure availability and confirm their language abilities.
Do you need a vehicle to visit Guadeloupe?
Public transportation isn’t well-developed in Guadeloupe. Having your own vehicle gives you flexibility and freedom. You can rent a car at the airport or in major towns, but driving in Guadeloupe can be challenging due to the narrow and winding roads. If you’re uncomfortable driving, you can also join a guided tour.
Conclusion: Is Guadeloupe worth visiting?
Yes, Guadeloupe is definitely worth visiting. In addition to its natural wonders, Guadeloupe has a rich history and culture with French and Creole influences. No trip to Guadeloupe would be complete without sampling the local cuisine. From fresh seafood to traditional Creole dishes, there is something to suit every palate. The island is also known for its rum, which is produced locally and can be sampled at distilleries throughout the archipelago. Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, you’ll enjoy your holidays in Guadeloupe!