As avid travellers, we always seek new and exciting destinations to explore. The Caribbean is filled with stunning islands, and during our recent trip to Guadeloupe, we had the option to visit Marie Galante. While many would jump at the chance to experience this beautiful piece of paradise, we ultimately decided not to include it in our Guadeloupe itinerary.
Overview of Marie Galante
Christopher Columbus named Marie Galante after his ship, the Maria Galanda. It’s quite a big island (158 km²) located approximately 50 kilometres from Guadeloupe’s main islands. Regular ferries depart from Pointe-à-Pitre (and also from Saint-François) every day, with the journey lasting approximately an hour. Then, it’s recommended to rent a car to fully explore the island’s hidden treasures.
As a lesser-known Caribbean island, it certainly appeals to travellers who want to escape the typical tourist scene. Although agriculture is one of the island’s main activities, it stands out as one of the few inhabited islands where the natural ecosystem remains relatively untouched by human influence.
While some opt for a day trip to Marie Galante, extending your stay is strongly recommended to truly embrace the island’s serene ambience and rhythm.
Why we did not go to Marie Galante
Known for its pristine beaches, lush landscapes, and traditional rum distilleries, Marie Galante seemed like an attractive destination that should be on everyone’s Guadeloupe itinerary. However, after thorough research and consideration, we ultimately decided not to visit the island and here’s why.
To begin, our time in Guadeloupe was limited. With just under three weeks at our disposal and a desire to spend quality moments with local friends, we faced choices. Our hearts were set on visiting Les Saintes. We had the option of squeezing in brief overnight visits to both Les Saintes and Marie Galante or spending more time in Les Saintes and bypassing Marie Galante. We chose the former with no regret: we loved Les Saintes so much that we wished we could have stayed a few more days. Had our stay in Guadeloupe been longer, Marie Galante would have found a place on our itinerary.
What helped us choose which islands to visit in Guadeloupe
During our research, we found that some aspects of Marie Galante simply didn’t fully align with our vacation objectives. Marie Galante is often described as a laid-back island with splendid beaches, sugar cane fields, and rum distilleries. It also has the lowest population density of Guadeloupe’s inhabited islands. The island’s authentic and natural atmosphere intrigued us, but we found it slightly less attractive in terms of activities than Les Saintes. While unwinding on Guadeloupe’s most exquisite beaches and savouring rum would have its appeal for many tourists, living in Brisbane near stunning beaches meant that this wasn’t the focal point of our Guadeloupe journey. Additionally, extended beach lounging isn’t our preferred way to spend time; we always lean towards an active holiday. Moreover, as a non-drinker during that trip, touring distilleries on the main island was enough rum-based visits for me.
Marie Galante, also referred to as La Galette due to its circular form and relatively flat terrain, has beautiful cliffs that piqued our interest. Yet, we found that the topography of other islands with their lush vegetation-covered peaks would likely leave a more lasting impact on us.
Lastly, our love for scuba diving drove our desire to explore Sec Paté, one of Guadeloupe’s most famous dive sites nestled in the channel between Basse-Terre and Les Saintes. While Marie Galante offered diving opportunities with local dive shops, our research indicated that its underwater realm couldn’t quite rival Les Saintes’ captivating beauty. Our diving and snorkelling escapades around Les Saintes were amazing, so we had no regrets!
Should you visit Marie Galante?
If you’re interested in relaxing on picturesque beaches and seeking a laid-back atmosphere on a less commercialised Caribbean island, then Marie Galante is a must-consider destination. I’ve read several times that some of Marie Galante’s beaches are among the finest in all of Guadeloupe.
However, if you lean towards active holidays, you might find other destinations in Guadeloupe more appealing. Deciding to cut short our time in Les Saintes to fit in Marie Galante would have definitely made me feel a bit disappointed, considering we didn’t even manage to experience everything we had set out to do in Les Saintes.
Also, the decision depends on the extent of your stay in Guadeloupe. I suggest resisting the urge to hurriedly visit other places in your itinerary just to accommodate a quick visit to Marie Galante. Personally, I value taking my time to appreciate each destination during my travels. Plus, Marie Galante is all about slowing your pace.