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Top Reasons to Visit Guadeloupe

Known for its mesmerising natural beauty, Guadeloupe has some incredible reasons for you to visit
Known for its mesmerising natural beauty, Guadeloupe has some incredible reasons for you to visit | © Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Laura Hampson
28 October 2021
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A butterfly-shaped archipelago on the eastern edge of the Caribbean, French-speaking Guadeloupe is a collection of islands known for its rich culture and stunning natural beauty. There are five main islands that make up Guadeloupe: Bassa-Terre, Grande-Terre, Marie-Galante, Les Saintes and La Desirade. Basse-Terre and Grand-Terre are the two largest, connected only by a couple of bridges. Besides its jaw-droppingly beautiful beaches – which hug both the main islands and the uninhabited ones – there’s a Unesco-listed biosphere reserve to explore, a volcanic hike to do, natural hot springs to bathe in and delicious food to dine on. Here’s why Guadeloupe should leap to the top of your bucket list.

Enjoy the warm weather in Guadeloupe

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Coconut palm trees and turquoise sea under a shining sun in Bas du Fort beach in Guadeloupe
© Al Kancello / Alamy Stock Photo
The best time to visit Guadeloupe is between December and May as this is when the weather is at its most temperate and dry. Temperatures during these months sit around 26ºC, so it’s an ideal destination to visit if you’re after some of that famed Caribbean winter sun. This is also the time of year when the waters are warm and calm. Read: perfect diving and snorkelling conditions.

Go sailing around Guadeloupe

Architectural Landmark
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Les Saintes from Guadeloupe Island with a group of sailing boats and a cruise ship dotted around the harbour
© Damien Verrier / Alamy Stock Photo
If you want to maximise your time in Guadeloupe, why not charter a yacht for a day – or even a week – with SamBoat? Staying on a yacht is the best way to island-hop between the main islands of Guadeloupe and its uninhabited ones – the latter is peppered with secret bays and beaches to discover. Pack your snorkel and flippers as you’ll want to discover the beautiful sea life at each stop.

Bask in the natural landscape in Guadeloupe

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A person hiking on the path of the Mamelle of Petit-Bourg, in the middle of tree ferns in Guadalope
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
If you’re looking for a Caribbean island that has it all, look no further than Guadeloupe. Here, beaches line the coast of all of its islands, there’s mountainous – and volcanic – terrain which harbours stunning hiking trails, rolling green fields to marvel at and a rich and varied underwater world. You’ll need at least a week here to take it all in, but try to stretch it even longer if you can.

Sunbathe on the beautiful beaches in Guadeloupe

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Sandy beach and a blue lagoon in Petite Terre, Guadeloupe
© ImageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo
Whichever island you decide to base yourself on, you’re bound to find a beautiful beach just around the corner. Plage de Pompierre on Les Saintes is one of the best beaches in the archipelago, while the black sand Plage de Malendure on Basse-Terre is a water sports haven. Plage de la Datcha in Grand-Terre is a favourite among locals and those in the know, head to the uninhabited islands like Terre-de-Bas for deserted patches of sand to call their own.

Discover more about the history of Guadeloupe

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The Museum Memorial ACTe in Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe
© Peter Schickert / Alamy Stock Photo
To fully understand Guadeloupe’s history, you need to visit the island itself. Specifically, visitors should head to Memorial ACTe in Grand-Terre’s Pointe-à-Pitre to learn about the history of the slave trade in Guadeloupe and more about the island’s indigenous Arawaks population. The museum is a Unesco Slave Route Project and it details how Guadeloupe ended up under French rule in the 1600s.

Try Creole and French cuisine in Guadeloupe

Restaurant, Seafood, $$$
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Tuna tartare with avocado and quinoa styled as a gourmet presentation on a white plate
© Larisa Blinova / Alamy Stock Photo
No visit to Guadeloupe is complete without sampling some of the archipelago’s specialties like calalou, stuffed crab, fish cooked in lime juice and féroce d’avocat. There are over 200 restaurants spread across the islands so you’re guaranteed to find a place to dine on local fare – all washed down with rum, of course. For Francophiles, there are also boulangeries where you can pick up baguettes and freshly made pastries.

Go hiking in Guadeloupe

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A person hiking to the Soufriere Volcano, with fumaroles escaping from the crater
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
Parc National de la Guadeloupe on Basse-Terre is the biggest draw for hikers. One of the most popular trails in the park is La Soufriere, a volcanic peak that marks the highest point in the Eastern Caribbean islands – so expect excellent vistas. For novice hikers, take the trail through the park to Bassin Paradis for stunning waterfall views or to the Le Chutes Carbet to see the three cascades of the Carbet River. Read more about the trail before you set off as some paths are best taken with a guide.

Explore the Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin Natural Reserve

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An aerial view of the ocean around Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
Set between the northern shores of Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre, the Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin Natural Reserve is a 37,065-acres (15,000ha) reserve filled with mangroves, coral reefs, mudflats, lagoons and a rich variety of wildlife. Together with the national park on Basse-Terre, it forms the Unesco-listed Guadeloupe Archipelago Biosphere Reserve and it’s best discovered on an organised boat tour.

Soak in volcanic thermal water in Guadeloupe

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A group of travellers relax in hot springs at Bouillante, Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe
© Agefotostock / Alamy Stock Photo
Due to its volcanic landscape, Guadeloupe is home to natural hot springs, sulphur and mud baths – the perfect combination for a nature-made spa day. Benefits – such as detoxifying, cell oxygenation and relaxing sore muscles and joints – can be reaped at any one of the five main islands in Guadeloupe or by booking into one of the spa retreats in the archipelago.

Go snorkelling and scuba diving in Guadeloupe

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An aerial view of the Pigeon islands, in the heart of the Cousteau Natural Reserve, Guadeloupe, Caribbean
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
French marine explorer and scuba pioneer, Jacques Cousteau has been known to say that, “Pigeon Island in Guadeloupe is one of the world’s best diving spots” – so much so that this island is now surrounded by the Jacques Cousteau Underwater Reserve. Just off the coast of Basse-Terre, this spot is primed for both snorkellers and divers who want to get up close with tropical fish, dolphins, barracudas and turtles.

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