May 11, 2021

Island hopping in Guadeloupe

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Here are all the best things to do in this Caribbean archipelago

By Stephanie Takyi From

Stephanie Takyi is a digital nomad with a big wanderlust for life and a zest for exploring the world.

The promise of sun and adventurous island-hopping makes Guadeloupe an ideal tropical escape from the cold blues of a British January.

The five-island archipelago, located halfway down the eastern Caribbean Sea, between Dominica and Antigua, is an overseas department of France and enchants travellers with a laid-back Caribbean style layered with strong French influences. 6 reasons you should pick Indonesia as your next destination

Two of the biggest, Basse-Terre to the west and Grand-Terre to the east, are so close, they can be connected by a short bridge. Together, their outlines form the wings of the distinctive ‘le papillon’ (the butterfly).

In between this juxtaposition of volcanoes, rainforests, sugar plantations and fashionable tourist resorts are three smaller islands, La Desirade, Les Saintes and Marie-Galante.

Below is our guide of the places you can’t miss while exploring this underrated French Caribbean archipelago. Make the most of city life in Pointe-a-Pitre Pointe-a-Pitre is a lively hub.

Marche de la Darse (Picture: Stephanie Takyi)

Drop in for a few hours in the morning to explore the unmissable and vibrant Marche de la Darse. Here, every morning from Monday to Saturday, fishermen will sell their catch from the boats at the harbour.

The market is lined with colourful stalls full of exotic fruits and vegetables and you’ll be instantly drawn to the smells of aromatic spices and local fare.

Beyond tasty delights, Pointe-a-Pitre offers shoppers everything from French perfumes and jewellery to locally woven fabrics, scarves and cosmetics.

Cathedrale Saint Pierre et Saint Paul de Pointe a Pitre (Picture: Stephanie Takyi)

If you have any interest in French architecture, you’ll also want to stop at Rue de l’Eglise to admire the bright yellow Cathedrale de St-Pierre et St-Paul.

Do a hike up to Le Pointe Des Chateaux

Complete the sweat-inducing challenge of hiking to the top of Guadeloupe to Le Pointe des Chateaux.

(Picture: Stephanie Takyi)

Here, you will be greeted by a nine ton, 33 ft high cross, which looks out onto Grande-Terre’s easternmost edge.

In the midst of panting your way up to the top, take a moment to take a selfie with Pointe des Chateaux’s striking cliff formations. You’ll notice a cluster of hollowed limestone coves, sculpted over time by turbulent winds and rough waves.

Once you’ve reached the top and completed what you thought was the impossible, enjoy the view of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea colliding.

Pointe des Chateaux (Picture: Stephanie Takyi)

On the way down, retreat to Pointe des Chateaux’s small beach and walk barefoot on the endless stretch of white sand lining the island’s southern shoreline.

Have a delicious Creole lunch by the Caribbean Sea

Le dejeuner, or lunch, is often the main meal of the day in Guadeloupe and is usually served from noon to 2pm. Dining is always a memorable event, as the island’s dishes mirrors influences from France, India, and Africa.

La Rhumerie du Pirate (Picture: Stephanie Takyi)

Treat yourself to a lunch with a view at La Rhumerie du Pirate, a restaurant near Pointe des Chateaux. Thanks to its pristine location by the sea, you can dine in full view of the ocean’s waves while enjoying the cool breeze it ushers in.

The restaurant is designed as an authentic pirate’s cove, which makes it great fun for children. Be warned, their menu is only available in French but their staff are very friendly and happy to translate and provide suggestions.

Some of the food at La Rhumerie du Pirate (Picture: Stephanie Takyi)

The entree menu consists of local specialties boudins, accras, cod fritters and creole sauces. Fresh seafood is featured greatly on the menu and you can opt for freshly caught fish from the Atlantic Ocean, which is then grilled to perfection. Grilled meats such as chicken and pork are also available.

When it comes to drinks, we couldn’t go anywhere without being offered planteur, a mix of tropical fruit juices, rum and cane sugar syrup with a cinnamon kick.

Cruise off to Les Saintes

(Picture: Philippe Giraud)

A 20-minute high-speed ferry ride from Guadeloupe’s main islands will have you in the dainty and tiny archipelago of Les Saintes.

Unlike the other islands in Guadeloupe, Les Saintes gives off the feel of being transported to a French Caribbean seaside village.

Terre-de-Haut is the main island and houses a variety of French-Creole bistros, souvenir shops, sunny beaches and an active harbour where ferries passengers from Guadeloupe arrive.

You will be welcomed in with the sound of Calypso being played on steel drums while being surrounded by colourful streets, multicoloured fishing boats and painted wooden houses.

(Picture: Getty)

At the island’s highest point, the very well-preserved Fort Napoleon gives visitors a panoramic view over the island and Les Saintes Bay, designated by Unesco as one of the most beautiful bays in the world.

A variety of ferry companies offer transport from Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre to Terre-de-Haut. A popular ferry service, Ferry Beatrix, offers round-trip rides from Pointe-à-Pitre to Terre-de-Haut everyday for about 42.60€ per adult.

Have a rainforest bathing adventure in Cascade aux Ecrevisses

(Picture: Philippe Giraud)

Basse-Terre is where you’ll find Guadeloupe’s rainforests, waterfalls, hot springs and canyons.

A visit here doesn’t require an entire day. Instead, make a stop to Guadeloupe National Park while driving through Route de la Traversee.

Unquestionably one of the natural must-sees here is the Cascade aux Ecrevisses (The Crayfish Waterfall), a jungle oasis of greenery wrapped around a powerful waterfall.

Bring your swim gear as the waterfall has an adjoining river where you’ll see plenty of swimmers of all different ages and backgrounds taking the plunge. Access is also possible for people with reduced mobility.

Get in the loupe with Death In Paradise Jack’s shack

(Picture: Stephanie Takyi)

Eagled-eyed TV fans will have spotted glimpses of Guadeloupe in the hit BBC One tropical murder mystery, Death In Paradise.

The British sun-soaked drama is set on the fictional island of Saint Marie, which also doubles up for Honore. However, most of Death In Paradise’s locations can be found in the city of Deshaies in north west Basse-Terre.

Following Kris Marshall’s departure, Death In Paradise has now returned for its seventh season with Ardal O’Hanlon as DI Jack Mooney, the new lead detective on the show. Visitors to Guadeloupe are bound to ‘bump’ into the DIP crew and cast as they film gripping whodunit scenes throughout the island.

Stephanie Takyi and Ardal O’Hanlon (Picture: Stephanie Takyi)

Head to Plage de la Perle where, when in production, you can catch a glimpse of ‘Jack’s Shack’, a makeshift bamboo hut set.

Meanwhile, the Honore police station is tucked away in an old building, surrounded by tropical vegetation, at the top of a hill in St Honore.

Another familiar location worth the visit is Catherine’s Bar, which is surrounded by a sparkling bay.

Who knows, you might see the DIP cast toasting the solving of another murder mystery.

Visit Guadeloupe’s Cimetiere de Morne-a-l’eau

(Picture: Stephanie Takyi)

Travellers don’t often associate a trip to Guadeloupe with strolling through its cemetery. However, about 15km from Pointe-a-Pitre, lies Morne-a-l’Eau, a small town famous for its cemetery.

The Cimetiere de Morne-a-l’eau is a striking sight, with 1,800 tombs set on the flanks of a splendid natural amphitheatre.

The cemetery is filled with rows of majestic black and white checkerboard tiled mausoleums, a feature introduced by the wealthy families in the 17th century.

Some of the vaults are very elaborate and are painted in blue or a discreet pink, and feature sloping roofs.

A short visit to this beautiful cemetery should definitely make your to-do list.

Bull carting tour with locals

On a bull carting tour (Picture: Stephanie Takyi)

Beyond the postcard version of Guadeloupe, why not head off the beaten track for a bull carting tour with locals?

It’s a one of a kind journey into Guadeloupe’s local culture, traditions and a historic way of living.

Buckle up as you take your seat in a wooden cart, which is being towed by two sturdy bulls.

The journey will take you to the rolling hills of the centuries-old Neron plantation, where you’ll get to immerse yourself in a rural historical site that dates back to 1740.

(Picture: Stephanie Takyi)

Before you head off on this exhilarating excursion, you’ll have the opportunity to mingle with locals, who will prepare a Guadeloupian feast of boudins, accras and cod fritters.

Rum is one of Guadeloupe’s biggest exports, and on this tour, you’ll have the chance to make an island favourite – Ti’ Punch, a rum-based mixed drink that packs a punch.

Head for a choc feast at La Maison du Cacao

(Picture: Stephanie Takyi)

For your chocolate, coffee, and rum fixes all in one, you will want to devote some time to touring the plantations and distilleries of Basse-Terre.
Have a chocolate overdose at La Maison du Cacao, a small cocoa farm and museum where visitors learn how cocoa is turned into chocolate, and sample chocolate products – its liqueur is to die for.

Among the three distilleries found near Grand-Bourg (Marie-Galante’s main town), Distillerie Bielle stands apart as one of the finest.

Where to stay:

Continuing with the Death in Paradise theme, why not stay at the hotel where most of the crew retreat to after a hard day’s work of filming?

(Picture: Langley Resort Fort Royal) The Langley Resort Fort Royal is one of the top notch places to stay in Guadeloupe.

The hotel consists of 133 hotel rooms, seven suites and 82 luxurious bungalows, which are located between the crystal-blue ocean and mountains of Basse-Terre.

There’s a variety of local and international cuisine, which the hotel offers at their Kawann Beach Bar.

If lazing around at the beach is not your thing, the resort offers you on-site activities such as tennis, sailing, stand-up paddling and beach volleyball. Rooms start from 155€.

How to get there: There are no direct flights to Guadeloupe from the UK but you can take direct flights with Air France from Paris’s Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports to the main airport near its largest city, Pointe-a-Pitre.

Fares start from £496.

For tours in Guadeloupe, check out Guadeloupe Explor and Guadeloupe Shuttle at web link below

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