Guadeloupe is truly a gorgeous, slightly underdeveloped Caribbean Island (a part of the Lesser Antilles) and is a French “department” that has been largely undiscovered by American tourists. Why? Probably because hardly no one there speaks English, and if they do, they scoff at the thought. Also, there aren’t many direct flights there. This island is filled with native Guadeloupeans, and white french folks on holiday. It’s pretty obvious that there are deeply rooted racial, and class tensions, and disparities within Guadeloupe between the brown native population and the descendants of french colonists who still have the lion share of the wealth in Guadeloupe. Native brown Guadeloupeans (they actually call themselves ‘Lé Neg’) actually started the 2009 French Caribbean General Strikes, where workers unionized, then decided to picket at their places of employment, not go to work, march in the streets, and demand higher pay. It’s obvious still that this wasn’t fully fulfilled.
But! If you’re looking for an adventure that isn’t too far from home (if you’re on the east coast) with bucolic islands, fresh seafood,and island hopping, this place is for you. Don’t mind me, my Angela Davis self has to go on a socio-political rant every once in awhile.
Guadeloupe is divided into essentially two big chunks. There’s Basse-Terre to the west and Grand-Terre to the east, separated by a narrow straight that is crossed with bridges. Basse-Terre has their national park, and is more rustic. We didn’t have time to visit this. Grand-Terre has a lot of resorts, and most of the things tourists would want to see. Also, Pointe-a-Pitre, their capital is on Grand-Terre. There are also several Dependencies of Guadeloupe, Marie-Gaunte, Les Saintes, and La Desirade. There’s also île de la Petite Terre that you can visit by chartered or boat and some ferries.
We got a very cheap, read VERY cheap ticket on Norwegian Airlines out of BWI to Guadeloupe. We landed at Pointe-à-Pitre International Airport, where we proceeded to the rental cars, but I’ll warn you. I’d ONLY rent from Hertz. They had the biggest selection and most knowledgable customer service representatives. The rest of the rental companies, were beauty. No cars, oversold, only manual, stick with Hertz. And I was not paid to say this, lol. Don’t expect long paved roads. When I say this place is slightly underdeveloped I mean it. Chickens and goats roam the roads. But it honestly adds a rustic charm to the experience.
Where to Stay:
I went with my dad and sister, so we rented a lovely (and super, duper cheap) home from a Guadeloupe native named Mr. Roland. The home was on a beautiful golf course, three stories with all the modern amenities. He stocked the refrigerator with food for the week, picked us up from the airport, and even lent us his car for our stay.
Things to Do:
- Go to Sainte Anne beach, haggle with the road side merchants for spices, beautiful art and souvenirs, be sure to stop by La Toubana for drinks and lunch.
- Take a self guided tour around Distillerie Damoiseau in Le Moule. Great rum, beautiful atmosphere.
- Take a ride into Pointe-a-Pitre for shopping, late night concerts and the pier.
- See Pointe des Chateux in St. Francois. Photograph the rocky beach, buy from the very affordably priced street vendors, then stop for lunch at Le Zagaya.
- Ferry to Les Saintes (Iles des Saintes) from Trois Rivieres for the day. As soon as you get off of the ferry, you should literally run to one of the many shops that rent electric cars for the day. You’ll be able to cover more of the island, and it will save your feet. Les Saintes is beautiful and full of hills.
Where to Eat:
- Les Dents de la Mer ($)
- Chez Liline ($)
- La Savane ($$)
- Le Mahine ($$)
- La Playa ($$$$)
- Kote Sud ($$$$)
- La Touna ($$$$)
That’s it for me! This is a great little quick romantic or family (I’d say adult family) getaway. Let me know if you go!