Travel Wishes: Guadeloupe Island
Guadeloupe is a French archipelago of more than 12 islands in the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. Composed of two main islands (Grande-Terre in the West and Basse-Terre in the East) as well as small dependencies such as Les Saintes, La Désirade and Maire-Galante, Guadeloupe is an autonomous region of France.
Christopher Columbus was the first European to see Guadeloupe, landing in November 1493 and giving it its current name.
Today known as the "butterfly island" because of the shape of its two main islands, it was originally called "Karukera" (or "The Island of Beautiful Waters") by the Arawak people, who settled there more than two millennia ago.
Because of its location in the Caribbean, Guadeloupe suffers both from yearly tornado and from the laziness induced by its climate. Therefore, its colourful towns can often seem poor and neglected but there are the perfect spot to eat good food like acras or grilled fish and they often hide interesting curiosities that are worth seeing.
The island itself is a treasure filled with wonderful sandy beaches which colours go from the pure white to the darkest black passing through the whole spectre of golden yellows.
Nevertheless Guadeloupe's treasure isn't only on the sand: go dive at Bouillante and you'll find the Réserve Cousteau, the oldest and one of the most splendid marine parks. Climb up La Soufrière volcano and you'll be at the top of the Antilles.
Grande-Terre Island is the name of the eastern-half of Guadeloupe proper. It is separated from the other half of Guadeloupe island, Basse-Terre, by a narrow sea channel called Rivière Salée (in English Salt River).
Despite its name, Grande-Terre (literally "Large Land" in French) is smaller than Basse-Terre Island. It was called like that, in contrast with the much smaller Petite Terre Islands ("Small Land" Islands), two very small islands located about 10 km south-east of the Grande-Terre.
Of the two islands, Grande-Terre is home to the majority of Guadeloupe's farmlands and tourist resorts. The island's beaches consist of both white and black sands, as well as beaches of golden sand.
Saint François , Amaudo Hotel
Pointe des châteaux
Le Moule city Centre
The Slaves Stairs - This monumental stairway of 54 dressed-stone steps led to the esplanade where slaves were sold directly off the boat. It is said to have been constructed as soon as the abolition of slavery was pronounced in 1848. According to local lore, each home built one step. Plaques on the steps display the names of various African ethnicities.
Located in the heart of Grande-Terre island at the junction of roads leading to Le Moule, Les Abymes and Anse-Bertrand, the town of Morne-à-l'Eau has a cemetery that is exceptional to say the least. Its chequered black and white graves create the impression of a big chessboard. Arranged as an amphitheatre on the side of a small hill, it dazzles visitors with its impressive tombs, some adorned with slanting roofs and terraces... Its originality and uniqueness make it one of the most visited cemeteries of Guadeloupe! The oldest tomb appears to date from 1847, when only the rich could afford such graves.
Known for its high waves and its paradisiac beach, Anse Bertrand beach is a popular destination for the local residents and tourists who appreciate its wild environment. This lovely white sand beach is perfect for relaxing in the shade of coconut palms and sea grape bushes.
Pointe de la Vigie is a point that offers great views down the eastern cliffs of Grande Terre and to the north towards Barbuda and Antigua. You just need to position yourself on its cliffs, more than 80 meters above sea level, to enjoy this exceptional panorama. It is in a way the North Cape of Guadeloupe that you discover here. After a short stroll on a rocky path, the point reveals the show of an often raging sea, splashing its waves at the foot of the cliffs.
Port-Louis, located on the northwest coast of Grande-Terre is a fishing village. The city centre still has its Creole charm. With pretty traditional houses in pastel tones, the seaside is pleasant and quiet.
Sainte-Anne beach particularly appeals to holidaymakers who love to relax on its picture postcard beaches.
Located almost at the centre of the island, where Basse-Terre meets Grande-Terre, Pointe-à-Pitre is the economic capital of the Guadeloupe archipelago where you will enjoy its typical streets, two museums and deliciously colourful markets!
Based in a beautiful metal-framed market hall that is a listed Historic Monument, Saint-Antoine market has many colourful stalls, all loaded with spices, exotic jams and punch, with the traders in traditional madras dress offering a warm welcome.
On the cultural side, you have the choice between the Schoelcher Museum and the Saint-John Perse Museum. Housed in a splendid metal- framed building, the latter owes its elegance to the Eiffel-style metal framework and the miniature columns on the second floor (refer to picture below). Its architectural style (circa 1880) is reminiscent of the typical buildings of New Orleans.
Before leaving for other areas of Guadeloupe, you have to stroll in its narrow roads to enjoy the colourful doors and windows.
For admirers of built heritage, the town of Basse-Terre (the administrative capital of Guadeloupe) is an unmissable area of the Guadeloupe archipelago. With its quiet charm and historic monuments, it is well worth a visit. It includes the active La Soufrière volcano and its entire centre is covered in thick rainforest and makes up the impressive Parc National de la Guadeloupe. You can explore Basse-Terre's pleasant seafront, with its renowned covered market selling fruit, vegetables, spices, punch, flavoured rums and other local produce.
Grande Anse beach (Deshaies)
At 1,467m high, La Soufrière volcano is the highest point in the Lesser Antilles. In clear weather, it affords a unique panoramic view of the valley, Grande Terre, the south of Basse-Terre, the Caribbean, and the surrounding islands of Saintes, Marie-Galante, and Dominica.
Green, green, and more green. It’s everywhere! Giant trees, tree-like ferns, strangling vines, tangled roots... Along the partly paved path that leads up to the Plateau de la Savane à Mulet, the tropical forest reveals all its glory, encouraged by the extremely high humidity.
Terre-de-Haut, Les Saintes sits on a superb bay, which is said to be a miniature Rio. It is ranked third most beautiful bay in the world, after those of Rio and Along. The small town stretches along the water with, in its centre, a town hall and a square.
Trois Rivières beach is a magnificent place, where the black sand recalls the volcanic character of the island. On this long stretch of beach lined with coconut palms, you can enjoy a landscape of incredible wild beauty, with the bonus of a superb view of the Saintes! It is particularly pleasing to walk barefoot there, as the fine, soft sand feels very pleasant.
Old and multicultural city Basse-Terre presents for centuries exceptional monuments and a cultural heritage that has no shortage of passionate lovers of history and traditions. In the religious heritage, you can notice the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel built by the first settlers of the seventeenth century Basse-Terre.
On the hills of the charming village of Deshaies nestles one of the most visited sites in Guadeloupe: Deshaies Botanical Garden. Famous for having been the property of the comedian Coluche, this estate of seven hectares is now an exceptional flower and animal park. A real festival of colour and a celebration of West Indian flora, with orchids, bougainvillea, hibiscus, heliconias and torch ginger. Strolling along a 1.5 km path, you can also see an arboretum with majestic trees, a bamboo forest, flamingos standing proudly near the waterfall, a plant-covered wall where water hyacinths with blue flowers bloom, a lovely village of macaws, and also a palm grove, cacti and an avenue of tree ferns! Just before you reach the cacti, be sure to admire the talipot palm, a unique palm tree in Guadeloupe that originally comes from Sri Lanka. With a lifespan of 80 to 100 years, it dies after producing its only flower.
Sainte Rose is a fishing village located opposite the Grand Cul de Sac Marin, an immense area of shallow water, dotted with mangroves and white sand islands, a fascinating nursery of marine life where many species of migratory birds find their temporary home.
La Perle is a paradisiacal beach of blond sand, which calls for relaxation and contemplation: the beach of the Pearl. You will directly fall in love with the magnificent view offered by this beach of golden sand, its turquoise water and its many typically Creole huts, where you can picnic or even install your hammock to relax. I highly recommend you to enjoy the unforgettable and peaceful sunset.
I hope you enjoyed your virtual trip to Guadeloupe.
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